Investing in Virginia rental properties can be a good source of income. After all, Virginia is one of the most lucrative real estate markets in the US. With over 8.6 million residents, rental property owners have a wide range of opportunities in the Virginia rental market. 

If you own or are planning to own a rental property in Virginia, it’s essential to learn the landlord-tenant laws in this state. By knowing the Virginia landlord-tenant law, you’ll know how to protect your rights, as well as the rights of your tenants.

Required Landlord Disclosures in Virginia

According to Virginia law, landlords are required to disclose certain information to tenants before the beginning of the tenancy. Here are the required disclosures that the landlord should include in the lease agreement:

Nonrefundable Fees

Although nonrefundable fees belong to optional disclosures under the Virginia landlord-tenant law, landlords are recommended to include all non-refundable charges in the lease agreement. Failure to do so may allow the tenant to file a claim against non-refundable fees.

Rights of Domestic Violence Victims

A lease or rental agreement may contain a provision stating the tenant and their children’s special statutory rights to seek a release of rental obligation if they are confronting any form of domestic violence, including stalking and sexual assault.

Owner or Agent identity

In Virginia, it is mandated to include the name and address of the landlord, including information for any authorized agents or entities who act on behalf of the landlord. 

Three people standing in front of a house, two of them are shaking hands

Move-In Checklist

Virginia landlords have to provide tenants with a move-in checklist alongside the lease agreement. The checklist should outline the inventory and condition of the rental property before the beginning of the tenancy. This checklist should be given to the tenant within five days of moving in. 

Other Mandatory Disclosures

  • Lead-based paint
  • Defective drywall
  • Mold
  • History of methamphetamine manufacturing
  • Proximity to a military institution
  • Shared utilities
  • Plans for demolition or displacement

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

In Virginia, tenants are entitled to basic rights, such as the following:

  • The right to housing opportunities without discrimination.
  • The right to report any property violations related to health and safety.
  • The right to a habitable and safe place.
  • The right to legally break a lease without any obligation due to justifiable reasons (early termination clause in the lease active military duty, domestic violence, violation of lease terms, uninhabitable property, and failure of the landlord to provide mandatory disclosures).

Smiling person surrounded by piles of cardboard moving boxes

Here are the basic tenant responsibilities in the state of Virginia:

  • Keep the rental unit safe and free from hazards.
  • Comply with all building and housing codes, including health and safety codes.
  • Keep the property, including all plumbing fixtures, appliances, and furniture clean.
  • Use all facilities, appliances, and utilities reasonably.
  • Pay utility services and rent in a timely manner.
  • Prevent any mold growth or moisture accumulation.
  • Remove garbage and trash on a regular basis to prevent odor and other health hazards.
  • Take care of the rental unit and do not deliberately or negligently damage the premises.
  • Not remove or tamper with the functioning smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector.
  • Not disturb neighbors or other tenants.

Landlord Rights and Responsibilities

Virginia landlords also have basic rights, such as the following:

  • The right to enter the rental unit provided prior notice is given within the recommended timeframe.
  • The right to legally evict tenants for justifiable reasons.
  • The right to receive written notices from tenants who will vacate the property or terminate the lease.
  • The right to charge as much as they want for rent, as well as to increase the rental rate.

Similarly, landlords in Virginia also have basic responsibilities. Virginia landlords should:

  • Provide tenants with a habitable space to live in.
  • Follow the legal eviction process.
  • Comply with Virginia’s legal building, health, and safety codes.
  • Uphold the duties and responsibilities provisioned in the lease agreement.
  • Provide a 24-hour notice before entering the property in non-emergency situations.
  • Address renters’ repair requests within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Include all the mandatory disclosures in the lease agreement.

White two-story house with blue shutters and a large green lawn

Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws: Overview 

Landlord’s Right to Enter the Dwelling

In Virginia, landlords can only enter the rental unit for specific reasons, including making repairs and during emergencies. For non-emergency cases, landlords need to provide at least 24-hour notice prior to entering the unit.

Condition, Maintenance, and Repairs

It is the landlord’s responsibility to keep their rental units habitable. Landlords should make any necessary repairs within 30 days of a maintenance request being submitted by a tenant. However, if the repairs pose an immediate danger to the health and safety of the renters, landlords should address the issue within 24 hours. 

Landlords in Virginia are responsible for the maintenance of the following:

  • Water and electricity
  • Dwelling structures
  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Plumbing 
  • Ventilation 

Housing Discrimination Laws 

According to the Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal to discriminate against a renter based on disability, source of income, gender identity, sexual orientation, medical condition, familial status, age, ancestry, national origin, marital status, sex, religion, color, or race. 

In addition, Virginia law also prohibits landlords from evicting tenants due to old age. This protection only applies to tenants who are over 55 years old.

Security Deposits

In Virginia, landlords are allowed to require tenants to pay a security deposit equivalent to up to two months of rent. Landlords should return the security deposit within 30 days after the tenants move out of the property. Any deductions should be itemized clearly and the landlord is required to provide a written notice detailing all the deductions.

Desk with a calculator, sheet of paper, and pen

Here are the allowable deductions according to Virginia landlord-tenant law:

  • Late rent payment/unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid utility bills
  • Fees included in the rental agreement

Renters’ Rights to Withhold Rent

If a landlord fails to take care of important repairs, tenants may file a Tenant’s Assertation with the District Court. The court may deny or grant withholding rent, depending on the result of the investigation.

Small Claims Lawsuit

For rent-related disputes of $5,000 or more, landlords or tenants may file a complaint in the Virginia small claims court. 

Bottom Line

Understanding Virginia landlord-tenant law is necessary when you own a rental property. If you want help navigating these laws or are stressed out by trying to self-manage your property, you should partner with a local property management company

Give Keyrenter Alexandria a call today! We can help with more than just landlord-tenant law so you can get back to enjoying your free time!


Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.