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, 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. Keep reading for a comprehensive overview of the most important aspects of the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Virginia
According to Virginia law, landlords are required to disclose certain information to their residents before the beginning of the tenancy. Here are the required disclosures that the landlord should include in the written rental agreement:
Although nonrefundable fees belong to optional disclosures under the Virginia landlord-tenant law, landlords are recommended to include all non-refundable charges in the written rental agreement. Failure to do so may allow the tenant to file a claim against non-refundable fees.
Rights of Domestic Violence Victims
A rental agreement or lease 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
As per the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, 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.
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 property before the beginning of the tenancy. This checklist should be given to the tenant within five days of moving in. It is advised to have both the landlord and tenant sign this document so there is a mutual understanding of the condition of the property before the tenancy began.
Other Mandatory Disclosures
- Lead-based paint
- Defective drywall
- History of methamphetamine manufacturing
- Proximity to a military institution
- Shared utilities
- Plans for demolition or displacement
Virginia Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
In Virginia, renters 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 or written rental agreement 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).
Here are the basic tenant responsibilities as per Virginia landlord-tenant law:
- 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 rent and utility services 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.
Virginia 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 written lease agreement.
- The right to charge as much as they want for rent, as well as to increase the rental rate.
Similarly, there are certain landlord responsibilities highlighted by the state’s landlord-tenant laws:
- 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 or rental 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 or rental agreement.
Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws: Overview
Landlord’s Right to Enter the Dwelling
According to the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, 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 written 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.
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. As part of the Fair Housing Act, a property owner has to screen each prospective tenant using the same process and criteria.
In addition, the Virginia Fair Housing Board also prohibits landlords from evicting tenants due to old age. This protection only applies to any tenant who is over 55 years old.
Security Deposit Laws
According to Virginia security deposit laws, landlords are allowed to require tenants make security deposit payments equivalent to up to two months of rent. Landlords should return the tenant’s security deposit within 30 days after the residents 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.
Here are the allowable deductions you can make to security deposits according to the Virginia landlord-tenant laws:
- 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, Virginia 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.
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 the Virginia landlord-tenant laws 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.