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Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws

Virginia Landlord Tenant LawsThis article is intended to be an online resource for Virginia landlords.  We summarize key Virginia Landlord-Tenant laws that are most applicable to residential rental units.

This article is not qualified for legal advice.  Individuals seeking guidance need to work with a legal advisor who is qualified in the jurisdiction.  Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws and statutes may vary from county to county or city to city, this article provides state-level laws and statutes. 

Also, laws and statutes are subject to change and may cause sections of this article to be outdated.  We provide links to assist landlords and tenants to the state statute page for further research.

Click here if you are seeking renters insurance in Virginia.

 

Quick Facts for Real Estate Investors Considering Virginia

Virginia landlord-tenant laws are considered Landlord-friendly.

There are 8.5m  residents in Virginia.  Major metropolitan markets in Virginia are:

  1. Virginia Beach: Estimated population of 1,768,064, which 38% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $1,124.
  2. Richmond: Estimated population of 1,291,900, which 34% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $1,060.
  3. Roanoke: Estimated population of 313,222, which 31% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $789.
  4. Lynchburg: Estimated population of 263,566, which 29% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $777.
  5. Harrisonburg: Estimated population of 134,964, which 38% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $866.
  6. Charlottesville: Estimated population of 218,615, which 37% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $1,141.
  7. Blacksburg: Estimated population of 167,531, which 38% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $856.
  8. Winchester: Estimated population of 140,566, which 28% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $952.

 

 

SECURITY DEPOSIT LAWS IN VIRGINIA

 

Does Virginia require security deposits?

Virginia does not require security deposits, however, if accepted then there are laws and regulations.

 

Is a security deposit receipt required in Virginia?

No statute.  It is generally recommended to still send a receipt of at least the date, the total amount received, and its purpose.

 

How much security deposit can a landlord charge in Virginia?

Virginia limits the amount of security deposit to 2 month’s rent. (§ 55.1-1226(A))

 

 

Storage Requirements for Security Deposits in Virginia:

Virginia does not state where a landlord must keep security deposits.

 

 

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in Virginia?

Landlords can commingle deposits with their personal funds.

 

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in Virginia?

Landlords are not required to share the interest earned for deposits.  No statute.

  

 

 

When must a landlord return the deposit by in Virginia?

Landlords must return the security deposits within 45 days after the termination of the lease and delivery of possession by the tenant.  (§ 55.1-1226(A))

 

When can a landlord in Virginia withhold a security deposit?

At the end of a lease, the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit.  However, landlords may withhold all or portions of a tenant’s security deposit for:

  • Unpaid late rent
  • Damages beyond normal wear-and-tear
  • Unpaid utility charges
  • Breaching provisions in the lease

 

 

 

Nonrefundable fees:

Landlords are allowed to charge non-refundable application fees, not to exceed $50.  Government housing is limited to $32 per application.  (§ 55.1-1203)

If the tenant does not rent the rental unit, landlords must return the application deposit and other holding deposits.

 

Pet Deposits and Additional Fees:

No statute on pet security deposits.  Landlords should clarify in the lease agreement.

 

Require a written description / itemized list of damages and charges?

Landlords are required to provide a written and itemized list of damages that are delivered. (§ 55.1-1226(A))

 

What happens to Virginia landlords that fail to comply with returning the security deposit?

Landlords that fail to comply, the court shall order the return of the deposit.  If the tenant does not owe rent, the landlord may be held liable for actual damages, reasonable attorney fees.  (§ 55.1-1226(E))

 

 

 

 

 

RENTAL AGREEMENT LAWS IN VIRGINIA

 

Rental agreements required in Virginia:

Rental agreements are required for leases 12 months or longer.  We always recommend having a legal lease agreement to prevent future complications.

If you need a lease, Burbz offers an online Virginia rental lease agreement.

 

What are the required lease provisions in Virginia?

Virginia requires certain provisions to be included in the lease agreement.  Besides both the landlord and tenant names, the landlord should also list:

  • MUST:  Landlords name, address, and phone number
  • Conditions of occupancy
  • Description of the rental unit
  • Security deposit amount and terms
  • Process for requesting maintenance and repairs
  • Security deposit amount and terms
  • Process for requesting maintenance and repairs
  • Rent Amount and Due Date.Provision defining automatic renewal
  • Pet policies
  • Late Fees and Penalties
  • Length of the lease agreement
  • Tenants name, address, and phone number
  • Landlord’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Occupancy by children or pets
  • Required deposits and the conditions for their refund
  • Inspection rights by the landlord
  • Other fees
  • Address of rental property
  • Subleasing policy
  • Cleaning Fees

 

A rental agreement cannot contain the following provisions (§ 55.1-1208):

  • Tenant agrees to waive or forgo rights or remedies
  • Tenant agreements waive rights or remedies pertaining to the 120-day conversion or rehabilitation notice required
  • Tenant confess judgment on a claim arising out of the rental agreement
  • Tenant agrees to pay landlord’s attorney fees
  • Tenant agrees to exculpation or limitation of any liability of the landlord or indemnifies the landlord
  • Tenant agrees as a condition of tenancy in public housing to a prohibition or restriction of any lawful possession of a firearm within individual rental units unless required by federal law or regulation
  • Tenant agrees to both the payment of a security deposit and the provision of a bond or commercial insurance policy purchased by the tenant to secure the terms and conditions of a rental agreement

 

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in Virginia:

Fixed-End or Year-to-Year: Leases simply expire.  Tenants should provide at least a 30-day notice if they want to renew.

Month-to-Month: Must provide at least 30 days’ written notice at any time. (§ 55.1-1253)  Read our guide on Month-to-Month rent.

Week-to-Week: Must provide at least 7 day’s written notice with the termination date specified in the notice. (§ 55.1-1253)

Military Service: Must provide at least 30 day’s written notice with the termination date specified in the notice.  Members of the Armed Forces only qualify if they received permanent change of station further than 35 miles away, received temporary duty orders in excess of 3 months, discharged or released from active duty, ordered to report to government-supplied quarters.  (§ 55.1-1235)

 

Rent Increase Notice:

No statute.

Rent Grace Period for Residential:

No statute.  This allows landlords to charge late fees the first day after rent is past due.

 

 

Prepaid Rent:

Landlords and tenants may agree in the lease agreement for the tenant to prepay rent.  If so, the prepaid rent must be placed in an escrow account in a federally insured depository authorized to do business in Virginia by the end of the 5th business day once received.  This amount must stay in the account until the landlord has become entitled to receive any portion of the prepaid rent.  To remove from escrow, the tenant must provide written consent.  (§ 55.1-1205)

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATE FEES AND LIMITS IN VIRGINIA

Late Fees for Residential:

Virginia landlords need to include a provision in the lease agreement stating the late fee.  Landlords are also allowed to charge a processing fee for any bounced checks, not to exceed $50.  (§ 55.1-1245)

 

 

 

 

VIRGINIA LEASE TERMINATIONS / NOTICES TO QUIT

 

In Virginia, lease agreements between landlords and tenants can be terminated.  Read our blog for landlords about handling early lease terminations.  Here are the cause and effects:

 

What is the Pay or Quit for Nonpayment requirement in Virginia?

Virginia landlords must provide a 5 day notice.  Accepting partial payment does not waive the landlord’s remedies for nonpayment of rent. (§ 55.1-1245(F))

 

How many days must a landlord allow before terminating for a Lease Violation?

Landlords must provide a 30 day notice to remedy or cure the violation.  Tenants must remedy the issue in the first 21 days or else they face lease termination at the end of the 30 days.

 

 

Any actions that result in an immediate lease termination?

Landlords can provide an immediate 30 day notice for lease termination due to criminal activity, illegal drug activity, or acts of violence, any of which threaten the health or safety of other residents.  (§ 55.1-1245(C))

 

 

 

 

VIRGINIA LAWS ON REPAIRS

 

Virginia requires landlords to provide a habitable property for tenants to live and enjoy.  There are specific provisions defining how tenants can remedy repairs if the landlord fails to do so. 

How many days must the tenant give for repairs? 

Virginia state landlords must be given 14 days notice to correct the offending conditions.  (§ 55.1-1244.1)

 

Can tenants withhold rent for landlords’ failure to provide essential services (i.e. water, heat, etc.)?

Virginia allows the tenant the following remedies to handle repairs if the landlord fails (§ 55.1-1244.1(C)):

  • Tenant may deduct repairs from rent if they contract with a third-party contractor licensed by the Board for Contractors.  Cannot exceed 1 month’s rent or $1,500, whichever is greater.  Must provide receipts.

 

VIRGINIA LANDLORD LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Landlords have an obligation to the tenants, which include (§ 55.1-1220):

  • Comply with Codes:  Landlords must comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety
  • Necessary Repairs: Landlord must make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition
  • Common Areas: Landlord must keep all common areas in a clean and structurally safe condition for properties with two or more dwellings units.
  • Safe Conditions: Landlord must maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, HVAC, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators.
  • Moisture / Mold: Landlord must maintain the premises in such a condition as to prevent the accumulation of moisture and the growth of mold and promptly respond to any notices.
  • Receptacles for Trash: Landlord must provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the collection, storage, and removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental.
  • Smoke Alarms: Landlord must provide a certificate to the tenant stating that all smoke alarms are present, have been inspected, and are in good working order no more than every 12 months.

 

 

 

VIRGINIA TENANT LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Generally, tenants must dispose of all rubbish and garbage, refrain from unreasonable use of electrical, heating, and plumbing fixtures, meet all obligations lawfully by the code enforcement agency, refrain from willfully destroying or damaging the structure, take in additional occupants, rent or sublease without the owner’s consent. (§ 55.1-Article 3 Tenant Obligations)

 

 

 

 

 

VIRGINIA EVICTION LAWS

 

Can landlords do a ‘self help’ eviction?

In Virginia, it is illegal for landlords to cause the tenant to quit the rental unit involuntarily.  Landlords may be liable for damages sustained as a result of an illegal eviction, reasonable attorney’s fees, and forfeit their rights to the security deposit.  (§ 55.1-1243)

Are landlords allowed to lockout tenants by changing locks?

The landlord cannot change or remove the doors or locks. (§ 55.1-1243)

 

Are landlords allowed to turn off utilities?

The landlord cannot change or turn off utilities to impede on the tenants.. (§ 55.1-1243)

Do landlords have to make a reasonable attempt to mitigate damages when re-renting the rental unit?

No.  However, once a landlord rents the dwelling unit before the expiration of the prior rental agreement, the previous agreement terminates on the date of the new tenancy.

 

 

 

VIRGINIA LAWS ON RETALIATION

 

Virginia laws does not state any retaliation laws.  However, Burbz generally recommends for landlords not to retaliate for any of the following:

  • Tenant submitted, or threatened to, a complaint to a government agency for building or health code violation
  • Tenant has sent written complaints to the landlords about repairs
  • Tenant has organized or become a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization
  • Tenant has testified in a court proceeding against the landlord

 

Virginia does not define a period as an assumed period of retaliation.  (§ 55.1-Article 6 Retaliatory Action)

 

 

 

 

LAWS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

Virginia states a landlord cannot discriminate against prospective tenants or tenants because they have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, or stalking.  (§ 55.1-1236)

If you are a victim, please search The Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance  site for a helpline:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

 

Verify Claim:

A landlord is allowed to verify the claim of Domestic Violence. Tenants have to provide a restraining order.

 

 

Can a tenant terminate the least if they are a victim of domestic violence: 

Utah state law says a tenant with proof of Domestic Violence status is allowed with 30 days notice and proof of victim status.

 

 

Must Landlords Change Locks:

If requested by a victim of Domestic Violence, a landlord must the locks.  The cost of the lock is at the tenant’s expense.  Tenants can change locks but must provide the landlord with a set of keys.

 

 

 

 

VIRGINIA LAWS FOR LOCKS AND LANDLORDS

Virginia requires properties with 5 or more units to have a dead-bolt, peepholes in any exterior swinging entrance door, removable metal pins or charlie bars on exterior sliding glass doors, and locking devices that meet the requirements of Uniform Statewide Building Code on all exterior windows.  (§ 55.1-1221)

 

 

 

 

VIRGINIA PET LAWS & PET POLICIES

Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws does not have any specific pet laws.  The lease agreement should state whether pets are allowed and any type of pet deposit that will be charged.

Landlords are legally allowed to create their own pet policies and requirements.  Including tolerance for breeds, size, types, and more. 

Read our guide to pet policies.

 

 

 

 

 

DO LANDLORDS IN VIRGINIA NEED A RENTAL LICENSE?

 

According to Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws, landlords do not need a rental license in Virginia. 

Local cities may have different requirements, we recommend you research the local city-specific laws.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTICE OF ENTRY LAWS IN VIRGINIA

Do landlords in Virginia have to provide notice of entry? 

Virginia requires the landlord to provide 24 hours notice, except in the case of an emergency. (§ 55.1-1229):

  • Non-emergency maintenance and repairs
  • Improvements to property
  • Inspections
  • Showing prospective tenants, contractors, mortgagees, or buyers.

 

When can a landlord enter without notice:

Landlords may only enter without consent if there is a reasonable belief that there is imminent danger to any person or to property.  When the tenant makes a request, the landlord is not required to provide notice.  (§ 55.1-1229)

 

 

Can landlords enter for non-emergency maintenance and repairs?

Landlords may enter with at least a 24 hour notice. (§ 55.1-1229)

 

 

Can landlords enter for showings?

Landlords may enter with at least a 24 hour notice. (§ 55.1-1229)

 

 

 

Can landlords enter for emergencies without notice?

Landlords may enter without notice if there is a reasonable belief for harm to a person or property. (§ 55.1-1229)

 

 

Can landlords enter during Tenant’s extended absence?

Landlords may enter if the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.  (§ 55.1-1229)

 

 

Can landlords enter for pesticides?

Landlords must provide at least 48 hours notice.  (§ 55.1-1223)

 

 

 

 

 

VIRGINIA SUBLEASE AND ASSIGNMENT PROVISIONS

Landlords should include a clause in the lease agreement to prevent subleasing.  Otherwise, the tenant may sublet the rental unit.  If the lease allows subleasing, the landlord must respond within 10 days of the tenant’s request for a sublease.

 

 

 

 

TENANT ABANDONED PROPERTY IN VIRGINIA

 

Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws state a tenant is considered abandoned if:

  • If the landlord cannot determine whether tenant has abandoned, they shall serve written notice providing 7 days to confirm their intention to remain in the property.  (§ 55.1-1249)
  • Given a termination notice and statement of any personal items left in the property within the 24-hour period after termination of the 7 day notice.  (§ 55.1-1254)

 

 

 

 

 

REQUIRED RENTAL AGREEMENT DISCLOSURES FOR VIRGINIA LEASES

 

Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws requires the following be included with all Rental Agreement Disclosures:

 

Lead Paint Disclosure:  Yes.  Federal law requires every landlord to disclose known information on lead-based paint and hazards.  Landlords must provide this EPA-approved pamphlet.

Disclosure of Mold:  Landlords must disclose in the move-in inspection report whether there is any visible evidence of mold in areas readily accessible within the interior.  If mold is present, tenants may terminate the tenancy and not move in.  If the tenants still move in with known mold, landlords must promptly remediate the mold condition within 5 business days.  (§ 55.1-1215)

Disclosure of Prior Meth Manufacturing:  If the landlord has actual knowledge of previous manufacturing of methamphetamine and has not been cleaned up to guidelines, the landlord must provide prospective tenants a written disclosure that states such.  If landlords fail to do so, tenants may terminate the lease agreement within 60 days of discovery.  (§ 55.1-1219)

Military Air Disclosure:  Landlords in any locality with a military airbase must provide a prospective tenant a written disclosure that the property is located in a noise zone or accident potential zone.  If landlords fail to do so, any tenant may terminate the lease agreement during the first 30 days of the lease period.  (§ 55.1-1217)

Defective Drywall Disclosure:  Landlords with knowledge of the existence of defective drywall must provide a prospective tenant a written disclosure that the property has defective drywall.  See the definition of defective drywall.  Tenants may terminate the lease agreement any time within 60 days of discovery if notice was not provided.  (§ 55.1-1218)

 

 

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

Code of Virginia – Chapter 12 Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Virginia Landlord-Tenant Handbook

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development – Virginia

 

 

VIRGINIA RELATED COURT INFO & LINKS

 

Virginia Small Claims Court Limits:

$5,000 is the limit for small claims court. 

 

Virginia Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims:

No.

Virginia General District Court

Attorney General of Virginia

 

 

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