Everything You Need to Know about Virginia’s Landlord Tenant Laws
As you may know, each state in the US has their own landlord tenant laws to protect all parties involved with a rental property. If you’ve ever been curious about the rules and regulations that are specific to Virginia, then keep reading!
Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities in Virginia
In each state, both landlords and tenants have their own set of rights and responsibilities to protect both parties from being taken advantage of. To help you better understand these rules in Virginia, let’s start with the rights and responsibilities of the tenant.
The rights of a tenant in Virginia are as follows:
- To find housing without discrimination
- To a safe and habitable living environment
- To report any health or safety concerns and violations related to the property
Here are the responsibilities of the tenant:
- Maintain a safe and habitable condition within the rental home
- Adhere to any and all housing codes that affect health and safety
- Make sure that all plumbing fixtures remain clean
- Use all appliances and fixtures for their intended purpose
- Pay their utility bills in a timely manner
- Keep the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness
- Trash removal
- Avoid damaging or neglecting the property, beyond normal wear and tear
- Respect other tenants and neighbors
- Prevent the growth of mold and mildew
- Avoid tampering with or removing any functioning smoke or carbon monoxide detector
Landlord’s Rights and Responsibilities
While all tenants have responsibilities and rights under Virginia law, landlords have the same.
Here is an overview of the landlord’s rights:
- To evict a tenant who is not abiding by the terms of the lease agreement
- To collect timely rent payments from tenants
The responsibilities of the landlord are as follows:
- Provide a dwelling that is safe and habitable
- Make necessary repairs within 30 days of the maintenance request
- If the issue causes health and safety concerns, it must be repaired in 24 hours
An Overview of the Landlord Tenant Laws in Virginia
The Privacy of Tenants, and Landlord’s Right to Enter the Dwelling
In Virgina, a landlord must give their tenant at least 24 hours notice before entering the property. However, in the event of an emergency that affects the tenants health and well being, the landlord may enter without notice.
The Condition, Maintenance, and Repairs of the Property
Under Virginia state law, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that tenants live in habitable and safe conditions. This includes taking care of the following features of the property:
- Structural integrity of the property
- Working electricity
- Functioning plumbing and sanitation
- Heating and air conditioning units
- Adequate ventilation
- Running water
Housing Discrimination Laws in Virginia
According to the Fair Housing Act, tenants may not be discriminated against based on their race, nationality, color, sex, familial status, religion, or disability.
In Virginia, the law extends this protection, stating that it is prohibited to discriminate against a tenant based on their age (this only applies to tenants over the age of 55).
The Virginia Fair Housing Board handles all discrimination cases. If a discrimination complaint is deemed justified by the board, then it may be used by the tenant as the basis for civil litigation.
Security Deposit Rules in Virginia
Collecting a security deposit from tenants is one of the most common ways for a landlord to protect themselves and their property from lost funds or damages caused by a tenant.
However, there are some regulations in Virginia regarding how much a landlord may charge for a security deposit, and how the deposit may be used.
In Virginia, landlords may charge no more than 2 months rent for a security deposit. They may use the deposit to cover the cost of unpaid or late rent, damages to the property that are beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid utility bills, or any administrative fees related to new rental agreements.
After the end of the lease, a landlord has 30 days to return the security deposit, or what’s left after deductions, to the tenant. If they fail to do this, they may be required to pay not only the deposit but also any penalties for “actual damages” and the tenant’s legal fees.
Required Landlord Disclosures
In Virgina, there is a set amount of disclosures that landlords or property management companies are legally required to provide to their tenants. These should be given in writing, typically as part of the lease agreement.
The mandatory disclosures are as following:
- Lead based paint: If the rental home was built prior to 1978, then the landlord must provide information on possible concentrations of lead paint
- Move-In checklist: Tenants must receive a move-in checklist outlining the condition of the rental property and what they will be responsible for
- Authorized agents: All tenants are entitled to receive a full list of all parties who own or manage the rental property, including their names and addresses
- Location adjacent to military institutions: It must be indicated whether or not the rental home is located near a military institution, as this may be classified as a “noise zone” or an “accident potential zone”
- Defective drywall: Tenants must be made aware if any parts of the drywall are defective
- Methamphetamine manufacturing: If the landlord has any knowledge of the property being previously used to manufacture methamphetamines, this information must be disclosed
- Mold: Any mold on the property must be disclosed prior to move-in
- Shared utilities: Tenants must be aware of how utilities will be split between themselves and other tenants
- Demolition or replacement: This applies to any multifamily complex where tenants may be displaced due to a scheduled demolition or conversion of the property
Tenants’ Right to Withhold Rent
In Virginia, if a landlord fails to uphold their responsibilities to provide necessary repairs to the rental home, then a tenant may file a Tenant Assertion with the district court. The court will then decide if the tenant can legally withhold rent payments from the landlord.
Small Claims Court
Should there be a dispute between parties, Virginia’s small claims court will hear rent related cases of $5,000 or more.
For all questions regarding Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws, feel free to contact Redsail Property Management. Our team of industry leaders are here to help you every step of the way!