The Virginia landlord-tenant laws are contained in the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. The act grants both the landlord and tenant special rights and responsibilities once a lease agreement has been established.
Whether you’re new to owning a rental or are already a seasoned landlord, having a good understanding of your legal obligations is key. The following is a basic overview of the Virginia landlord-tenant laws.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Virginia
Before a tenant can move in, landlords in Virginia are required to make certain disclosures. A landlord must make disclosures on:
- Lead Paint – Landlords must let their tenants know of any use of lead paint on the premises.
- Mold – This must be part of the move-in inspection report. You must let your tenant know whether there is any presence of mold in the dwelling’s interior.
- Meth Production – Was your unit used for meth production in the past and it has yet to be cleaned? If so, laws require that landlords notify their tenant about it.
- Defective Drywall – Do you know of any drywall in your unit that is defective? If you do, you must notify your tenant about it. If you fail to do so and your tenant learns of it, later on, they can terminate the lease within 60 days.
- Sale of Property – If a landlord sells the property, they must provide your tenant with the contact information of the new landlord.
- Demolition – Is the dwelling unit set for demolition or a serious upgrade? If so, a landlord must provide your tenant with a written notice.
- Military Air Installation – Is the rental property located near an accident potential zone, a noise zone, or a military base? If so, the landlord must let the tenant know.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities in Virginia
Your Virginia tenants have the following rights under the statewide Residential Landlord & Tenant Act. The right to:
- Live on the property without being discriminated against on the basis of race, color, or any other protected characteristics
- Live in peace and quiet as promised under the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment
- Occupy a unit that abides by Virginia’s safety, health, and structural codes
- Live in the property until the landlord has followed the proper eviction procedures to remove them
- Have requested repairs done in a timely fashion
- Be provided the amenities, features and facilities promised in the lease or rental agreement
- Exercise any of these rights without the risk of threats or intimidation
The following are some of the responsibilities that your tenant has:
- Maintain the unit in a safe and hazard-free state
- Remove garbage and trash
- Maintain the unit to a certain level of cleanliness and sanitation
- Pay utility bills without fail
- Make use of all available utilities, appliances, and facilities in a reasonable fashion
- Comply with all habitability codes that materially affect safety and health
- Not to tamper with or remove any functioning smoke- or carbon monoxide detector
- Respect the peace and quiet of neighbors by not disturbing them through loud music, for instance
A Virginia Landlords Rights & Responsibilities
As a landlord, the Virginia laws give you the following rights. The right to:
- Reasonably enter your tenant’s rented premises to perform necessary duties
- Proper notice from a tenant seeking to move out
- Draft a legally abiding lease or rental agreement
- Ask for a security deposit prior to a tenant moving in
- Terminate a lease for lease violations
- Refuse to renew the lease of a tenant when it ends
- Require prospective tenants to undergo a mandatory screening process
The Virginia landlord-tenant laws lists the following landlord duities:
- Treat tenants respectfully, equally, and fairly
- Comply with the Virginia rent rules
- Abide by the Virginia security deposit laws when collecting a tenant’s security deposit
- Provide a unit that is habitable
- Prepare a lease or rental agreement that is legal
- Provide your tenants with mandatory disclosures
- Respect your tenant’s right to live in privacy
- Follow the proper eviction procedures when evicting a tenant for violating the lease or rental agreement
Overview of the Virginia Landlord-Tenant Law
Evictions in Virginia
As a Virginia landlord, you have relatively broad authority when it comes to evicting tenants. A landlord can evict a tenant for the following common violations:
- Refusing to make rental payments
- Violating the terms of the lease agreement
- Failure by the tenant to move out after their lease or rental agreement comes to an end
Landlords are, however, prohibited from evicting tenants for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.
If a landlord requires security deposits, then they must abide by certain rules that are established under the statewide tenancy laws. For example:
- Landlords must not charge their tenants a deposit exceeding the rent of 2 months
- Landlords must return all or the remaining deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out
- Make deductions only for allowable reasons, such as damages exceeding normal wear and tear
Please note that wrongfully withholding your tenant’s security deposit can attract severe penalties.
Early Lease Termination
Tenants can terminate a lease without penalty if they have a legally justified reason. In Virginia, tenants can break their lease without penalty for the following reasons:
- If the written lease or rental agreement contains an early termination clause and the tenant fulfills the requirements
- If the unit is no longer habitable
- When starting an active military duty
- If the landlord violates the terms of the agreement
- If the tenant becomes a victim of domestic violence
- Failure by the landlord to provide mandatory disclosures
Rent Increase in Virginia
In Virginia, there is a law that out-rightly prohibits county and local governments from passing any legislation that regulates rent increases. As such, landlords may be able to increase the rent as much as they want. In addition, no law requires Virginia landlords to notify their tenants prior to raising the rent. Neither, is there a law that limits landlords on how much they can increase it by.
As a landlord, you must ensure that you understand and follow landlord-tenant laws and any other local and federal rental regulations. If you would like help keeping track of your legal duties or managing your rentals, contact the experts at Keyrenter Property Management Hampton Roads today!
Disclaimer: This post isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. If you require legal assistance please contact a licensed attorney.