The Virginia landlord-tenant law is contained in the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. State law grants both landlords and tenants 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 during a tenancy, under Virginia landlord-tenant law, 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 under Virginia law and the landlord and tenant act. 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. A landlord 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 has it yet to be cleaned? If so, laws require that Virginia landlords notify their tenants about it.
- Defective Drywall – Do you know of any drywall in your rental 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 or rental agreement within 60 days.
- Sale of Property – If a landlord sells the rental property, they must provide your tenant with the contact information of the new landlord.
- Demolition – Is the housing 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 premises 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
Both the landlord and renters have certain rights and duties. 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 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
- To make rental payments on time, every time. Failure may result in eviction
- 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 while they are paying rent
- 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 rental property owner, the Virginia laws give you the following rights. The right to:
- Reasonably enter your tenant’s rented premises to perform necessary duties
- Proper notice and prior written consent 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 residential leases for lease violations
- Collect rent payments per the terms of a lease contract
- Refuse to renew the lease of a tenant when it ends
- Require prospective tenants to undergo a mandatory screening process
- The right to give a landlord access to their rental property with the required written notice
The Virginia landlord-tenant laws list the following landlord responsibilities:
- Treat renters respectfully, equally, and fairly, and keep a tenant’s rent payment record
- A landlord must comply with the Virginia rent rules and accept a tenant’s periodic rent payment
- Abide by the Virginia security deposit laws when collecting a tenant’s security deposit
- Provide a unit that is habitable according to building and housing codes
- Prepare a lease or rental agreement that is legal
- Provide your renters 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
If a landlord fails in any of these responsibilities, it may violate the lease agreement and cause you legal problems.
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 can result in eviction
- Violating the terms of the lease agreement
- Failure by the tenant to move out or give notice after their lease or rental agreement comes to an end
Landlords are, however, prohibited under the Fair Housing Act from evicting tenants for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons as described by the Virginia Fair Housing Board.
If a landlord requires security deposits, they must abide by certain security deposit rules established under the statewide tenancy laws. For example:
- Landlords must not charge their prospective tenant a deposit exceeding the rent of 2 months
- Landlords must return all or the remaining deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out and also give the relative notice
- Make deductions only for allowable reasons, such as a landlord’s property damage exceeding normal wear and tear or failure to pay rent
Please note that wrongfully withholding your tenant’s security deposit can attract severe penalties.
Early Lease Termination
Renters 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 after giving notice
- 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 Virginia state law requires landlords to notify their renters prior to raising the rent. Additionally, there is no landlord and tenant law that limits landlords on how much they can increase their rent.
As a landlord, you must 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 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.