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Virginia Residential Lease Agreement for Rental Properties
Leases are the cornerstone of a successful landlord-tenant relationship, providing a legal framework for both parties to enter a harmonious agreement.
In Virginia, residential lease documents—including their structure, nature, and contents—are regulated by Virginia’s landlord-tenant laws. For this reason, it’s imperative to understand the intricacies of the law before constructing a lease.
This guide will walk you through the crucial components of a lease agreement Virginia considers compliant, ensuring you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions. And to make your journey easier, we’re offering a free Virginia standard residential lease for download!
A Virginia lease is a legally binding document that outlines the terms and conditions governing the rental of a residential property within the state. This lease adheres to Virginia’s landlord-tenant laws, providing a clear framework for both landlords and tenants to follow and fostering a secure and transparent rental environment.
The following components should be included in all Virginia lease agreements.
This section specifies the lease’s start and end dates, establishing the duration of the rental agreement.
Here, you’ll find details regarding the rent rate, due date, and the status of rent control. In Virginia, there are no statewide rent control laws. This means there is no state limit on the price of rent, so landlords can charge whatever reasonable amount they deem fit. However, keep in mind that landlords are also responsible for complying with local and municipal laws. Additionally, Virginia law dictates that landlords cannot raise rent in retaliation against a tenant (VA Code § 55.1-1258).
The penalties for missing rent payments should be clearly stated in the lease, as should any exceptions. In Virginia, late fees cannot be more than 10% of the monthly rent or 10% of the remaining balance due, whichever is less (VA Code § 55.1-1204E). The late fee policy should be clearly described in your Virginia lease agreement so that tenants know exactly what will happen if they are late on rent.
This section of the lease includes details about the security deposit, including its amount, where it will be stored, and how/when it will be returned.
The maximum or limit for security deposits in Virginia is two months’ rent. Additionally, the security deposit must be returned (minus any deductions) within 45 days after the lease terminates. Be sure your security deposit policy is clearly stated in the lease, including the amount, how it will be stored, when it will be returned, and the conditions under which you may withhold funds per Virginia law.
This section encompasses crucial required disclosures, which are information that must be disclosed to the tenant in the lease before they agree to rent the property. A lease agreement Virginia considers compliant must include these disclosures, or they may be disclosed separately.
In Virginia, the required disclosures are:
- Lead-based paint – Landlords in all 50 states must disclose lead-based paint hazards in rental agreements for most properties built before 1978.
- Landlord/tenant identification – Virginia landlords must disclose to tenants the name of whoever is authorized to manage the premises (the owner or any other agents).
- Statement of tenant rights and responsibilities — All Virginia landlords must provide a list of tenant rights and rental rules to each tenant within one month of the tenancy.
- Mold – Virginia landlords must disclose whether there is visible evidence of mold within the dwelling unit.
- Military air installation – If the property is next to a military air installation, the landlord must disclose to prospective tenants that the property is in a noise or accident potential zone.
- Defective drywall – If a landlord in Virginia is aware that a unit has defective drywall, they must disclose this to tenants.
- Methamphetamine contamination – If a landlord in Virginia is aware that a unit was previously used to manufacture methamphetamine and hasn’t been cleaned appropriately, they must disclose this to the tenant.
- Smoke alarms – Virginia landlords must provide a certificate to tenants at least once a year verifying that all smoke alarms have been inspected and are in good working order.
- Demolition – If a Virginia landlord plans to demolish or rehabilitate a multifamily property, they must disclose so to tenants.
- Move-in/move-out checklist – All Virginia landlords must provide a written, itemized list of existing damages to the tenant within five days after each new tenancy.
Landlord Right to Entry
In Virginia, there are specific laws governing when a landlord can enter a rental property. Landlords must give 72 hours’ notice before any entry for non-emergency reasons, except when the tenant makes a request for maintenance. Additionally, Virginia landlords should only enter occupied units at reasonable times, typically interpreted as daylight hours. The landlord’s right to entry should be included in the lease, along with a list of possible reasons for entry (e.g., showings, inspections, etc.).
Repairs & Maintenance
The lease outlines how and when tenants should submit maintenance requests and clarifies the process for addressing necessary repairs. Every Virginia residential lease agreement should specify which maintenance responsibilities are the landlord’s and which are the tenant’s.
Lease Termination/Renewal Procedures
This section details the procedures for early lease termination and breaking the lease, including eviction processes. Specifically, the lease should clearly state how many days’ notice the tenant needs to provide the landlord to announce their intent to either renew or terminate the lease.
A Virginia residential lease agreement should also clearly describe what happens if the tenant breaks the lease. Before filing for eviction in Virginia, landlords must send eviction notices of specified lengths: A five-day pay or quit notice for nonpayment, a 30-day quit notice for lease violations, or an immediate quit notice for criminal or illegal drug activity. These notice periods should be specified to the tenant so that both parties are clear on what will happen if the tenant fails to uphold the lease agreement.
Any specific community rules or regulations, such as policies on smoking, guests, and pets, are listed in this section. You may also include a Virginia sublease agreement if tenants are permitted to sublease their units.
Joint and Severability Clause
This clause is for leases with multiple roommates and explains the legal consequences if one party fails to fulfill their obligations. It ensures that the entire lease isn’t invalidated due to one roommate’s breach.
Both the landlord and tenant will sign the lease either on paper or electronically, ensuring a secure and convenient process.
Virginia Lease Agreement Download
To make your leasing journey simpler, we offer a free, downloadable Virginia standard residential lease. This template is tailored to meet the specific requirements of Virginia state law, making it a valuable tool for landlords and tenants.
Understanding the nuances of a Virginia residential lease agreement is vital for a smooth and legal tenancy. We hope this guide has provided you with a clear understanding of the components of a Virginia lease. To get started on the right foot, download our free Virginia rental lease template and ensure a transparent, lawful, and satisfying rental experience.