Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws
January 17, 2023
We’d love to connect with you.
|Required Disclosures |
Statement of tenant rights and responsibilities
Military air installation
Rent and Fees
Application Fee Limit: $50
Rent Control: N/A
Late Fee Limit: 10% of monthly rent or amount owed, whichever is less
Grace Period Minimum: N/A
Amount Limit: 2 months’ rent
Return Within: 45 days
|Fair Housing Protections |
Source of income
Notice: 72 hours’
Permitted Times of Entry: Reasonable
Rent Demand Notice: 5-day pay-or-quit notice
Notice for Remediable Lease Violation: 30-day cure-or-quit notice
Notice for Non-Remediable Lease Violation: 30-day quit notice
Unconditional Notice to Quit: Immediate
Virginia Landlord-Tenant Law
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Virginia landlords must notify tenants in writing at or before the start of the tenancy of the name of the person authorized to manage the premises and any owner or other agent authorized to act on their behalf.
Statement of Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
Landlords shall provide a list of tenant rights as well as a rental rules list with a copy of the written lease to each tenant within one month from the beginning of the tenancy.
Virginia landlords must disclose whether there is visible evidence of mold within the dwelling unit. If there is evidence, and the tenant wishes to remain in possession, then the landlord shall promptly remediate the mold condition and reinspect the unit afterward. Once mold growth has been remediated, the landlord is not required to make disclosures of past mold incidence.
Military Air Installation
If a residential property is adjacent to a military air installation, the landlord must provide prospective tenants a written disclosure that the property is in a noise or accident potential zone.
Landlords in Virginia who are aware that a unit has defective drywall must provide prospective tenants with a written disclosure.
Landlords in Virginia who are aware that the dwelling unit was previously used to manufacture methamphetamine, and has not been cleaned in accordance with legal guidelines, must provide tenants with a written disclosure of such.
Landlords are required to provide a certificate to tenants at least once every 12 months stating that all smoke alarms in the unit are present, have been inspected, and are in good working order.
If the landlord plans to demolish or substantially rehabilitate a multifamily dwelling unit, the landlord must disclose this information in writing to prospective tenants.
Within five days after the beginning of a new tenancy, the landlord must provide a written report itemizing existing damages to the dwelling unit. Tenants have five additional days to object to any inaccuracies. Landlords may also adopt a written policy allowing the tenant to prepare the move-in inspection report, after which the landlord has five days to object.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: If the day rent is due is not specified in a written rental agreement, rent is due on the first day of each month (VA Code § 55.1-1204C(4)).
- Application Fees: Landlords may charge a nonrefundable application fee of $50 or less, exclusive of out-of-pocket expenses paid by the landlord to a third-party performing background or credit checks. Landlords may only charge application fees of $32 or less if the dwelling unit is a public housing unit subject to regulation by the HUD (VA Code § 55.1-1203(C)).
- Rent Increases: There is no statewide rent control in Virginia. However, landlords cannot raise rent in retaliation against a tenant for filing a health, safety, or housing code violation, joining a tenant’s group, or testifying against the landlord (VA Code § 55.1-1258).
- Late Fees: 10% of monthly rent or 10% of the remaining balance due, whichever is less (VA Code § 55.1-1204E).
- Grace Period: There is no mandatory grace period in Virginia. However, if the landlord does not provide a written rental agreement, a 5-day grace period applies (VA Code § 55.1-1204C(4)).
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: If the tenant’s rent check bounces, the landlord may charge a fee of $50 plus any legal interest charged to the holder by the bank (VA Code § 8.01-27.1).
- Withholding Rent/Repair and Deduct: If the landlord neglects to remedy a condition that constitutes a material noncompliance with the rental agreement or the law, or represents a serious fire hazard, health hazard, or safety threat, the tenant may notify the landlord in writing of the problem. If the landlord does not remedy the condition within 14 days, the tenant may arrange the repair with a licensed third-party contractor. The tenant may then submit an itemized statement with receipts for the repair and deduct the actual cost from the rent, up to the amount of one month’s rent or $1,500, whichever is greater (VA Code § 55.1-1244.1(B-C)).
- Deposit Limit: 2 months’ rent (VA Code § 55.1-1226).
- Interest: There is no law in Virginia requiring landlords to pay interest on security deposits.
- Return Within: 45 days (VA Code § 55.1-1226(A)).
- Deposit Location: There are no laws in Virginia specifying where the security deposit should be kept.
- Withholding: Landlords may withhold funds from the security deposit for unpaid late fees, physical damages, unreasonable wear and tear, other damages provided in the rental agreement, or damages due to the tenant’s breach of the rental agreement. Landlords must also provide an itemized list of deductions in a written notice together with the remainder of the deposit (VA Code § 55.1-1226(A)).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). Virginia state law adds source of income, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, and age (“elderliness”) (VA Code § 36-96.3).
- Virginia landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- Criminal background checks may be used during tenant screening in Virginia.
- Virginia landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: 72 hours. If the tenant makes the request for maintenance, the landlord is not required to provide advanced notice (VA Code § 55.1-1229(4)).
- Permitted Times: Virginia landlords may only enter at reasonable times (VA Code § 55.1-1229(4)).
- Emergency Entry: In case of emergency, landlords in Virginia may enter dwelling units without notice or consent (VA Code § 55.1-1229(4)).
Evictions are complex legal processes often poorly understood by both parties. Before pursuing eviction in Virginia, consider hiring an experienced real estate attorney and be sure to review the Virginia eviction process in more detail.
- Rent Demand Notice: 5 days to pay or quit (VA Code § 55.1-1245(F)).
- Lease Violation Notice (Remediable Breaches): 21 days to cure; 30 days to quit. If a tenant violates the lease agreement or fails to maintain the unit per VA Code § 55.1-1227 in a way that materially affects health and safety, the landlord must deliver this notice. The notice should state the breach and what is required to remedy it, and that the lease will terminate in 30 days if the breach is not remedied within the first 21 days (VA Code § 55.1-1245(A)).
- Lease Violation Notice (Non-Remediable Breaches and Repeat Violations): 30 days to quit. If the tenant commits a breach of the lease or the law that is un-remediable, the landlord may serve this notice stating the breach and the date by which the tenant must vacate the unit (not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice). A 30-day quit notice (without opportunity to cure) also applies when the tenant intentionally commits the same violation as a prior breach (VA Code § 55.1-1245(C)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: Immediate. If a tenant’s breach involves or constitutes a criminal act that poses a threat to health or safety or any illegal drug activity, the landlord may terminate the lease immediately and file for eviction thereafter. It is not necessary for the landlord to wait for a criminal conviction for illegal drug activity before filing for eviction (VA Code § 55.1-1245(C)).
Other Laws and Facts About Virginia
- The median rent rate in Virginia is $1,997 per month.
- The median rent rate in Arlington is $2,061 per month.
- Landlords in Virginia may permit tenants to purchase renter’s insurance coverage in lieu of paying a security deposit. However, the insurance provider must be licensed and approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The coverage must also remain effective for the entire lease term, and the coverage provided per claim must be no less than the amount the landlord requires for security deposits (VA Code § 55.1-1226I).