In the US, most states have their own set of local landlord-tenant laws that anyone involved with a rental property must adhere to. From the responsibilities of a tenant to the rules surrounding security deposits, these laws can be confusing to understand.

However, it is crucial that both the landlord and tenant familiarize themselves with Virginia landlord-tenant laws, as failing to do so could land you in legal hot water.

Luckily, we have provided a guide to the landlord-tenant laws that are specific to Virginia. So, if you’re looking for an introduction to the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, keep reading.

Virginia Landlord-Tenant Law: Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Like most states, Virginia law outlines what the rights and responsibilities of a tenant are. The Virginia renters’ rights are to live in a habitable living space, request repairs from the landlord, and receive information regarding any mandatory disclosures related to the home.

The responsibilities of a Virginia tenant are as follows:

  • Pay rent on time as specified in the lease or rental agreement.
  • Maintain a safe and hazard-free environment.
  • Adhere to all building and housing codes.
  • Maintain clean plumbing fixtures.
  • Use the unit and its appliances, utilities, and fixtures for only their intended purpose.
  • Maintain a reasonable state of cleanliness.
  • Pay utility bills on time.
  • Prevent the growth of mold or mildew on the premises.
  • Remove trash.
  • Never deliberately or negligently damage the home.
  • Respect neighbors and fellow tenants.
  • Never tamper with or remove a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector.

Two people’s hands holding a miniature house

Virginia Landlord-Tenant Law: Landlord Rights and Responsibilities

Just like tenants, landlords have their own set of rights along with their responsibilities. Landlords in Virginia have the right to evict tenants who violate the lease or rental agreement in addition to the right to regularly collect rent payments.

Here are the responsibilities of landlords according to Virginia rental laws:

  • Provide a habitable environment for the tenant.
  • To make requested repairs within 30 days.
  • To ensure a sound dwelling structure.
  • Provide working electricity and plumbing.
  • Provide heating and air conditioning.
  • Ensure proper ventilation.
  • Provide running water.
  • In the event of an eviction, provide written notice and follow the legal procedure.

Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act: Overview

Landlord’s Right to Enter the Home

Can landlords enter without permission in Virginia? Yes, landlords can enter a rental without permission if there is an emergency that puts the safety of the tenant and their wellbeing at risk.

Otherwise, respecting your tenant’s privacy is crucial when it comes to owning a rental home. Virginia landlord-tenant law stipulates that landlords must provide their tenant with 24 hours' notice before entering the premises.

The Condition of the Property

Landlords in Virginia has a responsibility to ensure that their tenant lives in a habitable home. But what tasks fall under this responsibility?

A person standing on a ladder painting a wall while another person holds the ladder

Here are just some of the things that landlords must provide as per Virginia landlord-tenant law to ensure that their space is habitable and safe to occupy:

  • Working electricity.
  • Running water that is both hot and cold.
  • Adequate ventilation in the home.
  • Functioning heating system.
  • Working air conditioning unit.
  • Functioning plumbing system that is up to code.

Virginia Housing Laws on Discrimination

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is prohibited to discriminate against tenants based on race, color, nationality, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. The Virginia Fair Housing Board also adds protection for age, as it is prohibited to evict a tenant due to their age if they are over 55 years old.

This law applies to lease agreements, marketing or advertisements, tenant screening, rent pricing, security deposits, and all other landlord-tenant communication throughout a tenancy.

Virginia Security Deposit Laws

According to Virginia landlord-tenant laws, landlords may only charge up to two months’ rent as a security deposit. After the lease agreement ends and the tenant has moved out of the unit, the landlord has 30 days to return the tenant's security deposit or what is left of it after deductions.

If the landlord wrongfully withholds the tenant's security deposit at the end of the lease or rental agreement, they may face tangible legal consequences such as fees or fines.

A landlord may deduct funds from security deposits to cover the cost of missed rent, damages that are beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid utility bills, and administrative costs for a new written lease or rental agreement.

Close up of someone using a drill to fix part of a window

Required Disclosures from the Landlord

There are many disclosures that a landlord in Virginia is required to provide to tenants prior to their move-in date. According to the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, landlords need to provide disclosures on the following:

  • Lead-based paint: If the property was built prior to 1978, then the landlord must disclose information regarding lead concentrations.
  • Move-in checklist: Tenants must be provided with a move-in checklist detailing the condition of the unit.
  • Authorized agents: Tenants must be provided with the names and addresses of anyone involved with the management or ownership of the unit.
  • Location adjacent to military institutions: Landlords must inform their tenants if the rental home is near a military institution as it may be in a “noise zone” or an “accident potential zone”.
  • Defective drywall: Tenants must be informed if the drywall in the home is defective.
  • Methamphetamine manufacturing: Landlords in Virginia must disclose to their tenants if they have any knowledge of the property being used in the past to manufacture methamphetamines.
  • Mold: Any mold on the unit must be disclosed to tenants prior to moving in.
  • Shared utilities: Landlords must inform tenants how utilities are to be split between multiple tenants or units.
  • Demolition or displacement: If there is a multifamily home where the tenants will be displaced within six months due to demolition, rehabilitation, or conversion of the unit, then the landlord must disclose this.

Virginia Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent

A Virginia tenant does not automatically have the right to withhold rent if the landlord fails to provide repairs after they have been requested.

Black gavel on a desk

If a landlord does not comply with the repair request, the tenant may file a Tenant’s Assertion with the District Court. The court will then decide whether or not the tenant will be able to withhold rent payments from their landlord. Tenants may also be allowed to break their lease early if you fail to perform your duties as a landlord.

Small Claims Lawsuits

When it comes to rental properties, disputes between landlords and tenants are fairly common. In Virginia, the small claims court will hear cases that are rent-related if they are valued at $5,000 or more.

Get Help from a Property Management Company

The experts at Vesta Property Management can help you navigate issues with tenants and understanding Virginia law surrounding rental properties. Our expert team is here to offer guidance on all your property management needs. Contact us 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.