If you are a landlord in Virginia and want to ensure your rental application document has all the information you need to comply with Virginia law. In all states, a rental application form is used by landlords to gather information about potential renters/tenants to determine if they're a good fit for inhabiting their commercial or residential property.
However, rental application laws may vary depending on the state, and in the case of Virginia landlords, there are quite some rules they must be aware of before going forward with the application process.
Generally speaking, a rental application form in Virginia will consider the following factors:
- Rental history
- Criminal history
- Employment history
- Credit history or other financial information
The following table of contents will cover everything a Virginia rental application must have so that it's compliant with state laws.
Rental Application Fee
In Virginia, the maximum application fee you can get for potential tenants is $50, unless the rental unit is regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development; in that case, the rental application fees cannot be higher than $32. Depending on the case, the document must include a refundable application deposit, which is then returned to the applicant if they were rejected. This is not the same as the security deposit.
The fees don't include out-of-pocket expenses, which can include:
- Credit checks
- Background checks
- Other screening services
On the other hand, the landlord can charge a maximum security deposit of two months' rent. There are no receipt or holding requirements for the security deposit.
Things to include
A Virginia rental application form will consider the following specific information for the potential tenant:
Overall, the credit check (or credit report) will either be a full report that includes information about the tenant's income, employment, credit inquiries, and more, or a pass/fail report.
It's vital to note that the tenant must provide the landlord with written consent before giving them the document.
Criminal History Check
If the potential tenant or applicant was involved in any activity that got them included in state court criminal records or databases, they must show that information to the owner in the Virginia rental application.
Aside from the criminal and credit history check, the eviction check will show landlords information about the tenant's history of evictions, whether they're judgments or general filings. This report will show data for the past seven years.
Laws and Consent Guidelines to Follow for Background Checks in Virginia
Virginia rental application laws and the Federal Credit Reporting Act require the potential tenant or applicant to provide written consent for the landlords to run the credit checks. The applicant may include this consent on the lease agreement or in a separate document.
Things you can't include
Both the Federal Fair Housing Act and Virginia laws, in general, protect applicants from certain discrimination acts. Overall, every property owner must be aware of and verify the following information before renting the property to the applicant.
These laws protect the following applicant classes from discrimination:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Familial status (Unless there are children who will occupy any of the two-family owner-occupied units)
- Age (Unless the unit involves age-specific communities)
- Source of income
- Religion (Unless the unit is operated, owned, or supervised by a religious group that doesn't rent for commercial purposes)
- Physical or mental disability
- Military status
What does this mean for the owner? It means that they cannot ask about any of that information during the application process, and they cannot use these factors when considering tenants' applications. Some exemptions that apply for the rental lease include:
- Owner Occupied Property: The Mrs. Murphy exemption states that owners may bypass some of the previous regulations if they live in a unit of a single-family property, have four dwellings or less, or they represent themselves during the lease process. Still, the owner may not consider race since that's illegal.
- Private Clubs: In case there's any club that operates without commercial intent or access to the public, it can have preferential treatment for lodgings operated or owned by the property.
Eviction Record Search
Owners can access the District Court's online records database for free. There, they can gather some extra information about the applicant/tenant for the Virginia rental process. The process to access eviction records in Virginia goes as stated below:
- Go into the Virginia General District Court Online Case Information System.
- Go into the "Court" menu, and select the applicable jurisdictions from the dropdown menu.
- Click on "Name Search" under the "Civil" menu, and enter the tenant's name.
- You will get access to eviction cases involving the potential tenant. There, you can select a particular case number to read a summary.
Adverse Action Notices
You will need to provide the tenant with an adverse action notice if you took any adverse action after reading their eviction, credit, or criminal history. This notice will include an explanation of why you didn't take the adverse action yourself and information regarding the person's right to request a copy of the document and dispute it within 60 days.
While it isn't required by law to specify the reason why the tenant got rejected, it's recommended to do it. Some of the things that count as "adverse action" include the following:
- Requiring a co-signer (and you didn't include one before)
- Asking for a higher deposit or rent
- Rejecting the applicant
Build Your Own
Dealing with your property rental form yourself may be hard, especially if you don't have enough resources to ensure that you're processing everything the right way. In that case, you can download our free application form in Word or PDF format.
Once you download it, you can complete the document with all the information you need. On the other hand, you can request a customizable version of the article so that you collect and update any terms you consider appropriate.
Now, you have all the resources you need to fill out your rental/housing application form. Remember, if you consider there are many details for you to consider, downloading our free forms may be the best way to ensure the tenancy criteria screening process goes as smoothly as possible.
How Much Is a Rental Fee in Virginia?
In this state, the fees may not go higher than $50 for regular properties and $32 for properties regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
What Is the Rent Grace Period in Virginia?
Although it's not required, the grace period in this state tends to be approximately five days.
Is Virginia a Landlord-friendly State?
Yes! This state is considered landlord-friendly since the laws don't specify any rental control policies.