Getting all the rules in check in a lease for a rental property may be complicated, especially when those rules can vary depending on each state. Thankfully, each state has carefully laid out the guidelines for any rental situation in their area, which makes it easier for landlords and tenants to come to an agreement.
In the Virginia state, all the rules for leases are stated in the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA), which can be found in the Code of Virginia. However, keep in mind that a landlord may adjust some of these guidelines to fit their rental needs, so not every tenancy case works in the same way.
In this article, we're going to take a closer look at the Virginia landlord-tenant law so that you can understand the rights and responsibilities for landlords and tenants in that specific state. If you have any particular doubts about a rental case, make sure to seek legal advice from an attorney.
What Constitutes a Rental Agreement?
In most states (including Virginia), a rental agreement includes the landlords' conditions for leasing their property (according to the Virginia landlord-tenant law). Overall, a rental agreement must be drafted in written form if the tenancy is expected to be longer than 12 months, but it's always recommended to use a written lease regardless of the lease duration.
According to Virginia law, a rental agreement has to include the name and address of the property owner. Other than that, the landlord may include as many clauses as they consider appropriate for their rental. Here is a list of the most common clauses included in a written rental agreement in Virginia:
- Contact information of all the parties involved in the lease.
- Conditions to live in the property building.
- Tenant and landlord rights.
- Payment of rent clauses.
- Security deposit clauses.
- Security deposit returns.
Is Virginia a Landlord-Friendly State?
Overall, this is considered a landlord-friendly state since the Virginia landlord-tenant law doesn't impose any rent control policies for landlords. On the other hand, landlords don't have many limitations at the time of choosing tenants, which makes the process more flexible for them.
What Are Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities?
When it comes to a lease, the landlord has many legal rights that they should know of. In general, landlords have the right to collect rent payments, collect security deposit payments for required repairs or unpaid bills (qs long as they don't exceed the value of two months of rent), and terminate the tenancy if the tenant doesn't want to comply with the housing regulations of the landlord.
It's important to note that landlords may seek legal help from an attorney if the tenant fails to answer the landlords' claims. In extreme cases, a rental dispute could go to a court of law.
Overall, landlords in Virginia have to provide the tenant a property in good condition that complies with local housing regulations and guidelines and also respond to damages with a repairing service promptly (usually within 21 days of notice). If the landlord cannot comply with that service in a particular period, they may be exposed to legal action from their tenant, which can also terminate the tenancy.
What Are Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities?
According to Virginia landlord-tenant law, tenants have the right to live in a habitable unit that complies with proper housing regulations. Additionally, tenants have the legal right to request required repairs if the unit has any kind of damage that exceeds normal wear and tear. If the landlord cannot respond to these requests in advance, state laws allow the tenant to send a notice of termination to their landlord or take the claim to a court of law.
Finally, tenants are allowed to collect their security deposit after they've left the property unless the landlord decides to withhold the security deposit partially to cover unforeseen damages or unpaid bills.
The tenant must comply with all the provided clauses and important information in the lease agreement, which may vary depending on the landlord. However, most landlords tend to request the following things from their tenant:
- Pay rent on time.
- Not disturb any other neighbors and tenants.
- Keep the property in good condition.
- Comply with local and state-wide housing guidelines
Virginia Landlord-Tenant Law - General Clauses
These clauses and more information about what a landlord can and cannot do with a rental agreement can be found in the Virginia landlord-tenant law (Section 55-248.2 through 55-248.40). However, if you want to know the general information found in most leases, keep reading.
According to the Virginia landlord-tenant law, a tenant is allowed to pay the landlord in any form that they accept for their rental property. If the tenant wants to, they may request the landlord a statement that shows all credits and debits over the entire tenancy period (or the past 12 months). In the circumstance that the tenant requests this, the landlord must respond within 10 days of the provided request.
Virginia laws don't allow any municipality in the state to impose any rent control policies to landlords and tenants, which means that the landlord may charge their tenant any amount of rent they consider appropriate.
Additionally, a Virginia landlord doesn't have to provide any type of notice or justification if they're planning to raise rent prices to their tenant.
Late Fees and Grace Periods
As long as the landlord puts the required "Late Fees" clause in the lease, they may charge them. Keep in mind that if that required term isn't specified anywhere, Virginia landlord-tenant law prevents them from charging any type of fees to their tenant.
A late fee cannot higher than the lesser of 10% of any rental payments due by the tenant.
There isn't any information about grace periods in the Virginia landlord-tenant law, meaning that the landlord may charge a fee to the tenant as soon as the rental payment goes past its final date.
For bounced checks, the landlord can charge their tenant a fee of up to $50.
Virginia landlord-tenant laws allow the landlord to collect a security deposit from their tenant. These security deposits are used as insurance to cover unexpected costs. Here is a list of the things that security deposits can be used for:
- Insurance for damages that exceed regular wear and tear.
- Insurance for unpaid bills.
- Rent insurance
- Insurance for any violations in the lease agreement.
The landlord must ensure that this insurance isn't higher than the cost of two months of rent. If the landlord plans to charge an amount higher than two months of rent, the tenant could seek help from an attorney.
After the lease term has ended, the landlord must provide the security deposits to the tenant within 45 days of them moving out of the property. If the tenant doesn't receive their security deposit within these 45 days, they have the legal right to file a claim, according to Virginia landlord-tenant laws.
Keep in mind that a landlord can partially withhold a deposit to cover any extreme damages caused to the property. In these cases, the landlord must provide a thorough inspection of the property, including all the utilities, within five days of the tenant moving out. After they conclude, the landlord must provide the tenant with a damage report.
A lease termination means that both the landlord and the tenant can choose not to renew the lease after it ends. According to information in the Virginia landlord-tenant laws, the tenant has to provide a particular amount of notice depending on the type of lease:
- Week-to-Week Amount - 30 days.
- Month-to-Month Amount - 90 days.
- Quarter-to-Quarter Amount - Non-applicable.
- Year-to-Year Amount - Non-applicable.
Additionally, the Virginia tenant is allowed by state law to send a notice for termination for any of the following:
- Unacceptable living conditions.
- Failure to provide the required disclosures.
- Early termination clause.
- Active military duty.
It's important for the tenant to comply with these requirements to avoid having a legal dispute with their landlord in Virginia.
Evictions in Virginia
The eviction process is fairly simple for the landlord, according to the local landlord-tenant laws.
These laws dictate that a landlord can evict their tenant for the following reasons:
- The tenant doesn't pay the rental amount on the provided date - Landlords must send a "Pay or Quit Notice."
- The tenant breaches the provided terms of the lease - Landlords must send a "Cure or Quit Notice."
- In cases of criminal activity - Landlords can start the eviction immediately.
If the tenant doesn't have a fixed-term lease, they might receive a notice to quit from the landlord. From that point on, the tenant has to leave the unit within 30 days of that notification.
See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for Virginia.
The Virginia Fair Housing Board and the Fair Housing Act protect the tenant from any discrimination from their landlord based on their race, religion, sex, nationality, disability, or familial status.
If the tenant becomes a victim of discrimination, they can file a claim with detailed information with the Virginia Fair Housing Board.
Following all the information in the landlord-tenant laws of Virginia isn't that complicated if you read them carefully and closely. Remember to seek legal advice with an attorney if you need any additional help.
What are the laws regarding methamphetamine
According to landlord-tenant laws in Virginia, the landlord must inform the tenant if the property was used before to elaborate methamphetamine.
Does the landlord have to inform the tenant about nearby military zones?
Landlord-tenant laws require the landlord to indicate if the apartment is located near a military institution that could cause uncomfortable noise.
Is the landlord obligated to disclose information about lead paint on the property?
Landlord-tenant laws in Virginia require the landlord to provide information about concentrations of lead paint if their property was built before 1978.
Does the landlord have the right to enter a property in Virginia?
According to local landlord-tenant laws, the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours of notification before entering the unit. However, the landlord is not required to notify if there's an emergency in the unit.