A summary of Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws based on state law statutes as they apply to residential lease agreements executed between landlords and tenants.
Required Disclosures (by Landlords)
Contact Information: Landlord must disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises, and an owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and for the purpose of receiving notices and demands. (Va. Code Ann. §55-248.12)
Military Zone: The landlord of property in any locality in which a military air installation is located, or any person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on his behalf, must provide to a prospective tenant a written disclosure that the property is located in a noise zone or accident potential zone, or both, as designated by the locality on its official zoning map. (Va. Code Ann. §55-248.12:1)
Mold: A move-in inspection report must include whether there is any visible evidence of mold (deemed correct unless tenant objects within five days); if evidence is present, tenant may terminate or not move in. If tenant stays, landlord must remediate the mold condition within five business days, reinspect, and issue a new report indicating that there is no evidence of mold. (Va. Code Ann. §55-248.11:2)
Ratio Utility Billing: Landlord who uses a ratio utility billing service, who intends to collect monthly billing and other administrative and late fees, must disclose these fees in a written rental agreement. (Va. Code Ann. §55-226.2)
Potential for Tenant Displacement: If an application for registration as a condominium or cooperative has been filed with the Real Estate Board, or if there is within six months an existing plan for tenant displacement resulting from demolition or substantial rehabilitation of the property, or conversion of the rental property to office, hotel, or motel use or planned unit development, the landlord or any person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on his behalf must disclose that information in writing to any prospective tenant. (Va. Code Ann. §55-248.12(C).)
Defective drywall: Landlords who know of the presence of defective drywall in the rental must disclose this before the tenant signs a lease or rental agreement. (Va. Code §55-248.12:2.)
Move-in Condition: Within 5 days of move-in, landlord or tenant or both together must prepare a written report detailing the condition of the premises. Landlord must disclose within this report the known presence of mold. (Va. Code Ann. § 55-248.11:1)
Security Deposit Limit
Up to two months rent may be collected for the security deposit.
Deadline for Returning Security Deposit
After the tenant has moved out, the deposit must be returned within 45 days. The tenant may request to be present at the final inspection.
An annual rate of 4% below the Federal Reserve Board discount rate as of January 1 of each year must be paid for all deposits held for over 13 months after the lease agreement was signed. There is one exception: Single-family residences are exempt as long no more than 10 single-family homes are owned by the landlord as rental property.
Small Claims Lawsuits
Rental property legal actions can be filed in small claims court as long as they don’t exceed $5,000.
In order to charge a late fee in Virginia it must be written into the lease. There is no state statute automatically allowing late fees.
Returned Check Fees
If a rent check is returned unpaid, the landlord may charge up to $50 plus whatever the bank charged to process the return.
Month-to-month agreements require a 30 day notice to make any changes unless the rental agreement specifies different. Lease agreements of a longer duration must govern themselves regarding any rent increases or other changes, thereby requiring the acknowledgment of both parties.
Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent
If a landlord neglects to take care of important property repairs, the tenant may have the right to withhold rent until the property is fixed. However, the tenant must follow the law before withholding. See Virginia Code Ann. §§ 54-248.25, 54-248.25.1, 54-248-27.
Termination and Eviction
Va. Stat. Ann. §§ 55-248.31, 55-248.32 grants the landlord use of a 30 day unconditional quit notice to be used for any repeated violation of lease (after earlier violation was cured or nonremediable lease violation materially affecting health and safety)
An immediate notice to quit can be used for a breach of the lease or rental agreement that is willful or a criminal act, is not remediable, and is a threat to the health or safety of others.
All other violations according to Virginia Code Ann. § 55-248.31 must be given 21 days to cure with an additional 9 days to quit.
Access to Property
A 24 hour notice is required before entry unless a tenant requested maintenance.
Virginia Code § 55-225.5 and § 55-248.18:1 empowers the tenant if he or she is a domestic violence victim and provides a court order allowing exclusion of a co-tenant or occupant, landlord must change locks or allow the tenant to change them. Va. Code Ann. § 16.1-279.1 says a court may grant sole possession of residence to the petitioner, no such grant shall affect title to any real or personal property.
Virginia Lease Agreement
Virginia Landlord-Tenant Law Statutes
Virginia Code Ann. §§ 55-217 to 55-248.40.