IMPORTANT: There are properties that are exempt from the guidelines listed in the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA). These are all listed in Section § 55-248.5. For instance, some of these exemptions include single-family rental houses where the landlord owns and rents ten or fewer such houses.
May I charge an application fee?
The landlord may charge an application fee. This fee may be no more than $50. If the application fee was made for a rental property in public housing contingent to regulation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, then the fee may be no more than $32. If the applicant does not rent the unit, the landlord shall refund the fee within twenty days of rejection or tenant’s failure to rent the unit. Although, the landlord must refund the application fee within 10 days, if the deposit was made by cashier's check, cash, certified check, or postal money order.
How much can I charge for rent?
The General Assembly of Virginia has declared that federal rent control is no longer necessary. However, there are areas where subsidized and low-income housing is still in place, but no rent control.
May I accept Prepaid Rent?
If agreed to, by both landlord and tenant, prepaid rent may be accepted. Any prepaid rent shall be placed into a federally insured depository escrow account in Virginia. It must remain in the account until the rent becomes due. Unless the landlord has otherwise become entitled to receive any portion of the prepaid rent, it shall not be removed from the escrow account.
May I charge a late fee?
Assessed fees should be reasonably related to the expenses the landlord incurs as a result of a late payment.
May I charge a returned payment fee?
The processing fee for a returned check or payment shall not exceed $50 and must be specified in the rental agreement.
Is there a limit to the amount I may collect for a security deposit?
The security deposit may not exceed two months’ periodic rent.
After my tenant has moved, how long do I have to send the security deposit back?
A landlord is required to either hand deliver or mail the security deposit return, along with a written statement listing any deductions, to the tenant, at their last known address, within 45 days after termination. Electronic delivery of notice is accepted if stated in the lease agreement.
If stated in a termination notice, vacating notice, or a separate written notice abiding by chapter 596 of the Code of Virginia, the landlord may deduct a portion of the security deposit to substitute for an amount of the balance due on sewer, water, or any other utility bill that is the responsibility of the tenant. The landlord must provide the tenant with a written confirmation within 10 days, accompanying payment of any other balances due to the tenant.
What are the rules for ending a Lease Agreement?
Week-to-Week: The landlord or the tenant may terminate a tenancy by serving a written notice to the other 7 days prior to the next rental due date.
Month-to-Month: A month to month tenancy may be terminated by giving a written notice to either the landlord or tenant at least 30 days before the next rent is due. A shorter or longer notice period MAY be permitted as long as it is outlined in the written lease agreement and signed by both parties.
Year to Year: The landlord or tenant may terminate a tenancy by either party giving 3 month's notice, in writing, prior to the end of any year of the tenancy.
Fixed-Term: As specified in the Lease Agreement.
PLEASE NOTE: In a building of at least four residential units, the lease may be terminated by the landlord for rehabilitation or change in use of the building, by giving 120 days written notice, except in the case of a month to month agreement, see above.
What must I do to inspect my property? Do I have to notify the tenant?
In the case of an emergency or when it is unrealistic to do so, the landlord must give the tenant 24 hour notice of intent, to enter the rental property. The tenant may not unreasonably refuse entry to the landlord for necessary or prearranged repairs, services, or showings.
What circumstances must require me to release a tenant from the lease obligations?
The landlord must release the tenant from the lease agreement in the case of a military tenant, called to active duty. A tenant may also be relieved from the obligations of a lease agreement if he/she is a victim of family abuse, criminal sexual assault, or sexual abuse. Any type of destruction or harm to the property, that deems the property uninhabitable, that was not caused by the tenant, will conclude in the tenant being released from the agreement.
How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
According to the VRTLA 55-248.33 The tenant is required to give notice if they presume to be absent from the property for an excess of seven days. If the tenant fails to give notice, the landlord may enter the premises at a reasonable time to protect his or her possessions and property. If the landlord is unsure if the property is abandoned, he or she may serve the tenant with notice that abides by §55-248.6. The tenant then has seven days to give written notice determining occupancy.
Aside from the lease agreement, are there any additional documents necessary?
Within five days of the tenant’s occupancy of the rental unit, the landlord shall provide a written inspection report that will itemize any damages that existed in the rental at the tim eof occupancy. This report will be considered correct unless the tenant objects in writing within five days of receipt of the report. The landlord may also adopt a written policy allowing a tenant to prepare a move-in inspection report in which case the tenant will submit the report to the landlord within five days after receipt, and both landlord and tenant will sign and receive a copy. If no objections are noted, the report will be deemed correct.
If there is any visible evidence of mold, the landlord must disclose this information to the tenant. This written statement is assumed to be correct unless the tenant opposes by a written statement within five days of the mold disclosure. The tenant may terminate the agreement if there is visible mold, although, if the tenant decides to take the possession after acknowledging the mold then the landlord must expeditiously rectify the mold infested environment within five days.
Disclosure of Military Facility
If the rental property is located within a noise zone or accident potential zone or both as designated by its locality on the official zoning map, the landlord must provide written disclosure to prospective tenants. A person who is not provided a disclosure as specified in VRLTA §55-248.12:1, may terminate the lease agreement at any time during the first 30 days of the lease as per the VRLTA.
If the property was constructed before 1978, the Lead-Based Paint EPA Disclosure and Lead Based Paint EPA Pamphlet must be provided to all tenants.
If the landlord gives authorization to any person or company to act on his or her behalf, he or she must disclose, in writing, the name and address, to the tenant:
If the landlord has knowledge that the rented premises was previously used to manufacture methamphetamine that has not been cleaned up according to the guidelines, they must provide a Meth Disclosure
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord-tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seeks independent counsel for any specific issue.