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.
Virginia Landlord Tenant Law: FAQs
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.
How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out in Virginia?
A 30 Day Notice to Vacate is the proper form to use if the tenant has been paying on a month-to-month basis for less than a year and you want to end their tenancy. A 60 Day Notice to Vacate is the eviction notice you wish to send if the renter has resided there for more than a year.
What circumstances allow a landlord in Virginia to evict a tenant?
As per Virginia landlord tenant law, a landlord may evict a tenant for several reasons, including:
- Non-payment of rent: If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, the landlord may give them a five-day notice to pay or vacate.
- Violation of lease terms: A 30-Day Notice to Comply must be given by the landlord to the renters, giving them 21 days to address the problem. The tenant has nine more days to leave the rental home if they can’t address the problem within the allotted 21 days.
- Illegal use of the property: If a tenant is using the property for illegal purposes, the landlord may give them a three-day notice to vacate.
- End of lease: If a tenant is on a month-to-month lease, the landlord may give them a 30-day notice to vacate.
It’s also important to note that in Virginia, a landlord must follow proper eviction procedures, including giving written notice, and going to court if the tenant does not leave. Additionally, certain evictions such as discrimination, retaliation, and breach of warranty of habitability have special protections.
Can a landlord evict you without a court order in Virginia?
No, a landlord in Virginia cannot evict a tenant without a court order. The landlord must follow proper eviction procedures, including giving written notice to the tenant and obtaining a court order, known as an “unlawful detainer” order, if the tenant does not leave. The landlord cannot use “self-help” methods, such as changing the locks or removing the tenant’s belongings, to evict a tenant without a court order. Additionally, Virginia’s state law also has a provision called “Warranty of Habitability” which makes it illegal for landlords to evict tenants in retaliation or in discrimination.
Can a landlord evict you if there is no lease in Virginia?
If you don’t have a lease and don’t pay rent, you are regarded as a “tenant at sufferance” under Virginia landlord tenant law. This means that there is no requirement for giving you a prior warning and that you may be evicted at any moment, for any cause.
What legal procedures must the landlord follow to evict in Virginia?
According to Virginia landlord tenant law, a landlord must follow specific legal procedures in order to evict a tenant. These procedures include:
- Giving written notice: The landlord must give the tenant written notice of the reason for the eviction. The amount of notice required varies depending on the reason for the eviction. For non-payment of rent, the landlord must give a five-day notice. For violation of lease terms, a 14-day notice is required. For illegal use of the property, a three-day notice is required. For the end of a month-to-month lease, a 30-day notice is required.
- Filing an eviction complaint: If the tenant does not vacate the property within the time frame specified in the notice, the landlord must file a complaint with the court, known as an “unlawful detainer” complaint. This complaint must be filed in the general district court of the city or county where the property is located.
- Serving the tenant: The landlord must serve the tenant with a copy of the complaint and a summons to appear in court on a specific date. The summons must be served at least five days before the court date.
- Court hearing: The tenant has the right to contest the eviction at the court hearing, and the landlord must prove the grounds for the eviction. If the court finds in the landlord’s favor, the court will issue an order for the tenant to vacate the property within a certain time frame.
- Execution of Writ of Possession: If the tenant still fails to vacate the property after the court order, the landlord may request the court to issue a Writ of Possession. This writ will authorize the sheriff to physically remove the tenant from the property.
It’s also important to note that evictions may be subject to state or federal laws regarding fair housing, discrimination, and retaliation.
What does a landlord need to do when a tenant moves out in Virginia?
When a tenant moves out of a rental property in Virginia, the landlord must follow certain procedures to ensure the return of the security deposit and the protection of the tenant’s personal property. These procedures include:
- Inspection of the property: The landlord must inspect the property within a reasonable time after the tenant moves out. The landlord must provide the tenant with written notice of the time and date of the inspection at least 48 hours in advance.
- Determination of damages: Based on the inspection, the landlord must determine if any damages were caused to the property by the tenant and the cost of those damages.
- Return of the security deposit: Within 45 days of the tenant moving out, the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant, along with a written statement itemizing any deductions for damages. If the landlord is retaining any portion of the deposit, the statement must include an explanation of the reason for the retention and the cost of repairs.
- Disposition of abandoned property: If the tenant leaves behind any personal property, the landlord must store it in a safe and secure place for at least 15 days. The landlord must then provide written notice to the tenant of the property’s location, and the tenant has 15 days to retrieve it. If the tenant does not retrieve the property within 15 days, the landlord may dispose of it.
It’s important to note that these are the minimum requirements under state law, and landlords and tenants can agree to more favorable terms in their lease agreement.
Can the landlord kick the tenant out in Virginia?
No, a landlord in Virginia cannot simply “kick out” a tenant without following proper eviction procedures and obtaining a court order. The landlord must follow the legal process outlined in Virginia state law, which includes giving written notice to the tenant, filing a complaint with the court (known as an “unlawful detainer” complaint), serving the tenant with a copy of the complaint and a summons to appear in court, and obtaining a court order if the tenant does not vacate the property.
How long does the tenant have to move with eviction in Virginia?
The renter is given one last notice to vacate with the writ of eviction. 15 to 30 days after it is issued, a constable or a sheriff must deliver it to the tenant. After posting, the tenant has a maximum of 72 hours to vacate on their own.
Can the landlord evict the tenant without reason in Virginia?
As per Virginia landlord tenant law, landlords are required to have a valid reason for evicting a tenant. Some common reasons for eviction include non-payment of rent, violation of the lease agreement, or causing damage to the property. The eviction process in Virginia also requires landlords to follow specific legal procedures, including providing written notice and going to court. Without a valid reason, a landlord cannot simply evict a tenant without following the proper legal procedures.
How much time in Virginia does a landlord have to make repairs?
If there is an urgent issue (such as no water or heat in the winter), the landlord is required to address it right away. This denotes a matter of hours, or even a day or two. Other repairs should be given a reasonable amount of time, such as 10–15 days, by the tenant.
How does a landlord evict a month-to-month tenant in Virginia?
According to Virginia landlord tenant law, a landlord may evict a month-to-month tenant by providing proper notice. The required notice period is determined by the cause of the eviction.
If the tenant has violated the lease agreement, such as by failing to pay rent or causing damage to the property, the landlord must give the tenant a written notice of the violation and a 30-day period to correct the problem. If the tenant does not correct the violation within the 30-day period, the landlord may proceed with the eviction.
If the landlord is not evicting the tenant for a violation, but simply wants the tenant to vacate the property, the landlord must give the tenant a written notice of termination of the lease. One month’s notice is needed in this situation.
What is considered landlord harassment in Virginia?
In Virginia, landlord harassment is considered to be any action taken by a landlord that is intended to interfere with a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of their rental property. Some examples of landlord harassment include:
- Entering the tenant’s property without proper notice or permission
- Changing the locks or shutting off utilities without notice
- Making threats or using physical force against the tenant
- Making excessive or unjustified demands for rent or other payments
- Interfering with the tenant’s privacy by excessively calling, visiting, or monitoring the property
- Making repairs or renovations that are disruptive or that cause health hazards
It’s important to note that, in Virginia, landlords are not allowed to take any retaliatory action against tenants who exercise their legal rights, such as making a complaint to a housing authority or joining a tenants’ union. If a tenant believes they are being harassed by their landlord, they should document the incidents and consult with an attorney to understand their rights and options.
It’s also important to note that harassment is not only physical but also emotional and psychological, such as verbal abuse and discrimination.
If not renewing a lease in Virginia, how much notice does a landlord have to give?
Until one of the parties decides to terminate the lease, the tenant will continue to pay rent on a monthly basis. This means that the rental lease can be terminated with a 30-day written notice from either the landlord or the renter.
Can a tenant refuse entry to the landlord in Virginia?
As per Virginia landlord tenant law, tenants have the right to privacy and the right to quiet enjoyment of their rental property, which means that landlords must generally provide notice before entering the property. However, there are certain situations in which a landlord may enter the property without notice, such as in case of an emergency, or if the tenant has given prior consent.
It’s important for tenants to understand their rights regarding an entry by the landlord. Under Virginia landlord tenant law, a landlord can enter the rental property for the following reasons:
- With the tenant’s consent
- In case of emergency
- To execute any necessary or agreed-upon changes, renovations, or repairs
- To supply necessary or agreed-upon services
- When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the property
- To display the property to potential buyers or renters
- When the tenant has been absent for an extended period of time
Tenants are allowed to refuse entry to the landlord if the landlord does not have a valid reason for entering the property, or if the landlord does not give proper notice before entering. However, tenants should be aware that refusing entry to the landlord may result in the landlord taking legal action against them.
In Virginia, how much may a landlord lawfully increase the rent?
In Virginia, there is no rent control. The amount of rent increases a landlord can impose is therefore unrestricted, although they must provide a 30-day written notice of the increase. Tenants have 30 days to leave the rental unit if they don’t agree with the new rent price.
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.