State Landlord-Tenant Laws For Virginia

Overview

DEPOSIT

  • The maximum allowable deposit is 2x the monthly rent .
  • Landlords have 45 days to return the deposit after move out.
  • Landlords can deduct repairs beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid rent and utilities.
  • Landlords must provide and itemized list of any deposit deductions.
  • Landlords are not required to pay interest.

RENT INCREASE LAWS

  • No rent control laws.
  • Landlords must give reasonable notice before increasing the rent for annual leases.
  • Landlords must give 30 days notice when increasing rent for a month to month lease and, 7 days for a weekly lease.

NOTICES

  • Landlords must give at least 24 hours notice before entering the premise for repairs or inspections (except in the case of an emergency).

RE-KEYING LAWS

  • No statute.

RENTAL AGREEMENT

  • Both written and oral agreements are accepted in Virginia.
  • It is always advisable to have a written lease, especially for longer term leases.

LATE FEES & GRACE PERIODS

  • Landlords may collect a late fee of no more than 10% of the monthly rent payment or 10% of the amount overdue, whichever is lesser.

SMOKING LAWS

  • No statute.

PET LAWS

  • Landlords may collect a pet depositin Virginia. Deposits often range between $200 - $500.

SECTION 1

1. Virginia Landlord-Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

According to the provisions under the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, both tenants and landlords have some rights and certain obligations that guide their landlord-tenant relationship. 

Below is a summary of some key aspects of Virginia's landlord-tenant laws.

Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities

Rights

  • A tenant has the right to reside in a livable apartment that complies with state rent regulations. 
  • A tenant has the right to receive updates on modifications to the rental agreement. 
  • A tenant has the right to receive a prompt response from the landlord on their requests for repairs. 
  • A tenant has the right to stay in the rented property until the landlord removes them following the correct eviction procedures. 
  • A tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment free from neighbor or landlord intrusion. 
  • A tenant has the right to obtain a copy of the legally binding lease or rental agreement that outlines their obligations and rights. 
  • A tenant has the right to receive their security deposit back from the landlord following the termination of the lease, less any required deductions.

Responsibilities

  • A tenant is expected to pay the rent as at when due or risk being evicted.
  • A tenant is expected to maintain the rental property well by keeping the landlord informed of any maintenance needs and by not causing irresponsible or reckless damage. 
  • A tenant is expected to not disturb the peace of other building occupants or neighbors. 
  • A tenant is expected to give written notice to the landlord when moving out of the rental property. 
  • A tenant is expected to observe the conditions stipulated in the documented rental agreement or lease. 
  • A tenant is expected to give their landlord notice if they will be away from home for a lengthy amount of time.  

Landlord’s Rights and Responsibilities

Rights

  • A landlord has the right to be notified in the event that a tenant wishes to vacate the property. 
  • A landlord has the right to be informed before a tenant attempts to make alterations to the property.
  • A landlord has the right to request a security deposit when a tenant moves in. 
  • A landlord has the right to collect rent whenever it's due and can also charge a late fee if stipulated in the lease agreement.  
  • A landlord has the right to enter the rented property to perform repairs and maintenance (with notice) or in case of emergencies (no notice required). 
  • A landlord has the right to make deductions from a renter's security deposit to pay for costs like late rent, damage to the tenant, etc. 

Responsibilities

  • A landlord is expected to follow the proper Virginia eviction process when evicting tenants.
  • A landlord is expected to give the renter a written notice before making changes to the lease or rental agreement. 
  • A landlord is expected to give a copy of the signed rental agreement to the tenant. 
  • A landlord is expected to maintain the rental's peace and quiet atmosphere. 
  • A landlord is expected to provide a livable rental home that complies with local and state building, health, and safety regulations. 
  • A landlord is expected to respond to a tenant's maintenance request in a fair amount of time. 
  • A landlord is expected to respect the terms stated in the rental agreement or lease. 
  • A landlord is expected to keep a tenant’s security deposit in a secure account until it is given back to them.
  • A landlord is expected to follow the guidelines established by the Virginia Fair Housing Board.

Required Notices Before Entry

Are landlords in Virginia required to give notice before entering the property?

In Virginia, landlords are required to provide tenants with 24 hours notice before entering the premises to make repairs, show the unit to prospective buyers, and more. The only exception to this is if there is an emergency, such as a fire or severe leakage. (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1229)

Are landlords allowed to enter the property to conduct maintenance and repairs?

Yes, as long as they give the renters enough warning, landlords are allowed to access rental properties to carry out maintenance and repairs. (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1229)

Late Fee for Rent in Virginia

Landlords can only charge a late payment fee from a tenant if it is stipulated in the lease agreement. 

There's a cap on how much landlords can charge for late payment of rent. The late fee for rent can't be higher than 10% of your monthly rent payment or 10% of the amount you still owe after missing a payment, whichever is lesser. (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1204)

Source: Virginia Statement of Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

SECTION 2

2. Virginia Rent Increase Laws

The state of Virginia does not have a rent control law. Also, state law prohibits local cities or counties from enacting rent control policies. 

Consequently, landlords have maximum freedom when it comes to rent increases. However, they are expected to, out of courtesy, provide prior notice to tenants before increasing rent.

Notice Required to Raise Rent in Virginia

Landlords in Virginia typically give the following notice when raising rent: 

  • Month-to-month lease: 30 days prior to the due date of rent 
  • Week-to-week lease: seven days prior to the due date of rent 
  • For a year-long lease, there is no set notice time, but landlords must act reasonably. 

Limitations on Virginia Rent Increase Laws

There are certain situations where it would be illegal for landlords to raise rents under Virginia Rent Increase laws. Some of these are the following:

  • Landlords are not permitted to raise the rent during the lease term unless the lease agreement specifies otherwise. 
  • Rent increases by landlords for discriminatory or retaliatory purposes are prohibited in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Act and Virginia Fair Housing Law.

Source:Federal Fair Housing, Virginia Fair Housing Law.

SECTION 3

2. Virginia Rental Agreement Laws

Virginia law recognizes and accepts both oral and written lease as a form of rental agreement.   

According to Virginia's landlord-tenant law, a rental agreement in the majority of states (including Virginia) contains the terms and conditions set forth by the landlords for renting their property. 

In general, if the tenancy is anticipated to last longer than 12 months, a formal rental agreement must be created; nevertheless, using a written lease is always advised, regardless of the length of the lease.

Virginia law mandates that the name and address of the property owner be included in a rental agreement. Apart from that, the landlord is free to include as many terms as they feel fit for their rental agreement. 

The following is a summary of the most typical language found in written rental agreements 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.

Source:Virginia Tenant Landlord Handbook

SECTION 4

4. Virginia Tenant Deposit Laws

Landlords are permitted by Virginia landlord-tenant law to collect a security deposit from their tenants. These security deposits protect against unforeseen expenses such as damages exceeding normal wear and tear, default rent bills, and insurance against any lease agreement violations.

What Is The Maximum Allowable Deposit In Virginia?

There's a limit to the maximum amount a landlord can demand as a security deposit in Virginia. A landlord may only charge a renter a maximum of two months' rent as a security deposit. (Va. Code Ann §55.1-1226)

Can Landlords Collect Pet Deposits In Virginia?

Virginia landlords are allowed to charge an additional pet deposit if a tenant wants to bring a pet onto their rented property. This fee, however, can't be changed for service pets in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Fair Housing Laws. 

Typically, a pet deposit usually falls within the $200 to $500 range. However, the entire security deposit that a landlord is allowed to collect cannot be more than the two-month maximum.   

What Can Landlords Deduct From The Deposit In Virginia?

According to the Virginia code, landlords are allowed to take money out of a tenant's security deposit for a variety of reasons. 

Here are some of the acceptable reasons for security deposit deductions: 

  • To settle past-due utility bills 
  • To make up for overdue rent
  • To compensate for damages to property beyond wear and tear 
  • To make up for lost earnings

How Must Landlords Hold Security Deposits In Virginia?

When it comes to holding a tenant's security deposit, Virginian landlords are not required to follow any particular regulations.

How Long Do Landlords Have To Return A Deposit In Virginia?

In Virginia, landlords are required to return a tenant's security deposit 45 days after the tenant's move-out date. 

In the event that the landlord made some deductions in the deposit, an itemized statement must be included with the remaining portion of the deposit when it is returned. The amount of the security deposit and the deductions that were made must be included in the statement. 

Do Landlords Need To Pay Security Deposit Interest?

Virginia's law no longer mandates landlords place a tenant's security deposit in an interest-accruing account. This will only apply if it is agreed upon in writing by you and your tenant and is a requirement of the lease or rental agreement. 

Source: (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1226)

SECTION 5

5. Virginia Eviction Laws & Notices

Grounds for Eviction in Virginia

To legally evict a tenant from a rental property in Virginia, landlords must follow certain reasons. These grounds, which are referred to as "Grounds for Eviction in Virginia," cover a range of circumstances. 

Rent nonpayment is the first offense. After giving the required Virginia notice to quit, the landlord may begin the eviction process if a tenant doesn't pay their rent. 

A breach of the conditions of the lease is another reason. The landlord may seek eviction if a tenant violates any of the terms of the lease, including bringing in unapproved pets or making loud noises.

Taking part in unlawful activity is another reason to deny someone their home. The landlord may proceed with eviction if a tenant engages in unlawful activities, such as drug usage or criminal activity, on the rented property. 

Moreover, damage to property that goes beyond typical wear and tear is another reason to be evicted. The landlord may file for eviction and take legal action if a renter seriously damages the property.

In Virginia, another reason for eviction is the expiration of a lease. The landlord may begin the eviction process if a lease has ended and the tenant is still residing on the property without a new agreement. 

It is imperative that landlords adhere to the correct legal protocols and grant the mandatory notice period prior to initiating the eviction process. If this isn't done, there may be an unauthorized eviction and related legal repercussions.

Virginia Eviction Notice

The notice required for an eviction in Virginia depends on the reason for the eviction and the type of tenancy. Below is a summary of Virginia eviction notice requirements:

  • Failure to pay rent: 5-day Notice to Pay
  • Violation of the lease/rental agreement: 30-day Notice to Comply
  • Weekly tenancy: 7-day Notice to Quit
  • Monthly tenancy: 30-day Notice to Quit

Virginia Eviction Process

Here is a summary of the Virginia eviction process: 

  • The landlord serves a zero- to 30-day Virginia notice to quit. 
  • The landlord files a court case for eviction. 
  • tenant receives a summons from the court. 
  • The tenant and landlord attend court proceedings and are given a ruling.  
  • the tenant gets 72 hours to move out. 
  • the sheriff returns to forcibly remove the tenant. 

Source: Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

SECTION 6

6. Virginia Rental Application Laws

Under the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, rental application fees are considered nonrefundable and are required in order for a landlord to consider you as a renter. 

A landlord is only allowed to collect an application fee up to a maximum of $50. However, the application cost cannot exceed $32 if the housing unit is governed by regulations set forth by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

The landlord or management agent may charge these costs for doing credit, background, or other pre-occupancy checks on the applicant. In essence, a landlord is free to include any questions they choose in a Virginia rental application, but these inquiries must not be deemed to discriminate against prospective tenants.

Source: (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1203)

SECTION 7

7. Breaking a Lease in Virginia

While both tenants and landlords can break the terms of a lease, there are certain penalties that come with doing so. However, there are certain situations where it can be justified for either party to legally break the lease agreement. 

Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Virginia 

Early Lease Termination Clause

This provision, which some landlords include, enables a renter to lawfully end their lease early. Tenants, however, are required to fulfill specific conditions. 

Giving prior notice, usually 30 days in advance, is one of those criteria. This gives the landlord enough time to re-lease the property. The other condition is paying an early termination charge, which is often equal to two months' worth of rent. 

Active Duty 

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows tenants who are deployed and currently serving in the armed forces to terminate their lease early. 

Nevertheless, a tenant is required by the act to fulfill a number of obligations, such as presenting a copy of the relocation letter and documentation proving they plan to continue their active duty for the following 90 days or longer. 

The lease won't expire immediately, even if they present all the documentation. It shall expire 30 days from the start of the subsequent rent cycle following delivery of the written notice. 

Warranty of Habitability 

It is the landlord's responsibility to give their renter a livable rental home. In the event that the landlord fails to comply with this requirement, the tenant may choose to take advantage of any available legal remedies, including ending the lease by giving a 30-day notice in advance. (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1234.1)

Landlord Harassment 

Another valid justification for violating a lease can be landlord harassment. Some of the following behaviors may qualify as landlord harassment: 

  • accessing the leased property without prior notice 
  • making threats against a renter
  • disabling the utilities
  • changing the locks
  • taking a tenant’s personal items out of the apartment 

(Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1229)

Domestic Violence

Under Virginia law, victims of criminal assault or abuse are entitled to certain protections. Tenants must give their Virginia landlord 30 days' notice in writing to terminate the lease, along with a copy of the protection order. (Va. Code Ann. § 55-225.16)

Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Virginia 

Tenants in Virginia are not legally protected from fines for early lease termination for the reasons listed below: 

  • breaking a Virginia lease in order to purchase a home
  • breaking the lease in order to move for work or education to another town 
  • breaching the lease in order to reduce or increase the amount of their property 
  • violating the terms of the lease to live with a significant other
  • breaching the contract in order to be nearer to relatives and friends

Source: (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1308)

Notices To Terminate A Lease With Cause

Either party may terminate a rental agreement with a term of 60 days or more by giving written notice to the other at least 60 days prior to the termination date; however, the rental agreement may require a longer period of notice. (Va. Code Ann § 55.1-1308)

  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: No statute.
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Month-to-Month: 30 days or less if both parties agree to a shorter notice period in the lease (§ 55-222(B)).
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute.
  • Lease Termination for Nonpayment: Five days to pay or quit (§ 55-225).
  • Lease Termination for Lease Violation: No less than 30 days to quit. The tenant has 21 days to remedy (§ 55-248.31(A))

SECTION 8

8. HOA Laws in Virginia

Below are some Virginia HOA laws that govern the creation and operation of HOAs in the state.

Property Owners Association Act

In Virginia, the creation and operation of homeowners' associations are governed by the Property Owners Association Act (POAA).

It describes procedures for collecting association fees, holding meetings, and enforcing rules and regulations. It also specifies the rights and duties of the association and property owners. The laws also include procedures for resolving conflicts and provide legal action for noncompliance.

Virginia Condominium Act

The formation and operation of condominium organizations are governed by this regulation. All horizontal property regimes, condominiums, condominium-related projects, and other developments started after July 1st, 1974 are covered by it.

Virginia Nonstock Corporation Act

Since the majority of HOAs in Virginia are nonstock corporations by incorporation, their organizational structure and operating operations are regulated under the Nonstock Corporation Act. It addresses a number of subjects, including the association's authority to hold meetings and sell its property.

Virginia Common Interest Communities Law

The board of directors and the common interest community ombudsman are established by this Act. It also includes information on manager license requirements.

Virginia Covenants Restricting Solar Energy Collection Devices

This act prohibits homeowner associations in Virginia from preventing homeowners from installing their own solar energy-gathering equipment on their property unless the community association specifically states as much in its recorded statement.

The only restrictions that can be placed on the size, positioning, and arrangement of gadgets are sensible ones.

Virginia Common Interest Community Ombudsman Regulations

Grievances from HOA members and non-members are addressed by the Virginia Common Interest Community Ombudsman Regulations. This law requires community associations in the state to set up procedures for receiving and reviewing complaints.

It is broken down into four pieces and may be found in Title 18, Chapter 70 of the Virginia Code.

Virginia Fair Debt Collection Act

Procedures for collecting debt in the state of Virginia are governed by the Virginia Debt Collection Act. The National Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is analogous to it.

This law forbids debt collectors from using unfair, abusive, or deceptive methods in their pursuit of debt recovery. Under the FDCPA, homeowners are protected consumers and unpaid HOA assessments are treated as debts.

However, the HOA is not typically categorized as a debt collector. This is usually the case for homeowner associations that use authorized management companies to handle debt collection.

Source: 

SECTION 9

9. Squatters Rights in Virginia

Virginia's Adverse Possession Laws

According to Virginia's adverse possession rules, a squatter must fulfill a number of requirements in order to effectively assert adverse possession. The essential prerequisites are:

Occupying the property for 15+ years

For a minimum of fifteen years, the squatter is required to retain actual, exclusive, and continuous possession of the property. A brief leave from the land won't affect the squatter's possessions, but they must stay there for the majority of the 15 years.  

Actual possession

The land must be physically occupied by the squatter, who must then use it as their own. It is not true possession to merely cross the land or camp there from time to time.

Hostile possession

It must be hostile possession, which denotes that the owner is not consulted. The squatter must occupy the land in an open manner, in opposition to the legitimate owner's rights.

Exclusive possession

It is forbidden for the squatter to share their belongings with others, including the owner. The only person asserting ownership rights is the adverse possessor.

Visible possession

Anyone must be able to tell that the squatter is the only one utilizing and inhabiting the land. They have no choice but to announce their occupation.

Continuous possession

The squatter's occupancy cannot be extended beyond a short time. They have to live on the property on a regular basis and not take long vacations. Sporadic, irregular uses of the property will not be acceptable, under Virginia squatters rights.

Source

(Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-236)

(Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-237)

SECTION 10

10. Virgina Landlord Tenant Legal Resources

Below, you’ll find some helpful Virginia landlord–tenant law resources:

Documents and Forms

Virginia State Agencies & Regulatory Bodies

Additional Legal Resources

DISCLAIMER: This article is designed to convey information, and not to provide legal advice. You should not consider any information in this article to be legal advice. Readers should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney for any decision or course of action contemplated.