In Virginia, you can enter into a rental agreement either verbally or through a written document. And once entered, both parties – the landlord and tenant – obtain certain rights and responsibilities. 

As a landlord, for instance, you obtain the right to evict a tenant for noncompliance with the lease. Your tenant, on the other hand, obtains certain rights, such as the right to be treated fairly without being discriminated against. Both parties also have a list of responsibilities to perform during the length of the lease. 

Whether you’re just starting out as a landlord or are simply looking to learn more, here’s a basic overview of Virginia landlord-tenant law. Having this knowledge will help you have a better landlording experience. 

Required Landlord Disclosures in Virginia

You are required to make certain disclosures to your tenant before they can agree to sign the lease. In Virginia, they are as follows. 

  • Lead-Based Paint. Are you renting out a property built prior to 1978? If you are, federal law requires that you make a disclosure on the lead paint concentrations in the unit. 
  • Move-in Checklist. You must provide new tenants with a move-in checklist that details the property’s condition, as well as outlines the rental inventory. 
  • Names of Authorized Agents. Virginia law requires that landlords provide their tenants with the names and addresses of parties tasked with the responsibility of managing the property. 
  • Shared Utilities. You must let tenants know how shared utilities are going to be split between multiple tenants. 

A group of four people greeting each other, two of them shaking hands

  • Location Mear a Military Installation. If your home is adjacent to a noise zone or an accident potential zone, you must let prospective tenants know. 
  • Mold. Does your property have known mold contamination? If so, you must make that disclosure to your tenant before their occupancy. 
  • Methamphetamine Contamination. Do you have any actual knowledge of your property being used in the past for methamphetamine production? If you do, you must disclose that information to tenants. 
  • Defective Drywall. Does your home have any parts that have defective drywall? You must share that information with a prospective tenant. 
  • Demolition or Displacement. Do you own a multi-family dwelling and are looking to demolish, rehabilitate, or convert it in the next six months? If so, you must share that information with a tenant before they move in. 

Virginia Tenant Rights and Responsibilities 

Tenants in this state have certain rights related to renting a property. Tenants have the right to:

  • Be provided with the relevant disclosures prior to moving in. 
  • Be accorded fairness regardless of certain protected classes as outlined in the Fair Housing Act. 
  • Live in peace, away from unnecessary disruptions. 
  • Break the lease in Virginia for legitimate reasons, such as to start active military duty. 
  • Continue occupying their rented premises until the landlord has followed the proper eviction process. 
  • Exercise a legal right without being retaliated against, such as to form or join a tenants’ union. 

Black gavel on a desk

Virginia landlords are equally tasked with certain responsibilities. They are as follows. 

  • Maintain the unit to the required levels of cleanliness. 
  • Keep the premises clean and free from hazardous elements. 
  • Comply with all the relevant habitability codes affecting health and safety. 
  • Pay utilities in accordance with the lease agreement. 
  • Use all the provided facilities for their intended purposes. 
  • Not to tamper with any safety devices provided, such as the smoke or carbon monoxide detector
  • To maintain the unit and not cause negligent or careless property damage. 
  • Remove garbage and trash as necessary. 

Virginia Landlord Rights and Responsibilities 

Landlords in Virginia have the following rights under the statewide Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. They have the right to: 

  • Evict a tenant who fails to abide by the terms of the lease agreement. 
  • Require tenants to sign a lease agreement prior to moving in. 
  • Charge tenants a security deposit as part of the move-in costs. 
  • Charge whatever amount of rent and raise it for whatever reason. 
  • Enter a tenant’s rented unit to perform necessary responsibilities, such as inspecting the rental unit. 
  • Not to renew the lease agreement after it has expired. 
  • Screen tenants when they are first moving into the premises. 

A property manager signing a lease in a house with a family of two adults and one child

As a landlord, you’re obligated to do the following in the state of Virginia. 

  • Provide your tenants with certain disclosures as already explained above. 
  • Maintain the unit to the required habitability standards.
  • Treat tenants respectfully and fairly in accordance with the Fair Housing Act. 
  • Abide by the Virginia security deposit rules. 
  • Remove a tenant from the unit only for legally acceptable reasons. 
  • Respond to maintenance issues on time. 

Virginia Landlord-Tenant Act: Overview

Virginia Security Deposit Law

Do you require your tenants to pay a security deposit prior to moving in or signing the lease? If so, you are obligated to abide by Virginia security deposit laws. Some of the laws on security deposits include: 

  • Not charging a deposit that exceeds the cost of two months’ rent. 
  • Returning the deposit – or whatever portion remains – within a period of 30 days. 
  • Only making deductions to the security deposit for legitimate reasons. 

Housing Discrimination

Under the Fair Housing Act, it’s unlawful for landlords to discriminate against their tenants on the basis of certain classes. The classes are race, color, religion, sex, nationality, disability, and familial status. 

The Virginia Fair Housing Board is the government agency tasked with overseeing housing discrimination complaints. 

Notice Requirements

Tenants on periodic leases are obligated to provide their landlords with certain notices prior to moving out. Tenants paying rent on a weekly basis must provide 30 days’ notice. Tenants paying rent on a monthly basis must provide three months’ advance notice.

Two people laughing together while packing up a suitcase

There are no statutes yet on how much notice tenants paying rent on a quarterly or yearly basis must provide their landlords with. 

After a tenant signs a lease, they are obligated to pay rent for the entire duration, whether or not they live there. There are exceptions to this blanket rule, though. Some of the exceptions include when starting active military service, if the unit becomes uninhabitable, and in a case where the tenant is a domestic violence victim. 

Landlord Entry

Landlords in Virginia can enter their tenants’ rented units after providing a 24 hours’ advance notice. The only exception for this is in case of an emergency. 

How We Can Help

Do you still have more questions? If so, Keyrenter Chester can help. As your Chester property management company, we can help you take out any stress your investment property may be giving you. Call today to learn more!

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.