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Virginia Rental Laws - An Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights in Williamsburg

Dodson PM - Friday, February 11, 2022
Property Management Blog

Under Virginia Landlord Tenant Law, Virginia both the landlord and the tenant are granted special rights and responsibilities once they enter into a written or verbal lease agreement. As a Virginia residential landlord, for instance, you obtain the right to collect rent payments. 

On the other hand, your Virginia tenant obtains the right to live in a habitable  property. These rights exist regardless of whether the rental agreement states otherwise. If you’re a first-time Virginia landlord or an experienced one looking to refresh your knowledge, you can refer to the following overview of the Virginia landlord-tenant act!

What Rights do Virginia Tenants Have?

Tenant rights in Virginia are detailed below. 

  • The right to live in a habitable dwelling. Virginia laws outline the minimum safety, health and building codes a property must meet.
  • The right to continue living in the rental unit until the landlord has followed the legal eviction process.
  • The right to be served proper notice when the landlord is looking to make changes to the terms of the written rental agreement.
  • The right to live in peace and quiet as per the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
  • The right to be treated with respect and without being discriminated against as per the Virginia Fair Housing Board. Protected characteristics in Virginia include race, color, disability status and national origin.

Fair Housing Act Virginia landlord tenant law

  • The right to have repairs completed within a reasonable period after notifying the landlord of the repairs that require attention.
  • The right to be provided with all amenities that were promised in the written lease agreement.
  • The right to break the lease under certain circumstances. For example, tenants can break a lease agreement when starting active military service or if the unit is no longer habitable.

What Responsibilities do Virginia Tenants Have?

In addition to rights, Virginia tenants also have responsibilities. These include: 

  • Make rental payments on time and in full. 
  • Ensure the rental unit is in a safe and hazard-free state.
  • Comply with all safety, health and building codes.
  • Take care of all damages made during tenancy exceeding normal wear and tear.
  • Keep all plumbing fixtures clean.
  • Keep carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in working condition at all times.
  • Not disturbing the peace and quiet of other neighbors or tenants.
  • Remove and properly dispose of garbage and trash.
  • Maintain the property as per the rental agreement.
  • Abide by routine cleanliness standards.
  • Pay for utility services on time.
  • Use all utilities, appliances, and facilities in a reasonable manner.

What Rights do Landlords in Virginia Have?

The following are some of the landlords' rights in Virginia.

  • The right to choose the tenant they want to rent to while remaining in compliance with the Virginia Fair Housing Board.
  • The right to require a tenant to pay a security deposit before renting the property.
  • The right to have landlord access to the rental unit to carry out important responsibilities. These responsibilities include property inspections and serving important notices.

Landlord tenant act rights virginia security deposits

  • The right to make changes to the terms of the lease agreement.
  • The right to evict a tenant for failing to comply with the terms of the lease agreement. For example, Virginia landlords can evict a tenant for failing to pay rent or not complying with policies related to subletting and smoking on the property.
  • The right to enforce the terms of the lease agreement.

What Responsibilities do Landlords in Virginia Have?

Landlord responsibilities in Virginia are as follows:

  • Following Virginia law when evicting a tenant for a legally justifiable reason.
  • Abiding by all terms of the lease agreement.
  • Treating tenants with respect and fairness as per the Fair Housing Act throughout their tenancy.
  • Completing repairs after being notified of maintenance issues by the tenant per building and housing codes.
  • Ensuring the tenant lives in peace and quiet by eliminating or minimizing any unnecessary disruptions.
  • Providing the tenant with the amenities promised in the lease agreement.

An Overview of Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws

Tenant Eviction

As a Virginia landlord, you have rights when evicting a tenant. Some of the most common reasons for a tenant eviction in Virginia include:

  • Nonpayment of rent.
  • Gross violation of the lease agreement.
  • Tenant failure to move out after the lease agreement expires.
  • When tenants engage in illegal acts.

eviction laws landlord tenant security deposit

Regardless of the reason for the eviction, Virginia landlords must follow the state’s eviction laws for the process to be valid. Landlords are strictly prohibited from evicting a tenant as a form of retaliation or for a discriminatory reason.

Security Deposit

As a landlord, there are laws you must follow when handling your tenant’s security deposit. For one, you must charge an appropriate amount. Specifically, a security deposit must not exceed the monetary equivalent of two months' rent. 

Also, landlords must return a security deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving off the premises. Wrongfully withholding security deposits can result in legal and financial repercussions. Any amount deducted from the security deposit must be reasonable. 

Lease Termination

Virginia allows tenants to legally break their lease for the following reasons.

  • Using an early lease termination clause.
  • Starting active military duty.
  • If the dwelling unit is no longer habitable.
  • If the landlord violates the terms of the lease agreement.
  • In the event the tenant becomes a victim of domestic violence.
  • If the landlord fails to provide mandatory disclosures before the tenant rents their unit.

Rent Control

The state of Virginia explicitly prohibits both counties and local governments from passing rent control legislation. Basically, this means that a landlord can increase rent by any amount they choose when drafting new lease agreements.

Landlord Entry

As a landlord, you have a right to enter your rental property. 

Landlord entry virginia law

However, you are obliged to provide your tenant with 24 hours notice prior to entry. The only exception to this rule is in the event of an emergency or if you have reasons to believe your tenant has abandoned the unit.

Housing Discrimination

All forms of housing discrimination are prohibited in the state of Virginia. You cannot, for instance:

  • Lie about the availability of your unit to a prospective tenant.
  • Treat tenants differently based on a protected characteristic.
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations for tenants who are disabled.

Protected characteristics in Virginia include race, religion, color, age, national origin, and disability status.

Bottom Line

To be a successful landlord, you must take your legal obligations seriously. If you have a question regarding Virginia Landlord Tenant Law or need help in any other aspect of property management, Dodson Property Management can help.

Disclaimer: This blog is not a substitute for professional legal advice from a licensed attorney. All laws, including Landlord Tenant Laws are subject to change and this information may not be updated at the time of your reading. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert help from a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.