Virginia Rental Laws

Written on August 8, 2012 by , updated on October 30, 2017

Join the Northern Virginia Apartment AssociationThis article summarizes some key Virginia Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

It’s important to know that The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, only applies to landlords owning and operating more than four residential dwelling units. Even if you own less than 4 residential units, I recommend following the rules anyway. Virginia has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA).

Official Rules and Regulations


Applicability and Exception: The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) governs all rental housing except a few scenarios, including but not limited to:

  • Occupancy in single-family residences where the owners are natural persons or their estates who own in their own name no more than two single-family residences subject to a rental agreement; and
  • Occupancy by a tenant who pays no rent;

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: Equal to 2 month’s rent (§ 55-248.15:1(A))
  • Security Deposit Interest: No interest is required (prior to 2015, it was 4 percentage points annually below the Federal Discount Rate (FDR))
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 45 days (§ 55-248.15:1(A))
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: 2 years (§ 55-248.15:1(B1-2))

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Increase Notice: No Statute
  • Late Fees: No Statute
  • Prepaid Rent: Must be placed in an escrow account in a federally insured depository in Virginia by the end of the fifth business day following receipt and shall remain in the account until such time as the prepaid rent becomes due. (§ 55-248.7:1)
  • Returned Check Fees: $50 plus other costs of collection and attorney’s fees (§ 8.01-27.1)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, but the money must be put into escrow and the landlord given proper notice. Other conditions apply. (§ 55-248.27)
  • Application Fees and Holding Deposits: If the applicant fails to rent the unit (by their own fault) after providing an application deposit, the landlord has 20 days to return the deposit, minus damages and expenses. If, however, the application deposit was made by cash, certified check, cashier’s check, or postal money order, such refund shall be made within 10 days of the applicant’s failure to rent the unit if the failure to rent is due to the landlord’s rejection of the application. Landlord is allowed to charge non-refundable application fees for screening purposes. (§ 55-248.6:1)
  • Landlord Allow to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Yearly Lease:  3 months prior to end of lease (§ 55-222(A))
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Month-to-Month: 30 days or less if both parties agreed 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: 5 days to pay or quit and tenant loses of possession (§ 55-225)
  • Lease Termination for Lease Violation: No less than 30 days to quit – 21 days to remedy (§ 55-248.31(A))
  • Lease Termination by Military Personnel: If being relocated more than 35 miles away, tenant may not terminate the lease any more than 60 days prior to the date of departure necessary to comply with the official orders. Other conditions apply. (§ 55-248.21)
  • Required Notice before Entry: 24 hours (§ 55-248.18(A))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes, 24 hours notice (§ 55-248.18(A))
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: In excess of 7 day absence, unannounced reasonable entry is allowed (§ 55-248.33)
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: 48 hours (§ 55-248.13:3)
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes, within reason (§ 55-248.18(A))
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (§ 55-225.1)
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (§ 55-225.1)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Domestic Violence Situations: Victims of family abuse, sexual abuse, or criminal sexual assault are granted special rights, including the ability to terminate a lease with 30 days notice. (§ 55-225.16)
  • Retaliation: Landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent or decreasing services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession or by causing a termination of the rental agreement pursuant to § 55-222 or 55-248.37 after he has knowledge that: (§ 55-248.39)
    • (i) the tenant has complained to a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building or housing code of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health or safety;
    • (ii) the tenant has made a complaint to or filed a suit against the landlord for a violation
    • (iii) the tenant has organized or become a member of a tenants’ organization; or
    • (iv) the tenant has testified in a court proceeding against the landlord.
    • However, the provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to prevent the landlord from increasing rents to that charged on similar market rentals nor decreasing services that shall apply equally to all tenants.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements.  Check with your local governing authority.

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587 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • William Crocker

    We are leasing a home and the landlord has put the home for sale and currently has an existing offer and is going through the sale process. Our lease is up in the next 90 days and the sale close date is after we move out. My question is, how much time do we have to be avalable for the landlord’s scheduled repairs / improvements due to the sale of the house? These repairs were not requested by us nor do they benefit us. We have already had an electrician, pest control, house inspector visit and have 3 visits scheduled this week with one being all day and most with 4 hour windows of when they could arrive. Is there any compensation we are due for inconvenience? Could we ask to be let out of our lease early as compensation? We are in VA.

  • Leslie O

    I signed a three-year lease and I like my condo. My landlord wants to sell the condo and she wants to give me 30 days notice to move out. I have only been here one year and three months, so I theoretically have about two years left on this lease. What are my options? Am I legally allowed to stay here until the end of the lease? Or, if she is forcing me to move, am I allowed to get compensation for moving expenses? If so, how much? My monthly rent is $1250 and I live in Virginia.

  • Christina Montague

    I just moved into my new rented house on Thursday and had to move out today. MONDAY!
    It’s INFESTED WITH MICE! We seen the first one Thursday night, my husband and I decided that one or two won’t hurt, let’s fix it, get a exterminator and move on and be happy there.
    So we found a excellent pest control company!
    Well we received BAD NEWS! The house wasn’t in a condition where it was livable! The mice bit a whole in the gas line! Had nesting in the garage, basement, attic and fire place!!! Hundreds of them lived there!! The owners said they had no idea but wanted to fix the problem by knocking down a board in the garage and sealing up the fire place!! They didn’t care the pest control gentleman said it’s not safe to live there!

  • Maria

    My husband is renting an apartment in Virginia and I recently moved in. His rental agreement requires him to add me to the lease and pay a fee of $500 for making a modification on the lease, plus requiring $75 each for a new application fee/background investigation. We are both feds with secret level security. I really cannot understand the $500 fee to add me as an occupant and also the need to re-screen my husband and myself when completing the application. Any opinions on the legality and necessity of those fees?

  • Jason

    Our Landlord does quarterly inspections but there are never 3 months apart. Sometimes they are 2 and some have been as far apart as 4.5 months, I know she is supposed to give 24 hours notice but she never does. She normaly only gives us about 12 hours. For instance she just texted me and said she would be here at 9 in the morning, it is now 6 PM. That is clearly not 24 hours. What are my options?

  • James Byrd

    My issue is with personal property insurance for my storage rental in Newport News, Virginia. I have never had it but effective Nov 1, 2019, a new policy is being mandated. I either provide a copy of my own insurance or I will be charged a monthly fee for theirs. Do they have the legal right to force me to comply? If not, can they legally terminate my contract behind my noncompliance?

  • Kim Early

    My daughter moved into an apartment complex in August and has only just been send an invoice for water usage from the management company. She as asked for a breakdown of the charges, sending 4 emails and the management company are not answering or providing evidence of usage. Do they have to provide their calculations for billing.

  • Katie

    Hello! Just moved into a new place. It’s managed by a realtor. We seen the apartment prior to applying of course but they did an inspection/walkthrough without either myself or fiancé present. The issue is they provide dryer hookup but it’s outdated. We bought an older cord for the washer but it also wasn’t the right fit to outlet so we contacted property manager. They sent out maintenance who told us we had the wrong hookup (duh) but now landlords are trying to charge $90 to have maintenance come back out to fix the problem. Not sure if I have any recourse here.

  • Max

    I was living with my sister and they own me back money for $8,465 rent from 2015-2017. When I moved in they did not have a contract. I had an oral agreement with my sister on a phone bill, which I was paying for sister, her daughter, and myself. Their monthly mortgage payment needs to be assessed to determine for the right amount for monthly payments divided 3 ways. In addition, they are trying to sue me for 2015-2017 groceries/storage and 2013 moving cost now in 2019. They informed me they would go to a lawyer and sue for money owed and emotional distress. How long do you have to sue for rental reimbursementand the limited amount?

  • james august warsingjr

    We have a lease we signed in March 2019 for me to conduct a business at their premises and my wife gave to them our lease to make a copy , we forgot to get it back, and now the owner of the building who owns it comes to tell us that we have 48 hours to move from the premises. We

  • Carolyn H. Wood

    We recently renewed our lease for another 15 months but were quite shocked by the Increase. Is there no limit to how much a landlord can raise rent at one time? Thirty-forty dollars a year seems reasonable but ours went up $100.00. Really seems unfair. Any word?

  • Shawnte Webb

    Hey do anyone know where I can find information on carpet cleaning when moving out. My old landlord is trying to charge me 2,295 for full replacement and installation of new carpet when I was only at the unit one year, no holes, burns just some spoil spots that can be deep cleaned with the normal cleaning process…in Virginia is carpet normal wear and tear

    • Jenni

      Go on Groupon. I was able to find for 1200 sq ft, roughly 100 when i moved out. Landlord didn’t complain and we were at our place for 3 years.

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