Virginia Rental Laws

Last updated on August 30, 2016 by

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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532 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • virginie aires

    Good afternoon

    Lots of issues and questions.
    1/ on a month to month lease do we need to give the 30 days notice on the 1st of the month or any day is good as long as it is 30 days.

    2/ 13 year old carpet can the property management keep our deposit because it need to be changed

    3/ toilet leaks and damage our ceiling the property manager wants us to pay when we were told by our renter insurance that their HOI is the one who need to take care of this.

    thank you so much for your help we were in the same place for 7 years always paid on time and they have 2 month deposit that we need back to us asap :(

    • Ghenry

      I live senior citizens bulding for last 5yr they go up on rent when SS GETS THE LITTLE INCREASE IS THAT OKAY?

      • Lucas Hall

        Hi Ghenry

        Generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with rent increases. It’s just how rentals stay in business. It seems very smart of them to do it when SS goes up, but if you’re looking for legal advice, you’d have to talk to a lawyer, which I’m not. But as an experienced landlord, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  • Terry

    My son is subleasing a room in a house from the leassee on the original contract. He gave 60 days notice per their agreement and wants to use his security deposit for the last month’s rent. His signed agreement doesn’t say he can’t, does the leasee have any recourse?

  • Teresa Robinette

    I worked and lived for a prperty management company in VA. Upon move out I was charge for a 1 bdr sq. feet is 715 about $900 bucks prorated t $740 for a 10 month of use. Now I took pictures opf entire apt and returned in immaculate condition. I had a pin quartersize candle mark stain in bdr. Some water marks they claim pet because I do have a 5lb dog that was caged and I did pay $35 a month pet rent. Now they have reduced the charges $370 dollars but I still find this unaceeptable.they have pics off carpet pulled up showing back part of carpet. They do not have pics of the carpet from the top. I am considering contacting landlord tenant do I have a case I do not want to pay 4 anything more than a carpet clean? Advice anyone?

  • Teresa Robinette

    I worked and lived for a property management company in VA. Upon move out I was charge for a 1 bdr sq. feet is 715 about $900 bucks prorated t $740 for a 10 month of use. Now I took pictures opf entire apt and returned in immaculate condition. I had a pin quartersize candle mark stain in bdr. Some water marks they claim pet because I do have a 5lb dog that was caged and I did pay $35 a month pet rent. Now they have reduced the charges $370 dollars but I still find this unaceeptable.they have pics off carpet pulled up showing back part of carpet. They do not have pics of the carpet from the top. I am considering contacting landlord tenant do I have a case I do not want to pay 4 anything more than a carpet clean? Advice anyone?

  • Sarah Virginia

    A tenant who has vacated the rental property is requesting that we (landlord) provide her with bank account information for where her security deposit was held. Am I required to do this as a Virginia Landlord with one rental property? If so, what am I supposed to give her? Records for every year?!?! I can’t seem to find information regarding this specifically. Only that in Virginia there doesn’t appear to be a regulation regarding the separate bank account to hold her security deposit.

  • Manjunath


    Can the realtor agent take applications from Multiple applicants at the same time. Is it legally allowed for an agent to accept another application when one application is still active and under process.,

    I submitted an application for leasing a condo. Application was online and it was at around 2pm of Friday. Agent confirmed during showing on Friday at noon that I will be the only applicant at that point of time.

    On Sunday evening she texted me saying – They received another application on Friday late afternoon and landlord accepted that applicant.

    They have charged me for the application fees. They are not returning the fees and I feel they are not doing ethical business.

    Please advise.

  • Concerned renter

    We are renting a Single family home & there was a miscommunication regarding some shrubs on the property. We thought that they said we could remove some shrubs that we thought were unsightly, but they are stating they said we could cut them back. Long story short, we removed the shrubs, they were upset, and we agreed to pay for them. This was in July. Now in December we get an email stating we owe them $2000 and the itemized list looks like it contains way more shrubs that we actually pulled. Do they have to provide proof of the number of shrubs that were located or are we screwed and just have to pay the amount they are asking for? Are we obligated to pay for them now or do we pay for them when our lease is up in 2018?

  • Elaine Johnson

    By law when shall a landlord ask to do a walk through of the property if you only been there for 3 months and by law do they supposed to drop by without notice every week ?

  • Roger Carson

    Can my landlord take my locks off my garage and replace them with his?

  • AKearns

    We sold some sand to a tenant for them to put up a pool. They paid $100 of the bill – we have sent invoices for the last couple months and they have not paid the balance. Can I send a letter and invoice to the landlord in hopes that they can help us recover the money?

  • Gam Gams

    What I would like to know, if a tenant has made an agreement with the landlord to contact them while they work on something they have damaged with the promise that they would continue to stay in contact the landlord to let him know the progress that has been done, this has been going on for over 4 months. Is there any way for the landlord to charge the tenant for the multiple trips made by the property manager to see if there has been any progress or not, this property is approx. 28 miles from the landlords office and is becoming a problem. I am sure there is not but, if there is something that can be done I would like to know what it is.

  • Joanna

    I rented my home that I own in VA after living in it for 3 months. Is it an investment property? What tax implications are there?

  • Kimberley Humphrey

    A history of paying rent late at my complex. Signed a NEW lease 11/1-10/31/17. 12/1 received an unlawful detainer, court scheduled for 1/6, I paid the full balance with legal and late fees Dec 20, was told I didn’t need to go to court. Part of Jan rent late, went online to pay balance 1/17 and saw I had a fee for writ of possession dated 1/11, legal fees dated 1/13, called to see what the writ of possession was and was told they are moving forward with eviction proceedings. Can they do this? My lease states the company can take possession after 3 unlawful detainers in a 6 month period. Are my priors void because I entered a new lease agreement? And if they already put in for a writ of possession why am I being charged legal fees for Jan?

  • Shawn Crawley

    Looking to buy a multi unit property and live in one of the units. If a property is fully occupied is it a such thing as owner move in eviction in the state of Virginia?

  • Erica

    Can a landlord charge you court cost and legal fees even though you were never served court papers?

  • A.S.

    Hi! Could you please assist me with:

    We were given a Termination of Tenancy letter (30 days to vacate); do we still need to comply with the lease move-out/check-out list (carpet cleaning and provide the receipt, etc.)? Do the same rules apply, that we must have it cleaned by the vacate date?

    Thank you!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi A.S.

      I suggest you ask your landlord. Generally speaking, the other terms of the lease remain in place unless you both sign an agreement to modify them. A notice to terminate, is simply that. It just means your tenancy is ending. The cleaning requirement would likely still apply.

  • Dee

    My lease had an automatic renewal clause, I didn’t realize this and lived in the unit past the original expiration date. So now the property is saying I’m in a new 1 year lease.

    Questions are:

    1) Once the automatic renewal started, was the property required to provide me with a copy of the new lease? When I attempted to provide my 60 day move out notice is when I was told that I was in a new lease. The new lease is unsigned by both me and the property.

    2) My original lease ended 8/27/2016, the new unsigned lease started on 9/1/2016, did this make my tenancy become month to month?

    I’m moving out of the state and don’t want this to drag on. I’ve hired an attorney to help but quite frankly they aren’t doing much.

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