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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557 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Kim bisulca

    I gave my landlord 30 days notice I was not renewing they did have a security deposit I knew there were repairs to be made I received the final calculations and they added loss of rent due to repairs being made can this be done

  • DeJanee Chester

    People keep telling me that the landlord cant issue an inspection on the rental home until the last day or last minute upon moving out. I called MacDoc property management (they suck btw so dont use them) and they told me that its supposed to be 6 month inspection, but we are way past 6 months and on the lease it says yearly. Yet it hasn’t been a year yet. I need to know the law on this before I let them give us an inspection when they aren’t supposed to yet.

  • Yvonne Acton

    Can you tell me how much a landlord who rents his land for mobile homes to reside in for late fees when the rent is not paid on time. Where I live the landlord raised the late fee from $25.00 to $75.00 I believe that is a 200% increase. I would greatly appreciate an answer, Thank You

  • Jane Kane

    This guy moved in and never paid anything but a security deposit and now I served him a five day evection notice and went to the courts to fill papers and now he hasn’t been at the residence. When can I change the locks and move on. Someone please help I am trying to comply with the lawe of V.A. this is crazy that anyone can live rent free for over 3 months!!!!

  • Jimy

    What are the Landlord/Tenants rights for maintaining yard in VA, which includes cutting lawn, trimming bushes, cleaning gutters, etc. this will be for single family homes and not townhouses nor apartments.

  • kevin

    am I able to rent the rooms of house as a tenant?

  • Ron Golden

    With my permission, my tenant recently acquired a dog. The dog does not appear to be viscous in the least. What exactly is my liability should my tenant’s dog bite another person? Thank you.

    • Tim D Rabara

      My mother recently. Got sick and was admitted to a nursing home.she asked me to watch her place and pay the rent. So she doesnt. Lose it.i am filing for power of attorney for her because she cant take care of herself.her landlord has repeatedly harassed meand my friends telling us to leave.can he do that..after she told me tostay and pay the rent for her.???

  • Tim D Rabara

    My mother recently. Got sick and was admitted to a nursing home.she asked me to watch her place and pay the rent. So she doesnt. Lose it.i am filing for power of attorney for her because she cant take care of herself.her landlord has repeatedly harassed meand my friends telling us to leave.can he do that..after she told me tostay and pay the rent for her.???

  • Karen

    I have live in Virginia and have also lived at many rental properties as well. Recently where I presently live, was notified we will begin to pay HOA fees. Duh? was what it was like when I heard it. Yes.. because we share a garage and the amenities with condos which we pay to use exclusively otherwise its open to anyone, pay for parking, water, trash and maintenance already for maintaining the grounds and snow removal. So since none of us are homeowners in an apartment wth are we paying for? I was told management do not wish to share the expense any longer and this is the only way is to throw the responsibility back to the renter. The breakdown presently: Rent, Water,trash, sewer, electric and increases. Is this legal, or do I move?

  • Jinny Burns

    I have a unit with carpet in the bedrooms & family room.When the tenants moved in the carpets were like new at age 5. At move out 2 years later the cat smell was awful. There were stains in 2 of the 3 bedrooms, carpets were frayed at doorways and on the stairs where the cat had scratched the fibers, and the cat had peed through the carpet, pad and subfloor of the family room. The only room that looked like it had when they moved in was the master. We replaced carpet & pad & want to charge tenant 60% of the cost based on the manufacturer’s warranty . From all I’ve read 10 years seems to be an acceptable life expectancy but it is clear from the very good condition of the master that this carpet should have lasted longer. What is reasonable

  • Amber

    She has been here since August 3rd she pays no rent, none of the utilities, no groceries and doesn’t have a job, she has been asked to leave and won’t. She is not on my lease, my landlord hasn’t consented to her living here she knows she’s been staying though. I need a lot of help. She cussed me out when I asked her nicely to leave and said no.

  • Joanna

    I have lived in my apartment 6 months. Have had roaches since day 1. Put in maintenance tickets at least twice a month to eliminate the problem. The roaches are now the worst they’ve ever been. I’ve never had roaches in my life. Now my clothes in my dresser have roaches in them. Can I withhold rent or break my lease? I can’t sleep at night because I’m afraid one will crawl on me. This complex also has issues with drug use in the fire escape of my building. Trash in the common areas. Broken glass in the common areas. Extremely noisy neighbors (yelling, door slamming, loud tv/music). Several complaints, they send letters to tenants, but nothing has changed.

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