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

Details

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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581 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Walter

    Hi Lucas. Awesome resource and site! I am landlord hobbyist (3 properties) and I have been looking for consistent, reliable, and go-to landlord information. I use nolo (how-to legal resource) and the related sites like sublet.com but need a one-stop-shop. I would LOVE if you created a North Carolina snapshot similar to your Virginia and Florida detail overviews. Unfortunately the NC gov PDF doesn’t do justice; see-it and forget-it. I am very excited about this resource and look forward to using it! Many thanks!

  • Jessica

    Can your landlord keep you from using your only bathroom for 48 hours due to repairs without providing means to a bathroom. This is in an apartment complex.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jessica. A landlord as a responsibility to provide you with a habitable home. If they disable the only bathroom for more than a few hours, then the property is uninhabitable for that period. I’m not a lawyer, so this is just my opinion. If it were me (as the landlord) I would feel obligated to put my tenant up in a hotel room until the bathroom was fixed, or refund them for those days of rent.

      I think you can make a strong argument for either of these options.

  • Rich

    Sir, is it a requirement to have real estate license to purchase properties and rent them? I”m retired military and was looking at getting some properties and renting them. This appeals to me because it would give me a lot of flexibility in the things I love to do, but if I need a lot of licenses/oppressive regulations, I see that as a deterrent. What are your thoughts?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Rich,

      You don’t need any license to buy properties. My understanding is that you only need a property management license to manage units that you do not own. As long as you own the properties, you can rent them out as you see fit.

      Keep in mind, you will still have to report all income on your schedule E when you file your personal taxes.

      If you are wanting to incorporate a business and buy/rent properties under that entity, you should talk to an attorney.

      Also each county in VA will have their own requirements for you and you maybe have to register the rental with the county or get a business license to operate it. But both of those are easy to do. Check with your local business license authority.

  • Lorry

    Hello Lucas,
    This is a question not a comment. I would greatly appreciate your input and any suggestions you could make to help me understand/resolve my very complicated issue.

    I had to retire due to multiple brain injuries which have greatly impaired many of to function and have a normal life. Despite my M.A. I am in the bottom 1% for math, logic and reasoning. I have the reading skills of an 8 y/o, hypercussis (a hyper sensitivity to sound) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which makes all extraneous noises very difficult for me to screen out.

    When I visited my current apartment complex in mid-Feb I explained my disabilities and needs to the leasing office. I was shown an apartment and assured that it was a very quiet location. Unfortunately, the location couldn’t have been worse! From day 1 I was awakened every morning at 4:30 a.m. by all of the county school buses, emergency vehicles, dump trucks and grocery store delivery trucks non-stop beeping. This persistent piercing beep – beep – beep continued throughout the day and into the evening hours. I tried burying my head between my pillows to no avail. With my TBIs 9 – 10 hours of quality sleep is imperative, otherwise I my ability to function is greatly impaired and it takes me days to recover.

    Within 5 days of taking residence I wrote to the leasing office and visited the same day. I explained my difficulty and asked if there was a more quiet apartment. I was shown the only apt available at a much higher rent. I agreed to it because I needed all of the benefits of their location. I am no longer able to drive, and the apartment’s main offering for me was the proximity of everything I needed to attempt to have a normal, independent life.

    I signed the lease last Friday. The leasing agent asked when I thought I could be out of the old apartment. I was so tired and overwhelmed I couldn’t answer the question. She suggested “Monday?” I said “OK”.

    Monday I get an email giving me “THE GRAND TOTAL DUE TODAY” demanding that I pay rent for the old apartments for the 4 days they gave me to move out and pay the prorated rent for the new apartment covering the same 4 days and a proration of the rent on the new apt through the end of the month. They even tried billing me $150 for a reserved handi-capped parking space. On top of all of this, their math was off by over $50 and it took me several attempts to get them to itemize what I was being charged for.

    When the 4 days for me to move out I thought it was a very magnaminous gesture. I exhausted myself trying to move out all by myself. I was NEVER told that I would be charged rent for the overlapping dates. There was nothing in writing. Despite 2 full days of trying to resolve this problem, they have refused to make any accommodations for what I believe was their error. When I sent them a list of my disabilities and requsite accommodations, every word was completely ignored, including a request to put things in simple sentences with facts and numbers in large print so that I could see it. What I got back was a “Thanks, but you still owe….” What say you? I’m on disability income and an additional $300 out of my pocket is not what I need right now.

    Let’s forget the stress, duress, and the overall impact of my mental energies and my ability to recover. In other words, HELP!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lorry,

      My heart goes out to you in this situation. This would be difficult for anyone. You seem like you have been able to overcome so much, and you seem to be a fighter. I have a feeling that you will rise over this situation, regardless of the outcome.

      All I can give you is my opinion on typical best practices, and what I believe to be fair. I’m not a lawyer, just an experienced landlord – so this is not legal advice.

      1. It was not fair of them to advertise the first unit as “quiet” when it clearly was not. However, in their defense, most leasing agents that I’ve met don’t take the time to learn about every unit in the properties they are managing – so they might not have ever spent any time in that unit.

      2. It’s fair that they charge a different rent price for a different unit. Each unit has a different market rate that it will command.

      3. It’s fair that they charge you for the overlap if you signed a lease to occupy both at the same time so you could move your stuff. However, given that it was their fault for misrepresenting (false advertising) the original unit, *I think* they should have waived any overlap charges and charges to transition units.

      4. If they charge $150 for all parking spaces, then it’s reasonable for them to charge the same for the reserved handicap spot. They can charge whatever they want for parking as long as they are doing it equally, and not discriminating against those with disabilities by charging more for handicapped spots.

      5. You are entitled to an itemized list of all charges, especially if you ask for it. In the world of commerce, it’s call a receipt. Some leasing agents don’t get this concept – often times because they don’t understand the property management software they are using.

      My advice to you would be to try and talk with the highest manager you can – even if that means calling the corporate office (if it’s a large chain of apartments).

      Explain to that manager that you want them to waive the overlap charge (because of false advertising) and that the parking spot can’t cost any more than other spots nearby. If they don’t agree, in writing, you can threaten to contact the Virginia Fair Housing Office, and report discrimination based on your disability. Then, you can threaten to share the story on Yelp.com where, it will get a lot of attention.

      FYI, the VA Fair Housing Office is number is (804) 367-8530 or (888) 551-3247, http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/FairHousing/. I’m sure they would love to hear your story.

      However, PLEASE don’t make your condition worse. Your health is worth more than $300 and your trouble. If you don’t have the energy, then just gather as much documentation as you can and save the battle for another day – when you feel stronger.

  • Tyler

    Greetings,

    Glad I found this site. I have a quick question, we own and rent one property in Williamsburg, VA (which used to be our primary residence).

    During the process of renting the property out for the first time, we were given conflicting information as to whether or not hiring a “property manager” was a requirement. We’ve found that we’re perfectly capable of managing the property ourselves and also have relatives nearby that can assist in the event we’re away.

    This is our only rental property and owned home. Can we do away with the unnecessary expense of paying a substantial prop. management fee each month?

    Much appreciated.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tyler,

      Virginia does not force you to use a property manager. It’s your choice. However, if your home is in or near historic Williamsburg, you may have other rules that you need to follow. Perhaps you should call the county/city office to check.

      With that said, I’ve never heard of a locality requiring you to spend money on a property manager when managing your own properties.

      This entire website is dedicated to helping you succeed as a landlord, without the need for a property manager. Cozy (https://cozy.co) is a great tool that helps independent landlords to accept applications, screen tenants, perform credit checks, and collect rent. You can do this by yourself, we can help.

  • Barbara

    Hello, my tenant in the basement went berserk after I texted him saying I was going down to the SHARED space in laundry room to pick up something. (He was at work) His girlfriend came over at his request and harassed me stating I had to give 24 hr notice to enter my SHARED space laundry room. Is lease is up soon and she threatened he wouldn’t pay rent till the lease ends. What about all this? I feel that he’s doing this to get out of paying rent

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Barbara,

      If the space is documented as “shared” space in the lease, then you don’t have to give notice before entering it. Just like he doesn’t need to give 24 horus notice before entering it either.

      Even if you violated a “notice” rule, he wouldn’t be able to withhold rent for that. The worst he could do is terminate the agreement, citing that you violated the terms. However, a judge would probably need to see proof that he gave you a warning, and you habitually kept breaking the lease.

      In your case, it doesn’t seem like you violated any rules, so tell him “tough rocks” and if he doesn’t pay rent, you’ll be forced to evict him and ruin his credit. Even then, you could still get a judgement to collect the unpaid rent, so it’s not like he’s saving any money.

      Hold your ground on this one. Don’t let him bully you.

      FYI, I’m not a lawyer, just an experienced landlord. This is just friendly landlord advice, not legal advice.

  • Missy

    Hi there, I was just wondering if the VRLTA addresses allowable termination fee’s ? I know proper notice must be given, rent must be paid through the notice (and said rent must be refunded it the unit is released before the notice period ends). However, I am wondering if there are limits to the amount of “Termniation Fee” that can be charged to end any further contract obligation ?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Missy,

      During my research, I didn’t see any such statute. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but I haven’t heard of it. Further, I’ve never seen a restriction on that type of fee in any state.

      From my experiences, the early termination fees are typically between 2-3 months worth of rent. This is simply a fee, and is not compensation for any amount of tenancy. It’s a fee to release you from contractual obligations.

  • TJ Gilbert

    I recently received a lease renewal that increased our rent by $100.00 a month plus $250 pet deposit for only 6 months to increase at the end of that 6months. We are trying to get out of here due to mold growing in the ceiling of laundry room due to rain water entering via the gutter positioning as well as growing under bathtub. I declined the renewal due to the mold their lack of interest in removing it as well the increase in rent we are positive it has to due to my back injury. We are currently looking for a new place. This afternoon a lady showed up to inquire about rent sign out front when instructed to call number she relayed they info from landlord… They are charging the new tenants a lower rate then we are currently paying. I was wondering if I am able to leave without paying my increased rent since no lease is being renewed on may 3rd but we gave notice till may 31, 2014? I have made them aware of the mold months ago they come and look at it repeatedly but do nothing? How do I get out without losing the shirt off my back???

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi TJ,
      It sounds like you are currently in a month-to-month lease, no? If so, then as long as you didn’t sign the new lease (with the increased rent amount), then you don’t have to pay the increase. Just keep paying what you normally do (assuming you gave proper notice to terminate the period tenancy)

      If you are in a fixed term lease that is expiring on May 3rd, and you are staying in the place after your lease expires, then technically, you’re breaking the rules, and the landlord come after you for a “holdover”, attempt to collect rent, or even start the eviction process.

      What they are choosing to charge the new tenants is none of your concern. It may not seem fair, but they are free to charge whatever they want – especially since you’ve rejected a renewal. Often times, there is “promo” pricing for new tenants to get them in the door, then the rate goes up later.

      If you’re looking for legal advice, you should talk to a lawyer in your state. I’m not a lawyer, but rather an experienced landlord.

  • jeff

    Is the tennant responsible for replacing water filters, even if there is no provision in the lease that states this, and if it creates a problem with running water, would the responsibility fall on the landlord as they are required by Law to ensure running water at all times?

    • Lucas Hall

      Jeff,

      Usually, this kind of stuff is spelled out in the lease to avoid confusion. The general public opinion is that tenants are responsible for normal everyday maintenance, such as replacing light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, general cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc. But where it gets fuzzy is with stuff like water filters, and HVAC filters. If you put it in the lease, then they have to do it, but if not, they could make a strong argument that it’s part of heavy appliance maintenance, which would fall under the landlord’s responsibility.

      If I were you, I would just nicely ask your tenants to do it. If they don’t, or push back, then I would just replace it myself, and then put it in the lease next time. I don’t believe you would be able to charge them the cost of the filter without having it in the lease (or at least I wouldn’t take that risk).

      Without a lease clause, you would have to show malicious intent on behalf of your tenants if greater damage occurred to the plumbing. The same thing goes for the HVAC. You can’t assume the replacement of those filters are common sense. Either put it in the lease, or give them a “rules and responsibilities” list on move-in.

  • DARIUS COOPER

    CAN A LANDLORD USE DISCRIMINATORY REMARKS TOWARDS A TENANT BECAUSE THEY REFUSE TO FIX A PROBLEM THE TENANT IS EXPERIENCING IN HIS/HER UNIT. SECONDLY DO THAT TENANT HAS THE RIGHT NOT TO PAY RENT UNTIL THAT PROBLEM IS ADDRESSED?

  • Bridget Freeman

    Hi Lucas, have problem need to be solved. I was living in apartment complex and my lease was up in March 2014, i did not sign the renewal to a new lease and contacted the prior manager about not renewing my lease. I informed her that i was not going to renew and gave her a copy of my letter. Since the three years i lived their they change property manger 4 times. I move out March 2014 a month after i left i received a notice stating i owe 10,000. It stated that i owe for breaking a lease. How can i justified this action.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bridget,

      If you left at the end of your lease, and gave proper notice (as defined in the lease), then you shouldn’t owe any money (unless you had back due rent or property damage).

      The question “How can you justify this action” is exactly what you should be asking them. If you owe anything, they should itemize it for you.

  • margo

    Hi,
    My husband and I are relocating to VA next month. Renting from an individual seems to be our plan of action and I am concerned with the information that will go into a rental agreement/background check. Are there laws to protect tenants from having their information used for anything other than a lease agreement? Thank you

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Margo,

      Yes, if the landlord uses your private information for anything other than evaluation for a lease, then it’s called identity theft – and it’s illegal. There’s entire divisions of the government (mainly the FTC) dedicated to countering this type of fraud. http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft

      With that said, landlords are allowed to do credit, background, criminal, and eviction checks in order to evaluate you. They can also ask for copies of your pay stubs or taxes, albeit, it’s a little overkill if you ask me.

      If you’re really concerned, you should sign up for ID theft insurance with Zander Insurance. It’s the company that Dave Ramsey recommends, and they’ll help you fix everything should your ID get stolen by anyone. http://www.zanderins.com/idtheft/idtheft.aspx

      If you can convince your landlord to use Cozy (https://cozy.co) then he can order your credit report and collect your rent online without every having to ask for your SSN or bank account info. It’s pretty genius, and the safest tool on the market to prevent ID theft between landlords and tenants.

  • Cecilia

    Hi. Have a tenant who lied on application understating the number of children they have which puts them over limit for vlta. Does that create an immediate breach or will we still have to go to court?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cecilia,

      I’m not a lawyer, and I’ve never been in that same exact situation, but I believe that gives you the ability to terminate the lease. However, just because you terminate it, doesn’t mean they will move-out voluntarily. If they don’t leave by their own free will, you’ll have to go to court to get them evicted.

      You should probably get a lawyer’s opinion on the matter.

      By the way, what section of the VLTA are you referring to? I’d like to research this more because I have a property in VA and should learn more myself.

  • julie

    Hi Lucas,

    I have looked at the Virginia Lanlord-Tenant Act and can’t seem to find the info I am looking for. Perhaps you can direct me?? If a landlord has permission to enter a property (although the tenant isn’t home) can the landlord take photographs of damage?

    Thank you

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Julie,

      So, the real question is whether or not the tenant has a right to privacy while you are in the unit. Personally, I think you could make a strong case for either side. Though you are allowed to be in the property to inspect the premise, assuming to provided proper notice, but if you photograph all their personal belongings, it could be considered (or skewed as) invasion of privacy.

      I think that you’re fine to take pictures as long as you have a legitimate business reason to do so. For example, if there is a leaky pipe in the kitchen, you would be allowed to photograph anything that within the vicinity of the repair area, but you wouldn’t be allowed to go into their bathroom and take pictures of their prescription mediation in the medicine cabinet. See the difference? You have no business being in the medicine cabinet.

      If you’re dealing with cleanliness and hoarding issues, the lack of common cleanliness is damaging your property, the walls, the carpets, etc, so you would have a valid reason to photograph entire rooms and all their stuff in it.

      Just try to stay away from anything that is too personal. Good luck!

      • Daniel

        Greetings Lucas,
        Great site you have here very useful. My question goes in line with Julie’s. I am currently packing and getting ready to move from our current rental property. During the visit by the owners rental agent, I was asked if taking pictures of the property was ok by us, we said no. My wife is a private person and did not feel comfortable with pictures of her home online. However they went ahead and when we were not home, came in and took pictures with out permission and are using them online. I asked them to take down the ones of the bedrooms (my sons and ours) yet wanted to be somewhat helpful and said they could keep suing some of the not so personal ones (deck, kitchen, bathrooms) and they said simply NO, they will keep them all up.
        Is their a law against this in VA? we live in Alexandria.
        I believe they did this because the previous pictures had walls in colors such as red, yellow, salmon, etc.. the landlord did give us permission to paint when we moved in. Yet while the landlord loved his old colors and always raved about them, I am sure, because he told us himself during the visit, that his agent believes it is not useful for the process to have such wild colors, so I am sure they need to use these new pictures, to get more people interested.
        Thank you for your guidance,
        Daniel

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Daniel,

          In VA, a landlord (and their agents) need to give 2 days notice before entering, and only 24 hours for repairs. If you’ve been absent for 7 days, the landlord is allow to enter the property without notice.

          Check out the links in the Notices section http://www.landlordology.com/virginia-landlord-tenant-laws/#notice

          However, whether or not they gave proper notice, the other issue is privacy. To be honest, I don’t know what the rule is.

          I would imagine that the landlord IS allowed to photograph his or her home for the purpose of showcasing – after all it is his property. However, the purpose of proper notice is to allow the tenant enough time to prepare for the visit – which would include removing any personal item from view.

          Though *I think* (not a lawyer) that they should honor your request to take down the personal photos, I also think you need to give them another opportunity to take additional photos, including any bedrooms.

          I could be wrong, this is just my opinion based on my experience as a landlord. Again, I’m not a lawyer, and I have no idea how privacy law applies in this situation.

          If you want to talk to an inexpensive lawyer, try one of these links:
          http://www.alexandriava.gov/DCHS
          http://www.lsnv.org/

  • Paul

    Hello Lucas,
    I am hoping that you can assist me. We have had trouble selling our house in Newport News, VA and are hoping to possibly rent it out until such a time as it sells (which looks like it may be months). When we purchased the home years ago (before the collapse) we hoped to flip it in like 3-5 years before we had kids. We failed in that, as we have lived there for 8 years and now have 2 kids and the house is simply too small for all of us now. We have the house listed with an agent for sale and I am wondering….among other things, if the same 2 day notice would be required for a showing as is required for entry by myself, also if I could put in the contract something such as 24 hour notice will be given on all showings etc. It will be a month to month agreement, but instead of a 30 day notice of termination/renewal, I was hoping that a 15 day notice would be possible. any thoughts or remarks would be greatly appreciated.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Paul

      In my non-legal opinion, I think you could stipulate different notice amounts, as long as they are reasonable and the tenant is on board with them. However, if you get into an argument and it goes to court, the statute would probably overrule your lease. (Ask a lawyer)

      From one landlord to another, just be honest with you applicants, don’t try to hide anything, and have the initial next to these specific clauses.

      If you disclose everything and agree upon it, you are less likely to have issues.

  • Lynn Spencer

    Hi Lucas

    I live in an apartment complex in Richmond, VA and a guess of mine burned a hole in the carpet in my bedroom. I have lived here for five years so far and don’t plan on moving for a couple of more years so how will the company I rent from charge me for the carpeting? What is reasonable or not how do they calculate this also, the carpet was new when I moved in.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lynn,

      There’s no easy answer for this. Your liability for the carpet depends on the expected lifespan of the carpet. If you shorten the life of the carpet due to excessive wear and tear, then you are responsible. Most carpets last anywhere from 3-10 years, with the lifespan determined by the make, weave, backing, thread-count, and other aspects.

      If the carpet isn’t replaced until you move-out, and at that time, it’s 8 years old, I think it would be tough for the landlord to charge you for anything – since it lived it’s natural life. However, each situation is different, and I’m not a lawyer.

  • Sarah

    What is the required time to use a pay or quit notice for non payment of rent when you have given a notice to terminate the lease, in other words not renew the lease which will end in two months. We are thinking they are trying to not pay the remainder of two months. They have been late on 9 of the prior ten (10) months. A curtesy call was given to them but they refuse to answer the phone or the message, when do you intend to pay your rent.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sarah

      Thanks for your question. I think you are over-thinking this. It’s really quite simple. If the tenant fails to pay rent when it is due, give the tenant any applicable grace period, then give them a 5 day notice to remedy or quit. After 5 days from the notice, if they still haven’t paid rent, you can terminate the lease and they are expected to vacate. If they don’t vacate, you can file an eviction case with the courts immediately. You should read statute § 55-225, which explains this in more detail: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-225

  • Katie

    Hi there, Lucas. I’m lost on what to do here. We are in the midst of moving out of our apartment due to a mold issue. Our lease is up and we gave our 30 day notice. We haven’t stayed at the residence since the mold problem became apparent (about 30 days ago) and our daughter began showing signs of a nasty reaction to said mold. As we are going through our belongings, it is apparent that much of what we own is ruined and caked in green mold or dabbled in patches of black mold. It’s unclear to me if I have any rights to get back what I am losing. Recently, we have been made aware (not from the landlord) that many people have moved from this apartment due to mold problems. Any suggestions? Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Katie,

      Potentially yes, but you would need to speak with real legal counsel. The landlord probably won’t voluntarily give you any compensation. You might have to take the landlord to small claims court.

      Further, you should check your lease to see if you were required to get renter’s insurance. If you were required to, but didn’t, then it would might have a hard time winning a case against the landlord. Renter’s insurance would cover your losses in situations like this.

      If you have a significant amount of losses, but no renter’s insurance, you should consult with an attorney before taking legal action. Landlords rarely take responsibility for a tenant’s personal belongings unless you can prove that they didn’t disclose the mold but new about it anyway, or their negligence caused the damage.

      Here is helpful legal aid site: http://www.vlas.org/

      Keep in mind, I’m NOT a lawyer, but rather just an experienced landlord trying to help. Please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Karen

    Lucas,
    For fourteen years, I owned a mobile home and rented the lot from a landlord who owns a park in Virginia with over 100 mobile home lots. We terminated the lease in August, 2014 and sold the home.

    When I visited the management office to pick up my security deposit check, there was no interest included in the check. I asked about the interest and the landlord told me they only had to pay interest “if they had kept the money in an interest-bearing account.” I replied that it was my understanding that doing so was required. She replied, “No, it’s optional.”

    I believe they owe me for the interest on our security deposit since we lived there over 13 months (14 years!) and the landlord has more than six rental units. I believe they have been cheating tenants out of this interest for years, taking advantage of them by assuming the tenants are unaware of the law.

    Are they required to give me the interest for the years the rate was applicable (2000-2008)? It’s not a lot of money, but it is the principle.

    If so, how do I collect it? If I cash the check they gave me (which does not include the interest) am I jeopardizing getting the interest owed to me? Is small claims court my only option at this point?

    Thank you so much for this article and for taking the time to answer questions.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Karen,

      I’m not so sure that the rules on security deposit interest applies to mobile home lots.

      Virginia has it’s own Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act, and it doesn’t say anything about interest. See: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+TOC55000000013000030000000

      Further, even if the interest rules for residential units applied here, the Federal Discount Rate was only 4.0% or above, 4 out of the last 14 years. See: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-248.15C2

      So, yes, “IF” you are entitled to interest, it would only be for 4 years (I think). You’ll probably want to talk to a lawyer to determine if this applies to mobile home rental parks. If so, the lawyer will be able to help you calculate it. Then, I imagine that small claims court would be the best place to make your claim.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help.

  • Karen

    Hi Lucas,

    I was wondering what you would recommend me doing in my situation. I rented a room in house located in Richmond, that was close to school and seemed okay. While I was taking a look at the house and room, I saw that the place was messy and dirty since tenants were moving out but was assured that the house would be professionally cleaned before I moved in. From what I read in my lease is that the deposit is taken if the house is left dirty to hire professional cleaners but I think they just ripped the previous tenants off because once I moved in, the whole place was still dirty and a foul odor coming from the kitchen. What I found was that not only was the place messy but contained roaches which is where the odor is coming from. I think there was an infestation before from all the dead an uncleaned roaches by the fridge and cabinets and amount of poop and grime on the walls. I’ve called the landlord to let him know that not only was the house extremely dirty before I arrived as well as the roaches (even centipedes) and the drains for the tub and sinks not draining properly. He said he’d do something but I feel as though he doesn’t even try to do regular maintenance. My next step is to send him a letter with pictures as proof but I’m not sure what I can legally say in the letter or if I can get out of this 1 yr lease. Please help, and thank you for your time!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Karen,

      Please do document everything about the place. It’s so critical that you take plenty of pictures, so you have evidence of the condition when you moved in.

      As a tenant, you are only responsible for restoring the property to the condition it was when you moved-in. If he tries to withhold your deposit because you didn’t “clean”well enough, you could take him to court. Further, a landlord must not deduct more than his/her actual damages from the deposit. Meaning, if the deposit was $1000, and the cleaning company was only $200, the landlord would still have to give back the remaining $800. He can’t just keep it.

      If there are issues that effect habitability, such as roaches, you can call the health dept or local housing office. They might send out an inspector and then fine the landlord. But keep in mind, the landlord might be super angry with you, and might retaliate in very unprofessional ways.

      If you want out of your lease, I would suggest sending a the landlord a letter stating that the pre-existing roaches create an unfit premises as defined in statute 55-248.13 http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-248.13. Then, you could give him 30 days to remedy or you will be terminating the lease.

      Keep in mind, anything you do might cause you to lose the apartment. Plus, the landlord might give you a hard time.

      I’m not a lawyer, and these non-legal suggestions might not be the best for your situation. I just don’t know for sure – so please take them with a grain of salt.

      Does the University housing office have a lawyer that you can talk to? I realize that your place is not student housing, but you are a student, and they should be concerned with the places that you stay

  • Tracy

    Hi Lucas,

    I have a question and hope that you can help me. My family and I are terminating our lease early on a home we are renting in Williamsburg VA and were aware that we would have to continue paying the rent until new tenants were placed in the home but I just received an email from the owner of the home stating that we were responsible for paying the Marketing Fee to the Property Management Company that she has chosen which is also non-refundable. The property will not be advertise until this is paid. So my question is are we responsible for paying the Marketing Fee? Thank you for your help.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tracy,

      Unless your lease says that you have to pay the marketing fee, then you don’t have to. The landlords don’t “HAVE” to use a PM, but if they do, that’s their choice and their fee to pay.

      However, I see your predicament. If you want the landlord to market the home and find a replacement, then paying the marketing fee is the quickest way to do so.

      I’m not a lawyer, but it seems like the most important thing is to get it rented quickly. If you don’t, then the landlord might dig his/her heels in the sand, and refuse to mitigate damages to you.

      The good news is that the landlord must try and find a new tenant even if you refuse to pay the marketing fee. However, she might just deduct that from your deposit and call it a “damage” – which I don’t agree with.

      I suggest reading this whole article. It will really help you:
      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tenants-right-break-rental-lease-virginia.html

  • Melissa

    Hi Lucas,

    Thank you for all your helpful answers here. I’m trying to figure out a couple of things about Virginia landlord-tenant law.

    First, I’m not even sure whether our landlord is covered by the VLTA. He rents out the upstairs and downstairs of a house to two separate tenants, but to my knowledge owns no other properties. The upstairs and downstairs share a hot water heater, heating system, and laundry/basement facilities. The landlord does not live in the same building.

    We moved out a month ago when our lease ended, and the landlord is stating that our pet deposit is nonrefundable. However, the pet deposit was never described to us as nonrefundable, and our lease does not state that it is nonrefundable. In our lease, it is referred to as a “pet deposit” (not a “pet fee” or “pet rent”) in the clause about the security deposit.

    I would think that if there’s no language specifying otherwise, the pet deposit, like the security deposit, would be refundable. (There was no damage, and they’re not claiming that there was.)

    Any thoughts? I know you’re not a lawyer, but curious what your guess would be.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Melissa,

      Here’s a link to the VRLTA and on pg 10 it talks about security deposits. http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/images/Housing/Landlord-Tenant-Handbook.pdf

      The VRLTA says that anything called a “deposit” is refundable. Generally speaking, if it’s not marked as “non-refundable” then it is assumed to be refundable. I think your landlord just doesn’t want to come up with the money to pay you.

      My suggestion would be to tell him to “prove it”, if he’s claiming that the pet deposit was nonrefundable. If he continues to put up a fight, you might have to take him to small claims court to get your money back.

  • Carter

    Lucas,

    Thanks for your help. I recently broke my lease but found a tenant to sign a full year lease commencing immediately after my last month. The rental agreement requires me to forfeit my security deposit under these circumstances (plus an additional 2mos rent if I was unable to find tenants). Can the landlord keep the security deposit even if it was in the rental agreement when there was no damage to them?

    Thank you
    Carter

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Carter,

      Generally speaking, the landlord should only keep the deposit to cover actual damages. This is a best practice. However, I could see how if you agreed to letting the landlord keep the deposit if you choose to terminate the lease early, then you would most likely be held to the terms of the agreement.

      I suggest talking with a local attorney in your area to get legal advice if you want a shot at getting your deposit back. Also, I suggest reading through the statute on Security deposits to see what it says: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-248.15C1

  • Daniel

    Greetings Lucas, I have a question regarding the payment of Interest Rate by my landlord. My old landlord sent me list of deductions, which most I found unfair but did not want to argue as it might not be worth it. He is returning about 60% of the deposit, yet he says that the lease dose not state anything about interest. The lease does mention acquired interest returned, etc.., but does not specifically say the landlord must place the money in a bank account only things like …

    “Note that no part of any security deposit or any accrued interest as required by law shall
    be applied by Tenant “.

    “If the Landlord intends to make any deductions from security deposit or accrued interest as permitted by law”.

    My understanding is that VA law requires landlords to place the deposit in an account and return the interest along with the remainder of the deposit, if longer than 13 months. We were in the property the entirety of our lease 22 months. At an average rate I should be looking at some 200$ dollars in interest gained. He says he was not required by the lease to do so. I want to argue that VA law states that it is required, yet can not find that. Where could I look? is it required? I know I can take him to small claims if necessary, 200 might not be worth it but if I did I would also contest some 500$ plus of what I believe to be excessive deductions.
    Thank you once again,
    Daniel

  • Glenda Lewis

    I have been renting the same apartment for 19 years but my landlord will not fix my repairs they cut three holes in my bathroom wall for pipes leaks and left them open after repairs, my hot water heater had to be replace three times and it left a lot of water damage my bedroom carpet is warp from the water and they will replace it, I also have mold on my bathroomwall, furniture damage, no working smoke detector, but they still want rent every month. I’m I still obligated to pay rent every month? The whole apartment need be updated.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Glenda,

      The landlord is only required to fix issues of habitability. After 19 years, I’m sure it does need to be updated.

      With that said, mold and non-working smoke detectors can be major issues. As far as I can tell, there is no statute that allows or prohibits you from withholding rent to pay for these repairs.

      I suggest definitely talking to a local attorney before you withhold any money. If you fail to pay rent, they could terminate your lease and then file an eviction action against you.

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