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

  • 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.???

    • William Smith

      Inadk my landlord to have a pet. He said no when all other tenants are allowed to. Our lease is about up an low and behold he even states that pets are allowed in his for rent add. This is discrimination. What can I do?

  • 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.

    • Estella

      Hi Amber, to my knowledge, you have to go to the court house in your jurisdiction and file for intent to evict. Once she is served with those papers, she has to move in 30 days. If on the last day she has not moved, you have to call the police dept or sheriff’s office and they can remove her just as long as you provide a copy of the eviction notice.

      I hope this helps, although I months late.

  • 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.

  • nannette

    I get ssi an around may or june i had a problem with them! I told my landlord this could happend at any time of the year and they said it would be no problem they would work with me. Well it happend an this put me behind on my rent so i’m just catching up on it but i do still owe for this month! I just got a letter mailed to me saying they will not be renewing my lease! And to boot he only gave me 20 days to move!!! Can he do this ? i was told he has to give me 30 or 60 days. BTW my lease ends jan 20. But he mailed the letter out on dec 22 & i got it on dec the 28th!!

  • Tamara

    How many people can live in a 2 bedroom apt legally

  • Tamara Hubbard

    My landlord just issued me a letter stating he is not renewing my lease because of some renovation that need to be done. The only reason for renovations would be in a bedroom below the garage that he wants to make a laundry room. I offered to vacate that room temporarily until renovations are finished. This was not acceptable for them. I believe they want me to move so they can double the rent amount for a new tenant. I have lived in this home for 6 years and my rent is paid, on time, and up to date.

    Can he do this?

  • Robbin Brown

    Been renting and living in same house for four years. Can realtor keep deposit once we move out to a different home,not owned by same realtor. Some say they can, calling it a cleaning fee,even though house will be clean. House needs new carpet, paint job throughout house, bathroom new sink not from us using it ,but stained, wall covers for heat vent ,very rusted toilet needs replacement leaks and wobbles. Just don’t want someone taking advantage of me, since I don’t know my rights. Hope you can help.


  • Suzanne Frazelle

    I paid a pet deposit when I moved in of $300. I also pay a monthly pet fee of $50 per month 1bird and 1 cat. When I renewed my lease my deposit wasn’t returned and I continue to pay $50 a month. Seems a little crazy. Can I do anything?

  • lindsey

    can a landlord give less than 24 hours notice for a showing?

  • Tammy hyman

    I gave $1100 security deposit and the carpet is 17 years old can my landlord make me pay for it because it was old when I moved in 3 years ago and my 4 kids plus myself our normal wear and tear damage on it but she is trying to collect the security deposit for the $2400 carpet replacement and she is also trying to get more money out of my for other damages like a door and microwave and fridge which are all 13 years old door is 45 years old actually can she do this

  • Lynn

    We are day 3 in our new rental property. Per their walk thru, the AC worked. Day 1, the unit was extremely loud (you could hear it through the neighborhood) yet blowing out cold air. Day 2 in the evening it stopped working, only blowing warm air. Called and complained both days. Property management contacted owner and he wants to send his own maintenance person out yet they have not given us a time frame. Myself, 3 kids, dog, not to mention my husband who has a severe heart condition, are suffering in 90 degree temps in the house. What are the laws regulating AC fixes? They said it worked but it clearly doesn’t. We went through this before with old property management but took them 4 months to fix. Need help, please.

  • Nicole

    I had lived in the house for two years.when I first moved in I signed a lease but it was never renewed. I never once met the landlord because he lives in a South Carolina. I asked him in January to fix the heat in the house, he said he was too far away to do anything about it. The house was falling apart and was becoming unsafe. I moved out at the end of February without notice and now he wants to sue me for $300 rent for the month of March. Can he actually sue me?

  • Mattie Thornton

    Should the landlord include include a Claus to allow tenant to break lease if necessary in all leases in virginia

  • Jeremy

    Hello I just moved into a condo that I am renting today. I had done a walkthrough when the previous tenets where moving out and saw several small things that naturally occur on a old building such as cracks in drywall and such. What I missed was multiple pet stains in the carpet ( I didn’t smell urin at the time of the walkthrough ether. Today I moved in and see the pet stains and the entire floor reeks of urin is there anything articles I can review to understand my rights in a situation like this? I will be talking to my landlord tomorrow about the issue as today is Sunday.

  • Jacqueline Bowman

    My landlord did not provide a renters right notice to be present at a move out inspection, as required by law within 5 day’s of notice of non-renewal of lease. Also; did not provide a to do checklist. I take this to mean. Turn in keys and walk out. All security deposit must be returned

  • 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?

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