Property Management Blog

Northern Virginia Rental Laws - An Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights in Virginia

KRS Holdings - Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Property Management Blog

A lease can be established either orally or through a written agreement. Once the relationship has been established, both the landlord and tenant obtain certain rights and duties under residential landlord-tenant laws. 

Your tenant gains the legal right to live in a habitable rental unit and to have repairs done within a reasonable period of time, among other rights. On your part, as the landlord, you obtain the right to enter the rented unit, evict a tenant from the housing unit for lease agreement violations, and so on.

Such rights exist for the residential landlord and tenant regardless of whether there is a written rental agreement or not. 

Here's what a landlord needs to know about the state's landlord-tenant act:

Required Landlord Disclosures

Virginia disclosures landlord

Under Virginia landlord-tenant laws, landlords have a responsibility to disclose certain information to their renters. A Virginia residential landlord must do so before the tenant agrees to rent their rental premises. If the landlord doesn’t, their tenant could use that as a legally justified reason to terminate their tenancy early. 

Below are the mandatory disclosures Virginia landlords are required to make to their tenants in accordance with Virginia landlord-tenant laws:

  • Lead paint. This is a requirement for homes built in 1978 or earlier. A residential landlord must let their tenant know about any presence of lead-based paint in the unit. 

  • Authorized agents. A tenant has a legal right to be given contact information regarding the unit’s landlord or property manager. 

  • Move-in checklist. Landlords must provide the tenant with a move-in checklist. The checklist must, among other things, detail the property’s condition and inventory. 

  • Defective drywall. Landlords must let the tenant know if there is defective drywall in the rental premises. 

  • Mold. A landlord must let a prospective tenant know about the presence of mold in the apartment or home.

  • The location is adjacent to notable zones. Landlords must let their tenants know if their property is located near a “noise zone” or an accident potential zone. 

  • Displacement or demolition. This is only applicable to multifamily units where a displacement by a rehabilitation, demolition, or conversion of the property is imminent within 6 weeks. 

  • Shared Utilities. A landlord must disclose how utilities are going to be split between tenants, if applicable. 

Virginia Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Local landlord-tenant law (according to the Landlord Tenant Act) grants tenants the right to:

  • Live in peace and quiet enjoyment. 

  • Live in a habitable rental property. 

  • Continue living in their rented unit until the proper eviction process has been followed to remove them. 

  • Have repairs done promptly after requesting them 

  • Be given notice if there are any changes to the terms of the agreement. 

  • Terminate the rental agreement early for legally justified reasons, such as military deployment. 

The list of responsibilities for tenants under the Virginia landlord-tenant law includes:

  • Keeping the rental premises in a clean and sanitary state at all times. 

  • Complying with all housing and building codes that impact their safety and health. 

  • Using the provided appliances and facilities reasonably. 

  • Ensuring they pay utility bills on time. 

  • Notifying the landlord of any maintenance issues on time. 

  • Respecting the peace and quiet of neighbors. 

  • Removing trash and garbage. 

  • Making rent payments on time. 

  • Abiding by all terms of the rental agreement. 

Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities

Virginia landlord tenant law 

Virginia landlord-tenant law gives landlords the following rights. The right to:

  • Evict a tenant for violating any of the terms of the lease once they've sent the appropriate written notice. 

  • Enforce the terms of the lease, such as imposing a late fee for late rent payments. 

  • Require a tenant to pay a security deposit before signing the lease agreement. 

  • Draft a written lease/ rental agreement that contains the rules of the tenancy. 

  • Make changes to the terms of the agreement, for instance, if they wish to increase the monthly rent the tenant must pay. Landlords must, however, seek their tenant’s approval with proper notice or wait for the existing agreement to end in order to make any changes. 

  • Enter the tenant’s dwelling unit to perform critical landlord duties. 

  • File a lawsuit in a small claims court for rent-related disputes valued at least $5,000. 

The list of landlord responsibilities is as follows in the state of Virginia:

  • Abide by the Fair Housing Laws

  • Abide by the Warranty of Habitability. 

  • Evict tenants in accordance with the state’s legal process. 

  • If requiring a tenant's security deposit, do so in full compliance with the Virginia security deposit rules. 

  • Only enter a tenant’s dwelling unit after serving a proper notice. 

  • Abide by all terms of the lease or rental agreements. 

  • Respond to requested issues within a reasonable period of time. 

  • Maintain peace and quiet. 

  • Provide a prospect with the required mandatory disclosure. 

An Overview of the Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws

1. Right of Entry

While you're the owner, it's not your personal property to use as you, please. Landlord access to a tenant’s dwelling unit is, therefore, only permitted for specific reasons. Such reasons include:

  • Court orders

  • In the event of an emergency

  • To show the unit to prospective tenants

  • To inspect the dwelling units

  • When the tenant has abandoned the unit

  • To make agreed repairs

Despite being the property owner, the Virginia residential landlord must also enter only during normal business hours or as agreed by the tenant after serving them a 24-hour advance written notice. 

2. Rental Evictions 

Landlords have a right under Virginia landlord-tenant laws to evict a tenant for violating a term of the rental agreement. Common reasons to evict a tenant include:

  • Failure to pay rent 
  • Violation of the lease or rental agreement
  • Illegal acts

And even then, as the landlord, you must not engage in ‘self-help’ eviction tactics. The Virginia law requires strict adherence to the Virginia eviction laws for it to be legal and succeed.

3. Lease Termination in Virginia 

Virginia landlord-tenant law allows tenants to terminate their lease early for certain reasons, including:

  • An uninhabitable unit. 

  • Active military duty.

  • Domestic violence.

  • An early termination clause in the tenancy agreement. 

Virginia laws rental agreement

4. Housing Discrimination 

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics. The characteristics include race, color, religion, disability, nationality, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, income source, and familial status.

The Virginia Fair Housing Board is the government body tasked with enforcing and administering the Fair Housing law. 

Conclusion: Virginia Tenant-Landlord Law

Navigating Virginia landlord-tenant law can be difficult, especially for self-managing or inexperienced landlords. 

For expert help, kindly get in touch with KRS Holdings. We understand all rental laws and can also help any landlord in all property management aspects, such as finding and screening great tenants.  

Contact us for more information about our services in Richmond and Northern VA. 

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. Also, federal and state laws change and this content may not be updated at the time you read it.