Property Management Blog

Virginia Security Deposit Laws

KRS Holdings - Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Property Management Blog

Virginia landlords have a right to ask for a security deposit. The deposit acts as a financial cushion against a myriad of potential issues that can arise during a tenancy. The following are examples of such issues. 

  • Failure by the tenant to pay the utility bills prior to moving out
  • Failure by the tenant to clear any rent due before moving out
  • Causing damage exceeding normal wear and tear
  • Causing any lease violation that leads to financial damage to the landlord

With that in mind, there are rules that you must follow after requiring your tenant to pay a security deposit under the Virginia landlord-tenant law. The following are the basic rules you should familiarize yourself with. 

1. Abide by the security deposit limit

Virginia caps the amount of security deposit that a landlord can charge a tenant. The state requires that landlords not charge a security deposit exceeding the rent of two months. So, supposing you charge tenants a monthly rent of $1,500, the most you can ask them as a security deposit is $3,000. 

2. Ensure you provide disabled tenants with full and equal access to housing

While Virginia laws allow landlords to ask for an additional pet deposit, you must exempt disabled persons. That’s because disability is a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. 

disable tenant rights

As a landlord, you have a responsibility of ensuring that disabled tenants have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their home. Besides making reasonable accommodations, you may also need to do the following reasonable modifications to their rented home. 

  • Install tactile and visual alert devices
  • Replace doorknobs with levers
  • Install a wheelchair ramp at the unit’s entrance
  • Remove cabinets that are below the counter
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom or at the unit’s entrance
  • Widen the unit’s doorways
  • Store your tenant’s deposit properly

Prior to 2014, landlords were required to store their tenants’ security deposits in an interest-accruing account. Then, the tenant’s deposit would earn interest at an annual rate below that of the Federal Reserve’s discount rate. 

The interest earned would be payable to tenants that had been renting their unit for at least 13 months. Landlords would pay the accrued interest at the end of the tenant’s tenancy. 

That said, this was no longer required after 2014. So, as a landlord, you have no obligation to store your tenant’s deposit in an interest-bearing account. 

3. Make deductions for the right reasons

As a landlord in Virginia, you have a right to make deductions to your tenant’s security deposit. The following are the allowable reasons. 

  • To pay for unpaid utility bills
  • To meet charges or damages that the lease has spelt out
  • To pay for costs exceeding normal wear and tear

security deposit deductions

But what exactly is normal wear and tear? Normal wear and tear is the gradual decline of a property’s condition due to everyday use. As such, the damage doesn’t result from a tenant’s abuse or neglect, and therefore you cannot hold a tenant liable for the costs of fixing such damage. 

Examples of such damage includes the following. 

  • Warped cabinet doors
  • Doors sticking due to humidity
  • Wood floors becoming scuffed due to regular use
  • Faded carpet from regular use
  • Slightly torn or faded wallpaper
  • A few scrapes, dents, smudges, chips, or holes in the walls

On the other hand, you can hold your tenant liable for any damage exceeding normal wear and tear. Such damage can occur due to abuse, misuse, negligence, or carelessness by your tenant. The following are examples of damages exceeding normal wear and tear. 

  • Burns on the floor
  • Missing doorknob or handle
  • Missing or broken tiles
  • Broken appliances
  • Large nail holes on walls
  • Illegal property changes, such as unauthorized paint colors
  • A torn blind or wallpaper
  • A missing window or door
  • Keep records of your tenant’s security deposits

You must also keep records of your tenants’ security deposits. The records must itemize any deductions you have made on any of your tenant’s security deposit for the past two years. 

What’s more, these records must be available on request by either the tenant, their attorney, or any of their authorized agents. 

4. Conduct a walk-through inspection

Virginia tenants have a right to a walk-through inspection. You have a responsibility of making a reasonable effort to notify your tenant of their right to be present at the walk-through inspection. 

You must notify them of the inspection within 5 days of them serving you a move-out notice. If your tenant wishes to be present, they must give their response in writing. 

walk through inspection va

During the inspection, you must give the tenant an itemized list of damages discovered. 

5. Return the tenant’s deposit within 45 days

In Virginia, landlords must return their tenant’s deposit (or whatever is left of it) within 45 days of their tenants moving out. If you’ve made any deductions, then you must send the remaining deposit, along with an itemized written statement. The statement must include:

  • The remaining portion of the security deposit you’re returning
  • Itemized list of damages, including the damage caused as well as the cost of repair

You must send the notice to the tenant via certified mail. Alternatively, you can hand-deliver it to the tenant in person. 

6. Transfer the tenant’s deposit to the incoming landlord 

If you sell the rental property, it’ll be the incoming landlord’s responsibility to return the deposit back to the tenant. 

Bottom Line

These are the rules that the Virginia landlord-tenant laws require landlords to abide by. Please note that wrongfully withholding your tenant’s security deposit could have consequences. 

If you need help navigating the law, get in touch with KRS Holdings. Our experienced team can help you with the law, your rental property, and anything else you need! Contact us for more information about our services in Richmond and Northern Virginia

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. For expert help in landlord-tenant laws and other aspects of property management, KRS Holdings can help. We’re a successful property management company that services Richmond, Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and other surrounding areas.