At Landlord Station we know that as a landlord or prospective landlord in Virginia, you are probably aware that there are certain obligations and protections between yourself and your tenant or tenants. However, do you know which Virginia landlord tenant act or law applies to your specific circumstances? This is an important consideration, as not every Virginia landlord tenant act or law applies to every rental scenario. For your protection, you should know all of the Virginia renters rights and laws pertaining to your protections, rights, and obligations as a landlord. However, a good law to start with is the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, or VRLTA.
Established in 1974, the VRLTA is the main Virginia landlord tenant act covering rental agreements in the state, and can be found in Va. Code Ann. § 55-248.2 through 55-248.40. If you are a landlord for an apartment complex or for public housing (such as with Section 8), the VRLTA applies to you. Similarly, if you own more than 10 single-family residences (4 in specific circumstances) and have a tenant, or if you run a boarding house or hotel/motel where the tenant is present over 30 days, the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act also applies.
One of the most basic provisions in this law is items that should be included in the rental agreement, or lease, if there is one, as well as what considerations should be given to landlord and renters rights if there is no formal lease agreement in place. According to the VLRTA, formal lease agreements can allow for the amount of rent, when and where rent should be paid, whether automatic renewal will occur, the landlord’s requirements of the tenant giving notice to leave, and the terms of the agreement, such as length. When there is no lease agreement in place, the VRLTA facilitates the terms of the lease.
In all VRLTA-applicable lease agreements, formal lease or no, these Virginia rental laws cover both landlord rights and responsibilities and renters rights and responsibilities. As a landlord, your rights and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Right to charge application fee and/or separate application deposit
• Right to designated time and place for payment of rent
• Ability to accept prepaid rent
• Right to demand security deposit
• Right to require damage and/or renter’s insurance
• Right to reasonable access to the property
• Right to compel lawful access to property or terminate rental agreement through injunction
• Right to bar guest or invitee of tenant from property upon such a person’s violation of the lease agreement
• Right to dispose of possessions left on the property which have been deemed legally abandoned
• Obligation to keep tenant information confidential
• Obligation to submit written, itemized report of existing damages to property at time of occupancy
• Responsibility to disclose visible evidence of mold in readily-accessible areas and maintain premises to prevent moisture accumulation and mold growth
• Responsibility to disclose any defective drywall in the unit
• Obligation to comply with applicable building and housing codes affecting health and safety
• Obligation to maintain premises in fit and habitable condition, including applicable repairs
• Responsibility to maintain in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other required facilities and appliances
• Obligation to supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable air conditioning if provided and heat in season
• Responsibility of providing 48 hours’ written notice of pesticides or other bug treatment application
• Responsibility to inform tenant of any change in management, ownership, or use of property
• Obligation to provide proper notification of rent increase, decrease in services, or eviction
The appropriate responses for any violation of the Virginia rental laws by the tenant or the landlord are also included in the VRLTA. Remedies to violations usually include right to lease termination after the landlord or tenant has been given enough time to fix the violation on their own, as well as the right to recover actual damages and legal fees. Virginia landlord tenant law prohibits retaliatory behavior. If you are unsure about what constitutes retaliatory behavior over the legal remedies provided for in VRLTA, consult Va. Code Ann. § 55-248.39 or speak with an attorney.
The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act is meant to provide for a fair business agreement between landlord and tenant, while giving protections and potential remedies for both parties. It is crucial that you, as a landlord, know both sides of this law and whether or not it applies to the units you rent before entering into any lease agreement. Landlord Station provides you with basic information regarding the Virginia landlord tenant act, however as always, to be completely certain of you and your renters rights in any Virginia lease, consult an attorney.
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