Virginia Tenant Rights Laws

If you've spent any time as a renter, you know there is no shortage of issues that can come up between you and your landlord. And while many situations can be dealt with amicably, you may not know what all of your rights and obligations are. In addition to federal and local law, Virginia has its own set of rules governing this relationship. Read on to learn more about Virginia tenant rights laws and how they might affect you.

Virginia Tenant Rights: From Application to Termination

In addition to standard landlord-tenant laws, the state enacted the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Code Sections 55-248.2 through 55-248.40). These laws include many of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and apply to most residential agreements (except single-family houses if your landlord owns and rents no more than two such houses and states the exemption in your rental agreement).

Among the tenants' rights laws in Virginia are those addressing discrimination, security deposits, and living conditions. For example, it's illegal to refuse to rent to or discriminate against someone in the terms of an agreement based on that person's race, religion, age, or other protected characteristic. And all landlords must maintain their rental units in a habitable condition, which includes making necessary repairs and providing working plumbing and heat (during cold seasons).

In order to terminate your rental agreement, your landlord must give you adequate notice. And after your lease has ended and you've moved out, the landlord has 45 days to return your security deposit and provide you with an itemized list of any deductions they made for things like damages or past-due rent.

Virginia Tenant Rights Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of Virginia state laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship, including links to important code sections.

Statutes

Security Deposits

  • Limit: 2 months’ rent
  • Cannot be nonrefundable
  • Must return all or part of the security deposit within 45 days of termination of tenancy and moving out, along with itemized list of deductions, damages, and charges
  • Part or all may be used for:
    • Past-due rent and late fees
    • Damages to rental beyond normal wear and tear
    • Damages or charges as provided in rental agreement

Paying Rent

  • May not raise rent during lease term (e.g. 1 year lease) unless agreed to in writing; may raise rent upon lease renewal
  • May raise rent during periodic rental agreement (e.g. month-to-month)

Living Conditions

  • Landlord must give 24 hours’ notice to enter (except in emergencies or for maintenance requested by tenant)
  • Landlord may only enter for certain reasons including emergency, inspection, to make necessary/agreed repairs, and show unit to prospective buyers or tenants
  • Landlord must maintain premises in fit and habitable condition (comply with building and housing codes, make necessary repairs, maintain electrical, plumbing, heating, hot water, and other facilities)

Discrimination

  • No discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status, or handicap

Ending or Renewing a Tenancy

  • Landlord must give written notice to terminate the tenancy:
    • Lease: according to lease terms
    • Week-to-week: 7 days
    • Month-to-month: 30 days
    • Year-to-year: three months
    • Eviction: 5 days for failure to pay rent; 30 days for breach of lease (if not remedied within 21 days)
  • Eviction: Court order required

Retaliation

  • Landlord may not retaliate against tenant for exercising tenant rights

Note: State regulations are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Virginia Tenant Rights Laws: Related Resources

Get a Free Evaluation of Your Tenant Issues

We all hope our living situations are a source of peace and stability. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Whether you're wondering if it's your responsibility to make minor repairs or your landlord has locked you out of your apartment and threatened eviction, it's important to know your rights and responsibilities as a renter. Receive a free case review today to better understand Virginia tenant rights laws and what to do going forward.

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