This is a summary of Virginia Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the Code of Virginia, the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, and various online sources to serve as a reference and for people wanting to learn about Virginia landlord-tenant laws, Virginia eviction laws, and Virginia renters’ rights.
However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.
Rules and Regulations Governing Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws
- Code of Virginia – Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act – Chapter 12
Virginia Lease Terms Provisions
- What is the maximum allowable security deposit?
The security deposit cannot exceed two months’ rent. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1204(C)(6)) Vir. Co. § 55.1-1226(A)).
- Are security deposits required to earn interest?
No. There is no Virginia law requiring security deposits to earn interest.
- Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account?
No. There is no Virginia law requiring security deposits to be stored in a separate bank account.
- Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?
No. There is no Virginia law forbidding non-refundable fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- How long do landlords have to return security deposits?
45 days after the termination date of the tenancy or the date the tenant vacates the dwelling unit, whichever occurs last. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1226(A))
- Can landlords withhold security deposits?
Yes. Landlords can use the deposit to cover the payment of accrued rent, including the reasonable charges for late payment of rent specified in the rental agreement, the payment of the amount of damages that the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant’s noncompliance with his/her obligations, less reasonable wear and tear, other damages or charges as provided in the rental agreement or actual damages for breach of the rental agreement. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1226(A))
- Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?
Yes. An itemized list, detailing any deductions, damages, or charges must be sent to the tenant, along with any remaining deposit, within 45 days. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1226(A))
- Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?
No. There is no Virginia law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.
- Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?
Yes. A record of any deductions must be kept for up to two years. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1226(F))
- What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?
A landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant, and if the withholding was wilful, actual damages and attorney’s fees may be assessed. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1226(E))
- Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)
No. There are no rent control laws in Virginia.
- When is rent due?
Rent is due at the first of the month unless a written lease has been agreed to with different terms. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1204(C)(4))
- Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?
No. There is no Virginia law requiring a certain payment method for rent.
- Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?
Yes. So long as the late fee is called for in a written lease, and does not exceed 10% of the rent or balance due. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1204(E))
- Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?
Yes. Landlords must wait until the fifth day of a given month to charge a late fee. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1204(C)(5))
- Can landlords charge application fees?
Yes. The landlord can charge refundable and non-refundable application fees, not to exceed $50. The refundable application deposit needs to be returned within 20 days if the landlord or tenant chooses not to enter into a lease. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1203)
- Can landlords charge returned check fees?
Yes. Landlords can charge a late fee up to $50. ( Vir. Co. § 8.01-27.1)
Virginia Landlord-Tenant Relations
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?
No. There is no Virginia law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms.
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?
Yes. There must be at least 48 hours’ notice before the application of pesticides to a property unless the lease calls for shorter notice. The landlord also must post notice of pesticides used elsewhere on the property. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1223)
- What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?
There is no Virginia law governing this matter.
- What notice is required to terminate a week-to-week periodic tenancy?
Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the tenancy with 7 days’ written notice. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1253)
- What notice is required to terminate a month-to-month periodic tenancy?
Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the tenancy with 30 days’ written notice. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1253)
- Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?
Yes. The landlord must provide written notice to the tenant that they have the option of attending the move out inspection with the landlord. The inspection must be made within 72 hours of the delivery of possession. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1226(G))
- When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice?
- To inspect the premises.
- To make necessary or agreed to repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements.
- To supply necessary or agreed services.
- To show the unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1229(A))
- What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?
The landlord must provide notice, which includes at least 72-hour notice of routine maintenance, and must only enter at reasonable times. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1229(A))
- When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants?
In case of an emergency. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1229(A))
Landlord’s Duties (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1220(A))
- Landlords must comply with applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Landlords must make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a habitable condition.
- Landlords must keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.
- Landlords must maintain in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.
- Landlords must provide and maintain appropriate receptacles for the removal of garbage and arrange for their removal.
- Landlords must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat.
- Landlords must maintain the premises in a way that prevents the growth of mold.
- Landlords must provide smoke detection devices. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1220(A))
- The governing body of any locality may require by ordinance that landlord who rents 5 or more units in any one multifamily building must install dead-bolt locks, manufacturer’s locks and removable metal pins or charlie bars, and locking devices that meet requirements of the Uniform Statewide Building Code. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1221).
Tenant’s Duties (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1227(A))
- Tenants must comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Tenants must keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permits.
- Tenants must keep the dwelling free from insects and pests, and notify the landlord of the existence of insects or pests.
- Tenants must dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste cleanly and safely.
- Tenants must keep all plumbing fixtures as clean as their condition permits.
- Tenants must use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises in a reasonable manner;
- Tenants must not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises; or knowingly, recklessly, or negligently permit any person to do so.
- Tenants and their guests must conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
- Tenants shall maintain smoke detection devices and carbon monoxide detection devices.
- Tenants must use reasonable efforts to prevent the growth of mold and promptly alert the landlord to any mold growth.
- Tenants must not paint or alter the dwelling unit if it was built before 1978 without written permission from the landlord.
- Tenants must use reasonable care to prevent any dog or pet from causing injury to any third-parties on or near the dwelling.
- Tenants must abide by all rules and regulations imposed by the landlord. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1227(A))
- Unless otherwise agreed, tenants must occupy the dwelling unit only as a residence. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1232).
- At the termination of the term of tenancy, the tenant shall promptly vacate the premises, removing all items of personal property and leaving the premises in good and clean order, reasonable wear and tear excepted. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1233).
Required Landlord Disclosures
- Landlords are required to disclose in writing the names and business addresses of:
- Landlords must provide a tenant a written copy of the lease, including a statement of the tenant’s rights and responsibilities within one month of the effective date of the lease, or the landlord forfeits the right to bring an action against the tenant for any alleged lease violations. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1204(H))
- The landlord must provide the tenant, within 5 days of occupancy, a written report detailing any damages to the dwelling unit from before the tenant’s tenancy. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1214)
- Landlords must disclose whether there is any visible mold in the dwelling unit in the move-in inspection report. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1215)
- Landlords must notify the tenant in writing of any sale of the premises, and provide the tenant with the name and address of the purchaser, plus a phone number for the purchaser. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1216(B))
- Landlords must provide a written disclosure if the dwelling unit is in the same locality as a military air installation, and therefore in a noise and potential accident zone. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1217)
- Landlords must provide a prospective tenant written notice that a dwelling unit has defective drywall if the landlord has actual knowledge of the defect. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1218)
- Landlords must provide a prospective tenant written notice that a dwelling unit has been used to manufacture methamphetamine in certain situations. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1219)
- Before renting pre-1978 property, landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards. (16 CFR 1303, 42 U.S. Code § 4852d) . If the landlord fails to disclose all known lead paint hazards, the landlord can face fines of up to $19,507 for each violation (24 CFR 30.65).
Virginia Renters’ Rights
- What are Virginia renters’ rights if landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties)
- If a landlord’s failure to comply with the rental agreement or their legal duties materially affects health and safety, the renter may deliver a written notice to the landlord identifying the issue(s). If the landlord does not remedy the breach in 21 days of receiving notice, the lease will terminate on the notice specified in the notice. The termination date must be at least 30 days after receipt of the notice. The entire security deposit must be refunded. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1234)
- The tenant can also choose, if the breach is the withholding of an essential service, choose to procure substitute housing and not pay rent for the period of the breach. The tenant may be awarded attorney’s fees in an action to uphold this right, but this course of action does not terminate the lease. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1239)
- Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlords’ duties?
Yes. If the tenant notified the landlord in writing and the landlord does not correct the issue within 14 days, a tenant can contract with a bonded contractor or pesticide business to repair or remedy any condition that constitutes material noncompliance with the rental agreement or a threat to health or safety, and deduct the cost of repairs from their rent, provided its not greater than $1,500. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1244.1)
- What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their Virginia renter’s rights?
Virginia law prohibits landlords from increasing rent, decreasing services, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession if the tenant has complained to a governmental agency, complained to the landlord about a breach of landlord’s duties, become a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization, or testified in court against the landlord. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1258)
Virginia Eviction Laws
- What are the reasons that landlords can evict tenants under Virginia eviction laws?
- Nonpayment of rent
- Violation of lease terms / rental agreement
- Illegal activity
- The tenant remains in possession without the landlord’s consent after expiration or termination of the term of the rental agreement (holdover tenancy) (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1245)
- What notice do Virginia eviction laws require that landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process?
- For evictions based on non-payment of rent, a 5-day notice to pay must be posted before the filing of an eviction action. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1245(F))
- For evictions based on a violation of lease terms / rental agreement, a 30-day notice to comply must be posted by the landlord, giving the tenant 21 days to cure the violation of the lease. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1245(A))
- For evictions based on a holdover tenancy, landlords must provide the notice required to end the tenancy. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1253)
- For evictions based on illegal activity, the landlord can immediately file an eviction action. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1245(C))
- Do Virginia eviction laws allow landlords to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities?
No. Both changing the locks and utility shut-offs are explicitly prohibited by Virginia law. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1252)
- Are landlords permitted to recover damages from an evicted tenant?
Yes. In Virginia, landlords may recover damages, including costs of the proceedings and reasonable attorney’s fees if those provisions were included in a written lease. (Vir. Co. § 55.1-1245(G))
COVID-19 Changes to Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws
- The CDC’s national eviction ban was effective through August 26, 2021, and is no longer in place.
- The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is no longer effective.
- Stay Home Virginia provides a list of housing recourses.
- Virginia Utility Assistance Program helps utility customers with their bills.
Squatter’s rights in Virginia
Under Homestead Act of 1862, individuals (squatters) can possess the property if they have lived there for a specific period of time, done so publicly, made repairs to the property, have deed to the property and have paid rent or taxes on this property.
Virginia has no specific laws recognizing squatters.The squatter must continuously possess the property for 15 years before claiming adverse possession (Vir. Co. § 8.01-236).
- Virginia General District Court
- Attorney General of Virginia
- Virginia Fair Housing Office
- Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
- U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development – Virginia
- Virginia Real Estate Board
- Virginia Legal Aid – Landlord Tenant Issues
- Virginia Legal Aid Society (Southern Virginia)
- Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC)
Attorney Referral Services
Realtor and Landlord-Tenant Associations