In general, a landlord in Virginia has to repair any issues at a rental property that could affect a tenant’s health or safety. The landlord must repair issues the tenant didn’t cause within14-21 daysof getting written notice from the tenant about the needed repairs, depending on the type of issue.
Virginia Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs
Virginia landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:
Hot running water.
Garbage containers and removal.
Required smoke alarms and provided carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
Features that affect health, safety, or habitability.
If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.
What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Virginia?
Virginia tenants are responsible for repairingany damage they cause to the propertywhich affects health and safety.
On a case by case basis, the landlord and tenant can agree in writing for the tenant to handle specific maintenance. This can include the tenant taking on the landlord’s responsibilities for common areas, garbage, water, heating.
Requesting Repairs in Virginia
Virginia tenants must request repairsby providing the landlord written notice about the issue that needs repair.To reserve the relevant legal options, the tenant must also state actions they might take if the landlord does not make timely repairs, such as canceling the lease altogether.
This is an example of language a tenant might use when potentially canceling the lease: “If the issue isn’t fixed within 21 days of this notice being delivered, the renter may exercise his right to cancel the rental agreement on [DATE, at least 30 days from delivery of the notice].”
This is an example of language a tenant might use when potentially repairing and deducting: “If the issue isn’t fixed within 14 days of this notice being delivered, the renter may exercise his right to repair and deduct.”
How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Virginia?
Virginia landlords have21 daysto make most repairs after getting proper written notice about an issue from the tenant. When there’s a fire hazard or serious threat to health and safety, landlords have14 daysto do repairs after written notice, or else the renter can repair and deduct.
Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Virginia?
Virginia landlordscannot refuse to make repairsthat are their legal responsibility.
Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Virginia?
Virginia landlordsmust pay for alternative accommodationwhile they conduct repairs if the tenant has to relocate temporarily. The landlord usually must give 30 days’ written notice. The tenant still has to pay rent as usual, but the landlord has to provide the alternative accommodation at no charge.
Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Virginia
Virginia tenants cancancel the rental agreementif the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs, in many situations. They might alsosue for damagesorget an injunctionto force repairs, orrepair and deductfor minor repairs.
Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Virginia?
Virginia tenants arenot allowed to unilaterally withhold rent.A court may order a tenant to pay into a court escrow account rather than directly to the landlord, but tenants aren’t allowed to suspend rent payments.
Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Virginia?
Virginia tenantscan repair and deduct,when fire hazards or serious health and safety issues aren’t fixed within 14 days after written notice. The deductible amount is $1,500 or one month’s rent, whichever is greater. The tenant must provide the landlord an itemized statement with receipts to prove expenses.
Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Virginia?
Virginia tenantscan break their lease21 after written notice, for failure to repair issues that weren’t the tenant’s responsibility or other uncorrected breaches of the rental agreement.
Tenants can move out and break their leaseimmediately,when the property is destroyed or severely damaged by an action that wasn’t the tenant’s fault (for example, a hurricane).
Can the Tenant Sue in Virginia?
Virginia tenantscan sueto force repairs or recover monetary damages, when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs after proper notice.
Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Virginia?
Virginia tenantscan report landlords for code violationsthat affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.
It’s illegal for Virginia landlords to retaliate withraised rent,reduced services,orthreatened evictionagainst tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions:
Complaining to the government about health and safety issues on the property.
Complaining to the landlord about failure to comply with legal requirements.
Participating in a tenant organization.
Testifying in a court case against the landlord.
The law allows an exception when the landlord has good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent reasonably according to local market values isn’t retaliating. It’s the tenant’s burden of proof to establish the landlord’s retaliatory intention.
“Except as provided in this chapter, if there is a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with any provision of this chapter, materially affecting health and safety, the tenant may serve a written notice on the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and stating that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice if such breach is not remedied in 21 days…”
“…The tenant may not terminate for a condition caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, an authorized occupant, or a guest or invitee of the tenant. In addition, the tenant may recover damages and obtain injunctive relief for noncompliance by the landlord with the provisions of the rental agreement or of this chapter. The tenant shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees unless the landlord proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the landlord’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances. If the rental agreement is terminated due to the landlord’s noncompliance, the landlord shall return the security deposit in accordance with § 55.1-1226.”
“If (i) there exists in the dwelling unit a condition that constitutes a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with provisions of law or that, if not promptly corrected, will constitute a fire hazard or serious threat to the life, health, or safety of occupants of the premises, including an infestation of rodents or a lack of heat, hot or cold running water, light, electricity, or adequate sewage disposal facilities, and (ii) the tenant has notified the landlord of the condition in writing, the landlord shall take reasonable steps to make the repair or to remedy such condition within 14 days of receiving notice from the tenant.”
“The landlord shall: 1. Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety; 2. Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition; 3. Keep all common areas shared by two or more dwelling units of a multifamily premises in a clean and structurally safe condition; 4. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him.”
“A landlord shall maintain the premises in such a condition as to prevent the accumulation of moisture and the growth of mold and promptly respond to any notices from a tenant as provided in subdivision A 10 of § 55.1-1227. Where there is visible evidence of mold, the landlord shall promptly remediate the mold conditions in accordance with the requirements of subsection E of § 8.01-226.12 and reinspect the dwelling unit to confirm that there is no longer visible evidence of mold in the dwelling unit. The landlord shall provide a tenant with a copy of a summary of information related to mold remediation occurring during that tenancy and, upon request of the tenant, make available the full package of such information and reports not protected by attorney-client privilege. Once the mold has been remediated in accordance with professional standards, the landlord shall not be required to make disclosures of a past incidence of mold to subsequent tenants.”
“A landlord shall: 6. Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the collection, storage, and removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of dwelling units and arrange for the removal of same; 7. Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable air conditioning if provided and heat in season except where the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat, air conditioning, or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant or supplied by a direct public utility connection.”
“A landlord shall provide a certificate to the tenant stating that all smoke alarms are present, have been inspected, and are in good working order no more than once every 12 months. The landlord, his employee, or an independent contractor may perform the inspection to determine that the smoke alarm is in good working order.”
“Upon written request of a tenant in a dwelling unit, the landlord shall install a carbon monoxide alarm in the tenant’s dwelling unit within 90 days. The landlord may charge the tenant a reasonable fee to recover the costs of the equipment and labor for such installation. The landlord’s installation of a carbon monoxide alarm shall be in compliance with the Uniform Statewide Building Code (§ 36-97 et seq.).”
“The landlord shall perform the duties imposed by subsection A in accordance with law; however, the landlord shall only be liable for the tenant’s actual damages proximately caused by the landlord’s failure to exercise ordinary care.”
“The landlord and tenant may agree in writing that the tenant perform the landlord’s duties specified in subdivisions A 3, 6, and 7 [common areas, garbage, water, heating] and also specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, and remodeling, but only if the transaction is entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord and if the agreement does not diminish or affect the obligation of the landlord to other tenants in the premises.”
“If the landlord does not take reasonable steps to repair or remedy the offending condition within 14 days of receiving a tenant’s notice pursuant to subsection B, the tenant may contract with a third-party contractor licensed by the Board for Contractors or, in the case of a rodent infestation, a pesticide business employing commercial applicators or registered technicians who are licensed, certified, and registered with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services pursuant to Chapter 39 (§ 3.2-3900 et seq.) of Title 3.2, to repair or remedy the condition specified in the notice. A tenant who contracts with a third-party licensed contractor or pesticide business is entitled to recover the actual costs incurred for the work performed, not exceeding the greater of one month’s rent or $1,500. Unless the tenant has been reimbursed by the landlord, the tenant may deduct the actual costs incurred for the work performed pursuant to the contract with the third-party contractor or pesticide business after submitting to the landlord an itemized statement accompanied by receipts for purchased items and third-party contractor or pest control services.”
“Upon the sole determination by the landlord of the existence of a nonemergency property condition in the dwelling unit that requires the tenant to temporarily vacate the dwelling unit in order for the landlord to properly remedy such property condition, the landlord may, upon at least 30 days’ written notice to the tenant, require the tenant to temporarily vacate the dwelling unit for a period not to exceed 30 days to a comparable dwelling unit, or hotel, as selected by the landlord and at no expense or cost to the tenant… The landlord and tenant may agree for the tenant to temporarily vacate the dwelling unit in less than 30 days… The tenant shall continue to be responsible for payment of rent under the rental agreement during the period of any temporary relocation… Refusal of the tenant to cooperate with a temporary relocation pursuant to this subsection shall be deemed a breach of the rental agreement, unless the tenant agrees to vacate the unit and terminate the rental agreement within the 30-day notice period.”
In certain eviction cases where the landlord is concerned the tenant may suspend rent payments, the tenant may be required to pay into a court escrow account. The procedure and requirements are specific and detailed. SeeVa. Code Ann. § 55.1-1242 (2023)
“If the dwelling unit or premises is damaged or destroyed by fire or casualty to an extent that the tenant’s enjoyment of the dwelling unit is substantially impaired or required repairs can only be accomplished if the tenant vacates the dwelling unit, either the tenant or the landlord may terminate the rental agreement. The tenant may terminate the rental agreement by vacating the premises and within 14 days thereafter, serving on the landlord a written notice of his intention to terminate the rental agreement, in which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of vacating. If continued occupancy is lawful, § 55.1-1411 shall apply…”
“Except as provided in this section or as otherwise provided by law, a landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent or decreasing services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession or by causing a termination of the rental agreement pursuant to § 55.1-1253 [end of a periodic tenancy] or 55.1-1410 [nonresidential property, or change in use of multifamily building] after he has knowledge that (i) the tenant has complained to a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building or housing code of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health or safety, (ii) the tenant has made a complaint to or filed an action against the landlord for a violation of any provision of this chapter, (iii) the tenant has organized or become a member of a tenant’s organization, or (iv) the tenant has testified in a court proceeding against the landlord. However, the provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to prevent the landlord from increasing rent to that which is charged for similar market rentals nor decreasing services that apply equally to all tenants.”
“If the landlord acts in violation of this section, the tenant is entitled to the applicable remedies provided for in this chapter, including recovery of actual damages, and may assert such retaliation as a defense in any action against him for possession. The burden of proving retaliatory intent shall be on the tenant.”
“Notwithstanding subsections A and B, a landlord may terminate the rental agreement pursuant to § 55.1-1253 [end of a periodic tenancy] or 55.1-1410 [nonresidential property, or change in use of multifamily building] and bring an action for possession if: 1. Violation of the applicable building or housing code was caused primarily by lack of reasonable care by the tenant, an authorized occupant, or a guest or invitee of the tenant; 2. The tenant is in default in rent; 3. Compliance with the applicable building or housing code requires alteration, remodeling, or demolition that would effectively deprive the tenant of use of the dwelling unit; or 4. The tenant is in default of a provision of the rental agreement materially affecting the health and safety of himself or others. The maintenance of the action provided in this section does not release the landlord from liability under § 55.1-1226 [return of security deposit].”
“The landlord may also terminate the rental agreement pursuant to § 55.1-1253 [end of a periodic tenancy] or 55.1-1410 [nonresidential property, or change in use of multifamily building] for any other reason not prohibited by law unless the court finds that the reason for the termination was retaliation.”