Warranty of Habitability in Virginia

Last Updated: July 17, 2024 by Elizabeth Souza

In Virginia, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by Va. Code § 55-225.3. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability,” also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.

Quick Facts Answer
Landlord Responsibilities Cold/Hot Water, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Gas, Sanitation Facilities, Trash Can
Time Limit for Repairs 24 Hours or 30 Days
Tenant Recourse Options
  • Withhold Rent: No, but a tenant may file a Tenant’s Assertion with the Court
  • Repair and Deduct: No
  • Substitute Housing: Yes, if the landlord fails to provide essential services

Applicable Dwelling Types in Virginia

The implied warranty of habitability in Virginia does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.

Dwelling Type Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single-family Yes
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs No
RV parks Not specifically addressed
Mobile home parks Not specifically addressed
Condos No
Hotels/Motels Yes, if person resides in hotel/motel for more than 90 consecutive days

Landlord Responsibilities in Virginia

The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Virginia, as indicated below.

Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.

Habitability Issue Landlord Responsibility?
Provide windows and doors that are in good repair Not addressed
Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks Not addressed
Provide hot and cold running water Yes
Provide working HVAC equipment Yes
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting Yes
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking Not addressed
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet) Yes
Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services) Yes
Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe Not addressed
Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe Not addressed
Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean Not addressed
Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials Not addressed
Provide working smoke detector Not addressed
Provide a mailbox Not addressed
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack Not addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances Not addressed
Provide working carbon monoxide detector Not addressed
Provide a working washer/dryer No

Landlords in Virginia must make all necessary repairs and must follow all building and housing codes affecting safety and health. Landlords must also keep the common areas in a safe and clean condition. In some instances, a landlord and tenant may agree, in writing, that the tenant can perform the following duties:

  • Maintain the premises to prevent the accumulation of mold growth and moisture
  • Maintain receptacles for trash
  • Supply heat, water, hot water, and air conditioning (if applicable)

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For multi-family rental properties with five or more units, landlords are required to provide dead-bolt locks, sliding glass door locks, peepholes and window locks for all exterior doors and windows.


A landlord is responsible to maintain the premises so that the dwelling unit does not accumulate mold or moisture.  When there are visible signs of mold in the rental unit, the landlord is required to promptly remediate the same in accordance with professional standards. Also, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with a full and accurate record of all mold remediation and related procedures in the unit during the latter’s tenancy.

However, when mold has been fully remediated, the landlord is not required to disclose past incidents of mold remediation to subsequent tenants. This means that any tenant will be entitled to information on mold related incidents that occurred prior to that specific tenancy only if the same has not been fully remediated.

Repairs, Recourse, and Retaliation in Virginia

If a rental property is in violation of the implied warranty of habitability in Virginia, state laws outline how the repair process works, what tenants can do if repairs aren’t made, and how tenants are protected against retaliating landlords.

Requesting Repairs in Virginia

Virginia tenants must request repairs by 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.

Renter’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Virginia

Virginia renters have the right to repairs for a variety of potential issues, including things that impact health and safety. To exercise their right, renters have to give the landlord written notice about the issue that needs fixing and wait 14-21 for the landlord to do repairs, depending on the severity of the issue.

If the issue isn’t fixed by the landlord in a timely way, the renter could end the rental agreement or get a court order for repairs or compensation. However, the renter usually can’t repair and deduct, or withhold rent.

When a rental property gets condemned after the tenant has made a related valid repair request, the tenant is no longer liable for the cost of rent after the condemnation and can sue the landlord to recover various expenses, including the security deposit.

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Landlord Retaliation in Virginia

It’s illegal for Virginia landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against 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.