A Virginia rental agreement is a legal contract between a landlord overseeing a rental property and a tenant who wishes to use it. Virginia landlord-tenant law governs these agreements; rental terms must be within the limits allowed by law.
Virginia Rental Agreement Types
A Virginia roommate agreement is a legal contract between two or more people (“co-tenants”) who share a rental property according to rules they set, including for things like splitting the rent. This agreement binds the co-tenants living together, and doesn’t include the landlord.
Common Residential Rental Agreements in Virginia
- Virginia Realtors Residential Lease – This template is for use by members of the Virginia Realtors only. It is in common use for residential rental properties throughout Virginia. It covers a number of landlord-tenant topics in detail, including noise, smoke and carbon monoxide protection, and even structural considerations like defective drywall.
Virginia Required Lease Disclosures
- Landlord’s Name and Address (required for all leases) – Virginia leases must contain the name and address of the landlord or authorized agent. This enables smooth communication of any important legal notice.
- Move-In Checklist (required for all leases) – Virginia leases must include a move-in checklist to inventory the condition of the property, completed within 5 days of move-in. Deductions from a security deposit may be illegal without a properly executed checklist.
- Shared Utility Arrangements (required for some leases) – Virginia landlords must disclose how charges are apportioned whenever there is a shared utility meter between multiple tenants and/or common areas.
- Tenant Displacement Notice (required for some leases) – Virginia landlords of any property scheduled for demolition or major construction within 6 months of the move-in date must disclose this to tenants in the lease.
- Military Air Installation Disclosure (required for some leases) – Virginia properties located near a military air installation must disclose the specific zone that the rental property falls into, per the state’s zoning map. The disclosure must also cover risks associated with the location, since it represents a heightened threat of nuisance.
- Defective Drywall Disclosure (required for some leases) – Virginia landlords must disclose any knowledge of defective drywall on the rental property, for tenant safety.
- Methamphetamine Contamination Disclosure (required for some leases) – Virginia landlords must disclose any actual knowledge of potential methamphetamine contamination in the property. Property with untreated contamination can’t be rented out.
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (required for some leases) – For any property built before 1978, federal law requires that a Virginia residential lease must contain a lead-based paint disclosure with an EPA informational pamphlet, plus notice of any lead hazards on the property.
To learn more about required disclosures in Virginia, click here.
Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws
- Warranty of Habitability – Virginia landlords can only rent out habitable property, which means providing certain features essential to basic health and safety. This includes things like heat, plumbing, electricity, and sound structural elements. Landlords must repair any issues within 14-21 days after proper notice from the tenant. Failure to repair lets a tenant sue the landlord, terminate the lease, or (in some cases) make repairs and deduct from the rent. Tenants in Virginia aren’t allowed to withhold rent.
- Evictions – Virginia landlords may evict tenants for a number of reasons including, but not limited to failure to pay rent, a violation of a leasing term, or committing an illegal act. Landlords must provide tenants with prior notice to pay, comply or quit, depending on the type of eviction, which triggers different notice periods. Evictions may take around 2 to 4 months.
- Security Deposits – Virginia caps security deposits at a maximum of two months’ rent. Upon lease termination, a landlord has 45 days to return any unused portion of a tenant’s security deposit.
- Lease Termination – Virginia allows tenants to break a month-to-month lease with 30 days of advance notice. A fixed-term lease can’t be terminated early without active military duty, landlord harassment, uninhabitable property, failure to make a mandatory disclosure, or domestic abuse.
- Rent Increases and Fees – Virginia does not set a maximum cap on the amount of a rent increase, or require a particular amount of advance notice before the increase goes into effect. Most fees charged to a tenant must be agreed in the lease to be enforceable. Some are capped by law, including late fees (maximum 10% of the monthly rent) and bounced check fees (maximum $50).
- Landlord Entry – Virginia landlords can enter rental property at reasonable times for purposes reasonably related to the tenancy, like maintenance, inspections, and property showings. Before entering, a landlord must provide at least 24 hours of advance notice, unless it’s an emergency situation.
- Settling Legal Disputes – Virginia allows hearing landlord-tenant disputes in its small claims courts, as long as the amount in controversy is under $5,000. Unlike many states, Virginia allows evictions in small claims, although regular civil courts are also always an option.
To learn more about landlord tenant laws in Virginia, click here.