The Virginia rental agreements are contracts that establish the use of a real property between the landlord and tenant. These documents define the amount of compensation (“rent”) that the tenant will pay, as well as other conditions. The agreements are governed by Virginia’s landlord-tenant laws.
Virginia Rental Agreement Types
Common Rental Agreements in Virginia
- Virginia Realtors Residential Lease – this template, for use by members who members of the Virginia Realtors only, is heavily used by residential rental properties throughout Virginia. It provides an extensive list of rules and procedures, including specifics that go as far as including provisions regarding defective drywall, noise zones, and carbon monoxide alarms.
Virginia Required Lease Disclosures
- Landlord’s Name & Address (required for all) – To ensure legal documents can be delivered, the name and address for the landlord or an agent authorized to act on the property’s behalf must be included in a Virginia lease agreement.
- Move-In Checklist (required for all) – All lease agreements in Virginia must include a move-in checklist that outlines the condition of the property within 5 days of move-in, including any present mold so that damages may be assessed against the security deposit upon move-out.
- Shared Utility Arrangements (required for some) – If there is a shared utility meter between multiple tenants and/or common areas, Virginia landlords must disclose the breakdown of how charges are distributed and any service fees that may be charged to make sure that the appropriate charges are billed to each tenant and that the property can remain livable with access to essential utilities.
- Tenant Displacement Notice (required for some) – Any Virginia property that is scheduled for demolition or construction that will displace tenants within 6 months of the move-in date must include this fact in the lease to avoid landlord liability for eviction without notice.
- Military Air Installation Disclosure (required for some) – Virginia properties that are located nearby a military air installation must disclose the specific zone that the rental unit falls into according to a state zoning map and the risks associated with the location so new tenants know what to expect when moving in, limiting the severability of the lease due to the highlighted “nuisance”.
- Defective Drywall Disclosure (required for some) – Landlords with knowledge of any defective drywall must disclose this information in their Virginia lease for the safety of tenants.
- Methamphetamine Contamination Disclosure (required for some) – If a Virginia landlord has actual knowledge of potential methamphetamine contamination in the property, they must disclose this information and also may not rent the unit until it is decontaminated, or they risk liability for damages resulting from methamphetamine exposure.
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (required for some) – A lead-based paint disclosure is required for buildings built before 1978 in Virginia and should be accompanied by an EPA informational pamphlet and details about existing hazards in the property to protect the landlord and tenant from damages resulting from lead-based paints.
To learn more about required disclosures in Virginia, click here.
Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws
- Warranty of Habitability – Virginia law requires landlords to provide hot/cold running water, HVAC, plumbing, electrical outlets, and more. These amenities and others must be repaired by the landlord within 30 days of written request or within 24 hours if the habitability issue is an immediate danger to the safety and health of the tenant. If the issue is not fixed, a Virginia tenant may file a Tenant’s Assertation with the court. Tenants may not use the repair and deduct method; however, substitute housing may be available if the landlord does not provide an essential service.
- Evictions – Virginia tenants who fail to pay rent (5-day notice) or violate their leasing terms (30-day notice) may be legally evicted. Committing an illegal act may also justify an eviction, though the landlord has discretion to determine the notice period. As such, this kind of eviction may be immediate.
- Security Deposits – 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. Evictions may take around 2 to 4 months.
- Lease Termination – Virginia tenants in a month-to-month lease may break off said lease by issuing a 30-day notice of their intent to their landlord. A tenant in a fixed-term lease may prematurely terminate their agreement by supplying proof of any of the following: landlord harassment, unit uninhabitability, active military duty, domestic violence, or a failure to issue a mandatory disclosure.
- Rent Increases & Fees – Virginia landlords are free to raise rent as much as they want without providing any notice prior to such an increase going into effect. Meanwhile, most fees charged to a tenant must be outlined in a lease agreement to be considered legal. Some are even caped by law, including late fees (no more than 10% of the monthly rent) and bounced check fees (no more than $50).
- Landlord Entry – Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs during reasonable hours. Virginia requires its landlord to issue notice of an intended entry at least 24 hours in advance. However, this is not required in emergency situations.
- Settling Legal Disputes – Virginia permits landlords and tenants to file cases valued at up to $5,000 in the state’s small claims courts. Evictions cases are permitted in this venue, though they may also be heard in the state’s civil courts.
To learn more about landlord tenant laws in Virginia, click here.