Virginia Residential Lease Agreement

Grab our free sample or generate an official Virginia lease agreement for residential use. Read further about required disclosures in Virginia, optional addendums for things like pets, and what Virginia landlord tenant laws apply to residential lease agreements.

OFFICIAL LEASE AGREEMENT
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Lease Agreement Sample

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Under Virginia law, a residential rental unit includes single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, apartments in multi-family buildings, and manufactured homes. The laws for condominiums and cooperative buildings are found under Title 55.1 – Subtitle IV

Virginia Lease Disclosures & Addendums

The following lease agreement disclosures or addendums are included by default in the Virginia lease agreement sample provided.

  • Medical Marijuana Use – it is recommended to state where marijuana use (legal in Virginia for medical purposes) is and isn’t allowed on the property so that expectations are clear.

The following lease agreement disclosures or addendums are not provided by default in the sample agreement but are recommended or required to be added for certain leases in Virginia.

  • Move-in Checklist – it is required in Virginia to provide an itemized list of damages to the property within 5 days after move in, although it doesn’t necessarily need to be a part of the lease agreement itself. The report must also disclose the presence of mold (or lack thereof).
  • Lead Based Paint Disclosure – it is federally required that all units built prior to 1978 must include a disclosure about any known or unknown hazards of lead based paint.
  • Late or Returned Check Fees – for a fee for late rent or returned (bounced) checks to be charged during the period of the lease, the terms of which must be explicitly stated up-front.
  • Shared Utilities Arrangements – if individual rental units do not have individual meters, the terms fo splitting payments must be stated in the lease.
  • Methamphetamine Disclosure – if the property has knowingly been previously contaminated by the use, production or storage of methamphetamines and it hasn’t completed supervised decontamination, it is required to disclose this history to future tenants.
  • Bed Bug Disclosure – to limit future liability, it’s recommended to establish an understanding of the current status of bed bugs at the property in case of a future infestation and to provide information on the protocol for handling one.
  • Asbestos Disclosure – although not required, for all units in buildings built prior to 1981 (which are considered at-risk for asbestos), it is recommended to establish an understanding of any prior knowledge on whether asbestos exists in the property.

Below provides more information about each of the above.

Medical Marijuana Use

  • Applies to: All rentals (recommended, but not required)
  • Include: In the lease (smoking or drug section)

Recommended (but not required) for all Virginia rental units.

With complicated legality issues on a national and state level, landlords will need to be clear about their policy on marijuana usage.

While recreational marijuana use is illegal both nationally and in Virginia, it is approved on the state level for medical purposes. This means that landlords cannot prohibit its legal use, but can still control how it is used on their property with a disclosure.

Virginia law allows you to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only to ensure the medical usage does not interfere with other tenants. This can be outlined as part of your smoking policy, or in its own field under substance use.

Example Section

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USE. The following forms of medical marijuana usage are allowed:

[ ] Smoking in common areas
[ ] Smoking in outdoor private property
[ ] Non-smoking methods in the residence (vaporizers, edibles, tincture, etc.)

Smoking in the residence or non-medical use of marijuana is a violation of this lease agreement and may subject Tenant to eviction and litigation.

Move-In Checklist

  • Applies to: All units (required)
  • Include: As a separate attachment

The condition of a rental property is one of the largest potential points of contention between a landlord and tenant. A landlord wants to ensure that the tenant is responsible for any serious damages that occur during their term, and a tenant wants to ensure that they are not held responsible for existing problems. To protect both parties, it is always recommended (if not required) that a move-in checklist is used before the lease begins.

In Virginia, in order to protect both parties’ liability upon moving in and moving out, the landlord is required to provide an inventory of the rental unit’s condition within 5 days of move-in. This includes any present damage or specific furnishings that are included (such as appliances or furniture) that must be returned in the same state they were upon move-in. The prospective tenant may address concerns about the move-in checklist within 5 days of it being received, or otherwise agree to the report [1]. This ensures that there are minimal discrepancies upon completion of the lease and while moving out.

Example Addendum

An example of a move-in checklist lease addendum can be found here.

Lead Based Paint Disclosure

  • Applies to: All properties built before 1978 (required)
  • Include: As a separate attachment

Lead-based paint poses a health risk to tenants of any property built before 1978, with increased risk for children or pregnant women who inhale or consume paint chips. It is a federal law in the United States that any home built before 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints.

A Virginia lead-based paint disclosure allows a landlord to present information about any lead-based hazards that are known or unknown, and may pose the option for the tenant to have testing completed that would absolve the tenant of responsibility for the property before moving in. The tenant may also waive their opportunity to have testing completed, removing liability of existing hazards from the landlord for the term of the lease.

Example Addendum

An example of a move-in checklist lease addendum can be found here.

Late or Returned Check Fees

Required for any Virginia rental units that collect late or returned (bounced) check fees.

Collecting rent each month may be a landlord’s favorite part of the job, but when that check is late or bounces, it can cause a lot of headache. To make up for the inconvenience, many landlords choose to charge an additional fee for a late payment or returned check. While assessing these fees is entirely up to the landlord, any fees that are charged must be disclosed beforehand and adhere to state guidelines.

In Virginia, there is no limit on the late fees that may be charged to tenants. As long as the fees are disclosed and agreed upon in the lease, they are enforceable as written in the contract. However, returned payment fees are limited to a $50 administration fee in addition to incurred expenses from the payment being returned by the bank. [1]

Example Section

No amendments to standard lease.

Shared Utilities Arrangements

  • Applies to: All units without individual meters (required)
  • Include: In the lease (utility section)

If the rental property is not outfitted with individual meters for utilities (gas, water, electricity, etc.), the utilities that come to the building are referred to as shared. In this case, an apartment may share a meter with a connection to an outdoor air conditioner, a nearby lighting system, or even another apartment, which leads to a single large bill for all the connections. Because they cannot be pinpointed to an individual tenant, there must be a shared utilities arrangement.

It is legally required that landlords in Virginia disclose the specifics of how utilities are split between the landlord and/or tenants. Options include charging by square footage of the property, the number of tenants, or any other method of the landlord’s choosing. This way all parties can have a reasonable expectation of their charges each month, helping to avoid disputes.

Example Section

UTILITIES: This rental unit shares the following utilities with another unit or common area – electricity – water – gas. Landlord shall provide compensation for the shared charges up to the lesser of $____ or ___% of the monthly bill. The remaining utilities not selected above remain the responsibility of Tenant(s).

Methamphetamine Disclosure

  • Applies to: Any property that the landlord has actual knowledge of contamination from the production, use, or storage of methamphetamines. (required ONLY if the property has not completed supervised decontamination and reached safe levels.)
  • Include: In a separate attachment

In Virginia, disclosure of any knowledge relating to methamphetamine manufacturing, use, or storage is legally required in a lease agreement. This only applies when there is actual knowledge or proof of methamphetamine exposure, and is not recommended otherwise.

If contamination does occur, the Landlord is required to pursue decontamination prior to the commencement of the lease term to ensure the safety of the tenant. Concentration levels of less than 1.0 μg/100 cm2 must be reached before the property is considered safe to live.

Example Section

METHAMPHETAMINE CONTAMINATION DISCLOSURE. Methamphetamine contamination can be dangerous to Tenant(s) in high concentrations, presenting health concerns through absorption of the materials in the air. This property:

[ ] Has been found to be contaminated above safe levels and is in the process of decontamination.
[ ] Has been found to be contaminated, but falls within safe levels after tests were conducted.
[ ] Has no suspicion of contamination

Bed Bug Disclosure

  • Applies to: Any property with a history of infestation or nearby infestations (recommended, but not required)
  • Include: In the lease agreement AND in a separate attachment

Bed bugs can be a major nuisance for landlords and tenants alike. Not only do they bite and cause discomfort to anyone exposed to them, they also spread like wildfire. Clinging onto clothes, furniture, and people, they can spread easily from one property to another which makes housing like apartments especially susceptible to infestations.

To protect against the contraction and spread of an infestation, it is recommended that landlords in Virginia include a bed bug section and addendum in their lease agreements. This addendum provides information about preventing infestations and the proper protocol if one arises so that you can minimize the potential damage.

It also helps to limit liability for the landlord by establishing an understanding of the current status of the property, and protects in the case of an infestation occurring later in the lease term.

Example Section & Addendum

BED BUGS. At the time of presenting this agreement, Landlord certifies:

[ ] There is no known current infestation or history of bed bugs in this property.
[ ] There is no known current infestation, but there is a history of infestation in this property.
[ ] There is no known current infestation, but there is a nearby infestation or history of infestations which may place the property at risk.

See the attached addendum for more information.

An example of a bed bug lease addendum can be found here.

Asbestos Disclosure

  • Applies to: All property built before 1981 (recommended, but not required)
  • Include: In a separate attachment

Like lead-based paint, asbestos can be dangerous to the health of tenants living in a property. If the rental unit resides in a building that was built before 1981, it is considered at risk for asbestos. In this case, it is recommended to include an asbestos disclosure in a Virginia lease agreement.

This disclosure outlines whether there is a confirmed source of asbestos, and if so warns the tenant not to disturb it without contacting the landlord first for property disposal or repair. By agreeing to the disclosure, the landlord can avoid liability by outlining the required procedure before any work that may disturb the asbestos is completed.

Example Addendum

An example of a bed bug lease addendum can be found here

Deposits in Virginia

Under Virginia law, VA Code § 55.1-1226, deposits are limited to no more than two month’s rent. After a tenant moves out, the landlord must provide an itemized statement of any deductions from the security deposit and refund the balance within 45 days after the termination of a lease. Failure by the landlord to do this, during the proper time frame, may result in a penalty of twice the amount of the security deposit that was collected.

Breaking a Lease in Virginia

If a lease has an end date, a tenant in Virginia does not have to provide any notice to the landlord. Under VA Code § 55.1-1245, if the lease does not specify the notice requirements, and does not have an end date, then the notice required is 120 days to terminate the lease. For month-to-month leases, if the lease does not specify a notice period, then, the notice required is 30 days to terminate the lease.
Early termination of a lease by a tenant, without penalty, is allowed for those called up for active duty service in the military (§ 55.1-1235), for uninhabitable conditions (§ 55.1-1234), for being a victim of domestic violence (§ 55.1-1236), or for landlord’s harassment/privacy violations (§ 55.1-1210).
A landlord may terminate a lease early for any material lease violation.
If a tenant breaks a lease early in Virginia, without sufficient legal cause, the landlord does have the responsibility to try to re-rent the property to mitigate (reduce) the damages.

Eviction Process in Virginia

The laws regarding the eviction process in the state of Virginia are found in Va Code § 55.1-1245
The eviction process for the non-payment of rent may begin after a landlord gives a tenant five days written notice and the rent remains unpaid. An eviction for a material lease violation may be curable (can be fixed) or may be incurable (cannot be fixed).
For a curable lease violation, the landlord gives the tenant 30 days written notice. If the tenant fixes the problem within 21 days, then the process stops. If not, the landlord can file a lawsuit for eviction. If the same problem occurs twice, then the second time the landlord does not have to give the tenant a chance to fix the problem and can proceed with the eviction after giving the tenant 30 days prior notice.
If the problem cannot be fixed, then the landlord gives the tenant 30 days prior notice. At the end of the 30 days, if the tenant has not moved out, the landlord can file an eviction action with the court.
If the lease violation is a criminal act, the landlord does not have to give any notice and can immediately file for eviction, which the court will take up within no more than 15 days.