We hope you find this blog post helpful.

If you want us to manage your property, click here.

What You Should Know Legally to Be a Good Landlord in Virginia

Becoming a landlord in Virginia can be a very rewarding venture, but doing so comes with an array of legal responsibilities and obligations that these professionals need to adhere to. Understanding the legal framework that governs landlord-tenant relationships is essential when it comes to maintaining a successful business. To continue growing and building your company and managing your properties effectively, you need to ensure that you’re operating in compliance with state laws.

In this guide, we will take a look at a few key aspects that a landlord in Virginia should be aware of to work ethically, efficiently, and within the bounds of the law.

Understanding Landlord-Tenant Laws

One of the key requirements for being a good landlord in Virginia is being aware of the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRTLA). This unique collection of real estate laws governs most residential rental agreements in the state, and understanding the various components of VRTLA is essential for any successful landlord. As such, you should familiarize yourself with these provisions, which outline the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Make yourself aware of prohibited practices, such as retaliatory evictions, and be sure that you’re following fair housing laws, which prohibit discrimination based on characteristics like race, religion, or disability status.

Creating Comprehensive Lease Agreements

Drafting clear and comprehensive lease agreements is a must for any landlord. Each lease agreement should outline the terms of the tenancy in question, including rent amounts, payment due dates, security deposit details, and rules regarding property maintenance and repairs. Don’t assume that anything regarding your lease agreement is common knowledge. Document every rule and piece of information that you can so that you can avoid running into arguments or misunderstandings in the future.

Remember, though, that just because a provision is listed in your lease agreement doesn’t mean that it’s enforceable by Virginia law. Before finalizing your lease agreements, it’s important to ensure that each document complies with the state’s laws and includes all necessary disclosures, such as lead-based paint disclosures on properties built before 1978.

Handling Security Deposits as a Landlord in Virginia

Security deposits are a normal component of the rental process for landlords in Virginia, but before listing these financial requirements, it’s important to be aware of the rules surrounding security deposit collection. For example, Virginia law limits the amount of money that landlords can charge for security deposits. They cannot equal more than two months’ rent. 

Understanding the various regulations that control security deposits for rental units, including collection, holding, and returning these funds, will help you operate your business legally and effectively. Be aware of how to provide itemized deductions, know what can be deducted from a security deposit, and follow the legal time frame for returning a previous tenant’s deposit.

Taking Care of Maintenance and Repairs

Keeping properties in habitable condition is not only a positive for a Virginia landlord’s bottom line, but it’s also required by state law. Landlords are obligated to maintain each rental property so that it’s safe and habitable for tenants. To verify that landlords are adhering to these rules, each property needs to meet the requirements covered in local housing codes. 

It’s essential for landlords in Virginia to address maintenance requests and repair needs promptly in order to ensure the safety and comfort of tenants. Depending on the nature of the maintenance or repair request, landlords are compelled to complete tasks within a certain time frame, so knowing how long you have to take care of any issues in your units is incredibly important. Further, it’s a good idea to keep detailed records of all maintenance and repair activities, including the date of the request, the date of the service, service costs, and communications made with the tenant.

Tenant Privacy and Unit Entry 

It’s also essential for landlords in Virginia to follow the state laws surrounding entry into rental properties. Generally, landlords have to provide their tenants with reasonable notice before entering the unit that tenant resides in. In the event of an emergency, these notices may be waived, but it’s also worth being aware of what qualifies as an emergency and what doesn’t. As a landlord, you need to respect your tenant’s right to privacy and adhere to the legal requirements for property access. For example, if you’re planning an inspection or having maintenance work done on the unit, double-check with state requirements to determine how much notice you need to give your tenant before you enter the unit.

Following Eviction Procedures

Hopefully, eviction is something you’ll rarely have to deal with as a landlord, but it’s important to understand the legal eviction process anyway. You’ll need to be familiar with the various reasons to pursue eviction as well as the required notice periods you need to follow during the process. 

Take time to learn about the eviction proceedings in the state of Virginia so that, if and/or when the time comes, you’ll be able to follow proper eviction procedures. Evictions can become incredibly messy in practically no time, so knowing your rights and responsibilities is crucial. Research the court orders you’ll need to file as well as the steps you’ll need to take if the tenant doesn’t willingly vacate the unit you’re evicting them from.

Seeking Legal Aid as a Landlord in Virginia

While it’s a good idea to conduct your own research in order to get familiar with the basics of Virginia real estate law, it’s also crucial to work with a professional. Consider consulting with a qualified attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law to ensure compliance and help you protect your business interests. Accurate and timely legal advice can be invaluable for navigating your way through complex, individual legal issues, resolving disputes between yourself and your tenants, and minimizing risks associated with property management.

Being a successful landlord in Virginia requires more than just owning property and collecting rent. It calls for a thorough understanding of state laws that govern landlord-tenant relationships and a commitment to ethical and legal business practices. By getting familiar with the legal landscape, creating clear lease agreements, maintaining properties responsibly, and seeking legal guidance when needed, you can establish yourself as a fair and law-abiding landlord while building a successful rental property business in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Visit Our Blog