Did you know that there are over 48.5 million rental units in the US? While there aren’t many accurate statistics on how many landlords there are, suffice it to say that that million rental units means that there are quite a few landlords across the US.

If you are a new landlord or are considering purchasing a rental property, there are certain requirements that, by law, you must follow. A landlord must be aware of the Virginia landlord tenant law. Keyrenter Richmond outlines some of the most important responsibilities you should have as a landlord below.

1. “Warranty of Habitability”

In simple terms, this means that the landlord must provide a safe and habitable space for the tenant. Habitable means that the rental unit must be secure and free of hazards.

The necessary utilities must be provided, including water, appropriate heating systems, and electricity. The unit must be pest free and any damages to windows or doors that would render the unit unsafe must be repaired.

If there are local requirements pertaining to safety, those must be followed as well, such as lead paint disclosures, providing safety measures such as handrails and appropriate outdoor lighting, and removal of snow, ice, or other hazards (unless it is specified otherwise in the lease).

2. Making Repairs Promptly

Landlords may not be obligated to repair certain things immediately, such as ripped carpet or something that doesn’t impact the habitability of the rental unit, but other repairs must be made promptly. Broken HVAC systems, sewage backups, water damage, malfunctioning sinks or toilets, and shorted wires or electrical problems must be addressed.

Your state or local area may have requirements as to how quickly repairs must be made, so be sure you are adhering to these laws.

3. Maintaining Insurance 

Landlords do not have to insure the personal belongings of tenants, but they are responsible for insurance policies covering the structure. Tenants need a renters’ insurance policy to cover any of their personal effects inside the unit, but the landlord will hold the insurance to cover things like the roof, walls, and outdoor spaces.

Any damage to the structure is the responsibility of the landlord and their insurance company, not the tenants.

4. Provide Contact Information for Emergencies

Whether you provide your tenants with your contact information or that of a property management firm who handles emergencies and maintenance requests is up to you, but you must provide some way for tenants to report any emergencies or make maintenance requests.

If you are an absentee landlord who does not maintain the property, you face the risk of legal repercussions from code enforcement or other agencies.

5. Return Security Deposits in a Timely Manner

The lease should specify when the security deposit will be returned. This is typically dictated by state law and is often between 30 and 60 days. When the tenant moves out, landlords must do a walk through and note any damage that is present.

If you are going to withhold any part of the security deposit, you must document the damage and the deduction. Most states will not allow you to withhold part of the security deposit for normal wear and tear, so be sure to clarify what you can charge your tenant for upon their departure.

Landlord 101: What You Should Know Before Becoming a Landlord

These are just a few of the important things you should know before becoming a landlord. It is a big responsibility and can take a considerable amount of time, especially if you want to do it right. One of the most crucial tips is to make sure you are knowledgeable about landlord-tenant law in your state.

If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, considering hiring a property management company to handle the landlord duties for you. They can handle all aspects of renting, from advertising your property, screening tenants, preparing leases, handling repairs and maintenance, and facilitating move out.

Contact us at Keyrenter Richmond today to learn about how we can help you be a successful landlord.