It’s your right as a landlord to collect a security deposit, but you must adhere to the Virginia security deposit laws. For a Virginia landlord, collecting a security deposit from your tenant offers many benefits including covering:
- Unpaid utilities: In Virginia, a landlord may withhold a portion of the security deposit to cover utilities and other bills on the rental unit, such as water and electricity.
- Excessive property damage: Damages that are not part of the normal wear and tear should be accounted for by the tenant. The security deposits will serve as a cushion in case the landlord discovers excessive damage to the rental unit after the tenant moves out.
- Loss in monthly rent payments: Nonpayment of rent by a tenant is a breach of the rental agreement. If tenants fail to pay their rent, property owners are entitled to part or all of the tenant’s deposit.
- Loss in rental income: If a tenant abandons the property or breaks the lease early, you can deduct the appropriate amount from the security deposit to recover losses.
If you would like to learn more about security deposit law in Virginia keep on reading!
Guide to Virginia’s Security Deposit Law
Being aware of the landlord-tenant law is necessary to protect your investment. While property owners are allowed to ask for security deposits from a tenant, you should abide by the Virginia security deposit law so you don’t encounter any issues later on.
A landlord in Virginia should know and understand the following:
1. Virginia Security Deposit Limit
In the state of Virginia, a landlord is only allowed to charge a tenant security deposit equivalent to a maximum of two months’ rent. Landlords are not allowed to charge more than this amount.
What’s more, Virginia landlords are allowed to ask for an additional pet deposit. However, tenants with disabilities should be allowed to use service animals for emotional support without extra charge under the Fair Housing Act. Any damage to the property caused by the service animal can be charged to the tenant.
2. Nonrefundable Fees
The state of Virginia does not allow non-refundable fees. Therefore, all deposits are refundable to tenants at the end of their lease term minus any allowable deductions.
3. Storing a Tenants Security Deposit
Some states may have rules regarding how landlords should keep a tenant’s deposit. In Virginia, however, there are no specific rules that landlords must heed when storing a tenant’s security deposit. Also, under Virginia law, landlords are no longer required to pay interest on their tenants’ security deposits.
4. Written Notice after Security Deposit Receipt
In Virginia, landlords are not required by law to provide a written receipt for the security deposit.
5. Reasons to Withhold a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Virginia
Under certain conditions, landlords can keep all or a portion of a tenant’s security deposit.
In the state of Virginia, the allowable deductions include:
- Utility bills remain unpaid upon the end of the lease.
- Unpaid rent with reasonable late payment charges that are specified in the rental agreement.
- Damages for breach of the rental agreement.
- Charges that are specified and agreed upon in the rental agreement.
You can also make allowable deductions in the event of a loss or damage to the dwelling unit that goes beyond normal wear and tear that’s a result of noncompliance with the tenants’ obligations. Some of these obligations include:
- Following the building and housing codes with regard to health and safety.
- Following the rules and regulations stated in the rental agreement.
- Maintaining the cleanliness and safety of the premises.
- Keeping all plumbing fixtures clean.
- Notifying the landlord immediately if there are any insects or pests on the property.
- Disposing of the garbage safely.
- Using all utilities like electricity, heating, ventilation, and plumbing in a reasonable manner.
- Maintaining carbon monoxide alarms.
- Prevent accumulation of moisture and mold growth and immediately inform the landlord of any possible mold growth.
- Not performing any alterations without the prior written approval of the landlord.
- Keeping the peace and quiet and respecting the neighbors.
If a tenant fails in these regards, a landlord could use the security deposit to cover the cost of damage. Although, in accordance with Virginia’s renters’ rights concerning security deposits, the landlord cannot keep the deposit to cover conditions that existed before the tenant moved into the dwelling unit.
6. A Walk-Through Inspection
A walk-through inspection is required under Virginia landlord-tenant law. The inspection helps to check on the property’s condition. The landlord must notify the tenant in writing of their right to be present when the landlord conducts the inspection of the dwelling unit. This written notice must be sent within five days of receiving word from the tenant that they wish to vacate.
If the tenant wants to be present at the inspections, the tenant must inform the landlord in writing, and the inspection must be done within 72 hours of the tenant’s moving-out date.
7. Security Deposit Refund in Virginia
After the end of the lease, landlords have 45 days to return all or part of the tenant’s deposit. If there are any deductions, the landlord must provide a written itemized list of the deductions alongside the returned deposit. The landlord should deliver this to the tenant personally or through the mail.
If the landlord fails to return the security deposit or what’s left of it within the time allowed by law, the tenant may be entitled to a full refund, including damages, costs of the lawsuit, and reasonable attorney’s fees as a penalty.
8. Change in Rental Property Ownership
If the rental property is sold before the end of the lease, the new owner inherits the previous owner’s obligation to refund the tenant’s security deposit. It’s the new landlord’s responsibility to procure the security deposit and the proper accounting and record-keeping from the previous landlord.
There you have it, an overview of the state’s security deposit laws. As a landlord, you should also remain informed of the legal eviction process, policies regarding early lease termination, landlord-tenant laws, and rent increase laws. If you would like to help keep track of your legal responsibilities or manage your rentals contact the experts at Keyrenter Property Management Richmond!
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.