Being an excellent landlord includes following all federal, state, and local laws for your rental properties. Although it can be a confusing and complicated task for many investors, it’s vital to adhere to all applicable rental laws. After all, failing to do so can result in fines, loss of licenses, or other legal action. Therefore, to avoid expensive repercussions, read on to discover crucial rental property compliance requirements in Northern Virginia.
Rental Property Compliance in Virginia
Every city or state throughout the United States has specific rules and laws for landlords to follow. These regulations are put in place to ensure renters and landlords are protected from unsafe, fraudulent, or negligent practices. Regardless of location, rental laws in your area are sure to be numerous. This is why many investors choose to hire a Northern Virginia property management company which can ensure rental property compliance without the added stress to owners. That said, even if you opt to work with professionals, it is still important to have a basic understanding of requirements. Next, let’s go over what landlords in Northern Virginia need to know.
- Northern Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws
- Property Licensing
- Lead Inspections
- Virginia Legal Disclosures
Northern Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws
There are a couple of different laws that regulate landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities in Northern Virginia. Additionally, all landlords across the United States must adhere to federal and state Fair Housing Laws. Here are some of the rules and guidelines Northern Virginia landlords must follow.
- Fair Housing Act- Every landlord must comply with Fair Housing Laws which protect renters from housing discrimination. According to Virginia’s Fair Housing Law, it’s illegal for landlords to discriminate against anyone based on “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status, disability, source of income, sexual orientation, gender identity, or military status.”
- The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act- This act applies to rental owners who rent out two or more properties. The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act outlines important definitions, regulations, and principles for landlords and tenants to note.
- Virginia’s Uniform Statewide Building Code- This regulation pertains to all rental units within the state of Virginia. The Uniform Statewide Building Code determines the standards of building, repairing, or renovating rentals.
In other parts of the country, landlords are required to obtain a rental license before allowing tenants to live in their properties. However, Virginia is a little different. Instead, rental properties are seen as any other small business in Northern Virginia. Therefore, rental owners must obtain a basic business license before allowing tenants in.
Even if you only have one or two rentals, it’s crucial to go through the licensing process. After all, you wouldn’t want to unnecessarily put your business at risk.
Lead paint isn’t much of an issue these days since it was banned from residential use in 1978. However, homes built before 1978 may contain this hazardous substance. Because of this, some states require thorough lead inspections before allowing landlords to rent to tenants.
That said, although Virginia does not have lead inspection requirements, landlords must provide other certain information and disclosures to all residents. These disclosures include:
- A lead hazard information pamphlet approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
- Written declaration and reports of any knowledge of lead-based paint or hazards within the home
- A signed written acknowledgment as proof of the necessary disclosures given to the tenant
Additional Virginia Legal Disclosures
Lead-based paint disclosures are not the only disclosures that landlords must adhere to in the state of Virginia. There are additional requirements and disclosures needed for landlords to avoid fines, disputes, or litigation.
That said, landlords must carefully research rental property compliance requirements and follow them diligently. Here are some additional disclosures to take note of:
- Mold Presence – Landlords are required to reveal any knowledge or evidence of mold in their rental unit.
- Defective Drywall Disclosure – Landlords must inform tenants if the property contains any defective drywall.
- Authorized Agent Information – Landlords need to disclose any contact information for property managers or owners to tenants living in the unit.
- Methamphetamine Manufacturing – Tenants must be aware if the unit was previously used for manufacturing methamphetamine.
- Location Adjacent to Military Institution – Landlords are responsible for informing tenants if a property is near a noise zone or a potential accident zone, like a military base.
Additional Responsibilities for Northern Virginia Landlords
As you may know, Northern Virginia landlords have tons of responsibilities besides the rental property compliance requirements listed above. All landlords must understand that tenants have expectations just like property owners do. Next, we’ll go over some additional landlord responsibilities to take note of to keep your rental business running smoothly.
- Housing Safety and Habitability
- Community and Tenant Safety
- Rent and Security Deposit Guidelines
- Necessary Repairs and Maintenance
- Proper Eviction Procedures
Housing Safety and Habitability
All tenants deserve to live in a rental unit that is safe and habitable. Additionally, landlords must maintain a livable condition for their rental units by law. In Virginia, the “implied warranty of habitability” compels landlords to uphold the following obligations:
- The structural integrity of the property
- Address maintenance concerns as soon as possible
- Ensure all utilities are in working order
- Make sure the unit is free of pests such as rodents or bedbugs
- Comply with all federal, state, and local housing laws
Community and Tenant Safety
All tenants deserve to feel safe in their living quarters. That said, landlords have a lot of responsibility to ensure tenants feel safe and remain safe in their homes. Although it’s not a requirement, some landlords opt for security systems and outdoor cameras to give their tenants a little peace of mind while living in the property.
Additionally, landlords should make sure the tenants they house are not a threat to the community. That said, tenant screening processes are fundamental before allowing a tenant to occupy your home. You may run a background check, check their income history, and determine if they had any prior evictions during this process.
Rent and Security Deposit Guidelines
There are specific guidelines for security deposit limits, monthly rent increases, and rent collection procedures for each state. Each landlord is responsible for taking note of these policies and ensuring their lease agreements comply with state laws. Here are a few regulations for rental properties in Northern Virginia:
- The maximum security deposit amount must not exceed two months’ rent.
- Landlords have 45 days after a tenant moves out to return all or a portion of the security deposit.
- If a landlord withholds all or part of a security deposit, they must give tenants an itemized list of deductions.
- Landlords may charge a maximum of $50 for bounced checks.
Necessary Repairs and Maintenance
Repairs and maintenance are both vital parts of running a rental business. Not only do they keep tenants happy, but they ensure a long-lasting rental property. If you neglect repairs and let maintenance issues go for too long, it could cost you in more ways than one. Tenants may be less likely to continue renting from you, and you could watch your investment crumble before your eyes.
Along with that, if landlords neglect maintenance for too long, tenants may be able to withhold rental payments until the issues are fixed. Thus, landlords must complete necessary repairs promptly and thoroughly. Communication is critical, so let your tenants know when to expect repairs and that their well-being is essential to you.
Proper Eviction Procedures
Although most landlords will do anything to avoid eviction, unfortunately, it’s necessary sometimes. That said, landlords in Northern Virginia must closely follow any legal eviction procedures enforced by the state.
Additionally, the reason for terminating a tenancy is essential. For example, landlords may not wrongfully evict tenants for minor disagreements or arguments. However, rental property owners may terminate tenants immediately if they violate the lease through a criminal act.
Either way, no matter the reason for seeking eviction services, landlords should not try to take matters into their own hands. Instead, let the professionals handle it while being respectful and compliant.
Want to Ensure Rental Property Compliance Without the Hassle?
Rental property compliance in any state is a necessary yet complicated process for most landlords. Failing to comply with federal, state, and local housing laws can put many things at stake, including your financial future. Luckily, there is an easy and efficient way for landlords to ensure compliance in all their rental properties.
Hiring local property management in Northern Virginia is an excellent way for landlords to run their rental businesses without worrying about small day-to-day details. So, if you find yourself struggling to keep up with one or more of your rental properties, reach out to Professional Property Management of Northern Virginia today to learn the benefits of full-service property management.