8 Basics of Virginia's Security Deposit Law

The Rules Virginia Landlords and Tenants Need to Follow

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In the state of Virginia, landlords have the right to collect a security deposit from their tenants and tenants are obligated to put down this deposit in order to rent a property. However, there are certain rules listed in Virginia’s landlord tenant law that both sides must follow. Here are eight security deposit basics that every Virginia landlord and tenant should know.

8 Basics of Virginia's Security Deposit Law: 

  • Security Deposit Limit- Two months' rent
  • Storing Deposit- Must earn interest. Interest paid to tenants of 13 months or more.
  • Keeping Deposit- Unpaid rent, unpaid utility bills, late charges for rent.
  • Security Deposit Records- Must keep records of deductions for two years.
  • Walk-Through Inspection- Required
  • Returning Deposit- Within 45 days of tenant move-out.
  • Selling Property- New owner's responsibility to collect deposits from previous owner.
  • Failure to Follow Law- Tenant could be awarded security deposit, plus interest, damages and reasonable court costs and attorney's fees.

    1. Is There a Security Deposit Limit in Virginia?

    Yes, there is a security deposit limit in the state of Virginia. Landlords may not charge tenants a security deposit that is greater than the amount of two months’ rent.

    2. How Must You Store The Security Deposit in Virginia?

    There is no statewide rule stating how a landlord must store a security deposit in Virginia. However, all security deposits must accrue interest at an annual rate that is four points below the Federal Reserve's discount rate as of January 1. Landlords only have to pay this interest to tenants who have been residing in the same dwelling for more than 13 months. This interest will be due to such a tenant at the termination of tenancy.

    3. What Are Some Reasons You Can Keep a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Virginia?

    Landlords in the state of Virginia may be able to keep all or a portion of a tenant’s security deposit for the following reasons:

    • Unpaid Rent
    • Late Charges for Rent
    • Damage in Excess of Normal Wear and Tear
    • Other Damages or Charges That Have Been Spelled Out in the Lease Agreement
    • Unpaid Utility Bills (Specific laws apply to utility bills. Please see Virginia Code Annotated§ 55-248.15:1.A for further details.

    If a landlord intends to make a deduction from the tenant’s security deposit during the course of tenancy, they must notify the tenant in writing within 30 days of making the determination. The 30 day notice is waived if the deduction would occur less than 30 days of tenant move-out.

    4. What Kind of Security Deposit Records Must the Landlord Keep?

    Landlords must keep security deposit records for all tenants. These records must itemize any deductions that have been made from the security deposit over the last two years. The record must be available for the tenant, the tenant’s attorney or the tenant’s authorized agent to view during normal business hours.

    5. Is a Walk-Through Inspection Required in Virginia?

    Yes. The landlord must make reasonable effort to notify the tenant of the tenant’s right to be present at the move-out inspection. This notification must be made within five days of a tenant giving the landlord their move-out notice or must be made when the landlord gives the tenant notice to vacate.

    The tenant must then respond in writing if they desire to be present during the move-out inspection. The landlord must then respond to the tenant notifying them of the date and time of the inspection. The inspection should be scheduled no more than three days before the tenant’s move-out date.

    At the actual inspection, the landlord must give the tenant an itemized list of the damages to the unit he or she has found during the inspection.

    6. When Must You Return a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Virginia?

    In the state of Virginia, landlords must return a tenant’s security deposit within 45 days of tenant move-out and termination of lease. The landlord must return this deposit and accrued interest, less any allowable deductions, along with an itemized written statement which includes:

    • The Amount of Security Deposit Returned
    • The Accrued Interest
    • Deductions for Damages- Type of Damage and Cost to Repair

    This notice can be sent to the tenant via certified mail or it can be hand delivered to the tenant by the landlord.

    *If the amount of damage exceeds the amount of the security deposit and the damages would need to be fixed by a contractor, the landlord must notify the tenant within the 45 day period of this fact. The landlord would then have an additional 15 days to provide the tenant with an itemized list of the damages and the cost of repair.

    7. What Happens to the Security Deposit If You Sell Your Property?

    If you sell your property, it is the new property owners’ responsibility to return the security deposit and any accrued interest to the tenant. Anyone buying rental property should make sure the receipt of this security deposit is included as a condition in the contract to buy the property.

    8. What Happens If You Do Not Follow Virginia’s Security Deposit Law?

    Failure to follow the terms of Virginia’s security deposit law could result in the tenant being entitled to the return of their security deposit and any accrued interest plus damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

    What Is Virginia’s Security Deposit Law?

    If you are looking for the original text of the law governing security deposits n the state of Virginia, please consult Virginia Code Annotated§ 55-248.15:1.