Landlord Tenant Security Deposit Rights in Virginia
The Basics of Virginia's Law
Virginia’s landlord tenant law defines specific security deposit rules and obligations for both landlords and tenants. The rights of both parties are protected with rules limiting the amount a landlord can collect, reasons a landlord can deduct money from a tenant’s security deposit, and how and when the deposit must be returned to the tenant at move out. Here are the basic security deposit terms Virginia landlords and tenants should understand.
Two Months Maximum Deposit
Virginia's landlord tenant law sets a limit on how much a landlord can collect as a security deposit. The most a landlord can collect as a security deposit is an amount equal to two months’ rent. the monthly rent is $1,000, the maximum security deposit would be $2,000.
Security Deposits No Longer Required to Earn Interest in Virginia
In 2014, Virginia law removed the requirement that interest accrue on security deposits in an account held by landlords (unless otherwise agreed in writing). Prior to that change, security deposits in Virginia would earn interest at an annual rate below the Federal Reserve's discount rate. Landlords would only have to pay this interest to tenants who had been living in the same dwelling for more than 13 months. The interest was due to the tenant at the end of tenancy. However, now that Virginia law has changed, this is no longer the case.
Reasons Deductions Can Be Taken in Virginia
Virginia landlords have the right to deduct money from a tenant’s security deposit for the following reasons:
- Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
- Other damages or charges that have been spelled out in the lease agreement
- Unpaid utility bills
Deductions Before Move-Out
If a landlord will be taking money out of the tenant’s security deposit during tenancy, the landlord 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 before tenant move-out.
Security Deposit Records Must Be Kept in Virginia
Virginia 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.
These security deposit records must be available for the tenant, the tenant’s attorney, or the tenant’s authorized agent to view during normal business hours.
Are Walk-Through Inspections Required in Virginia?
- The landlord must make a 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 want to be present during the move-out inspection.
Set Date and Time
- The landlord must notify the tenant 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.
List of Damages
- At the actual inspection, the landlord must give the tenant an itemized list of the damages to the unit found during the inspection.
45 Days to Return a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Virginia
In the state of Virginia, landlords have 45 days from tenant move-out and termination of the lease to return a tenant's security deposit.
The landlord must return this deposit, minus allowable deductions, along with an itemized written statement which includes:
- The amount of security deposit returned
- Deductions for damages, including the 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 Damage Exceeds Security Deposit Amount
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.
Transfer Deposits to New Owner When Selling Property
If a Virginia landlord sells the rental property, it is the new property owner's responsibility to return the security deposit 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.
What If Landlord Does 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 entire security deposit, plus damages and reasonable attorney fees.
What Is Virginia’s Security Deposit Law?
Virginia updated its Residential Landlord and Tenant Act in 2019, and it went into effect on Oct. 1, 2019. Virginia makes the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act available on its website.