Your landlord has a duty to keep the premises fit and habitable. If repairs are needed, the first step is to notify the landlord in writing. This can be a letter, email, text message, or, if your landlord uses one, the property management app. You must then give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs. If the problem is an emergency, such as no heat in winter or a sewage problem, the landlord must fix it immediately. You must also give the landlord access to your home to make the repairs.
If the landlord still refuses to fix a health and safety issue, there are two ways remedies for getting the needed repairs.
If your landlord does not make repairs, you can file what is called a tenant’s assertion in court. To file a tenants’ assertion, follow these steps:
For help filling the out the Tenants Assertion and Complaint Form (DC 429) go here.
Tenants have a new option to get repairs, called “repair and deduct.” If your landlord fails to make repairs affecting health and safety, you can contract with licensed contractor to get work done and deduct the cost from the rent. Follow these steps:
Landlords must offer written leases. The lease is a contract stating what the landlord will do and what you as the renter will have to do. The law will generally make you follow all the terms of the lease, so make sure you clearly understand what you have agreed to do. Pay careful attention to the following items:
If no written lease is offered, the law has a default lease that will apply. This is a 12-month lease with no automatic renewal. Rent is paid in 12 monthly payments due on the first of the month and late after the fifth of the month. There are no oral leases in Virginia.
Within 45 days of moving out of the property, the landlord must return the deposit and/or give the tenant a written list of how the deposit was used. A deposit may be used only for unpaid rent, late fees, other charges in the lease, and damages more than reasonable wear and tear.
Tenants have the right of “quiet enjoyment” of the property. Quiet enjoyment is a right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment, free of unreasonable inference by the landlord.
A landlord may enter a rental unit without a tenant’s consent only in an emergency. A tenant cannot unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter a rental unit. A landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass a tenant. Except in an emergency, a landlord must give a tenant notice of intent to enter and enter only at reasonable times. Unless impractical, a landlord must give a tenant at least 24 hours’ advance notice.
A tenant has the right to a fit and habitable rental unit. The landlord must make all repairs needed to keep premises fit and habitable. (§ 55.1-1220-21). For information about repairs, see The landlord has a duty to keep the premises fit and habitable.
Tenants also have the right to be notified of properly notified before pesticides are applied in the premises.
After an eviction lawsuit for nonpayment of rent is filed, a tenant has the right to pay to a zero balance on or before the court date and have the lawsuit dismissed. After a court issues a judgment of possession, a tenant has the right to pay to a zero balance up to two business days before the Sheriff’s eviction and have the eviction cancelled. A tenant may use one of these rights only once in a 12-month period. (§55.1-1250). For more information about how to exercise the right of redemption, see How do I prepare for court? on the Eviction and Lease Termination page.
There is a special law about how you may enter into a rental agreement if you have been the victim of domestic violence. Here is the most likely situation, and how it works:
If you in fact want to stay living there,you can give a copy of the Protective Order to the landlord and submit an application within ten days after the Protective Order was issued to become a tenant in the same place. If the landlord decides they don’t want to accept you as a tenant, they have to give you written notice that your application was rejected. You then have 30 days after that notice to move out. If, on the other hand, you don’t, within ten days, apply to become a tenant, and don’t give the landlord a copy of the Protective Order, you have to move out no later than 30 days after the Protective Order was issued.
Any member of the armed forces of the United States or a member of the National Guard serving on full-time duty or as a Civil Service technician with the National Guard may terminate the lease early if the tenant:
A tenant who meets this critera may end the lease early by giving written notice to the landlord at least 30 days before the next rent payment is due. The lease end date cannot be more than 60 days before the military depature orders. The tenant must also give the landlord a copy of the official nootification of the orders or a signed letter letter confirming the order from the tenant’s commanding officer. The landlord must prorate the final rent payment to the date of termination and cannot charge any liquidate damages
Keep your rented space and plumbing as clean and safe as conditions permit.