Most residential leases and rental agreements in Virginia require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of Virginia landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does Virginia law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under Virginia landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of two months' rent for the security deposit.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in Virginia for returning a security deposit?
Under Virginia law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 45 days after the tenant has moved out. The tenant has the right to be present at the final inspection.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that Virginia landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in Virginia?
Yes. In addition to complying with Virginia laws on security deposit limits and how (and when) the deposit must be returned to tenants, landlords in Virginia must pay accrued interest on all security deposits at an annual rate equal to 4% below the Federal Reserve Board discount rate as of January 1 of each year. No interest is payable unless the landlord holds the deposit for over 13 months after the date the rental agreement was signed, and there has been continuous occupancy of the same unit.
Are there any exceptions to Virginia security deposit rules?
Yes. Single-family residences are excempt where the owner(s) are natural persons or their estates who own in their own name no more than 10 single-family residents subject to a rental agreement
Where can I look up Virginia law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up Virginia law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Virginia Code Annotated § 55-248.15:1. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in Virginia. For tips on looking up Virginia state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
For more information on tenant rights in Virginia, see http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/images/Housing/Landlord-Tenant-Handbook.pdf.