Virginia Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines

A breakdown of Virginia landlord-tenant laws on security deposits.

Most residential leases and rental agreements in Virginia require a security deposit. This is an amount 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 no more than the equivalent of two months' rent for the security deposit. Alternatively, a landlord may require the tenant to have damage insurance coverage (or a combination of insurance and a deposit) in an amount no greater than two months' of rent. (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1204 (2020).)

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 landlord does not have to give tenant any advance notice of deductions. The tenant has the right to be present at the final inspection, and landlord must give tenant written notice of this right. The lease can provide for expedited processing at the end of the tenancy and specify an administrative fee for such processing, which will apply only if tenant requests it with a separate written document.

Note that if the landlord plans to deduct from the security deposit during the tenancy (in other words, while the tenant is still living there), the landlord has 30 days to itemize the deductions (45 days if the deductions exceed the amount of the security deposit).

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.

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 two 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 statutes can be found at Virginia Code Annotated §§ 55.1-1204, 55.1-1206, 55.1-1208, and 55.1-1226 (2020). To access your state laws, check out the Library of Congress’s legal research site.

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