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Per Virginia landlord tenant law, Virginia landlords have a right to ask for a security deposit when they rent out a property to a tenant. The Virginia security deposit ensures compensation for any loss the landlord incurs related to the rental unit because of a tenant’s actions. Such tenant actions include:

Early lease termination. Once a tenant signs the lease or rental agreement, they are contractually obligated to stay and pay rent for the entire term of the lease. There are only two exceptions in this regard. That is, one, if there is an early lease termination clause allowing it. Or two, if they have a legally justified reason to break their lease, such as if they are starting active military duty.
Nonpayment of rent. After lease or rental agreement signing, tenants are obligated to pay rent for the entire term of the lease, whether or not they live there. So, if they leave without clearing their unpaid rent, among the measures you can take is withholding their security deposit for the cost of rent owed.
Excessive property damage. A Virginia property owner can also hold their tenant liable for the cost of repairing any damage exceeding normal wear and tear as per as their rental agreement. Examples of such damages include holes in walls, a missing curtain, or a broken tile. If the damage is extreme, the landlord may also want to consider an eviction.
Unpaid utility bills. Naturally, some utility bills associated with the rental unit will be in your tenant’s name during the tenancy. And before moving out, it’ll be their responsibility to clear them. So, if they move out without clearing them, you’ll have a right to make appropriate deductions from their deposit.

With that in mind, Virginia landlord tenant law outlines how landlords must handle their tenants’ security deposits. Failure to do so can mean incurring potentially hefty financial losses.

security deposit virginia

Whether you’re a new Virginia landlord or looking to refresh your knowledge of the Virginia's security deposit law, this is a great place to start! The following is a basic overview of the security deposit laws under Virginia's landlord-tenant law.

1. Security Deposit Limit

Landlord tenant laws in Virginia dictate how much a landlord can charge their tenants as security deposit. The most a Virginia landlord can ask their tenant as a security deposit in the state of Virginia is the equivalent of two months’ rent.

So, suppose a landlord charges tenants a monthly rent of $1,500. This means that the Virginia security deposit limit will be $3,000.

2. Interest on Security Deposit

Before 2014, Virginia security deposit law required landlords to store their tenant’s security deposit in an interest earning account. The annual interest accrued on security deposits was calculated below the Federal Reserve’s discount rate. A landlord wouldd only have to pay this interest to tenants who have rented their property for at least 13 months.

However, now that this requirement for security deposits was removed by a law, this is no longer the case. As a landlord, you can store your tenant’s deposit in however way you wish if it’s available to them when they move out of the dwelling unit.

3. Allowable Deductions to Security Deposits

Virginia landlords have a right to make appropriate deductions from tenants' security deposits for certain reasons. As already explained above, such reasons include:

• Unpaid rent and unpaid utility bills
• Failure by a tenant to clear their debts when moving out
• Careless or negligent property damage to the dwelling unit exceeding normal wear and tear
• Other charges that have been spelt out on the lease or rental agreement

normal wear and tear virginia

Normally, landlords make deductions to a tenant’s deposit once they have moved out of the dwelling unit. However, should a landlord require to do so during the tenancy, the landlord must notify their tenant in writing within 30 days of making that determination per Virginia law.

4. Security Deposit Records

According to Virginia law, landlords have a responsibility of keeping their tenant’s security deposit records. In the records, the landlord must itemize any deductions you’ve made on tenants’ deposits over the last 2 years.

A landlord must provide the security deposit receipt to any concerned party when requested during normal business hours. Concerned parties can be the tenant, their attorney, or their authorized agent.

5. Walk Through Inspections

In Virginia, tenants have a right to a walk-through inspection. And as such, a landlord must make reasonable effort to provide written notice to their tenant of this right within 5 days of receiving their move-out notice.

If the tenant wants to be present during the inspection, they must respond with a written notice. Next, the landlord must let them know of the date and time of the inspection, which the landlord must schedule no more than 3 days prior to the tenant moving out.

If there are any damages found, the landlord must provide your tenant with an itemized list.

6. Returning your Tenant’s Security Deposit

Per Virginia security deposit law, landlords have exactly 45 days after their tenant moves out to return their deposit (or whatever remains of it). If there are deductions, you must send the remaining portion alongside an itemized list of deductions.

list of deductions security deposit virginia

The delivery must be done via personal delivery or certified mail.

If the damage exceeds the security deposit amount, then the damages will need to be fixed by a contractor. You must notify your tenant of this fact within 45 days. You’d then have an additional fifteen days to provide the tenant with an itemized written list of damages.

7. Sale of Rental Property

Selling your rental property will have an impact on your tenant’s security deposit. If you sell it, you’ll need to return your tenant’s deposit back to the tenant. It’ll be the buyer’s responsibility to ensure the details are captured in the buying contract.

8. Non-Compliance to the Security Deposit Rules

There are a bevy of financial repercussions for Virginia landlords who refuse to follow the state’s security deposit rules. Including, forfeiting any right to withhold any portion of the deposit, as well as being liable to damages and reasonable attorney fees.

Bottom Line

New landlords and experienced landlords alike need to be familiar with the local security deposit laws. However, learning and navigating the law by yourself can be difficult. DRP Management is a full-service property management company that serves property owners in Leesburg and its environs. Get in touch with our team to learn more about our services!

Disclaimer: This content is only meant to be informational and not a substitute for professional legal advice regarding Virginia landlord tenant laws. Also, laws change, and this information may no longer be up to date at the time of your reading. For expert help, please get in touch with either a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.