Updated Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA), Effective July 1, 2023
Assistance Animals (HB1725)
This bill makes it a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act for a person with a “therapeutic relationship” to provide fraudulent supporting documentation of an individual’s disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.
The Virginia Consumer Protection Act allows for “any person who suffers loss as the result of a violation of this chapter” and allows for actual damages or $500, whichever is greater. If the violation was willful, damages may be increased to 3 times actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater. Additionally, the person can be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
This is a solution to alleviate the problem with Tenants that provide false documentation for assistance animals as a way to get around pet restrictions, rent, or deposits.
Move-In Related Items
Uninhabitable Property (HB1635)
If a tenant is moving into a property and there is a condition that constitutes a fire hazard or serious threat to the life, health, or safety of tenants or occupants, the tenant is entitled to terminate the rental agreement and receive a full refund of all deposits and rent paid to the landlord, as long as the tenant provides the landlord with written notice of their intent to terminate within 7 days of the date of possession.
Conditions that constitute a fire hazard of serious threat to the life, health, or safety of tenants or occupants include:
- Rodent infestation
- Lack of heat
- No hot or cold running water
- No electricity
- Inadequate sewage disposal facilities
If the tenant provides notice to the landlord, the landlord can assert that the tenant is unjustified in his termination by providing written notice to the tenant of his refusal to accept the tenant’s termination notice with the reasons for such refusal within 15 Business days.
Move-Out and Renewal Related Items
Summons For Unlawful Detainer Instruction (HB1996)
A document is being developed that provides “plain English” instructions that explain to defendants how to interpret the summons for unlawful detainer. This form will also include information on the statewide legal aid and Virginia Eviction Reduction Pilot program.
Statement of Tenants Rights & Responsibilities (HB1735)
Check your Lease and make sure you have the Statement of Tenants Rights and Responsibilities signed by the Tenant.
Some judges refuse to proceed with unlawful detainer actions if the tenant hasn’t signed the Statement of Tenants Rights and Responsibilities – which tenants are refusing to sign as a way to prevent eviction when they are at that point.
It was never intended that if the landlord provided the Statement of Tenants Rights and Responsibilities but either forgot or could not get the tenant to sign the document, they would never be able to file for Unlawful Detainer. Now the law says that if the tenant fails to sign the form, the landlord shall record the date on which they provided the form to the tenant and the fact that the tenant failed to sign the form.
Rent Increase Notice (HB1702)
For landlords who own more than four properties (or more than a 10% interest in more than four units) in Virginia, they will now be required to provide written notice to any tenant who has the option to renew a lease or whose lease contains an automatic renewal provision of any increase in rent during the subsequent rental agreement term. This notice must be provided no less than 60 days before the end of the rental term.
Post-Lease Repairs (HB1542 / SB891) VAR Bill
This temporary provision allows an additional 15 days for landlords to obtain estimates and perform repairs after the end of the lease. Typically landlords have 45 days from the end of the lease term to provide tenants with an itemized list of damages, but the VRLTA allows an additional 15 days if the damages require a contractor (for a total of 60 days).
This will end on June 30, 2024.