When you rent a property out to tenants, it’s important to remember that while you still own that property, it’s serving as someone else’s home. Your tenant has a right to privacy in that home, which means you cannot show up at any time and demand to be let inside. There are specific ways to gain access to the rental property, and you must follow the guidelines set forth in the Virginia Landlord Tenant Law.
Providing Notice of Entry
In Virginia, landlords are required to provide tenants with 24 hours’ notice before entering the property. While this is the minimum requirement, it’s a good idea to work out a convenient time with your tenants for you to enter the property. Let them know that you need to get inside, and tell them whether or not they’re required to be there, too. If you have a good relationship with your tenants, there shouldn’t be any problems with your notice of entry.
Maintenance Requests and Entry
If a tenant has requested maintenance, landlords are not required to provide the 24 hours’ notice. In this case, your tenants assume that you’ll need to go into the property to repair or replace whatever needs attention. This is an excellent reason to require all of your maintenance requests to be in writing. If you have the documentation that a tenant has requested maintenance, you won’t have to prove that you didn’t enter the property illegally and without notice.
Landlords are permitted to enter the property if there appears to be an actual emergency. For example, if a fire starts and the tenants are not home, the landlord will need to be there to manage the damage. If an upstairs unit has a major water leak and the entire first floor of a building is flooded, the landlord will need to get inside a tenant’s home immediately.
All of these things should be outlined in your rental agreement. Make sure your tenants understand what is required and what is permitted when it comes to landlord access. You’ll want to schedule inspections in advance, and if you want to show the property after a tenant gives notice, your lease should indicate the proper procedures.
If you have any questions about the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act and what it entails, please contact us at The Wright Choice Richmond Realty Group. We would be happy to tell you more.