As a Virginia landlord, you need to understand the laws that govern your rental property and your relationship with your tenants. It’s easy to make a mistake if you don’t understand your legal requirements or keep up with the changing legal landscape.
Use a Legal Virginia Lease
It’s important that you use a lease agreement that’s legally enforceable in Virginia. You don’t want to find yourself in court, trying to evict a tenant or defend your security deposit claims with an illegal lease. Don’t download a template off the internet, and don’t buy a generic lease from a store like Staples. Get a legally enforceable, state-specific lease from an attorney or a property manager.
Educate Yourself on State and Federal Laws
The Virginia Landlord and Tenant Act will dictate most of what you can and cannot do as a landlord. It enforces how much you can collect in a security deposit, how much notice you have to give before entering a property, and which disclosures you’re required to provide before your tenant moves in. You need to understand Virginia’s eviction rules and procedures, and how to effectively manage your property while a tenant is in place.
You also need to know some federal laws, particularly the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Fair Credit Reporting Act will tell you what you can and cannot do with a tenant’s personal and financial information.
Understanding Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
Tenants have a lot of rights, and they often know the laws as well as you do, or even better. It’s important to respect those rights, and to document everything you do and say to your tenants and your property. This will help you if you’re ever in court or managing a tenant dispute.
There are many benefits to working with a professional property management company. Having access to their legal knowledge and experience is a huge advantage. If you don’t have the time to stay up to date on the laws, or you’re not sure what you can legally do as a landlord, talk to a property manager. It’s better to be protected, and owning rental property comes with a lot of risk.
We’d be happy to help answer any of your questions. Please contact us at The Wright Choice Richmond Realty Group for help.