The Housing Division provides information about the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords to assist with resolution of tenant-landlord disputes. These documents outline the laws governing rental housing and provide information about different aspects of the rental process.
- Information for Landlords
- Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
- Chapter 13. Landlord and Tenant
- Renter Education
- Tenant-Landlord Handbook
The County’s Tenant-Landlord Commission provides information, referrals and advice for tenant-landlord issues. The Commission also advises the County Board on policies and programs related to tenants and landlords.
These free events are open to residents and landlords and property managers who own and/or manage fewer than five residential properties in Arlington. Seminars cover a variety of different topics, which have included the nuts and bolts of landlord-tenant law, lease requirements, tenant screening, tenant rights, mediation and the Virginia Fair Housing Law. Registration is sometimes required. Check our full event calendar for future workshops.
- Application Process: a guide to the application and screening process that is useful for both tenants and landlords.
- Application Fees: a definition of application fees and rights of the landlord and tenant.
- Apartment Check-In List: to document the physical condition of the unit at the beginning of the tenancy.
- Court Eviction (En Español): outlines the court eviction for possession.
- Landlord Noncompliance (En Español): description of tenant’s use of 21-30 day notice for landlord non-compliance.
- Rent Escrow (En Español): summarizes requirements and procedures for rent escrow.
- Security Deposit (En Español): information regarding the final inspection, deductions, timely return and interest owed on security deposits.
- Vacating an Apartment (En Español): information on ending a lease and vacating an apartment.
Frequently Asked Questions
|What laws protect me as a tenant in Arlington?||There are three laws that govern tenant-landlord relationships: The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenants Act (VRLTA), Chapter 13. Tenant Landlord and the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC).
The VRLTA applies to all rental properties and agreements where the landlord owns and rents three or more units, so it does not apply to most condominiums and single family rentals. If your rental agreement is not governed by the VRLTA, your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord are limited to what is in the written rental agreement.
Chapter 13 Tenant Landlord applies when the landlord owns two properties or less. Most of the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords are stated in the lease agreement.
The VUSBC establishes the minimum standards for health, safety and upkeep of all dwellings, whether occupied by a tenant or owner, and applies whether or not the rental agreement is governed by the VRLTA. This code covers items such as plumbing, electric, structure, heat, hot water supply, appliances and equipment and environmental conditions, both inside and outside of the property. These codes apply to all residential property in Arlington, and are enforced by the Code Enforcement Office at 703 228-3232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|How much can a landlord require as a security deposit?||When the VRLTA applies, a security deposit may not exceed two months’ rent; however, the usual practice is one month’s rent. There is no limit or enforcement when VRLTA does not apply.|
|Can I use my security deposit as the last month’s rent?
|No. The deposit is a security against any damages to the leased property. It secures the tenant’s performance of all parts of the rental agreement. It is not a rental payment.|
|I rented a single family home for five years. Should I get interest on my security deposit?
|While most lease agreements do not mention interest, if the VRLTA applies, a landlord is required to pay interest on security deposits held in excess of 13 months. If your lease agreement specifically states that interest is to be paid, that is enforceable, even if the VRLTA does not apply.
Is there a limit or ceiling on the amount that a landlord can increase the rent?
There is no rent control in Virginia. A landlord can increase rent to whatever the rental market will bear, regardless of how long you have rented there. The landlord cannot increase rent during the term of the lease.
|Maintenance and Repairs|
|Can I withhold my rent if the landlord fails to provide maintenance or violates the lease?||No. there is no legal reason to withhold a rent payment. The lease agreement is a binding contract in which you agreed to pay the rent. If you have an issues, first make complains in writing to the landlord and keep a copy of the requests. If issues relate to the structure of the building you may call the Code Enforcement Office at 703 228-3232.
|There is no heat or hot water, and, despite many messages, the landlord has not responded. What can be done?||Put the request in writing, stating the problem, and requesting prompt correction. Lack of heat (in season) and hot water (year round) are violations of the VUSBC and of your lease. Contact the Code Enforcement Office to request an inspection and/or file a complaint. See use of a 21/30-day notice for landlord non-compliance|
|I have a lease agreement to rent a room in a private house, but the landlord is asking that I move immediately. Can I be evicted like this?||No. Eviction is a court judgment resulting from a legal process in court. Only a judge can issue an eviction notice. Also, the lease agreement is as binding on the landlord as it is on the tenant; if there is no breach of lease, there is no justification for eviction. If the landlord files for an eviction, the tenant must attend the court hearing to defend their right to remain in the premises. See link for more information about a court eviction.
|I gave my 30-day notice that I am vacating, but the landlord says I have to pay until the end of the month.||Notices of termination of lease are effective on the day the rent is due, generally the first of the month based on the law of Virginia. Otherwise it has to be specifically stated in the lease agreement. Rent cannot be prorated at the end of the lease.|
|I found a job in another state but my landlord won’t let me move out.
What can I do?
|In Virginia, you can only break the lease legally using the military clause or in cases of abuse; otherwise, it is an agreement reached between tenant and landlord. Read your lease agreement, as there may be a clause that relates to this, or approach the landlord to explore other options, such as finding another tenant to occupy the unit.|
|Can I use my security deposit as the last month’s rent?
|No. The deposit is a security against any damages to the leased property, it secures the tenant’s performance of all parts of the rental agreement. It is not considered a rental payment.|
|I rented an apartment for more than a year. What is the interest on my security deposit?
|There is no longer and interest to be paid on security deposits unless the tenancy has been between July 1, 1975 and January 1, 2014 check the table of calculated interest for those years.|