Even the smartest landlords can find themselves in trouble when they violate a law that governs how they operate their rental property. You have to know what you can and cannot do, and that means staying up to date on all the federal, state and local laws that govern the landlord and tenant relationship in northern Virginia.
Fair Housing Laws
Fair housing laws protect people from discrimination. This might seem obvious to you, but it’s possible to violate fair housing laws without realizing it or intending to. For example, your marketing materials cannot target specific populations of people you might want to have as tenants. Advertising that your property is “ideal for single professionals” discriminates against people with children. You can also violate fair housing laws if you don’t treat each application consistently. When you get an applicant who qualifies for your property, not renting to them so you can hold out for a different tenant is a violation of these laws.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Refusing to rent to a tenant who has a disability is a blatant violation of fair housing laws. Most landlords would never do that. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects a population of people who may need assistance in their homes. For example, you have to allow a resident to have a service animal, even if you don’t allow pets. You also have to allow a tenant with a disability to make reasonable changes to your property in order to improve access and safety.
Fair Credit Reporting
When you collect applications from potential tenants, you are gathering a lot of sensitive personal information. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that you securely store and protect that information. You cannot share the results of your tenant’s credit check with anyone, and your tenant’s privacy must be ensured at all times.
Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws
The landlord and tenant laws in Virginia cover everything from mold disclosures to eviction statutes. It’s important that you understand what you are required to do with a security deposit, how much notice you’re required to give before you enter a tenant’s home, and what you should do with any property that’s left behind by tenants. These laws are always changing, which is why you need to pay attention to state codes and local ordinances. The penalties can be devastating. For example, if you fail to return a tenant’s security deposit within 45 day, you can be sued for up to $5,000. If you don’t have the time or the interest in learning the laws that pertain to your rental property, it’s essential that you work with a property manager who can protect you. Contact us at ARMI Property Management if you’d like more information.