Legal and Optional Tenant Maintenance Responsibilities in Virginia

Legal and Optional Tenant Maintenance Responsibilities in Virginia

If you're a new landlord in Virginia, one of the questions you may likely ask is, "Who is responsible for property maintenance: me or my tenants?"

You, the landlord, are responsible for most maintenance tasks. However, that doesn't mean your tenants no longer have legal obligations to care for your property. They do, and if they fail to uphold the end of the bargain, it can be grounds for eviction.

For that reason, you should know what your tenants must legally do and what they can do to keep your property in top condition. Read on for a closer look.

Legal Property Maintenance Responsibilities

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act establishes tenants' rental property maintenance responsibilities. Under this Act, renters must comply with all applicable building and housing codes that can affect their health and safety.

Here are some of the primary legal responsibilities of renters when they enter a tenancy agreement in VA:

  • Keep their rented living premises as clean and safe as possible
  • Keep the rental property insect- and pest-free
  • Dispose of garbage and waste properly using the appropriate trash receptacles
  • Maintain the cleanliness of plumbing fixtures
  • Use the property's utilities, facilities, and appliances in a reasonable manner
  • Maintain smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Use reasonable efforts to prevent moisture build-up and mold growth
  • Get consent from the landlord before making repairs or altering surfaces

Virginia tenants must also immediately notify their landlords of any problems related to the above.

For example, tenants must not delay telling you if they see rodents like rats and mice on your property. Not only is it their legal responsibility, but it's also for their safety. Rodents can cause property damage and spread many diseases to humans.

Optional Property Maintenance Tasks

Since these are "optional" tasks, your tenants aren't legally required to do them. But that shouldn't stop you from negotiating. To make your tenants more likely to agree, give them incentives, such as grocery gift cards, small rent discounts, or a lower security deposit.

Here are some ideas for optional tenant property maintenance tasks:

  • Cleaning or washing the HVAC filters every one to three months
  • Inspecting and keeping the outdoor HVAC unit debris-free
  • Mowing the grass, raking the leaves, and bagging garden debris
  • Pruning overgrown shrubs
  • Salting or shoveling snow

Agreeing to do those optional tasks can be a win for your tenants, especially if you give them the right incentive. After all, who doesn't want to save on groceries or pay less rent? You'll also be a winner; you'll have fewer maintenance responsibilities and less landlord stress.

Property Maintenance: A Shared Responsibility

Now you know that, by law, tenants in Virginia must keep their rented premises clean and pest-free. They're also responsible for proper garbage disposal and carefully using your property's facilities. And, if you negotiate, you can encourage them to take on more tasks in exchange for an incentive.

If you want even more freedom from your obligations as a landlord, PMI of Fairfax will happily help! We're a full-service property management company providing the services needed for successful leases. We specialize in property maintenance, rent collection, accounting, marketing, tenant incentive programs, and lease renewals.

So speak with us today about our services and numerous residential guarantees!