A dispute with your landlord regarding return of a security deposit can be frustrating. There are several ways, some with the help of an attorney, you can use Virginia security deposit laws to protect your deposit. This information is provided by our Williamsburg Newport News Landlord/Tenant Attorneys.
What are the Parties’ Responsibilities
A dispute with your landlord regarding return of a security deposit can be frustrating. Virginia security deposit laws allow a landlord to require a security deposit in an amount up to two months of normal rent. Upon termination of the tenancy, the landlord may apply this deposit to unpaid rent, late charges, and payment for damages caused by the tenant apart from reasonable wear and tear. Many tenants feel slighted when their landlord takes more than they feel is warranted for “wear and tear”.
Unfortunately, the term is not easily defined. Generally, reasonable wear and tear is the unavoidable deterioration of the rental due to normal use. The most common example is the wear in carpet over time due to normal traffic. However, stains in carpet that are avoidable (i.e. nail polish, food, etc.) probably fall outside normal wear and tear. Tenants in Virginia must keep the premises safe and clean, free from pests, clear of waste. The must also avoid destroying, defacing, damaging, or removing any part of the premises.
Protect Yourself at the Outset
The best way to avoid disputes in the future is to protect yourself at the beginning or your tenancy. According to Virginia security deposit laws, landlords are required to provide a report itemizing the current damage to the rental. The landlord may allow you to fill out this move-in inspection report. The landlord is generally not required to repair that damage during the term of the lease, but you should not be charged for those repairs, either. In addition to the report, you should take photographs and/or video to document the amount of damage present. This will help you avoid a he-said-she-said dispute about “how much” the carpet was stained or “how many” nail holes were in the wall.
Returning Your Security Deposit
The Virginia landlord/tenant act provides rules for how, when, and in what amount landlords must return security deposits. If a landlord makes a deduction against the security deposit during the tenancy, the landlord must provide written notification of the deduction within 30 days. Within 45 days of you leaving the property after your lease if over, your landlord must send you a list of any deductions, damages, or charges along with any amount of the remaining deposit. The refund will not include accrued interest. The landlord is required to advise you of your right to a walkthrough. However, you must request in writing if you want to be present.
Upon completion of the inspection, the landlord must provide you an itemized list of damages. If the amount for the repair of damages beyond reasonable wear and tear exceeds the deposit amount, the landlord must let you know within the 45 day period. Afterward, the landlord has an additional 15 days to provide an itemization of damages and cost of repair. If a Court rules that the landlord willfully failed to follow the rules, the landlord must return the deposit, pay any other related damages, and pay the tenants attorneys fees.
Our Williamsburg Newport News Landlord/Tenant Attorneys at Collins & Hyman can help you get your deposit back. Most of the time, you won’t pay anything unless we win. Call to set up a consultation.
Gregory S. Bean is one of the Williamsburg Newport News Landlord/Tenant Attorneys at Collins & Hyman PLC. Please call 757-645-0827 for a consultation.