As a landlord in Norfolk, you need to be aware of your responsibilities. A landlord has to perform multiple duties such as looking after the maintenance of the property, inspecting, and dealing with the renters. Being aware of your obligations and responsibilities will help you fulfill them better and ensure greater legal compliance.
The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) defines landlord-tenant relations and fair housing standards. The law applies to both single and multi-family properties located in Virginia. The primary responsibilities of landlords include:
Take Care of Regular Maintenance
As a landlord, you must hand over a well-maintained property to your tenants. It is necessary to keep rental premises livable and clean. When something malfunctions, breaks, or becomes inoperable, a landlord is obligated to repair it quickly. It is your responsibility to make the house comfortable and homely for your tenants. Otherwise, tenants have several options, including the right to withhold rent.
Conduct Tenant Screening
A landlord should know the background of his tenants. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a tenant screening process while selecting potential tenants. Identity proof, eviction history, credit score, criminal background, and employment validation are some of the crucial aspects you must scrutinize. This can prevent you from taking on someone with a criminal background or is in deep debt as your tenant and save you from later time-consuming legal conflicts.
Respect The Tenant’s Privacy
You should also be aware of tenant privacy rules. Landlords must provide a notice 24 hours in advance before visiting the tenants. In case of urgent repairs and maintenance issues, you should still inform them on short notice before visiting the rental premises to avoid any liabilities down the line.
Make Rightful Use of the Security Deposit
Property owners require a security deposit in case of potential damages caused by the tenant. A landlord cannot retain the deposit to cover minor damages, but he may deduct unpaid rents, unpaid utilities, late charges, and damages for which the tenants are responsible.
It is crucial to send the statement specifying the reason behind the deduction to tenants. A landlord is obligated to return a security deposit within thirty days after the termination of a lease agreement.
Abide By Landlord-tenant Laws
There are several laws for tenants and landlords that vary state-by-state. Explore government websites to find helpful information and guides that can help both owners and tenants at different stages of the tenancy.
According to VRLTA, the chief obligations of Norfolk landlords include delivering a vacant unit, managing the security deposit, and keeping up with property maintenance.
Landlord Responsibility for Tenant Safety
You, as a landlord, must ensure the safety and maintenance of the rented property. You are obligated to check both the interior and exterior of your property to ensure that it is fully habitable. If needed, you should fix the damages and inspect all home appliances to confirm that they are fully functional. If you fail to abide by the safety and habitability standards, you may be held legally liable for damage caused to the life and property of the tenants or even the neighborhood at large.
For example, if your negligence has resulted in gas leakage, faulty electric connections, contamination caused by a defective drainage system, and it poses a threat to the life, property, and the vicinity at large, you may be held liable for the breach of fair housing standards.
Maintain Legal Awareness
As a landlord, it is necessary to stay informed about services and resources related to real estate management. As a part of a certified property management program, you can learn more about real estate, rental property management, legal obligations, and rights - everything that can enable you to manage your property efficiently.
Several educational websites offer accessible online certification courses in Norfolk where you can apply. These courses may help you understand your duties, responsibilities, and laws related to real estate investment. In addition, you also need to consistently stay updated with new legal norms and rules that the government issues to ensure fair housing for tenants.
A trusted property management company in Norfolk, like Doud Realty Services, can help you understand more about the responsibilities of landlords in Virginia. With an experience of over 20 years in property management and extensive military background, we can assist all our clients in Norfolk and Hampton Roads to discharge all property-related responsibilities with ease. For further assistance, contact us at Doud Realty Services.