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  • Writer's pictureRon Riddell

Avoiding Common Mistakes of New Landlords in Virginia

Updated: 4 days ago

As a landlord in Virginia, you have many responsibilities and it's important to understand the common mistakes that new landlords make.

From not properly screening tenants to ignoring maintenance issues or failing to keep records of invoices and rental payments, there are numerous pitfalls for inexperienced landlords in Virginia.

We'll cover topics such as tenant screenings, financial resources, record keeping & documentation and lease agreements & regulations - all crucial aspects when leasing out residential properties.

Table of Contents:

Screening Tenants

Properly screening tenants is a critical step for landlords in Virginia, yet many new landlords make costly mistakes when it comes to vetting potential tenants.

Screening tenants is an important step for landlords in Virginia. Properly vetting prospective tenants helps to ensure that the tenant is a good fit for the property and reduces the risk of problems down the line.

Properly Vetting Prospective Tenants. Landlords should take steps to properly vet potential tenants before signing a lease agreement.

This includes verifying employment, income, rental history, and other information related to their background and creditworthiness.

It’s also important to ask questions about any pets they may have or plan on having during their tenancy so you can be sure your property will remain pet-free if necessary.

Understanding Fair Housing Laws. It’s essential that landlords understand fair housing laws when screening potential tenants.

These laws protect people from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex/gender identity/expression, familial status (including children under 18 living with parents or legal custodians), disability status (mental or physical), age (40+ years old) and marital status when renting or leasing a dwelling unit in Virginia.

Landlords must adhere to these regulations at all times throughout the tenant screening process; failure to do so could result in serious legal consequences such as fines or even jail time depending on severity of violation(s).

Utilizing Background Checks & Credit Reports. In Virginia, landlords can use background checks to screen prospective tenants before signing a lease agreement.

These reports provide information about an individual's criminal record and any past evictions they may have had, which can help determine if someone would be a suitable tenant for the property.

Additionally, running credit reports allows landlords to see how financially responsible someone is and whether they are capable of paying rent on time each month.

Key Takeaway: Landlords in Virginia should take steps to properly vet potential tenants before signing a lease agreement, including verifying employment, income, rental history and creditworthiness. It's also important to understand fair housing laws when screening tenants and utilize background checks and credit reports to ensure the tenant is suitable for the property.

Maintenance Issues

New landlords in Virginia face a variety of challenges when it comes to maintenance, from establishing a regular schedule to addressing emergencies quickly and efficiently.

Maintaining a rental property is an important responsibility for landlords in Virginia. Establishing a maintenance schedule and addressing any issues quickly and efficiently are key to keeping your property in good condition.

Establishing a Maintenance Schedule:

Creating a regular maintenance schedule is essential for preventing small problems from becoming bigger ones.

This should include routine inspections of the interior and exterior of the property, checking appliances, plumbing fixtures, smoke detectors, windows, doors, locks and other features regularly to ensure they’re functioning properly.

Landlords should also check that all safety measures are up-to-date such as carbon monoxide detectors or fire extinguishers.

Addressing Emergencies Quickly and Efficiently:

When emergencies do arise it’s important to address them quickly and efficiently so that tenants can return to their normal lives as soon as possible.

Depending on the severity of the emergency you may need to call in professional help such as electricians or plumbers if you don’t have the skills yourself.

It's also important to keep records of any repairs made so that you can refer back to them if needed at a later date. It is essential to keep accurate records when it comes to maintaining your rental properties.

This includes invoices for repair work done by professionals or materials purchased, receipts for payments made, dates when repairs were completed, and notes about tenant complaints.

All of these documents should be kept securely either electronically or physically with backups stored offsite in case anything happens locally which could put your data at risk such as flooding.

By doing this you will have proof that all necessary steps were taken towards properly maintaining your rental properties which may come in handy during legal disputes with tenants down the line.

Key Takeaway: It is essential for landlords in Virginia to establish a regular maintenance schedule and address any emergencies quickly and efficiently. Accurate records should be kept of all repairs, payments, dates, and tenant complaints to ensure that the property is properly maintained. This will help protect landlords from potential legal disputes with tenants down the line.

Financial Resources

Are you a new landlord in Virginia? Learn how to properly manage your finances and avoid costly mistakes.

Financial resources are an essential consideration for landlords in Virginia. Setting aside an emergency fund for unexpected expenses is a must.

It's important to have enough money on hand to cover any repairs or maintenance that may arise, as well as other unanticipated costs such as legal fees or tenant evictions.

Calculating the cost of property management services ahead of time can help you budget accordingly and avoid costly surprises down the line.

Knowing when to hire professional help for repairs or maintenance work is also key; if something requires specialized knowledge or expertise, it’s best to call in a pro rather than trying to tackle it yourself and potentially making matters worse.

When setting aside an emergency fund, make sure you factor in all potential costs associated with being a landlord—from monthly mortgage payments and taxes to insurance premiums and utility bills—and set aside enough funds so that you won't be caught off guard by any surprise expenses that come up throughout the year.

Additionally, consider setting up separate accounts for different types of expenditures (e.g., one account for rent payments and another account for maintenance). This will make tracking your finances much easier over time.

Property management services vary greatly depending on what type of service you need (i.e., full-service vs à la carte), so do your research before signing any contracts with companies offering these services in order to ensure that they meet your needs at a price point that fits within your budget constraints.

Keep in mind that some companies charge additional fees beyond their base rate, so read through all documents carefully before committing yourself financially!

When it comes to hiring professionals for repair work or maintenance tasks around the rental property, do not choose someone just because they offer lower rates than others.

Doing so could end up costing more money in the long run if their workmanship is poor and leads to bigger problems later on.

It is best to get multiple quotes from reputable contractors who specialize in whatever task needs completing before making a decision about which one is right for you; this will pay off in the end.

Key Takeaway: When becoming a landlord in Virginia, it is important to set aside an emergency fund for unexpected expenses and calculate the cost of property management services ahead of time. Additionally, be sure to hire reputable professionals for repair work or maintenance tasks around the rental property instead of choosing someone just because they offer lower rates. Doing so will save money in the long run and ensure that all necessary repairs are done correctly.

Record Keeping & Documentation

Navigating the world of landlord-tenant relations can be tricky, but proper record keeping and documentation is key to avoiding common mistakes.

Record keeping and documentation are essential for any landlord in Virginia. It is important to create an organized system for invoices, rental payments, and receipts.

This will help landlords stay on top of their finances and ensure that all money owed is paid in a timely manner. Document retention policies should also be established so that records can be easily accessed when needed.

Additionally, accurate financial records must be kept for tax purposes as well as to protect the landlord’s interests in case of legal disputes with tenants or other parties involved in the property management process.

Creating an organized system for invoices, rental payments, and receipts helps landlords keep track of their income and expenses related to managing a property.

Landlords should make sure they have copies of all documents related to rent collection such as leases, payment histories, security deposits held by the tenant at move-in date etc., so they can quickly access them if necessary.

Understanding document retention policies is also important since it ensures that all relevant documents are kept securely stored away from potential risks such as fire or theft.

The type of documents that need to be retained depends on local laws but generally include leases signed by tenants; maintenance requests; repair orders; notices sent out regarding late rent payments; eviction notices etc..

Finally, maintaining accurate financial records is key when filing taxes each year.

This allows landlords to accurately report their income from renting properties while taking advantage of deductions available under certain circumstances such as repairs made during the course of tenancy or travel expenses incurred while visiting properties owned by them outside Virginia state lines.

Keeping good records also serves another purpose:

In case there are legal disputes between landlords and tenants over issues such as unpaid rent or damages caused by negligence on either side, having detailed financial information readily available can help resolve these matters more quickly than if no record was kept at all.

Key Takeaway: Accurate record keeping and document retention are essential for any landlord in Virginia. It is important to create an organized system for invoices, rental payments, and receipts as well as understanding local laws regarding document retention policies. Maintaining accurate financial records also helps landlords file taxes accurately while protecting their interests in case of legal disputes with tenants or other parties involved in the property management process.

Lease Agreements and Regulations

As a new landlord in Virginia, it is essential to understand the lease agreements and regulations that govern your rental property. Learn more about how to protect yourself as a landlord and stay up-to-date on changes in local laws.

Lease agreements and regulations are an essential part of being a landlord in Virginia.

It is important to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations, draft an air-tight lease agreement that protects your rights as a landlord, and stay up-to-date on changes in local landlord-tenant laws.

Familiarizing Yourself with Local Landlord-Tenant Laws & Regulations:

Knowing the rules for landlords and tenants in Virginia is key to protecting your rights as a property owner.

You should be aware of all applicable state statutes regarding tenant screening, security deposits, rent increases, evictions, habitability standards, etc., so you can ensure compliance with these laws.

Additionally, it’s important to understand any county or city ordinances that may affect how you manage your rental properties.

Drafting an Air-Tight Lease Agreement That Protects Your Rights as a Landlord:

A well written lease agreement will protect both parties involved by clearly outlining the expectations between the two parties such as payment terms for rent and utilities; rules about pets; maintenance responsibilities; occupancy limits; termination policies; late fees/penalties; subletting restrictions etc.

In addition to providing legal protection from potential disputes down the road it also serves as an effective communication tool between you and your tenant(s).

Staying up-to-date on changes in local landlord tenant laws is essential for landlords to ensure their business operations remain compliant.

This includes understanding what constitutes discrimination under fair housing laws, which prohibit refusing certain applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability or other protected classes.

By staying informed of any new legislation passed or existing law amended related to rental property management activities can help avoid costly fines or lawsuits resulting from noncompliance issues.

Key Takeaway: It is essential for landlords in Virginia to familiarize themselves with local laws and regulations, draft an air-tight lease agreement that protects their rights as a landlord, and stay up-to-date on changes in local landlord tenant laws. Doing so will help ensure compliance with applicable state statutes, county or city ordinances, fair housing laws, and other rental property management activities.

FAQs in Relation to Common Mistakes of New Landlords in Virginia

Is Virginia a landlord-friendly state?

Virginia is generally considered to be a landlord-friendly state. Virginia has laws that protect landlords from tenant abuse and provide them with the right to evict tenants who do not comply with their lease agreement.

Landlords in Virginia also have the right to set reasonable rental rates, collect security deposits, and require tenants to pay for damages caused by their negligence or misuse of property.

However, there are some common mistakes made by new landlords in Virginia which can lead to costly legal issues if not addressed properly.

These include failing to screen potential tenants adequately, setting unreasonable rental terms or fees, neglecting maintenance of the property, and failing to understand relevant landlord-tenant laws.

To ensure compliance with all applicable regulations and avoid costly disputes down the line, it is important for new landlords in Virginia to familiarize themselves with local landlord-tenant law before entering into any agreements with prospective tenants.

What are the new landlord rules?

New landlords in Virginia must adhere to a number of rules and regulations. It is important for new landlords to understand the laws that govern rental properties, as well as the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords.

One common mistake made by new landlords is failing to provide proper notice when terminating a lease or raising rent.

Landlords are required to give at least 30 days’ written notice before terminating a lease agreement or increasing rent on month-to-month leases.

Additionally, if an increase in rent exceeds 10%, then 60 days’ written notice must be given prior to making any changes. Another common mistake made by new landlords is not properly screening potential tenants before signing a lease agreement.

In Virginia, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against prospective tenants based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability; therefore all applicants should be screened equally using the same criteria such as credit score and rental history checks.

Finally, another mistake often made by inexperienced landlords involves failing to keep up with necessary repairs and maintenance around their property which can lead them into legal trouble if they do not comply with state laws regarding tenant safety standards.

New landlord should always ensure that their properties meet all applicable safety codes including smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed in each unit according to local ordinances.

What landlords should not tell?

New landlords in Virginia should avoid making certain mistakes that can lead to costly legal issues. Firstly, it is important for landlords to understand the state’s tenant-landlord laws and regulations before entering into a rental agreement.

Secondly, landlords should never discriminate against tenants based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex or disability. Thirdly, they must not make any false promises regarding repairs or other services that are part of the rental agreement.

Fourthly, they must not enter the property without prior notice or permission from their tenants unless there is an emergency situation.

Finally, they should always provide receipts for rent payments and keep accurate records of all transactions with their tenants.

By avoiding these common mistakes new landlords in Virginia can ensure a successful tenancy experience for both parties involved.

How much can a landlord legally raise the rent in Virginia?

In Virginia, landlords are legally allowed to raise the rent once a year by any amount they choose. However, it is important for landlords to be aware of certain laws that regulate how much and when they can increase the rent.

For example, if a tenant has been living in the same unit for more than two years, then the landlord must give them at least 60 days’ notice before raising their rent.

Additionally, there is a cap on how much a landlord can raise rents each year; this varies depending on local ordinances but generally cannot exceed 10%.

Finally, landlords should always consider what other rental properties in their area are charging so as not to price themselves out of the market.

By understanding these regulations and being mindful of current market conditions, landlords can avoid common mistakes when increasing rents in Virginia.


Being a landlord in Virginia can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges.

To ensure success and avoid common mistakes, new landlords should take the time to properly screen tenants, stay on top of maintenance issues, maintain adequate financial resources and records, and familiarize themselves with lease agreements and regulations.

With proper preparation and knowledge of the laws governing rental properties in Virginia, landlords can confidently navigate the leasing process while avoiding costly missteps.

Are you a new landlord in Virginia? Are you looking for ways to avoid common mistakes and ensure success in your rental property business? Look no further than PROMAX Management! With over 30 years of experience in the Northern Virginia real estate market, we have the expertise and knowledge to help you navigate the complexities of leasing, tenant placement, landlord-tenant relations, and home care. Our team is dedicated to helping you maximize your rental income while minimizing risk. Contact us today to learn more about property management.

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