Virginia Security Deposit
Virginia Security Deposits

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VIRGINIA SECURITY DEPOSITS

The Virginia security deposit is held to pay for items damaged beyond reasonable wear and for any late or unpaid bills or fees. 

The landlord has 45 days from the end of the lease to inspect the unit, make any qualifying repairs, and return to you the remaining balance plus interest if applicable. 
Section 55-248.15:1 of the VRLTA addresses this issue.

A Virginia landlord may not demand or receive a security deposit, however denominated, in an amount or value in excess of two months' periodic rent
Upon termination of the tenancy, such security deposit, whether it is property or money, plus any accrued interest thereon, held by the landlord as security as hereinafter provided may be applied solely by the landlord (i) to the payment of accrued rent and including the reasonable charges for late payment of rent specified in the rental agreement; (ii) to the payment of the amount of damages which the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant's noncompliance with § 55-248.16, less reasonable wear and tear; or (iii) to other damages or charges as provided in the rental agreement. The Virginia security deposit, any accrued interest and any deductions, damages and charges shall be itemized by the landlord in a written notice given to the tenant, together with any amount due the tenant within 45 days after termination of the tenancy and delivery of possession.

Preventative Steps to Take to Ensure a Deposit Return
A tenant must meet all of the above conditions to ensure a refund of the deposit, but meeting those conditions is not all the tenant should do. The chances of receiving return of the deposit will be increased if the following suggestions are also followed:

Move-in Inventory Inspection. When you move in your home or apartment, make a list and take photos of the apartment and any damage. Typically, you should do a walk through with the owner or manager prior to moving in. Get them to sign an acknowledgement of the damage and note what (if anything) will be done. This will help you when you move out.

Move-Out Notice.
A lease may require that the tenant give the landlord 30 days written notice prior to move-out in order to get the security deposit back. Even if the lease does not require it, notify the landlord  prior to moving.

Move-out Inventory Inspection. When the tenant prepares to move, the apartment or home should be cleaned and the landlord asked to appear for a move out inspection. The tenant should fill out another inventory form, similar to the move-in inventory. Ideally, you should have a copy of the original move in form - for both your use and the landlord.

Turn in the Keys. The keys should be turned in on the exact day the tenant vacates the premises. If the keys are turned in later, the landlord may be able to charge the tenant additional rent or other charges under the lease. A tenant's actual move out date is often considered to be when the keys are turned in.

What Can the Landlord Deduct from the Security Deposit?
A landlord cannot legally deduct for normal wear and tear. This refers to deterioration which occurs during regular, daily, intended use of the rental unit, for example nail holes in the walls from pictures or paintings. See our guide.

Deductions from the Security Deposit
If the landlord makes any deductions from the deposit, a written, itemized accounting of how much is being charged for each item must be sent to the tenant. If the landlord fails to provide such an accounting within 30 days after the tenant moves out, the landlord may forfeit the right to withhold any part of the deposit. Furthermore, the deductions taken from the deposit must be for actual damages suffered by the landlord.

How to Dispute Deposit Deductions
If a tenant receives a list of deductions, it is possible to dispute items on that list. The deductions should be addressed by the tenant in a letter sent to the landlord. The demand letter should include a response to each of the deductions, explaining which charges are being disputed and why. The tenant should keep a copy of the letter and send the original by certified mail, return receipt requested.

If the tenant receives a partial refund along with the list of deductions and wants to dispute some or all of the deductions, the tenant may want to refrain from cashing the check. If the tenant must cash the check then the tenant should tell the landlord in the letter that even though the check has been cashed, it does not mean the tenant agrees with the amount of the check.

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