The Consumer Affairs Branch provides advice, information, and guidance for tenants and landlords. Though staff cannot provide legal advice, they can provide guidance to help resolve your complaint. Below is a list of resources to educate you in understanding your rights and responsibilities.
- The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA), establishes the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords and applies to ALL apartment rental agreements. The VRLTA also applies if the landlord owns three or more single-family residences subject to a rental agreement, or if the lease agreement specifically references the VRLTA.
- When tenants are dealing with maintenance or repair problems that seriously affect health, safety, or pose a hazardous situation, tenants governed by the VRLTA may pay their rent into an escrow account in the General District Court instead of to the landlord. To request the rent escrow account, a tenant must file a Tenant Assertion and Complaint. Tenants, whose landlord is not governed by the VRLTA, may not be able to set up an escrow account with the court. However, a tenant can go to court to ask a judge to enforce the lease agreement. Before filing suit, a tenant should talk to a lawyer to find out what legal remedies are available.
- If you are not covered by the VRLTA, you have fewer choices. The lease should state the full agreement between the tenant and landlord. Also, Chapter 13 - Landlord and Tenant, of the Virginia code applies if the landlord is exempt from the VRLTA, or if there is not a lease agreement. This chapter is referred to as "common law".
- Chapter 12 of the Fairfax County Code applies to rental agreements for dwelling units located within Fairfax County. Chapter 12 establishes policies that govern relationships between tenants and landlords, and outlines the duties of Consumer Affairs and the Tenant Landlord Commission.
- On May 20, 2009, a new federal law. Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act was passed to protect tenants in foreclosed rental properties. Virginia Code § 55-225.10 requires a landlord to give written notice to a tenant of a mortgage default, notice of mortgage acceleration, or notice of foreclosure sale relative to the loan on the dwelling unit within five business days after written notice from the lender is received by the landlord.
- The Fairfax Bar Association has information and resources for landlords.
- Eviction is the process by which a landlord obtains possession of the rental property by entering a lawsuit against the tenant(s) and receiving judgment from the court directing the tenant(s) to leave the property and pay back any rent, damage claims and costs of the court process.