You can check out this copy of Virginia’s act to get a better idea of what these laws entail. However, generally speaking, most of these acts stipulate that:
- Landlords provide an inhabitable or tenable environment for their tenants.
- Landlords can only collect one month’s rent as a security deposit.
- Landlords cannot keep a tenant’s security deposit longer than a year without paying interest.
- Landlords must give adequate notice before raising rent.
Additionally, these state laws can also carry very specific and lesser-known stipulations. Texas landlord Matt Kuhlhorst points out, for example, that property owners in his state are required to install locks leading to the building’s exterior a certain way. To get a better understanding of what your hometown requires, Timberlake suggests contacting your state’s General Assembly for a copy of its Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Griswold says that many of these acts can also be obtained through state affiliates of the National Association of Realtors or the National Apartment Association.
4. Live the Lease.
According to Timberlake, most landlord/tenant disputes can be avoided. Prospective landlords just need to take the time to write a comprehensive and detailed lease that outlines what a tenant is or isn’t responsible for, and what they can or cannot do while renting out the apartment.
To ensure that your lease is as straightforward and legally accurate as possible, Timberlake suggests prospective landlords shy away from using form contracts that are available on many legal websites. While convenient, utilizing these forms can work against you. For example, certain states don’t require those who rent out a single family residency to follow all provisions of their Residential Landlord Tenant Act. If the landlord, however, were to use a form contract that stipulated they did, however, they are beholden to it.