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What repairs must a landlord make inside a rental unit?

Tenants and landlords in Virginia each have rights and responsibilities to fulfill in accordance with the rental agreement. According to FindLaw, one of the most important responsibilities you have as a landlord is to keep your rental property in a habitable condition; this includes each individual unit as well as the building(s) at large. 

However, there are legal limits to your responsibility to make repairs inside tenants' units. Unless you promised a tenant a particular repair (either verbally or in writing), the problem violates a building code or the rental agreement requires you to fix any problem that arises, the law does not require you to address minor problems such as the following:

  • Grimy grout
  • Torn window screens
  • Dripping faucets
  • Running toilets
  • Small carpet holes

The law does require you to keep the building in a habitable condition. This means that even minor repairs or maintenance required on the building's exteriors or grounds are your responsibility unless otherwise stated in the rental agreement. Such repairs or maintenance would obviously include ensuring the roof does not leak and that the building is structurally sound. However, even if not expressly stated in the agreement, you have certain responsibilities inside rental units to keep them habitable, which include keeping heating, electrical and plumbing systems in safe operating condition, as well as providing hot and cold running water. 

If the unit becomes infested with pests due to the negligence or wrongful actions of your tenant, you are not responsible for paying for pest removal. On the other hand, if the infestation is not a result of your tenants' actions or inactions, you will probably have to pay the exterminator.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only. 

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Madigan and Scott, Inc.
7880 Backlick Road
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Springfield, VA 22150

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