Currently, under the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act, if a landlord does not make a critical repair within 30 days, the tenants can file a Tenant Assertion and pay their rent to the court until the landlord completes the needed repair.
Effective July 1st, tenants will have another option if landlords do not make needed repairs that impact health, safety or habitability within 14 days. At that point, tenants can make repairs themselves and deduct the costs from their rent.
This new law, referred to as Tenant Remedy by Repair, was originated based on input from the Poverty Law Center. It is meant to protect tenants from slumlord practices. Tenants will be allowed to make repairs and deduct the cost from their rent IF AND ONLY IF the repairs impact healthy, safety, or habitability and the landlord does not take action in 14 days.
Our current maintenance process includes a goal to have routine repairs completed in 7 days. Emergency maintenance is handled the same day whenever possible (sometimes within the same hour!). Except for major insurance claims and home warranty claims, we are typically able to meet these goals. Unfortunately, home warranty claims for a hot water heater replacement or for AC repairs during the summer can sometimes take 2-3 weeks for parts to be ordered and shipped. In situations like this, we will advise owners on the need to take action outside of the home warranty in order to comply with the new law. Other home warranty claims may also take over 2 weeks to complete, but most other home warranty scenarios will not be considered as health and safety issues.
Our concern is that this new law has gotten a lot of press with headlines that do not clearly highlight the details of the limitations. We will need to ensure tenants fully understand their rights under this law, as well as the limitations. We will also continue to provide timely repairs on behalf of our landlords.
See the link below for the full text of the new law and contact Michele Odems at 703-963-6540 if you have questions as to how it impacts your rental property.