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How to Rent Out Your House in Virginia

Renting out your house involves several steps to ensure a smooth process and a successful landlord-tenant relationship. As a Landlord, you can go through these steps yourself and rent out your property on your own, or you can hire a professional property management company like us to handle everything for you. Here’s a general guide to help you rent out your house:

1. Understand Laws and Regulations

Familiarize yourself with the local and state landlord-tenant laws. For example, in Virginia, we follow the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. There are also Federal laws that must be followed, for example, The Fair Housing Act.

Ensure your property complies with local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

2. Prepare Your Property

Make necessary repairs and upgrades to attract potential tenants. Our company has a Rent Ready Standard to ensure that we provide safe, clean, and well-maintained rental homes to our Tenants.

You can use our rent-ready checklist to help you prepare your property for rent.

3. Determine the Rent Amount

Research local rental rates for similar properties. Consider factors such as location, size, and amenities to come up with a range of prices that will strike a balance between maximizing the rent amount and minimizing the vacancy period.

We offer a free market rent analysis and can help you determine the optimum rent price whether or not you use our Leasing or Property Management services.

4. Market Your Property

Take high-quality photos of your property. Write a compelling property description that highlights all the features and the reasons why your property has more to offer than your competitors. Make sure that the description is accurate and includes any terms and conditions that apply to the lease — for example, you can mention your pet policy and the tenant’s responsibilities here.

List your property on rental websites, social media, and local classifieds. If you’re doing this yourself, listing on websites like Apartments.com and Zillow Rental Manager are good places to start.

Consider purchasing a For Rent sign and placing it on the property for additional exposure.

Note: When you’re working with a represented Tenant, you may want to offer the Tenant’s Agent a finder fee of 25% to 40% of one month’s rent.

5. Screen Potential Tenants

Create a tenant application form. Check income, assets, references, employment, credit history, and rental history to ensure the tenant has the ability and willingness to pay rent. Make sure your screening process complies with fair housing laws to avoid discrimination.

If you need help screening your tenant, we can help you at no cost to you even if you don’t list the property for rent with us. Your tenant pays $50 per adult applicant. We take care of the entire screening process. Take a look at our free tenant screening offer.

6. Create a Lease Agreement

Draft a comprehensive lease agreement that outlines terms and conditions. Include details on rent, lease duration, responsibilities, and rules.

Make sure your lease agreement complies with the laws to make sure that the lease is enforceable and avoid potential legal issues. This service is included for our Owner clients. If you’re not a client, we offer lease preparation as a standalone service that you can purchase for a nominal fee.

7. Collect a Security Deposit

After the Tenant signs the Lease, but before you sign your portion, you want to collect a security deposit. This ensures that you have money on hand before locking in the Lease. The Lease should also stipulate that you can keep the deposit in the event that the Tenant fails to move in or decide to cancel the Lease at the last minute.

Set an appropriate security deposit amount, typically one month’s rent. Also, make sure you know the maximum amount allowed by laws — for example, the Security Deposit cannot exceed two months’ rent in Virginia.

Clearly define conditions under which the deposit may be withheld in the Lease.

8. Set Up a System for Rent Collection

Determine how tenants will pay rent (e.g., online, check, direct deposit). Clearly communicate due dates and late payment policies. This should be clearly defined and agreed by both Parties in the Lease.

For Do-It-Yourself Landlords, we recommend using the free rent collection service offered by Apartments.com to handle your rent collection.

9. Establish Maintenance Procedures

Outline how maintenance requests should be reported. Set expectations on who handles specific maintenance and repairs and how quickly these repairs are expected to be resolved. This should be clearly defined and agreed by both Parties in the Lease.

You should also contact several local contractors to establish a relationship to have someone ready to help you in the event a repair is needed. Make sure your contractors are licensed in Virginia and insured. You should request their license, insurance, and W9 before they start any work on your property.

10. Insurance

Update your homeowner’s insurance to landlord insurance.

You should also make it mandatory for the Tenant to have renter’s insurance and name you as Additional Interest as part of the Lease. To help them understand why this insurance is required, you can share this article with your Tenant: Why do Tenants Need Renter’s Insurance?

11. Conduct a Move-In Inspection

Document the property’s condition before tenants move in. Use a checklist and take photos for reference.

This service is included for our Owner clients. If you’re not a client, we offer move-in inspection and onboarding as a standalone service that you can purchase for a nominal fee.

12. Understand Tax Implications

Be aware of tax deductions related to rental properties. Keep thorough records of income and expenses.

If you’re a non-resident Landlord, you may have to file extra paperwork. For example, If you are not a Virginia resident, you must file a Form R-5 with the Department of Taxation.

Also, you must designate a Resident Agent to handle your affairs.

13. Maintain Communication and Inspection of the Property

Keep an open line of communication with your tenants and address concerns and issues promptly. You can send periodic communications to your Tenant, for example, a reminder to check the smoke alarms in the Spring and a reminder to winterize hose bibs in the late Fall.

Also, you want to inspect the property at least once per year midway through the Lease to ensure that the Tenant is taking good care of the property.

If you’re not a client, we offer property inspection as a standalone service that you can purchase for a nominal fee.

14. Renew or Terminate Leases

Decide whether to renew leases or terminate them at the end of the term. If the Tenant always pays rent on time and takes good care of the property, you should offer them a lease renewal at a slightly below-market rent amount to try to retain them.

If they always pay on time but don’t take good care of the property, you can decide to terminate the Lease or offer to renew at the market or an above-market rent.

Provide notice as required by local laws. In Virginia, this is usually 60 days before the Lease End Date.

15. Handle the Move-Out Process

Conduct a thorough move-out inspection as soon as possible. We recommend doing this on the Lease End Date. Virginia requires that you return the security deposit within 45 days, minus any legitimate deductions. You must provide the Tenant with an itemized statement of deductions charged against the Security Deposit.


If the steps above seem overwhelming, you might consider hiring a property management company like ours to handle everything for you. Remember, it’s crucial to stay informed about relevant laws and regulations throughout the rental period. If you’re unsure about any aspect, consider seeking legal advice or consulting with a real estate professional.

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