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Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide

 

Attorney General Mark R. Herring has created the Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide, a new tool to help Virginia servicemembers, military families, and veterans understand the unique legal protections, rights, and resources available to them under the law. Volunteer attorneys from the Office of Attorney General spent more than a year developing the new guide, which will be distributed in hard copy and electronically in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, veterans’ service organizations, and more.

 

Click here to download a free copy of the Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide (.pdf)

Click the cover below to view the Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide online.

 

picture of the cover of the Virginia Military & Veterans Legal Guide cover

 

 

The Virginia Military and Legal Resource Guide has the support of Virginia veterans and veterans service organizations:

“The Attorney General's Military & Veteran Legal Resource Guide is a great source of information on a wide variety of subjects that are important to all Active Duty, Guard, Reservists and veterans who reside in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This Resource Guide covers a multitude of subjects that affect the daily lives of our veteran population. It addresses employment, consumer protection, education, state taxes, family law and other laws that impact military families and veterans. There is even a contact and additional online resources list at the very end to help answer questions this guide may not address. I strongly encourage all VSOs to obtain copies of this document for distribution to their respective organization!” –Mike Boehme, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Virginia.

 

“Military spouses are going to be excited about this new military and veteran legal resource guide because one of the biggest challenges they face as they move from state to state is figuring out the benefits and information available to them. This guide brings together everything they need to know about Virginia in one place and puts it at their fingertips.” –Sue Hoppin, founder and president of the National Military Spouse Network.

 

“The Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide is professionally done, comprehensive and I'm sure will serve as invaluable tool for all military personnel whether they be active duty, veterans or retiree,” said Steven Turner, Colonel, USAF (Ret.), President of the Virginia Council of the Military Officers Association of America.

 

“Legal issues are among the key challenges of military force readiness. The more resources available to assist service members in navigating these matters, the more time and focus they can dedicate to the warfighting mission.” –Elaine G. Luria, retired U.S. Navy Commander, of Norfolk.

 

“This guide recognizes the unique legal challenges often faced by servicemembers and their families and provides an excellent overview of existing protections, benefits and most importantly--assistance and help. We extend our thanks to the Office of the Attorney General for being a steadfast partner in legal education outreach and for helping to increase public awareness of the rights and responsibilities of veterans and servicemembers as we all strive forward in service to our country.” –Alexis N. Stackhouse, Esq., Chair of the Military Law Section of the Virginia State Bar.

 

The Virginia Military and Veteran Resource Guide was created using the expertise of in-house OAG attorneys, including Senior Assistant Attorney General Heather Lockerman and Assistant Attorneys General James Flaherty, Anthony Bessette, Anna Birkenheier, Flora Hezel, Mark Kubiak, Elizabeth Myers, and Stephen Sovinsky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Residential Landlord-Tenant Issues

Important Information – Please Read First

This document is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have to go to court as a result of a landlord-tenant dispute, either as defendant or plaintiff, you should consider seeking qualified legal assistance.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Act), Sections 55-248.2 through 55-248.40 of the Code of Virginia, establishes the rights and obligations of residential landlords and tenants in the Commonwealth, but only the courts can enforce those rights and obligations.

For this reason, the Consumer Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia provides general information to individuals on matters related to landlord-tenant issues but it does not accept written complaints.

You should consider reviewing the Act for applicability to your own situation. If you believe that it was violated in your case, you may have legal recourse, but this is something you should discuss with an attorney. If you do not have an attorney, you may contact one through the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service at 800.552.7977 or 804.775.0808, or through Virginia Legal Aid at 866-534-5243. 

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Residential Landlord-Tenant Issues

1 : What law in Virginia addresses landlord-tenant issues?

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Act), Sections 55-248.2 through 55-248.40 of the Code of Virginia, establishes the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in the Commonwealth. Please review Section 55-248.5 to determine whether the Act applies to your lease. Only the courts can enforce the rights and obligations set forth in the Act. The organizations listed at the bottom of this document may provide additional information about the Act. However, different cities and counties in Virginia have their own landlord-tenant commission or similar office. Please contact those offices directly for additional information that may be specific to your locality.

2 : I’m on a yearly lease and want to move. Can I break my lease?

You should review your lease thoroughly to determine if there is an early termination clause. If there is one, you should follow the terms of the clause regarding prior notification to the landlord. If there is no provision in your lease for early termination, discuss your concerns with your landlord. You should consider arranging a sub-lease or exchange that will be mutually agreeable. Abandoning the property will not resolve the issue and may cause you additional expenses or legal problems.

3 : My landlord refuses to repair anything. What can I do to get things repaired?

Serious repair issues, such as faulty electrical wiring, gas leaks, and structural damage may be violations of the local building code which should be brought to the attention of the Building Inspection office for your city or county. The Building Inspector may inspect your building, and if warranted, issue a citation to the landlord for any violations that require repairs.

Section 55-248.13 of the Act outlines the duties and responsibilities of the landlord to maintain the rental property. For issues not involving safety, you should advise the landlord in writing of the specific items needing repair. The letter should state that the landlord has a reasonable amount of time not to exceed thirty days, from the date of receipt to make the repairs.

You should consider sending the letter via certified mail so the delivery date is noted. If repairs are still not made, the tenant may place the rent in an escrow account with the General District Court having

jurisdiction in that locality. This action is detailed in Section 55-248.27 of the Act. The contact information for the appropriate General District Court in your locality is available from the Virginia Supreme Court Web site. You may also wish to check your local telephone directory.

4 : My roommate situation is not working out. Can I leave without a problem?

You should refer to the terms of your lease. In most cases, roommates are considered "tenants in common." All parties named on the lease are responsible for the rent. Check with your landlord to see if you can make arrangements to have another party take your place on the lease. Prior to signing any lease, it is always a good idea to have a written understanding among roommates stating individual responsibilities and expectations.

5 : What is eviction?

Eviction is the process by which a landlord obtains possession of the rental property by entering a law suit against the tenant and receiving judgment from the court directing the tenant to leave the property and pay back any rent, damage claims, and the costs of the court process. If your landlord is trying to evict you, you will be notified of this action and summoned to appear in court to address the charges. You should be prepared to offer a defense. Section 55-248.31 of the Act outlines steps that must be taken by the landlord in the eviction process.

6 : I can’t pay all of my rent this month. Can the landlord evict me?

The full rental amount is due and payable on the date stated on the lease. If you fail to pay that amount, the landlord may issue a "pay or quit" notice that requires you to pay the full amount by a given date. The landlord is not obligated to accept partial payments. The landlord cannot remove your property or take other action against you to remove you, but must rely on an eviction notice from the courts to take possession of the property.

 

7 : My lease is about to end. Can the landlord increase my rent?

 
Unless otherwise limited by the terms of the lease, landlords can increase rental fees at the end of the lease period by any amount they choose. There is no cap on the amount of increase. You should contact your landlord prior to the end of the lease to determine if there will be an increase and, if so, how much. Landlords should give proper notice prior to the end of the lease if the rent will increase.

8 : How long can my previous landlord keep my security deposit?

The security deposit is held to pay for items damaged beyond reasonable wear and for any late or unpaid bills or fees. The landlord has 45 days from the end of the lease to inspect the unit, make any qualifying repairs, and return to you the remaining balance plus interest if applicable. Section 55-248.15:1 of the Act addresses this issue.

9 : I’m a member of the Armed Forces and have been ordered to another location. What can I do about my lease?

If you are on active duty or a civilian employee with the military, you may qualify for early termination of

the rental agreement pursuant to Section 55-248.21:1 of the Act. This section addresses early termination by persons receiving orders to relocate at least 35 miles away from their current address, and it covers persons leaving active service. You are strongly advised to read the entire section carefully to determine the conditions that must be met for early lease termination.

10 : My landlord thinks he can come into my home at any time. Can he?

Your landlord may gain access to the property to make repairs, inspect the property, or to show the property to prospective buyers or tenants. In these cases, the tenant may not unreasonably withhold access to the property. In cases where access is denied, either party may bring a civil action in General District Court to remedy the issue. Section 55-248.10:1 of the Act addresses the rights and remedies of both landlords and tenants.

11 : My lease is about to end and I don’t have another place to live. Can the landlord evict me?

Yes. Your landlord is not required to extend the term of the lease. Although some leases provide for month-to-month rental agreements following the expiration of the original lease, landlords are not required by law to offer such provisions or to extend the term of the lease. The landlord may take legal action to evict the tenant. Section 55-248.20 of the Act addresses this issue.

12 : I believe my landlord has discriminated against me. What can I do about it?

Discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, family status, age, or disability is illegal. Complaints involving such issues should be directed to the Virginia Fair Housing Office at 888.551.3247 or 804.367.8530.

end faq

Additional Resources

In Virginia, only the courts can enforce the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. However, the following offices may provide you with basic information about the Act or assist you with rental issues.

Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Act)

Virginia Lawyer Referral Service

800.552.7977or 804.775.0808

Virginia Legal Aid

866-534-5243

Virginia Supreme Court - General District Courtfinder

804.786.6455

Virginia Fair Housing Office

888.551.3247or 804.367.8530

City of Alexandria: Office of Housing

703.838.4545

Fairfax County: Tenant-Landlord Commission

703.222.8435

 
 

 

 
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Legal Resources

Links to legal resources
Legal Aid General Assembly
Code of Virginia Federal Code
Virginia State Bar Summary: Psychiatric Treatment of Objecting Minors
Data Breach Notification Requirements  

The Attorney General's Office cannot provide legal advice to private citizens.  Our clients are VA’s state government and its agencies, boards and commissions.  If you need the assistance of a private attorney, you should contact the Virginia State Bar's Virginia Lawyer Referral Service or Virginia Legal Aid.

Conflict of Interest Act & Ethics in Public Contracting Training

NOTICE: The 2004 DVD previously distributed for Conflict of Interest training is no longer supported by this Office or approved for training. For the training course and materials, please access the Virginia Learning Center link listed below.

Since 2004, the State and Local Government Conflict of Interest Act (“COI Act”) training has been presented by the office in live presentations and via a video-taped presentation in DVD format downloadable from the Attorney General’s official website.  Many of the state officers and employees who are required to take this training are scattered throughout the Commonwealth and did not have easy access to the live presentations, the DVDs, or have the capability to download the training.

In cooperation with Department of Human Resource Management (“DHRM”) and Department of Transportation personnel, who originally adapted the presentation as an interactive training course, Attorney General Herring is pleased to provide the training via Internet access.

In addition to the training on the COI Act, the interactive training also outlines the requirements of the Ethics in Public Contracting portion of the Virginia Public Procurement Act.

The training is suitable for the visually impaired as the audio portion of the training explains the COI Act in detail providing numerous examples to illustrate the Act’s provisions.  The training is also geared towards the hearing impaired as the material is presented via slides and the audio script may be viewed.  A course outline is also provided and may be printed for later reference.

To access OAG Virginia Learning Center go to https://covlc.virginia.gov/.  Please follow the instructions carefully on the login page.  Please review the informational links on that page before registering.

NOTE: If you have used the Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center previously you may need to change your password. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to update your information.

 

 

 

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Annual Reports

Documents listed on this page are in Adobe Acrobat Reader format

Beginning in 2009 with the 2008 Annual Report of the Attorney General, the Report will be published online as a PDF document. This method of publication will save the Commonwealth’s taxpayers thousands of dollars per year. The Report will be available each year on or about May 1. The Report will be available as a PDF document and may be accessed to view or download from this page.

Annual Reports

Further, the Attorney General is pleased to announce that the new method of publication allows the Report to be made available to state and local officials and to the public at no cost.  While the Attorney General understands that many people prefer printed material, the cost of publication far outweighs the benefit of such publication particularly during times of economic hardship.