Landlords in Virginia have no duty to maintain in a safe condition premises under the tenant's exclusive control

Most states find landlords liable to tenants injured in leased premises if the landlord acted negligently. That rule impose a duty on the landlord to act reasonably to avoid dangerous conditions in the premises that are leased. State housing codes and the implied warranty of habitability also place duties of repair and maintenance on landlords whose breach can result in tort liability to the tenant if the landlord acted unreasonably and cause an unreasonable risk of harm.


The Virginia Supreme Court however, held that state statutes that impose maintenance obligations on landlords did not intend to alter the common law immunity landlords previously enjoyed from negligence claims by tenants. Isbell v. Commercial Inv. Assocs., Inc., 644 S.E.2d 72 (Va. 2007). In contrast, innkeepers do have such duties since they have greater access to and control over the premises.


  1. recent case decided that owners who rent by the week for vacation rentals are landlords rather than innkeepers. Haynes-Garrett v. Dunn, 818 S.E.2d 798 (Va. 2018), Unlike innkeepers who have a right of access to guest rooms, landlords of vacation rentals generally have quite limited rights to enter the premises. Because the vacation rental was more properly thought of as a lease, the owner had no duty to protect the renter who tripped on a transition strip between a carpeted area and a tiled area where the floor was raised.
See also: Leaseholds