The Virginia Code includes source of funds among the list of protected variables that may not be used by owners or property managers to discriminate against prospective tenants. This can be found in the Fair Housing section of the Virginia Code.

The provision dealing with source of funds discrimination in a landlord-tenant relationship is found in Virginia Code section 36-96.3. It says that, “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory housing practice for any person to: Refuse to sell or rent…a dwelling to any person because of…source of funds.”  There are, of course, many other protected categories, such as race, religion, and familial status, among others.

While the language is straight forward, the Virginia Code also provides for an exception. It states, “Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit an owner or an owner’s managing agent from denying or limiting the rental or occupancy of a rental dwelling unit to a person because of such person’s source of funds, provided that such owner does not own more than four rental dwelling units in the commonwealth…”

In other words, if the owner of the property available to rent owns a total of four or fewer rental properties, the rule prohibiting source of funds discrimination does not apply. In this context, a person is considered an owner of a rental property when he or she owns 10 percent or more of the respective rental properties. The use of a property management company, no matter how large or small, has no bearing on whether source of funds discrimination is permitted. The law only looks to how many properties the owner owns, not how many properties the management company manages.

It is important to keep in mind that the law also states that the exception to source of funds discrimination applies to property owners who own four or fewer properties in the commonwealth. Therefore, properties owned out-of-state are not counted.