Requirements for Residential Property Disclosures in DC, Virginia, and Maryland

Residential property disclosure refers to the seller’s obligation to disclose known information about real property to the buyer in advance of ratification of a sales contract. It generally behooves a seller to disclose any known defects in order to protect themselves from future claims. It behooves a buyer to make thorough inspection of a property before purchase. Below is a summary of the basic requirements for residential property disclosures for DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

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District of Columbia 

In the District of Columbia, the seller is required by law to provide a complete property disclosure document on residential property. There are limited exceptions such as estate sales and foreclosures, where the seller is not expected to have firsthand knowledge of the property. This disclosure form will list the current condition of all major systems and should list any latent defects. For example, a seller’s disclosure would include windows, fireplace, any property damage and if there are historic property restrictions, etc. For more information visit: District of Columbia Property Disclosure Act.

In the DC residential property disclosure form, the seller lists the current conditions of all major systems and appliances, including:

  • Roof: type, age

  • Fireplace and/or Chimney

  • Basement

  • Walls and Floors

  • Insulation

  • Windows

  • Heating System: type, fuel, age, humidifier, electric filter

  • Air Conditioning System: type, fuel, age

  • Plumbing System: water supply, sewage disposal, water heater fuel

  • Electrical System

  • Appliances (including but not limited to):

    • Range/Oven

    • Dishwasher

    • Refrigerator

    • Range Hood/Fan

    • Microwave

    • Garbage Disposal

    • Sump Pump

    • Trash Compactor

    • TV Antenna

    • Central Vacuum

    • Attic Fan

    • Security System

    • Pool

    • Garage Door Opener

    • Lawn Sprinkler System

    • Water Treatment System

    • Smoke Detectors

    • Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Exterior Drainage

  • Damage to Property

  • Wood-Destroying Insects or Rodents

  • Substances, materials, or environmental hazards affecting the property, including but not limited to: contaminated soil, radon gas, asbestos, lead-based paint, underground storage tanks, or other contaminants

  • Excluding utilities, any known zoning violations, nonconforming uses, building restriction violations or setback requirements, or any recorded or unrecorded easement on or affecting the residence

  • Knowledge of property being a DC landmark, which includes being located in a designated historic district or designated as an historic property

  • Citations for a violation of any historic preservation law or regulation

  • Facade or conservation easement on the property

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Virginia

In Virginia, the seller generally has no legal obligation to disclose anything. Virginia is truly a buyer beware jurisdiction. This means that in Virginia most property transfers are exempt from a full property disclosure. The seller should not mislead the buyer but has no obligation to submit a written disclosure unless there is a known material defect. Because of this, most residential property transfers in Virginia do not require the seller to tell the buyer about latent defects or the condition of systems and appliances. For more information see: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/Consumers/Residential_Property_Disclosures/

Virginia uses this disclaimer that confirms sellers make NO representations of the following:

  • Home’s Condition

  • Adjacent Parcels

  • Historic District Ordinance(s)

  • Resource Protection Areas

  • Sexual Offenders

  • Dam Break Inundation Zone(s)

  • Stormwater Detention Facilities

  • Wastewater System

  • Solar Energy Collection Device(s)

  • Special Flood Hazard Areas

  • Conservation Or Other Easements

  • Community Development Authority

  • Military Air Installations

  • Defective Drywall

  • Pending Building or Zoning Violations

  • Tourism Activity Zone

  • Formerly Used to Manufacture Methamphetamine

  • Termination of Property Contracts

If material defects are present, the seller must provide a written disclosure to the buyer before any contracts are executed. Consult the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act for more information.

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Maryland

If you are buying or selling residential real estate, the seller has two options. One is to disclaim, which means they will state they are unaware that anything is wrong with the property. The second option is to complete a document that adheres to Maryland Property Disclosure Law[1] . The seller would provide details on the condition of some of the following: foundation, basement, roof, structure, HVAC, water, etc. They will also have to answer questions about any hazardous materials on the property, if there are any zone violations, and whether the property is subject to a homeowner’s association, etc.

The two options for a residential property disclosure operate as follows:

  1. If there are no known defects, scroll to Page 4 of this form and fill out the Disclaimer portion.

  2. If there are known defects, complete Pages 1-3 of this form to comply with Maryland’s Property Disclosure Law.

Considerations included in the report are:

  • Foundation

  • Basement

  • Roof: type of roofing and its age

  • Structural Systems: exterior walls, floors

  • Plumbing System

  • Heating System

  • Air Conditioning System

  • Electric Systems: fuses, circuits, outlets, wiring

  • Smoke Detectors

  • Garbage Disposal

  • Dishwasher

  • Septic Systems: public or septic

  • Water supply: public or well

  • Insulation

  • Exterior Drainage: gutters, standing water

  • Wood-Destroying insects

  • Hazardous or regulated materials on the property, including but not limited to: licensed landfills, radon gas, asbestos, lead-based paint, or underground storage tanks

  • Reliance on the combustion of a fossil fuel for heat, hot water, ventilation, or to power the clothes dryer and presence of a carbon monoxide alarm installed in the residence

  • Excluding utilities, any non-conforming uses, zone violations, building restriction violations or setback requirements, or any recorded or unrecorded easement on or affecting the residence

  • Existence of required permits for any improvements

  • Conservation or wetland area, flood zone, Chesapeake Bay critical area, or designated Historic District

  • Existence of Homeowners’ or Community Association

  • Any other material or latent defects that affect the physical condition of the residence


This information is deemed reliable, but is not guaranteed. This information should not be used as a substitute for legal advice.