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New Laws that Affect your Business

Aug 26, 2016

Real Estate Laws

State and local Realtor® associations were successful in passing a robust legislative agenda that benefits you and your clients. These measures were approved by your elected association leaders, lobbied by association public policy staff members, and met with overwhelming approval by the General Assembly. (All Legislation is effective July 1, 2011 unless otherwise stated.)

The measures are:


Increasing Agent Professionalism and Minimizing Liability:

HB 1907 Real Estate Licensure and Practice. Includes the following provisions:

Effective July 2012:

All brokerage agreements must be in writing;
Dual Agency will be permitted only after an enhanced disclosure is given to both parties;
Three hours of CE must be completed on the changes resulting from this bill;
Effective July 2011:

The Residential Property Disclosure Act will be kept on a website maintained by the Real Estate Board, and purchasers will be given a form referring them to that website;
Real estate licensees will be provided immunity from lawsuits for relaying publicly available information from localities that turns out to be inaccurate; and
All required records can be maintained electronically according to the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.
Prohibiting Private Developer Transfer Fees:

SB 931 Transfer fee covenants. Some developers have attempted to secure future revenue streams by recording a 1 percent transfer fee, payable to the developer each time a property is sold for 99 years. This legislation prohibits such transfer fee covenants from being recorded in Virginia on or after July 1, 2011. Property Owners’ and Condo Associations may still enact these fees, as they are approved by and for the benefit of association members.

Protecting the Public by Disclosing Chinese Drywall:

HB 1610/SB 942 Chinese Drywall disclosure. Requires real estate licensees and landlords who have actual knowledge of defective Chinese drywall in a dwelling unit to disclose that information to a prospective tenant or buyer. A tenant may terminate the lease if the disclosure is not provided within 60 days of the discovery of defective drywall.

Clarifying Condo and POA Resale Packet Requirements:

HB 1674 Fees for disclosure packets. Responding to complaints from agents that Condos and POAs are still overcharging, this legislation explicitly prohibits unauthorized resale packet fees. It also amends the Condo Act to include a right of cancellation if a resale packet is unavailable, and to make packets available prior to purchase of a unit at auction.

Making it Easier for Homeowners to Appeal Property Tax Assessments:

HB 1588/SB 1350 Assessment appeals. Lowers the burden of prooffrom “clear and convincing evidence” (80 percent) to a “preponderance of the evidence” (51 percent) to successfully appeal an assessment to aboard of equalization or to a circuit court in tax years beginning after January 1, 2012. Assessors are required to provide certain information regarding the assessment, and home owners are allowed to request a physical inspection of the property.

Preventing Anti-Growth Ordinances:

HB 1931/ SB 783 Zoning; clustering. Prevents a locality from using its cluster development authority to impose more stringent land use requirements for a cluster development than what is allowed under state code or to prohibit extension of water or sewer to adjacent property.



HB 2099 Settlement and disclosures. Allows disclosures required under the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act to be provided by electronic means and overnight delivery. When making a referral to an affiliated settlement service provider, referring persons must disclose their percentage of interest in the provider if more than 1 percent, and must state that the service provider is a subsidiary if the percentage is more than 50 percent.


HB 1741 Books and records. Effective July 1, 2012, charges for access to association books and records may be imposed only in accordance with a cost schedule adopted by the association board..

HB 2188/SB 1323 Resale disclosure packet fees. When settlement does not occur on a property within a professionally-managed association, payment of the resale disclosure fee may be assessed by the HOA no sooner than 45 days and no later than one year after packet delivery.

HB 2289/SB 1327 Rules violations. Allows associations to seek a General District Court ruling against unit owners in violation of community rules in order to correct the violation.

HB 2290 Pesticide use. Requires the association to post notice of all pesticide applications on common areas at least 48 hours prior to an application.


HB 1682 Subordinate mortgage. Increases the maximum amount of a subordinate mortgage for refinancing from $50,000 to $150,000.

SB 1009 Mortgage lenders, brokers and originators. Repeals State Corporation Commission authority to issue provisional licenses to loan originators, but authorizes cease and desist orders for violations by loan originators. Requires applicants for a lender or broker license to pay an application fee of $150 for each office at which licensed activity will be conducted.


HB 1461 Trespassing. Gives an agent of the property owner the authority to prohibit trespassing on the property.

HB 1611 Landlord and tenant laws.

Requires localities to have a uniform set of standards for smoke detectors, and requires that tenants must maintain smoke detectors;
Prohibits tenants from painting or altering a unit built prior to 1978 without prior written approval;
Allows a landlord to take legal action against a relocated tenant for noncompliance;
Allows disposal of a deceased tenant's property if not claimed by an authorized person after the 10-day notice;
Shortens landlord termination notice to 30 days for fire or casualty damage;
Sets the interest rate on security deposits at 0 percent for 2011;
Removes requirement to withhold tax for a nonresident landlord owning no more than four dwelling units; and,
Requires Fairfax City to bring its rental inspection district provisions into compliance with state code.
HB 1768 Mold remediation. Clarifies that a tenant is still responsible for payment of rent for the remainder of the rental term following a temporary relocation for mold remediation. The tenant is not entitled to terminate the tenancy when mold is remediated according to professional standards.

HB 2425/SB 1216 Delinquent utility fees. Requires a water or sewer authority to provide 30 days' written notice to the owner before recording a lien for a tenant’s unpaid charges. The owner may request email notification when a tenant becomes 15 days delinquent. The authority may not deny service to a new tenant for a prior tenant’s unpaid charges unless a lien has been recorded against the property owner.

SB 829 Adverse conditions. Incorporates sections from the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) into the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act (VLTA) to direct a tenant on procedures, including escrow of rent, when the tenant asserts that adverse conditions exist within the rental unit.

SB 1220 VRLTA foreclosure notice. If a landlord has received a notice of foreclosure and fails to notify a tenant, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement upon 5 days’ written notice. Landlords must give written disclosures of the same to any prospective tenant.


SB 784 Affordable housing. Requires owners of four or fewer rental units of real property to furnish statements of income and expenses to determine status as affordable rental housing.

HB 1899/SB 785 Partial tax exemptions. Clarifies that a partial real estate tax exemption given for improvements to rehabilitated property shall not be reduced unless the locality gives written notice to the property owner at the initial approval that it may be reduced.

HB 1526 Property tax appeal. Allows information regarding the income and expenses of rental property to be used at board of equalization hearings if it is submitted before the appeal filing deadline of the board.


HB 1645/ SB 987 Exemption for disabled veterans. Codifies the constitutional amendment adopted in November, 2010, which provides for a property tax exemption on the principal residence and one acre of land for veterans who have a 100 percent, service-related disability beginning in 2011 tax year.

HB 2278/ SB 1073 Real estate tax relief. Codifies the constitutional amendment adopted in November, 2010, which allows local governments to establish annual income limitations for property tax relief for the elderly and disabled.

HB 1820/SB 1232 Land preservation tax credits. Allows the Tax Commissioner to have a second appraisal conducted on the property with 30 days’ written notice, and requires a final determination be made within 180 days.

SB 1153 Land preservation. Prohibits reduction of a land preservation tax credit by the amount of unclaimed credits from prior years.

HB 1851/SB 860 Historical buildings. Creates a separate property tax rate for buildings that are on the Virginia Landmarks Register.


HB 1534 Unlawful entry or detainer. Provides that claims for unlawful entry or detainer are not subject to the $15,000 limit applicable in general district court, regardless of the purpose for which the occupant is using the premises.

SB 1369 Electronic filing. Circuit Court clerks may provide official certificates and certified records in digital form.

SB 1478 Sale of real estate. Authorizes a locality to sell property within or abutting a community development authority upon which there are unpaid special taxes. Owner-occupied single-family residences and individual residential units in a multi-unit structure are not affected.


HB 1437 BPOL tax. Allows localities to impose the BPOL tax on gross receipts, as is the current practice, or Virginia taxable income.

SB 1408 BPOL tax exemption. Allows localities to waive BPOL taxes on businesses that lose money and are unprofitable during the taxable year on or after January 1, 2012.


HB 1844 Zoning determination. A locality must give written notice to a property owner within 10 days of a request of a zoning determination by a non-owner.

SB 873 Family Subdivision of a Lot. Authorizes localities to provide for subdivision of a lot for conveyance to a family member if the land is held in trust and is not transferred to a non-family member for 15 years.


HB 1522 Water and Waste Authorities. Amends the current law so that water and waste authorities have the power to exercise eminent domain as set out for other political subdivisions rather than by the powers given to the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner.

HB 1693 Waiver of appraisal. Changes the maximum limit on waiver of appraisals for real property being acquired by a state agency to $25,000. If the value of the property is determined to be between $10,000 and $25,000, the property owner may request that an appraisal be made.

HB 2161/SB 1436 Procedures. After July 1, 2011 if a condemnor is required to provide an appraisal to the owner, copies of all those appraisals must be provided prior to making an offer or initiating negotiations for the property.


HB 1831/SB 1055 Fertilizer. Beginning December 31, 2013, the sale, distribution and use of lawn maintenance fertilizer containing phosphorus or any deicing agent containing urea, nitrogen or phosphorus is prohibited.

SB 1375 Building analysts. Provides for the licensure of residential building energy analysts by the Board for Contractors.


HB 1492/SB 766 Well Systems Providers Clarifies that a water well systems provider is qualified to install, remove or repair geothermal water well systems to the point of connection to the ground source heat pump.

HB 1626 Onsite Sewage Systems. Allows the owner of an onsite or alternative discharging sewage system to upgrade it for the purposes of reducing threats to the public health or the environment.

SB 1160 Connection to Systems. A water or sewer authority may require adjacent property owners to connect their buildings to the authority's system.


SB 1446 Transportation funding. Creates the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank to make grants to localities or loans to private or public entities for transportation projects. It also accelerates the Commonwealth’s bonding authority and revenue sharing funds for transportation improvements.

SJ 292 Public transportation on Route 1. Requests an evaluation of potential public transportation services to Fort Belvoir and the Marine Corps Base at Quantico.
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