The Virginia General Assembly adjourned an historic 2020 session in March just before the first executive orders relating to the Covid-19 outbreak. Governor Northam (D) has until April 11 to sign, amend or veto legislation ahead of the scheduled April 22 reconvened session. The Governor and legislative leadership are working to ensure the April 22 reconvened session can be conducted under the social distancing guidelines established by the Governor’s executive orders.
Once again in 2020, all measures proposed as part of the Realtors® state legislative agenda passed with overwhelming support. While several bills are still pending the Governor’s signature, it is expected that they will also be signed, enacted and go into effect on July 1. With the impacts of Covid-19, we are waiting to see if the Governor’s office offers any amendments to our Association Health Plan legislation, one of the key measures in this year’s agenda.
2020 Realtors® Legislative Agenda
Association Health Plans
Allows associations like the Virginia Realtors® to work with insurance providers in Virginia and establish health insurance plans that they can offer to members of their association. Plans offered under this law must adhere to all coverage mandates and requirements as those under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The bill also prohibits denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions and requires plans to provide essential health benefits.
SB 235 – Sen. George Barker – Final version passed the Senate 40-0 and the House 93-3.
HB 795 – Del. Chris Hurst – Final version passed the Senate 39-0 and the House 93-3.
Rent Money Into Escrow
Clarifies a perceived discrepancy between escrow law and regulations. This legislation will require all rent monies paid to a real estate licensee acting on behalf of a landlord, including current rent, to be deposited into an escrow account. This clarification ensures that all rent monies are deposited into escrow instead of operating accounts and will therefore provide additional protection for consumer funds.
SB 653 – Sen. Jennifer Boysko – Passed the Senate 40-0 and the House 100-0.
Security Deposit Disbursement
Clarifies that the 45-day time period for returning a security deposit to a tenant starts running from the date of the termination of the tenancy or the date the tenant vacates the unit, whichever occurs last. This clarification will ensure that landlords and tenants are working with the same expectations.
SB 388 – Sen. Jeremy McPike – Passed the Senate 40-0 and the House 100-0.
HB 594 – Del. Jeff Bourne – Signed by the Governor (effective July 1, 2020).
Death or Disability of Broker
Clarifies that upon the death or disability of a real estate broker who was a sole proprietor or the only licensed broker in any business entity, the real estate board can approve someone to close out the business. Previously, the law did not include LLCs in the list of business entities which implied that if a broker was the only licensed broker in an LLC, the VREB could not appoint someone to conclude the business.
HB 513 – Del. David Bulova - Signed by the Governor (effective July 1, 2020).
POA/Condo Act Extension for Right of Rescission
This legislation would allow parties to a transaction for a property located in a POA or Condo association to agree to extend the three-day right of rescission for up to an additional 4 days. Currently, the statute prohibits the parties from changing the three-day period, even if all the parties agree. This can be burdensome for parties with scheduling difficulties or where additional information is needed before the transaction can move forward. Limiting the extension to 4 days provides extra time, if needed, but still allows for certainty of contract.
HB 176 – Del. Marcus Simon – Signed by the Governor (effective July 1, 2020).
SB 672 – Sen. Monty Mason – Passed the Senate 40-0 and the House 98-0.
Removal of Restrictive Covenants
This legislation removes discriminatory restrictive covenant language that would violate fair housing law from real property title and deeds. Current law already declares such language void and contrary to the public policy of the Commonwealth. This legislation provides for the form for a Certificate of Release of Certain Prohibited Covenants to be recorded to remove any restrictive covenant prior to recordation of a deed or when a property owner discovers that a prohibited covenant exists and chooses to affirmatively remove it.
HB 788 – Del. Lamont Bagby – Passed the House 99-0 and the Senate 40-0.