Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Virginia Laws That Affect Your Business

HB 1610 / SB 942 Chineese Drywall - If a landlord has knowledge of the defective drywall in their property they are required to disclose it to the tenant. The tenant can terminate the lease otherwise. 

HB 1461 Trespassing - Gives the property manager or person acting as an agent for the landlord the ability to prohibit trespassing on the property. Once notice has been given the violator shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor if they step foot on the property again.

HB 1611 Landlord / Tenant Laws -
Requires tenants to maintain smoke detectors. Code enforcement can no longer violate the landlord for the tenant having a dead battery, removing the battery, removing the detector, etc. Violations go to the tenant.

Prohibits tenants from painting or altering their unit built before 1978 without written approval to do so.

Sets interest rate on rental deposits to 0% for 2011

If the landlord requires the tenant to temporarily vacate the dwelling for non emergency repairs the landlord can require them to be relocated, at no cost to the tenant, and with a 30 day written notice. The tenant is required to continue to pay their rent and can not terminate their rental agreement based on the landlords requirement. 

Changes the amount of time of removal of tenants property who dies to 10 days instead of 30 after notice has been given

HB 1768 Mold remediation - Tenant is still required to pay rent for the remainder of the rental agreement in the case where landlord has to relocate tenant for mold remediation.

HB 2425 / SB 1216 - Allows the Water Authority to shut down a landlords business by refusing to turn on water until the previous tenants water bill lien is paid.

SB 829 Escrow of Rent - Incorporates sections of the Virginia "Residential" Landlord and Tenant Act into the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act to allow the escrow of rent money to the court for an issue that effects the health or safety of the occupants. Tenant is required to FIRST serve the landlord with a written notice notifying them of the violation or the notice of violation can be given by condemnation. The landlord has up to 30 days to resolve the issue prior to the tenants right to escrow the rent. It shall be a sufficient answer by the landlord if they prove that the condition does not exist, that it has been removed or remedied, that it has been caused by the tenants or their guests or that the tenant did not allow reasonable entry to the for the purpose of correcting the condition. If the case is continued the tenant is required to deposit rent payments within 5 days of the payment being due until the issue is resolved.

Rent escrow is required for continuance of tenants case. Where a landlord has filed an unlawful detainer action seeking possession of the premises and tenant contests, "at the request of the landlord" the tenant is required to escrow all of the rent to the court for the case to be set for a continued or contested trial. If the tenant has a good faith defense the court may not require the rent to be escrowed.

SB 1220 Foreclosure notice - If the landlord has been given a foreclosure notice and fails to notify the tenant the tenant can terminate the rental agreement upon 5 days written notice.

SB 1478 Forced Sale of Real Estate - The locality can sell at a tax sale any landlords property they desire if they have put a lien on it and it has not been paid for 1 year. They are restricted to liens as a result of "spot blighted" areas, houses with drug use, houses declared derelict, structures harboring a "bawdy" place, etc. They also have increased power of eminent domain in these areas. Under the new laws these houses that have been boarded up for many years all over Roanoke will be sold at a tax sale within a year if the city deems fit to do so.

HB 1522 Water Authority - Water Authority now has power of eminent domain as set out for other political subdivistions rather than just by the powers of the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner.

Those are a few key changes for landlords this year. Many more, too many to list.



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