Thursday, September 22, 2016

New Laws For Landlords 2016

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Hello Everyone,

MOLD:

In the State of Virginia we now have some much stronger laws related to mold which have already lead to attorneys statewide to jump on lawsuits against landlords. This mold law specifies that unless the tenant is at fault for the mold, you are required to pay all costs associated with the relocation of the resident as well as unlimited costs of mold remediation.

http://wavy.com/2016/09/15/local-attorney-has-advice-on-winning-mold-cases-in-court/

Everyones eyes are on mold these days. It’s the new lead of the day and you can expect some big federal level EPA action on it in 2017 unless we have a new president that will gut the agency and their overreach. As well as a congress that will defund them.

Most people don't know that the vast majority of mold is completely harmless. That is to everyone except the rare person who has the strange allergies such as the peanut allergy. Only a very rare couple varieties out of over 100,000 species of black mold are dangerous and they are not even commonly found in our area. It also doesn’t have to be black. Mycotoxins, the toxin in the rare mold, come in all colors. This whole mold thing is based on media sensationalism. Remember the bird flu or the swine flu that was going to be the end of you? This is a fear that will last a lot longer than those.

If someone has issues with mold they better not step foot outside as there are mold spores floating literally everywhere. You can’t get away from it outside. The attack on mold is on... and the focus is on you.

We now have a much higher chance of having mold cases where the tenant creates it and you have no mold addendum. Just because mold isn’t all that it’s made out to be doesn’t mean you need to protect yourself. I can assure you that legal aid will love to take a case where the evil rich greedy landlord was forcing their tenant to suffer with mold conditions they should have known about but didn’t do anything about since all rich people like you think about is your money. You will at that point have a very serious high dollar case where the tenant is suffering potentially fake health issues along with relocation fees, remediation costs, triple damages for bad faith, etc.  It’s real important to have a mold addendum with your lease. Attorney Ross Hart gave us his a few months ago. I would never rent a property without one. I've been using a mold addendum for years and so should you.






See below an important message from landlord tenant expert Attorney Ross Hart regarding mold.





Dallas -

The mold issue is getting worse, as you well know.

Attached is a case from the Virginia Beach area in which the landlord was hit for $350,000 after a 12 day jury trial in Federal Court.  On page 9 is a list of the criteria for a negligence claim.

I have no idea what insurance is available for owners in case a claim like this comes up.  I had one case where the insurance company denied liability or a duty to defend.  I would recommend that everyone talk to their agent about coverage, and make sure there's an 'umbrella' policy.

Making sure whether or not mold is present is shown on the move in inspection is also critical -- having the tenant confirm at move in that they did not see mold could be a factor in a future defense.  Remember, move in inspections MUST BY LAW have a checkbox for mold issues.

—ross



From Page 9:

To find for the plaintiff in a negligence per se claim in Virginia, the jury must find: 
[1] the tortfeasor [defendant] had a duty of care to the plaintiff,
[2] the standard of care for that duty was set by statute [the Virginia Building Code], 

[3] the statute was enacted for public health and safety reasons,
[4] the plaintiff was a member of the class protected by the statute,
[5] the tortfeasor engaged in acts that violated the standard of care set out in the statute, 

[6] the injury was of the sort intended to be covered by the statute, and
[7] the violation of the statute was a proximate cause of the injury.



RENTAL CERTIFICATE PROGRAM:

We also have a new law allowing the cities in Virginia to exempt anyone from the rental certificate program if they are a property manager or passed a satisfactory professional property management designation, or if they own a publicly traded entity that manages multifamily units and have no experience managing properties. It’s always nice when we have exceptions for the special people isn’t it guys? Sorry if you’re not in the club.

I herby declare REI of Virginia to be an educational property management training facility and membership of 1 year gets you the designation of being a professional property manager as you will be adequately trained within that period of time. All 2 year members get their masters degree in landlording. And you old school landlords get your doctorates. I give you all your honorary degrees now and you can use this email as verification. Ok good, now you’re in the club… You are all now hereby qualified to be excluded from the Roanoke City Rental Certificate Program. Congratulations to you!

 LEGISLATIVE STUDIES:

This year we also got legislation that requires several studies to be done. One being the impact of the water liens on landlords bottom line. As well as a study of the impact of tenant bankruptcy proceedings on landlords. And a study that they are doing based on a bill I was unaware of that was going to force multifamily landlords to be responsible for developing a recycling program. This study determines the feasibility of such a program.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Laws For Virginia Landlords This Week at REI

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Hi REI members,

We have a great meeting lined up for this Tuesday. Our guest speaker will be attorney Darren Delafield. Darren will be talking to the group about new laws added to the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act this year.

I didn’t have the time to read over all of the new laws but I am aware of several as I do watch this stuff to a certain degree. We now have some much stronger laws related to mold which have already lead to attorneys statewide to jump on lawsuits against landlords. This mold law specifies that unless the tenant is at fault for the mold, you are required to pay all costs associated with the relocation of the resident as well as unlimited costs of mold remediation.
http://wavy.com/2016/09/15/local-attorney-has-advice-on-winning-mold-cases-in-court/

Everyones eyes are on mold these days. It’s the new lead of the day and you can expect some big federal level EPA action on it in 2017 unless we have a new president that will gut the agency and their overreach. As well as a congress that will defund them.

Most people don't know that the vast majority of mold is completely harmless. That is to everyone except the rare person who has the strange allergies such as the peanut allergy. Only a very rare couple varieties out of over 100,000 species of black mold are dangerous and they are not even commonly found in our area. It also doesn’t have to be black. Mycotoxins, the toxin in the rare mold, come in all colors. This whole mold thing is based on media sensationalism. Remember the bird flu or the swine flu that was going to be the end of you? This is a fear that will last a lot longer than those.

If someone has issues with mold they better not step foot outside as there are mold spores floating literally everywhere. You can’t get away from it outside. The attack on mold is on... and the focus is on you.

We now have a much higher chance of having mold cases where the tenant creates it and you have no mold addendum. Just because mold isn’t all that it’s made out to be doesn’t mean you need to protect yourself. I can assure you that legal aid will love to take a case where the evil rich greedy landlord was forcing their tenant to suffer with mold conditions they should have known about but didn’t do anything about since all rich people like you think about is your money. You will at that point have a very serious high dollar case where the tenant is suffering potentially fake health issues along with relocation fees, remediation costs, triple damages for bad faith, etc.  It’s real important to have a mold addendum with your lease. Attorney Ross Hart gave us his a few months ago. I would never rent a property without one. I've been using a mold addendum for years and so should you.

We also have a new law allowing the cities in Virginia to exempt anyone from the rental certificate program if they are a property manager or passed a satisfactory professional property management designation, or if they own a publicly traded entity that manages multifamily units and have no experience managing properties. It’s always nice when we have exceptions for the special people isn’t it guys? Sorry if you’re not in the club.

I herby declare REI of Virginia to be an educational property management training facility and membership of 1 year gets you the designation of being a professional property manager as you will be adequately trained within that period of time. All 2 year members get their masters degree in landlording. And you old school landlords get your doctorates. I give you all your honorary degrees now and you can use this email as verification. Ok good, now you’re in the club… You are all now hereby qualified to be excluded from the Roanoke City Rental Certificate Program. Congratulations to you!

This year we also got legislation that requires several studies to be done. One being the impact of the water liens on landlords bottom line. As well as a study of the impact of tenant bankruptcy proceedings on landlords. And a study that they are doing based on a bill I was unaware of that was going to force multifamily landlords to be responsible for developing a recycling program. This study determines the feasibility of such a program.

Lots of other stuff as well guys and gals. Those are just some of what’s concerning. There is some good stuff too. You don’t want to miss this meeting. You need to keep abreast of the laws that effect this industry so you can to keep yourself out of trouble. I have too many people coming to me after the fact to ask what to do about it. I can only help so much then.

See you there!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Great News ~ Productive Water Authority Meeting

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Hello Everyone,

A few weeks ago me, Matt Bennett and Roger Malouf had a very productive meeting with the head attorney/lobbyist for the Virginia Realtors Association - Chip Dicks, the lobbyist for the entire state of Virginia's cities, counties and towns - John Lain the lobbyist for the Water Companies across the state - Preston Bryant, as well as the head of Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors economic & governmental affairs - Joe Sutliff, who by the way is a real nice guy.

The purpose of the meeting was to drum up different ideas on what we can do to prevent landlords from ever having to pay the tenants delinquent water bills. We came up with some great ideas and are currently working on some things to help reduce your chances of this happening to you.

We also had a revelation during this meeting. It turns out that the Western Virginia Water Authority broke the law by putting liens on landlords for tenants delinquent bills without having a critical form that you as the landlord would have had to have filled out. Or Water Authority decided not to use this form. And any Authority that didn’t use it is agreeing to not take part in the lien against landlord program.

The only way for you to find out if you have one of these liens is by doing a title search on yourself at the court house. The Authority did not send out notifications that a lien was placed so you will not know otherwise.

Those of you who paid tenants bills rather than getting a lien on your house, you also didn’t have to do so.

What a mess this created. REI of Virginia will be standing by your side watching to see if the Authority will do the right thing and remove every lien they ever put on a landlords property or if they will force us to take them to court. This should be a real easy case considering the people who wrote the bill including their very own lobbyist confirmed that they broke the law. He said the would talk to them about it and clarify the law to them but he clearly doesn’t have the capabilities of making them do anything.

I’ll keep you updated as we progress. I can tell you one thing though. They are currently not budging a bit on those liens. They all agree with trying to develop solutions to reduce our likelihood of ever paying a tenants bill, but we have not been able to get them off the crazy idea that a landlord should be responsible for a tenants delinquent bill in the first place. They said that this order to make landlords responsible for tenants water bills “came straight from the Governors office” which we are skeptical of.

By the way, there is a process that REI of Virginia Realtor members can use to get laws changed through the RVAR. You landlord Realtors need to talk to Joe Sutliff about what you want changed in the law. Joe has the capabilities of submitting changes to the state VAR. Every year they pick several issues out of what’s sent to them and they push to get it passed as law. So you Realtor / REI members, of which there are many, could be a tremendous benefit to our collective cause to level the playing field for real estate investors state wide.

Good stuff guys. Finally a nice win!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly About The Section 8 Program ~ This Week At Real Estate Investors of Virginia

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This week we will have special guest speaker Jessica Farmer with Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority who will be talking to us about the Section 8 program.

Not every state gives you the right to say no to Section 8 applicants. The recent trend is for landlords across the country to get sued for saying they don’t take Section 8. The basis of the lawsuit is that you are discriminating regarding their source of income.

The protected classes are different in each state. Several states have made additions to the standard protected classes. In Virginia they are race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, familial status and elderliness which is our addition.

Given your Commonwealth right to say no to participating with the program, Jessica will be with us to tell us about the benefits including the maximum rent they will pay per bedroom voucher, what that dollar amount really means, etc. This will hopefully shed some light on exactly how much rent the tenant qualifies for. I have a very large portion of my portfolio as Section 8 rentals right now and believe me, it’s extremely irritating taking the place off the market because you think you have a tenant and then you find out that they don’t qualify for what you already know is the going rate for that property.

Another big disadvantage is that it often takes at least a full month of lost rent before the unit is officially qualified. And that disadvantage to some degree takes away from the advantage of being able to be pretty sure you’re going to get your rent every month. I say pretty sure because I have found on several occasions that if a tenant wants to move as a result of you catching them doing something they aren’t supposed to, or billing them for damages they caused, they will use the scummy tactic of calling the Section 8 office to have an inspection done. As well as code enforcement. And when that inspection is done the inspector will fail the unit requiring the damaged items to be fixed. Both items that the tenant damaged as well as new things found. Even if the unit passed inspection just a few months prior. It almost feels like they are working with the tenant to help them break the lease. If these items aren’t fixed then they will terminate all rent payments. 

This leads you down a real potentially nasty road. Every single tenant that is in the Section 8 program qualifies for Legal Aid. And Legal Aid will counter sue you for the damages stating that you forced the tenant to live in terrible conditions completely disregarding the fact that the tenant never told you about any problem, the unit was just inspected and got passed with flying colors, and several of the items on the list were done by the tenant. And if you win the case against Legal Aid with an expensive attorney, they will appeal it to the circuit court to empty your other pocket.

Can you tell I’m not real happy about the program in it’s currant state? There have been times where I loved it though.

Additionally, Section 8 also stated in their landlord meeting several months ago that they were going to start checking units once every 2 years rather than once a year. That sure was a breath of fresh air. But I can tell you that never happened. They also told the group that inspections are getting ready to become much worse than they already are. Which is already so bad that it has driven many landlords I know out of the program. Hopefully Jessica can shed some light on the new strengthened criteria.

Come on out this Tuesday and hear the benefits of the Section 8 program while being given an opportunity to tell them what you like or dislike about it.

See you there!
 

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