THE LEGISLATIVE LINE Number 4 February 21, 2015

CapitalVIRGINIA PENINSULA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
THE LEGISLATIVE LINE
The Legislative Update from VPAR
Number 4 February 21, 2015

Forty-five days. Two thousand, two hundred sixty-one bills, five of which already have been signed into law by the Governor. Nearly 300 bills tracked by your lobbying team. One hundred forty legislators. Nine degrees. Eight inches of snow.
AND LESS THAN ONE WEEK LEFT!

 
The 2015 General Assembly Session certainly can be defined by the numbers, and by the stark difference as well between this and last year’s legislative session. A year ago at this time, the General Assembly was in serious disagreement over Medicaid expansion, which then evolved into a budget issue that resulted in a regular Session lasting for over 100 days and dissolving into a near government shutdown. Tempers were running high and little agreement could be reached. Watch today’s House and Senate, and you will see a near-calm by contrast, with far less consternation.
As we head into the final days of Session, several high stakes issues await final language that will be resolved in conference committees. Campus sexual assault. Day care center regulations. Dominion power rate freeze and solar energy. And ethics reform. Not to mention the state budget. All are in negotiations and all have high stakes.
Speaking of the state budget, the following members have been appointed to the high-powered budget conference committee: Senate President Pro Tempore and Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman Walter Stosch, R-Henrico; Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City; Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax; Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman Chuck Colgan, D-Manassas; Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan; and Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon. The House negotiators are Appropriations Committee Chair Chris Jones, R-Suffolk; Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave; House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights; Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico; Del. Tag Greason, R-Loudoun; and Del. Johnny Joannou, D-Portsmouth.

STATUS OF THE REALTOR®
2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
VAR’s legislative agenda is in strong form and is moving out of the General Assembly toward the Governor’s Office. With the exception of HB 2100 — the bill to amend the POA/COA sections of the Code of Virginia, and which was slightly amended in the Senate so must return to the House on Monday for approval of those Senate amendments – ALL REALTOR® bills have passed the House and the Senate, and are being transmitted to the Executive Branch.
PLUS, it appears that, for the moment, we have prevailed in two budget issues: 1.) the language in the Governor’s budget that would have resulted in an increase from $500 to $2,500 for the deductible in mitigating underground petroleum tanks has been removed; and 2.) the $50,000 appropriation needed to enact the criminal inducement policy is in the House budget and also is in the Senate budget.
Budget negotiators completed their work tonight, Sunday evening….so we will be poring through those details in the coming days to assure that we made it through the budget gauntlet.

HB 1450 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act;
Representations related to special flood hazard area
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1450
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Buyers Should Be Aware of Storm Water Maintenance Agreements. Increasingly, local governments are entering into maintenance agreements with landowners that may require the landowner to ill maintain a stormwater facility on the property. For many years, we have advised that REALTORS® tell buyers to identify the existence of these facilities on the property, but not to ask whether or not there is a formal maintenance agreement with the locality in place. To ensure that your buyers and buyers agents know what to ask, we are amending the “buyer-beware” disclosure form to include the existence of stormwater maintenance agreement.
ROLLED INTO HB 1642

HB 1452 – Landlord and tenant law; who may recover rent and possession
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1452
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Different Judges Interpret the Law Differently. We have several judges in Virginia who say that because “family trusts” are not specifically spelled out in the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, or the VRLTA, our property managers cannot appear in court on behalf of their clients. This leaves the owner to have to appear in person or to hire an attorney. This was an oversight in the VRLTA. To make sure our property managers can continue to represent their clients in court, we will propose amending the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act to add “family trusts.”
Passed the House 98-0 on January 28th; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 19th. Headed to the Governor’s office.

HB 1965 – Dept. of Professional and Occupational Regulation; Real Estate Transaction Recovery Fund
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1965
Introduced by: Thomas Davis Rust
Helping our Consumers Recover Funds They Are Owed. Currently, when a licensee is found guilty of a Real Estate Board regulation and the consumer is owed money, the consumer has to petition the general district court for a judgment. The judgment specifically must state the offense that occurred with the real estate licensee or the Real Estate Board cannot award the funds. To fix that, we are amending the Code of Virginia to allow judges to award a general judgment, similar to what already is allowed under the Board of Contractors.
Passed the House 90-0 on February 4th; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 19th. Headed to the Governor’s Office.

HB 2100 – Condominium and Property Owners’ Association Acts; allowable charges; rental of units
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb2100
Introduced by: Christopher K. Peace
Further Clarification to the POA and COA. Each year, issues arise in the relationships between REALTORS®, homeowners, Property Owners’ Associations (POA’s) and Condominium Owners’ Associations (COA’s). VAR will work with the state legislature to make sure there is clarity in the law regarding what fees can be charged and what actions ownership associations can take. It is important to find the proper balance in the agreements between homeowners and POA’s and COA’s to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.
Passed the House 100-0 on February 10th; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 19th with amendments. The House will reconsider the bill as amended by the Senate on Monday, February 23rd.

SB 775 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=sb775
Introduced by: Mamie E. Locke
Passed the House 99-0 on January 22nd; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 16th. Headed to the Governor’s Office.

HB 1642 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1642
Introduced by: Christopher P. Stolle
Buyers Need to Determine If a Property Will Need Flood Insurance: Buyers, particularly in coastal regions of Virginia, should be able to identify whether properties will need additional flood insurance because they are located in a FEMA-determined special flood hazard zone. Currently, a flood certification is performed on every property, regardless of where it is in Virginia, by the mortgage lender. This is used as part of the underwriting of the loan and to ensure appropriate insurance coverage is applied as required by federal law. Flood certifications are performed by third-party providers with expertise in evaluating the FEMA flood zone maps. A list of these providers is readily available on the FEMA website. As with home inspections, storm water facilities, and the sexual offender registry, buyers should be educated on what issues to investigate in the transaction. To accomplish this, we propose amending the Code to add language to the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Statement’s list of disclosures that advises the purchaser to exercise due diligence in investigating whether the property resides within a special flood hazard zone, including obtaining a flood certification.
Passed the House 98-0 on January 28th; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 19th. Headed to the Governor’s Office.

1424 – Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Act; delinquent payment
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1424
Introduced by: Daniel W. Marshall, III
Landlords and Property Owners Should Not Bear the Burden. VAR helped pass a requiring a landlord or property owner to pay delinquent water bills from their tenants before the services could be turned back on. Unfortunately, the General Assembly missed one Code section. To fix this oversight, we propose amending all of the sections in the Code to prohibit water authorities from requiring landlords or property owners to pay delinquent water fees from tenants.
Passed the House 98-0 on February 10th; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 20th. Headed to the Governor’s Office.

HB 1493 – Enticing, etc., real estate licensee with intent to commit certain felonies; penalty
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1493
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller

SB 1100 Enticing, etc., real estate licensee with intent to commit certain felonies;
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=sb1100
Introduced by: Mark D. Obenshain
Making Sure Predators Get What They Deserve. There have been several high-profile cases in the past several months where REALTORS® have been lured into vacant houses and assaulted, raped, abducted….or worse. In each of these instances, the victim was lured into the property through contact from a potential “client” who wanted to see the property. We are pursuing legislation to ensure authorities have adequate tools in place to prosecute individuals who knowingly lure or trap Realtors® into these circumstances with intent to do harm.

SB 1100 was reported from the Senate Courts of Justice Committee; with its fiscal impact, the bill was re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where it was left on the table as a result of budget constraints. HOWEVER, HB 1493 reported from the House Courts of Justice Committee AND from the House Appropriations Committee. The House appropriated the needed $50,000 in its budget to enact the policy, and the Senate likewise has appropriated the funds, based on contingency language. We will be looking through the budget in the coming days to confirm that the bill has been fully appropriated.

REALTOR® DAY RE-CAP
Many thanks to the VPAR REALTOR® and Affiliate Members for coming to Richmond to spend time advocating for our bills! Over 40 VPAR members participated in this annual trek to the state Capitol to meet with members of the House and Senate, hear high-level speakers and learn more about the legislative process and our Virginia government, and tour the beautiful buildings in Capitol Square. YOUR EFFORTS, YOUR ENERGY and YOUR ENTHUSIASM ARE APPRECIATED BY YOUR LOBBYING TEAM and BY YOUR LEGISLATORS! Check out some fun photos that we posted on the VPAR Facebook Page!
https://www.facebook.com/VPAREALTORS/photos/pcb.840067346032244/840065939365718/?type=1&theater
MANY THANKS to the following sponsors for the VPAR REALTOR® Day on the Hill event! We could not have achieved the success of the day without your generous support!
Presidential Sponsor
Atlantic Bay Mortgage

VIP Sponsors
REIN

Patron Sponsors
Commonwealth Exterminating
Lytle Title & Escrow
Monarch Mortgage
National Exterminating

Supporter Sponsor
PRIMELENDING

Friend of VPAR
Union Mortgage
The Real Estate Book
Fulton Mortgage
FUN AT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY!!!!
The Session always is arduous and extremely intense, so there are days when all of us stuck in those buildings for hours on end look for reasons to laugh, chill out and have fun! One of the best days of any Session is Valentine’s Day! Celebrating a bit early this year, here’s a sample of just how we honor Cupid at the Capitol. The 6th floor, home to our auspicious legislative leadership, outdid themselves this year in the decorating department….and a certain Senate intern, who shall remain nameless, helped! Thanks to Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn for the filming! VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS!
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10155184865320029&set=vb.449133900028&type=2&theater

For additional information or other details, please contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445 or email at susan@gastongroup.com. We also encourage our members to follow the General Assembly on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VPAREALTORS.

CALL TO ACTION: OPPOSE the Petroleum Tank Deductible Increase

Call to Action

OPPOSE the Petroleum Tank Deductible Increase

REALTORS® Please Take Action Today and Ask Your State Representatives to OPPOSE the Petroleum Tank Deductible Increase

Take ActionThe General Assembly is considering a measure that would increase the deductible homeowners pay to have underground petroleum tanks repaired or removed, if they are found to be leaking.

Currently the deductible is $500.  The General Assembly is considering a measure to increase it to $2500… that’s a 500% INCREASE.

How many real estate deals have you done, where a tank is found to be leaking and needs to be repaired or removed?

Under this proposal, your clients will see the deductible sky-rocket to $2500.  We believe this will have a negative impact on many of these real estate transactions.

There have been two budget amendments that have been introduced that will reverse the course, keep the $500 deductible in place and ask a stakeholder taskforce to look at the issue.

Please send a message to your member of the House of Delegates and Senate to let them know Realtors® stand united throughout Virginia in their concern over this dramatic increase.

Email your legislators and ask them to OPPOSE the Petroleum Tank Deductible Increase!

Take Action

 

 

 

Take Action Today and Ask Your State Representatives to Support the VAR Legislative Agenda!

Call to Action

Virginia REALTORS® Please Take Action Today and
Ask Your State Representatives to Support the
VAR Legislative Agenda!

On Wednesday, January 13th, all 140 members of the General Assembly convened in Richmond to begin the annual legislative session. As the business advocate for real estate professionals, the Virginia Association of REALTORS® has introduced a cohesive legislative package to promote homeownership and protect REALTORS® just like you!
ACT NOW to help homeownership thrive in Virginia, take action by clicking the link below and emailing your legislator to support the VAR Legislative Agenda!
Click here to email your legislators and ask them to SUPPORT the VAR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA!

To view the VAR Legislative Agenda, and track the bills as they make their way through the committee process, visit: VARRealtorsChoose.com

 

THE LEGISLATIVE LINE – January 18, 2015

CapitalVIRGINIA PENINSULA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
THE LEGISLATIVE LINE
The Legislative Update from VPAR
Number 1 January 18, 2015

The 2015 Session of the General Assembly of Virginia was gaveled in this past Wednesday, January 14th, for what will be a fast-paced, 46-day legislative session. Per the Constitution of Virginia, the legislature convenes for 46 days in an odd-numbered year, and for 60 days in an even year. Keep in mind that the Commonwealth also operates on a biennial budget; odd-numbered years mark the second year of a biennium, operating off of and amending the previous year’s budget, while in even-numbered years, new two-year budgets are developed.

This marks the second year of the McAuliffe Administration, with amendments to the budget coming from the Governor’s office. And Virginia finds itself in a budget shortfall to the tune of $2.4 million dollars, which will make for potential budget fireworks. For a quick overview of the state budget, visit http://hac.state.va.us/committee/files/2015/1-14-15/House%20Budget%20Briefing%2001-14-15.pdf.

In addition, the day before the gavel fell, a former member of the House who now in jail was re-elected, and the week prior, former Governor McDonnell was sentenced to two years in federal prison, both of which have catapulted ethics reform to the top of issues to be handled.

Finally, the Session will be conducted in the context of an election year, with all 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 seats in the Senate going up for re-election in November. To quote the Majority Leader of the Senate, Hon. Tommy Norment (R-3rd, James City County), “You can sum up the 2015 Session by these four letters: BEPP – the Budget, Ethics, Posturing and Politics.” Sen. Norment likely will be proven true.

IN OTHER NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL THIS WEEK>>>>
• Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered his first State of the Commonwealth address on January 14th. The evening address traditionally marks the official opening of the General Assembly Session. See the full address here.
http://www.wdbj7.com/news/local/web-extra-state-of-the-commonwealth-address/30712018
• Virginia has been absent a state song since 1997, and the push for finding one has resumed this Session. Del. Bill Howell, the Speaker of the House from the Fredericksburg area, has submitted legislation that would make “Our Great Virginia” the new state song. Check it out here….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa9u5HwBm_Y

 

 

STATUS OF THE REALTOR®
2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
What is the REALTOR® Legislative Agenda this year? See the details below for the major initiatives that your Association is pushing through the state legislature. But know that we literally are tracking hundreds of bills for the REALTOR® Association that impact taxation, lending, transportation, economic development and many others. Follow all of the latest by going to REALTORS® Choose at http://www.realtorschoose.com/bills/.
HB 1450 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act;
Representations related to special flood hazard area
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1450
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Buyers Should Be Aware of Storm Water Maintenance Agreements. Increasingly, local governments are entering into maintenance agreements with landowners that may require the landowner to maintain a stormwater facility on the property. For many years, we have advised that REALTORS® tell buyers to identify the existence of these facilities on the property, but not to ask whether or not there is a formal maintenance agreement with the locality in place. To ensure that your buyers and buyers agents know what to ask, we are amending the “buyer-beware” disclosure form to include the existence of stormwater maintenance agreement.

HB 1452 – Landlord and tenant law; who may recover rent and possession
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1452
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Different Judges Interpret the Law Differently. We have several judges in Virginia who say that because “family trusts” are not specifically spelled out in the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, or the VRLTA, our property managers cannot appear in court on behalf of their clients. This leaves the owner to have to appear in person or to hire an attorney. This was an oversight in the VRLTA. To make sure our property managers can continue to represent their clients in court, we will propose amending the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act to add “family trusts.”

HB 1965 – Dept. of Professional and Occupational Regulation; Real Estate Transaction Recovery Fund
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1965
Introduced by: Thomas Davis Rust
Helping our Consumers Recover Funds They Are Owed. Currently, when a licensee is found guilty of a Real Estate Board regulation and the consumer is owed money, the consumer has to petition the general district court for a judgment. The judgment specifically must state the offense that occurred with the real estate licensee or the Real Estate Board cannot award the funds. To fix that, we are amending the Code of Virginia to allow judges to award a general judgment, similar to what already is allowed under the Board of Contractors.

HB 2100 – Condominium and Property Owners’ Association Acts; allowable charges; rental of units
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb2100
Introduced by: Christopher K. Peace
Further Clarification to the POA and COA. Each year, issues arise in the relationships between REALTORS®, homeowners, Property Owners’ Associations (POA’s) and Condominium Owners’ Associations (COA’s). VAR will work with the state legislature to make sure there is clarity in the law regarding what fees can be charged and what actions ownership associations can take. It is important to find the proper balance in the agreements between homeowners and POA’s and COA’s to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.

SB 775 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=sb775
Introduced by: Mamie E. Locke
HB 1642 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1642
Introduced by: Christopher P. Stolle
Buyers Need to Determine If a Property Will Need Flood Insurance: Buyers, particularly in coastal regions of Virginia, should be able to identify whether properties will need additional flood insurance because they are located in a FEMA-determined special flood hazard zone. Currently, a flood certification is performed on every property, regardless of where it is in Virginia, by the mortgage lender. This is used as part of the underwriting of the loan and to ensure appropriate insurance coverage is applied as required by federal law. Flood certifications are performed by third-party providers with expertise in evaluating the FEMA flood zone maps. A list of these providers is readily available on the FEMA website. As with home inspections, storm water facilities, and the sexual offender registry, buyers should be educated on what issues to investigate in the transaction. To accomplish this, we propose amending the Code to add language to the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Statement’s list of disclosures that advises the purchaser to exercise due diligence in investigating whether the property resides within a special flood hazard zone, including obtaining a flood certification.

HB 1424 – Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Act; delinquent payment
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1424
Introduced by: Daniel W. Marshall, III
Landlords and Property Owners Should Not Bear the Burden. VAR helped pass a bill several years ago that prohibited a water authority from attaching a lien or otherwise requiring a landlord or property owner to pay delinquent water bills from their tenants before the services could be turned back on. Unfortunately, the General Assembly missed one Code section. To fix this oversight, we propose amending all of the sections in the Code to prohibit water authorities from requiring landlords or property owners to pay delinquent water fees from tenants.

HB 1493 – Enticing, etc., real estate licensee with intent to commit certain felonies; penalty
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1493
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
SB 1100 Enticing, etc., real estate licensee with intent to commit certain felonies; penalty
https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=sb1100
Introduced by: Mark D. Obenshain
Making Sure Predators Get What They Deserve. There have been several high-profile cases in the past several months where REALTORS® have been lured into vacant houses and assaulted, raped, abducted….or worse. In each of these instances, the victim was lured into the property through contact from a potential “client” who wanted to see the property. We are pursuing legislation to ensure authorities have adequate tools in place to prosecute individuals who knowingly lure or trap Realtors® into these circumstances with intent to do harm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VPAR’s General Assembly Delegation Contact Information
Del. Mamye BaCote, D-95th, Newport News (804) 698-1095 DelMBaCote@house.virginia.gov
Del. Gordon Helsel, R-96th, Poquoson (804) 698-1091 DelGHelsel@house.virginia.gov
Del. Keith Hodges, R-98th Urbanna (804) 698-1098 DelKHodges@house.virginia.gov
Del. Rick Morris, R-64th, Carrollton (804) 698-1064 DelRMorris@house.virginia.gov
Del. Brenda Pogge, R-96th, Yorktown (804) 698-1096 DelBPogge@house.virginia.gov
Del. Jeoin Ward, D-92nd, Hampton (804) 698-1092 DelJWard@house.virginia.gov
Del. Monty Mason, R-93rd, Williamsburg (804) 698-1093 DelMMason@house.virginia.gov
Del. David Yancey, R-94th, Newport News (804) 698-1094 DelDYancey@house.virginia.gov
Sen. Mamie Locke, D-2nd, Hampton (804) 698-7502 district02@senate.virginia.gov
Sen. John Miller, D-1st, Newport News (804) 698-7501 district01@senate.virginia.gov
Sen. Tommy Norment, R-3rd, James City (804) 698-7503 district03@senate.virginia.gov

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY WEBSITES OF INTEREST
We would like to share with you some very valuable (and helpful) information regarding General Assembly Resources:
Daily Floor Sessions
To watch the House of Delegates in Session live at Noon each day, click here: http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

To watch the Virginia Senate in Session live at noon each day, click here: http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

Daily VA Political News:
Subscribe to receive daily e-mails with news articles highlighting major political and legislative happenings. http://www.vpap.org/vanews

Who’s My Legislator?
Find out who your Delegate and Senator are here: http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/

Virginia General Assembly Website: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/
You can find additional General Assembly resources, such as meeting schedules and bill tracking, on their website.
REALTOR® DAY ON THE HILL – FEBRUARY 11, 2015
Mark your calendars now for February 11th so that you can attend VPAR’s Annual REALTOR® Day on the Hill! Join REALTORS® from across the Commonwealth as they descend upon the General Assembly to tout the Association’s legislative agenda. Visit with legislators from the region, hear from “in the know” politicos on current issues and tour the Capitol and the Executive Mansion. Join us for a highly beneficial day! Bus transportation will be made available! More details to come.
For additional information or other details, please contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445, or by e-mail at susan@gastongroup.com. We also encourage our members to follow the General Assembly on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VPAREALTORS.

THE MONITOR – January 2015

GASTON, SUSAN COLOR 2255 (2)Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®
Monthly Public Policy Report
“THE MONITOR”
January 2015

 

 

 

Local Issues

Hampton

VPAR CEO Jim Wetzel and Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston continue to discuss options for signage improvements to the VPAR sign in order to boost our tenants’ visibility. The Association is seeking amendments to the signage provisions of the Zoning Ordinance that will allow tenant names to be placed on the primary sign on Hampton Roads Center Parkway. It is a matter of time before the issue is heard by the Planning Commission, but the Economic Development Authority has expressed its support for our efforts.

Newport News

The Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee continues to meet, entering in December its one-year anniversary. Follow the process by going to http://www.nngov.com/1763/Comprehensive-Plan-Update. The next CPCAC meeting will be held on January 22nd! More to come next month as the Committee reignites its efforts in 2015.

VPAR is very involved in recruiting volunteers for and participating in the ONE CITY MARATHON in Newport News on March 15th! Volunteer to work or check off that New Year’s resolution and run in the event – just be part of the greater Newport News community. Check out details at http://www.runonecity.com/! And thanks to Dr. Telly Whitfield for the chock-filled information today about the marathon at the General Membership Meeting.

 
REGIONAL
VPAR hosted a very informative and engaging session with the Police Chiefs of both Hampton and Newport News on January 13. As the headliners of the General Membership Meeting, Chief Terry Sult from Hampton and Chief Richard Myer from Newport News offered insight into their mission and vision, community policing, recent and trending crime statistics, crime reduction efforts and REALTOR® safety tips.

Both chiefs provided websites that offer REALTORS® and their clients real time access to crime “hot spots” that highlight where crimes are occurring in each City. Hampton’s website is www.crimereports.com and the Newport News website is www.raidsonline.com.

 
STATE

The 2015 General Assembly of Virginia convened on January 14th for its 45-day “short” session. VAR, with input from local Associations and local Governmental Affairs Directors, will be working hard to pass the 2015 Legislative Package.

HB 1450 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act;
Representations related to special flood hazard area
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1450
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Increasingly, local governments are entering into maintenance agreements with landowners that may require the landowner to maintain a “storm water facility” on the property. For years, we have advised buyers to identify the existence of these “facilities” on the property, but not to ask whether or not there is a formal maintenance agreement with the locality in place. To ensure our buyers and buyers agents know what to ask, we will propose amending the “buyer-beware” disclosure form to include the existence of storm water maintenance agreement.

HB 1452 – Landlord and tenant law; who may recover rent and possession
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1452
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Several judges in Virginia opine that, because “family trusts” are not specifically spelled out in the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (VRLTA), property managers cannot appear in court on behalf of their clients. This leaves the owner to have to appear in person or to have to hire an attorney. An oversight in the VRLTA, we will make sure that property managers can continue to represent their clients in court by amending the Code to add “family trusts”

HB 1965 – Consumer Awards from the Real Estate Transaction Recovery Fund
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1965
Introduced by: Thomas Davis Rust
Currently, when a licensee is found guilty of a Real Estate Board regulation and the consumer is owed money, the consumer has to petition the General District Court for a judgment. The judgment has to specifically state the offense that occurred with the real estate licensee and other very specific language. If that specific language is not included, the judge will not award the money to the consumer. This bill will amend the Code to allow judges to award a general judgment, already allowed for under the Board of Contractors.

*Bill Number Not Yet Released – Clarifications to the POA and COA
Introduced by: Christopher K. Peace
Each year, issues arise in the relationships between REALTORS®, homeowners, and Property Owners Associations (POAs) and Condominium Owners Associations (COAs). This bill will provide clarity to the law regarding what fees can be charged and what actions ownership associations can take. It is important to find the proper balance in the agreements between homeowners and POA’s and COA’s to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.
SB 775 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+SB775
Introduced by: Mamie E. Locke

HB 1642 http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1642
Introduced by: Christopher P. Stolle

Buyers, particularly in coastal regions of Virginia, need to be able to identify whether properties will need additional flood insurance because they are located in a FEMA- determined flood zone. Current lending regulations require a flood certification be performed on every property, regardless of where it is in Virginia. This is used as part of the underwriting of the loan and to ensure that appropriate insurance coverage is applied.

However, the flood certification process could be used to educate buyers or potential buyers before contracts are ratified. Flood certifications are performed by third-party providers at a price that ranges between $50 and $100. A list of these providers is readily available on the FEMA website. Like home inspections, like storm water facilities, like the sexual offender registry, buyers should know what questions to ask. These bills amend the Code to add language to the “buyer-beware” list of disclosures that recommend that the purchaser obtain a flood certification report on the property.

HB 1424 – Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Act; delinquent payment
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1424
Introduced by: Daniel W. Marshall, III
Several years ago, VAR helped to pass a bill that prohibited a water authority from attaching a lien or otherwise requiring a landlord or property owner to pay delinquent water bills from their tenants before the services could be resumed. Unfortunately, the General Assembly missed one Code section.
To fix this oversight, HB 1424 amends all of the sections in the Code to prohibit water authorities from requiring landlords or property owners to pay delinquent water fees from tenants.

HB 1493 – Enticing, etc., real estate licensee with intent to commit certain felonies; penalty
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1493
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller

SB 1100 http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+SB1100
Introduced by: Mark D. Obenshain

There have been several high-profile cases in the past several months in which REALTORS® have been lured into vacant houses, only to be assaulted, raped, abducted….or worse. In each of these instances, the victim was lured into the property through contact from a potential “client” who wanted to see the property. HB 1493 and SB 1100 will ensure that authorities have adequate tools in place to prosecute individuals who knowingly lure or trap REALTORS® into these circumstances with intent to do harm.

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for the 2015 REALTOR® Day on the Hill Event! Scheduled this year for Wednesday, February 11th, VPAR members are encouraged to come to this long-standing advocacy day that puts you in from of your legislators, and gives you the opportunity to lobby for your industry! Speakers are being lined up, the room is reserved and the food has been ordered! Call VPAR to sign up to make sure we have you all set, and register for the one-day ticket for the VAR Get Active Conference/REALTOR® Day on the Hill at http://www.varealtor.com/GetActive. Lunch and the AMAZING Legislative Reception at The Jefferson are included. More details will be forthcoming.

Each week during the Session, be sure to look for the VPAR LEGISLATIVE LINE that will give you the latest news on VAR’s bills, other legislation we are tracking, the legislators, the state budget, the Administration…..it always is chock-full of info that will keep you up-to-date on the latest news out of Richmond. Look especially for Calls to Action so that you can weigh in on critical issues!
FEDERAL
FHA Annual Premium Reduction Finalized

On January 8th, at a speech in Phoenix attended by NAR President Chris Polychron, President Obama announced that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) would reduce FHA annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) by 50 basis points.

Congress Renews TRIA Through 2020

In its first act of business in the 114th Congress, on January 7th, the House passed H.R. 26, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015, by a vote of 416-5.
Should you have questions on these or other issues, or for additional details, please contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445 or at susan@gastongroup.com.