THE LEGISLATIVE LINE Number 5 March 1, 2015

CapitalVIRGINIA PENINSULA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
THE LEGISLATIVE LINE
The Legislative Update from VPAR
Number 5 March 1, 2015
For the first time in recent memory, the General Assembly adjourned a day early, gaveling out “Sine Die,” Latin for “without another day,” on Friday night, February 27th. In a Session that wrapped up with a two-year budget completed in record time, little acrimony, and raises for state employees, state-supported local employees, college faculty, and teachers, this Session has been regarded by some senior legislators from both parties as one of the best and most efficient on record.

 

This short session also produced:
• extra money for state police, sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers;
• better protection of students from campus sexual assaults and of young children in unlicensed day care homes;
• an historic overhaul of the state ABC Board ;
• big boosts to underfunded state employee and teacher pensions;
• stricter oversight of public-private transportation deals, such as the aborted $1.8 billion plan for a new U.S. 460, and a sweeping reallocation of state transportation funds; and
• financial relief for local governments and higher education, as well as a much-needed early deposit to the state rainy-day fund after draining it to plug a projected $2.4 billion revenue shortfall that ended up being less dire than expected.

 

Nothing was more remarkable in the assembly session than the smooth adoption of a two-year, $35 billion state general fund budget on Thursday — two days before the scheduled adjournment and earlier than anyone involved could remember.

 

With bills now on the Governor’s desk for his approval by midnight on March 30th, in advance of the April 8th Veto Session, Delegates and Senators have returned home, primed to begin the election cycle for all 140 seats of the legislature in November.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY RETIREMENTS
Eight members of the General Assembly, five members of the Senate and three members of the House, are not seeking re-election this year. Combined, Senators Charles Colgan (D-Manassas), John Watkins (R-Powhatan), Walter Stosch (R-Henrico), Linda T. “Toddy” Puller (D-Alexandria) and Jeff McWaters (R-Virginia Beach), along with Delegates Mamye BaCote (D-Newport News), Tom Rust (R-Reston) and Ed Scott (R-Madison) represent nearly 170 years in legislative service and institutional knowledge. They will be missed for their budget acumen, their statesman/stateswoman-like qualities and their expertise across a variety of issues including agriculture, transportation, accounting and local government operations. All have been stalwart friends of the real estate and housing industries, and VPAR wishes them well on their next journey. We especially will miss our own Peninsula member of the House, Delegate BaCote. Thanks to each of them for their love of and dedication to the Commonwealth. Well done!

 
STATUS OF THE REALTOR®
2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
VAR’s entire legislative agenda PASSED THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY and rests on the Governor’s desk. Governor McAuliffe must take action on ALL legislation by midnight on Monday, March 30th.
IN ADDITION, as noted in last week’s update, we have prevailed on 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.

 

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. Reconsidered with Senate amendments by the House on February 23rd and passed 98-0. The bill is headed to the Governor for his approval.
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.

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.