THE MONITOR – January 2015

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




Local Issues


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 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! And thanks to Dr. Telly Whitfield for the chock-filled information today about the marathon at the General Membership Meeting.

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 and the Newport News website is


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
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
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
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
Introduced by: Mamie E. Locke

HB 1642
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
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
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller

SB 1100
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 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… 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!
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