Over the weekend, your Virginia Association of REALTORS® Policy and Advocacy team received confirmation that Governor McAuliffe signed the entire Virginia Association of REALTORS® Legislative Agenda into law. Though the specific provisions of the bills he signed will not come into effect until July 1, 2014, we are pleased that the Governor signed them, exactly as they passed the Virginia General Assembly.
· HB 331 – Establishing First Time Homeowners Savings Plans
VAR sought to establish First Time Homeowner Savings Plans that will allow a contributor to deposit up to $50,000 principal into a banking or investment account, and have all the earnings on that account be forever free of state taxes. A qualified beneficiary would be someone living in Virginia, who has never owned property- individually or jointly- anywhere in the U.S.
- HB 273 – Making important changes to the Landlord-Tenant Act
We amended the Landlord-Tenant Act to allow many more rental properties to fall under the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, which has long been supported by VAR attorneys as being much better for landlords, property managers and their owners. In addition, we removed the requirement that landlords and property managers pay interest on security deposits.
- HB 900 – POA/Condo Act changes
We amended the POA / Condo Act to continue clarifying fees that are allowed versus those not allowed under Virginia law. In addition we make sure that Realtors and their clients can receive homeowner association packets electronically, if requested. Finally, we allow for easier use of those homeowners associations who maintain websites.
- HB 208 – Clarifying the law to protect property rights
We clarified the language of the vested rights statute we passed in 2008 to preserve our accomplishments and to protect property owners from local governments that may wish to require existing buildings without documented building permits be removed.
- SB 302 / HB 259 – Protecting members from being labeled criminals (i.e., making it criminal to assert that a real estate licensee is a criminal)
To protect Realtors from being unjustly labeled as criminals, if an attorney accuses a real estate licensee of criminal false advertising in a lawsuit, we will now require the attorney to state the facts with particularity, to make sure attorneys are not just accusing criminal false advertising without building in the facts or reasons behind the accusations.
As July 1, 2014 nears, we will make sure our members are reminded of these changes to the law, as well as the many others that will come into effect.
Bradley J. Boland
2014 Virginia Association of REALTORS® President