By: Vice President of Political Operations, Anthony Reedy
We are now less than a month away from the start of the 2020 Virginia General Assembly session and your Virginia REALTORS® Government Relations team is gearing up for a busy year. We wanted to take a few minutes and share our upcoming legislative agenda. We’ll keep you posted on these and other issues that impact you and your clients when the legislature meets in January.
Association Health Plans
For the past year, we have worked with legislators to create the authority to allow an association, like ours, to work with insurance providers to establish health insurance plans that they can offer to members of their association. Why? Most REALTORS® are independent contractors. They work for themselves, meaning that under existing law, the only place they can acquire health insurance is on the “small-group” market or the “individual” market. These are very costly options. In fact, largely due to these costs, almost 20% of REALTORS® in Virginia have no health insurance. These plans would protect members by requiring coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions and cover Essential Health Benefits under the Affordable Care Act.
Rent Money into Escrow
We are seeking legislation to clarify a perceived discrepancy between escrow law and regulations. This legislation will require all rent monies, including current rent, to be deposited into an escrow account. This clarification ensures that all rent monies are deposited into escrow instead of operating accounts and will therefore provide additional protection for consumer funds.
Security Deposit Disbursement
This legislation will clarify that the 45-day time period for returning a security deposit to a tenant starts running from the date of the termination of the tenancy or the date the tenant vacates the unit, whichever occurs last. This clarification will ensure that landlords and tenants are working with the same expectations.
Death or Disability of a Broker
We are pursuing legislation that establishes upon the death or disability of a real estate broker who was a sole proprietor or the only licensed broker in any business entity, the real estate board can approve someone to close out the business. Previously, the law did not include LLCs in the list of business entities, which implied that if a broker was the only licensed broker in an LLC, the VREB could not appoint someone to conclude the business.
Eviction Diversion Program Technical Edit
To correct legislation that passed earlier this year, we are asking to clarify that tenants who have not used their right of redemption within the past 6 months may be able to participate in the pilot eviction diversion program. The current law says that if a tenant has ever used their right of redemption, they cannot participate in the eviction diversion program.
POA/Condo Act Extension for Right of Rescission
To give buyers and sellers a little flexibility, we are seeking legislation that would allow parties to a transaction for a property located in a POA or Condo association to agree to extend the three-day right of rescission for up to an additional four days. Currently, the statute prohibits the parties from changing the three-day period, even if all the parties agree. This can be burdensome for parties with scheduling difficulties or when additional information is needed before the transaction can move forward. Limiting the extension to four days provides extra time, if needed, but still allows for certainty of contract.
Removal of Restrictive Covenants
We are pursuing a bill that would allow for the removal of discriminatory restrictive covenant language that would violate fair housing law from real property title and deeds. Current law already declares such language void and contrary to the public policy of the Commonwealth. This legislation would require all deeds executed in any residential real estate transaction to remove this offensive language that can affect property values and delay or prevent the sale of real property.
As you can see, we have a busy legislative session ahead of us. If you have any questions or comments about the legislative agenda, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.