Suppose you represent a client and the property in question has a cemetery on it. There are some important facts in this scenario that you should be aware of. First, if you represent the seller, you will need to disclose that there is a cemetery, as a reasonable person could consider the presence of a cemetery to be material and adverse, and of course, it has to do with the physical condition of the property.   

If you represent a buyer, there is some important information you will want to advise your client of before they proceed with purchasing a property with a cemetery. The Virginia Code addresses access to cemeteries located on private land in § 57-27.1. This code section gives family members, descendants of deceased persons buried on the property, owners of any cemetery plot, and anyone engaging in genealogical research to access the property with reasonable notice to the owner. 

Because there are potentially a number of people who have a right to access the property, the owner of the property is prohibited from installing a fence, wall, or any other structure or device that would keep visitors from accessing the property; fences, walls, or similar are permitted if there is a door or gate through which visitors could still easily access the graves. Potential visitors are required to give reasonable notice to the property owner and, similarly, the property owner has the right to set reasonable days, hours, and methods of access for visitation of the gravesite(s).   

The property owner of land that includes a cemetery is not required to maintain the graves but is also prohibited from intentionally damaging or destroying the graves. Likewise, visitors are liable for any damage they cause to the graves and/or any other parts of the property. This includes damage caused to the grounds by visitors driving onto the property. As a general rule, visitors are not allowed to drive directly to the cemetery unless there is a road that provides ready access to the cemetery AND the property owner has given permission to the visitors to use the road to access the cemetery by vehicle.