Legal Blog

2020 Pending VA General Assembly Bills

In an effort to keep our clients up to date on the latest developments in Virginia residential landlord-tenant laws, we have listed proposed legislation pending before the Virginia General Assembly that could have an impact on the property management industry if passed into law. Specifically, we have listed proposed amendments to the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA), including excerpts from the bill summaries prepared by the Virginia Division of Legislative Services. The information contained herein can change throughout the legislative process. Bills can be amended, and language originally proposed can be deleted. In order to assure you have the most accurate information about any given bill, please go to lis.virginia.gov and review the actual language of the bill and any relevant amendments.

 

Senate Bill 97 – Virginia Fair Housing Law; unlawful discriminatory housing practices.

This bill provides that it is an unlawful discriminatory housing practice for any political jurisdiction or its employees or appointed commissions to discriminate in the application of local land use ordinances or guidelines, or in the permitting of housing developments, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status, handicap, or because the housing development contains or is expected to contain affordable housing units occupied or intended for occupancy by families or individuals with incomes at or below 80 percent of the median income of the area where the housing development is located or is proposed to be located. The bill also requires the Fair Housing Board, after consultation with the Attorney General and instead of issuing a charge for a violation, to immediately refer the matter to the Attorney General for civil action in the appropriate circuit court for appropriate relief. The bill contains technical amendments.

Senate Bill 115 – Virginia Residential Landlord & Tenant Act; notice of termination to contain legal services information.

This bill provides that no notice of termination of tenancy served upon any residential tenant is effective unless it contains on its first page, in type no smaller or less legible than that otherwise used in the body of the notice, the name, address, and telephone number of the legal services program, if any, serving the jurisdiction in which the premises is located. The same requirement is currently only applicable to a public housing authority organized under the Housing Authorities Law.

Senate Bill 200 – Income tax, state; housing choice vouchers, eligible housing areas.

This bill expands the definition of “eligible housing area” for purposes of the housing choice voucher tax credit to include the City of Alexandria. Landlords who rent qualified housing units within such areas are eligible for an income tax credit. Current law only applies to certain areas within the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Senate Bill 342 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; disclosure of special flood hazard area to purchaser or renter.

This bill requires the owner of residential real property who has actual knowledge that the property is located in one or more special flood hazard areas to provide a written disclosure when selling the property. Under current law, the owner is required to advise the buyer to exercise due diligence prior to purchasing the property. The bill also requires landlords who have actual knowledge that the residential dwelling unit is on property that is located in a special flood hazard area to disclose that information to the prospective tenant. If a tenant is not provided such disclosure within 60 days of discovery that the residential dwelling unit is on property that is located in a special flood hazard area, he may terminate the lease. This bill is a recommendation of the Virginia Housing Commission.

Senate Bill 707 – Landlord and tenant; tenant rights and responsibilities.

This bill requires the Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development to develop a statement of tenant rights and responsibilities explaining in plain language the rights and responsibilities of tenants under the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (§ 55.1-1200 et seq.) and maintain such statement on the Department’s website along with a form to be signed by the parties to a rental agreement. The bill requires that the statement be provided to any prospective tenant and that the form developed by the Department be signed by the parties to the rental agreement. Failure to provide the statement of tenant rights and responsibilities to a prospective tenant or to provide a signed copy of the form with the copy of the signed rental agreement creates a rebuttable presumption that a landlord who has an assertion made against him of material noncompliance with the lease agreement has failed to maintain the dwelling unit in a fit and habitable condition.

House Bill 3 – Va. Fair Housing Law; unlawful discriminatory housing practices, sexual orientation and gender, etc.

This bill adds discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity as an unlawful housing practice. The bill defines “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

House Bill 23 – Public employment and housing; prohibited discrimination, sexual orientation or gender identity.

This bill prohibits discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill also codifies for state and local government employment the current prohibitions on discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, or status as a veteran. Additionally, the bill adds discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity as an unlawful housing practice. The bill defines sexual orientation and gender identity.

House Bill 99 – Va. Fair Housing Law; unlawful discriminatory housing practices, status as a victim of family abuse.

This bill adds discrimination on the basis of an individual’s status as a victim of family abuse as an unlawful housing practice.

House Bill 329 – Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; notice of termination to contain legal services.

This bill provides that no notice of termination of tenancy served upon any residential tenant is effective unless it contains on its first page, in type no smaller or less legible than that otherwise used in the body of the notice, the name, address, and telephone number of the legal services program, if any, serving the jurisdiction in which the premises is located. Under current law, this requirement is only applicable to a public housing authority organized under the Housing Authorities Law. The bill also requires that such information be provided in English and Spanish.

House Bill 393 – Landlord and tenant; tenant rights and responsibilities, Tenant Bill of Rights.

This bill requires that the Director of Housing and Community Development develop a Tenant Bill of Rights explaining in plain language the rights and responsibilities of tenants under the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act and maintain such statement on the Department’s website. The Director must also develop and maintain on the Department’s website a form to be signed by the parties to a written rental agreement acknowledging that the tenant has been advised to review the Tenant Bill of Rights. A landlord must furnish to a prospective tenant, at the time of furnishing an unsigned copy of the proposed written rental agreement, the form containing the Tenant Bill of Rights for signature by the parties to the rental agreement. The landlord is required to provide a copy of the signed Tenant Bill of Rights form to the tenant.

House Bill 519 – Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; certain notices of termination.

This bill provides that no notice of termination of tenancy served upon a tenant by a private landlord receiving tenant-based rental assistance through the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program or through any other federal, state, or local program is effective unless it provides the name, address, and telephone number of the legal aid program, if any, serving the jurisdiction in which the premises is located.

House Bill 590 – Eligible housing areas; tax credit for participating landlords, expands definition.

This bill expands the definition of “eligible housing area” for the housing choice voucher tax credit to include Virginia census tracts in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria Metropolitan Statistical Area in which less than 10 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. Landlords who rent qualified housing units within such areas are eligible for an income tax credit. Current law only applies to such areas within the Richmond and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

House Bill 594 – Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; security deposits, timing of application.

This bill provides that the landlord may apply the security deposit to damages resulting from the tenancy upon termination of the tenancy or the date the tenant vacates the dwelling unit, whichever occurs last. The law currently allows application of the security deposit solely upon termination of the tenancy.

House Bill 696 – Local human rights ordinances; sexual orientation and gender identity.

This bill provides that localities may prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, and education on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

House Bill 756 – Virginia Residential Landlord & Tenant Act; tenants’ participation in Eviction Diversion Pilot Program.

This bill allows a tenant who has exercised his right of redemption prior to July 1, 2020, to participate in the Eviction Diversion Pilot Program. The bill repeals a 2019 enactment clause excluding such tenants from participation.

House Bill 858 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act, etc.; required disclosures.

This bill requires the owner of residential real property who has actual knowledge that the property is located in one or more special flood hazard areas to provide a disclosure that states such information to a potential purchaser. The owner of any residential real property upon which a stormwater management facility is located is required to provide to a prospective purchaser a written disclosure that includes specifications, requirements, and a schedule of audits of such facility. Such disclosures are to be made on forms provided by the Real Estate Board on its website. The bill also requires the landlord of a dwelling unit that has actual knowledge that the dwelling unit is on property that is located in a special flood hazard area to provide to a prospective tenant a written disclosure that states such information prior to the execution by the tenant of a written lease agreement or, in the case of an oral lease agreement, prior to occupancy by the tenant. Any tenant who is not provided the required disclosure may terminate the lease agreement at any time within 60 days of discovery that the property is located in a special flood hazard area. The bill adds to the required disclosures for the buyer to beware that the owner makes no representation with respect to the condition or regulatory status of any impounding structure or dam on the property or under the ownership of the common interest community that the owner of the property is required to join, and purchasers are advised to exercise due diligence in determining such information.

House Bill 1014 – Income tax, state; housing choice vouchers, eligible housing areas.

This bill expands the definition of “eligible housing area” for purposes of the housing choice voucher tax credit to include the City of Alexandria. Landlords who rent qualified housing units within such areas are eligible for an income tax credit. Current law only applies to certain areas within the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area.

House Bill 1050 – Discrimination; prohibited in public accommodations, employment, credit, etc.

This bill creates explicit causes of action for unlawful discrimination in public accommodations and employment in the Virginia Human Rights Act. Currently, under the Act there is no cause of action for discrimination in public accommodations, and the only causes of action for discrimination in employment are for (i) unlawful discharge on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, including lactation, by employers employing more than five but fewer than 15 persons and (ii) unlawful discharge on the basis of age by employers employing more than five but fewer than 20 persons. The bill allows the causes of action to be pursued privately by the aggrieved person or, in certain circumstances, by the Attorney General. The bill prohibits discrimination in public and private employment and credit on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill also codifies for state and local government employment the current prohibitions on discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, or status as a veteran. Additionally, the bill prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a veteran and adds discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, marital status, or status as a veteran as an unlawful housing practice. The bill contains technical amendments.

House Bill 1161 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act, etc.; required disclosures, lead pipe.

This bill requires the owner of a residential dwelling who has actual knowledge of the existence of lead pipe in such dwelling unit to provide to a prospective purchaser a written disclosure that the property has lead pipe. Such disclosure shall be provided to the purchaser on a form provided by the Real Estate Board on its website. The bill also requires any landlord of a dwelling unit who has actual knowledge of the existence of lead pipe in such dwelling unit to disclose that information to a prospective tenant. Any tenant who is not provided with such disclosure may terminate the lease agreement at any time within 60 days of discovery of the existence of lead pipe by providing written notice to the landlord. The bill defines “lead pipe” as any pipe or pipe or plumbing fixture, solder, or flux that does not meet the federal Safe Drinking Water Act definition of “lead-free.”

House Bill 1195 – Virginia Residential Landlord & Tenant Act; notice of termination to contain legal services information.

This bill provides that no notice of termination of tenancy served upon any residential tenant is effective unless it contains on its first page, in type no smaller or less legible than that otherwise used in the body of the notice, the name, address, and telephone number of the legal services program, if any, serving the jurisdiction in which the premises is located. The same requirement is currently only applicable to a public housing authority organized under the Housing Authorities Law.

House Bill 1342 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act, etc.; required disclosures, lead pipe.

This bill requires the owner of a residential dwelling who has actual knowledge of the existence of lead pipe in such dwelling unit to provide to a prospective purchaser a written disclosure that the property has lead pipe. Such disclosure shall be provided to the purchaser on a form provided by the Real Estate Board on its website. The bill also requires any landlord of a dwelling unit who has actual knowledge of the existence of lead pipe in such dwelling unit to disclose that information to a prospective tenant. Any tenant who is not provided with such disclosure may terminate the lease agreement at any time within 60 days of discovery of the existence of lead pipe by providing written notice to the landlord. The bill defines “lead pipe” as any pipe or pipe or plumbing fixture, solder, or flux that does not meet the federal Safe Drinking Water Act definition of “lead free.”

HB 1420 Landlord and tenant; payment of rent, late fee, five percent cap.

Landlord and tenant; payment of rent; late fee; five percent cap. Provides that any charge for late payment of rent may not exceed five percent of the amount due.

House Bill 1516 – Landlord and tenant; certain owners of residential rental property.

This bill creates the Virginia Residential Rental Property Registry, to be developed and maintained by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Every owner of residential property on which three or more dwelling units are offered for rent is required to submit certain information to be placed on the Registry. Failure to properly register or maintain updated registry information is subject to a civil penalty of $50 per unit for the first day and $50 for each additional day of noncompliance, to be levied by the Department. The bill also requires such property owners to appoint and continuously maintain an agent who (i) is available to be contacted 24 hours a day and (ii) works or resides not more than 25 miles from any such property. The contact phone number of such agent is required to be posted in any residential building on any such property in a conspicuous manner for use by the tenants.

 

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