The Virginia General Assembly passed hundreds of bills during the 2020 legislative session. For those who lead, live in, or associate with community associations, many of these changes could impact the day to day operations of how individuals and these associations interact. Below is a summary of some of the General Assembly’s more significant recent bills that effect community associations.
House Bill 176 – Contract Disclosure Statement with regards to the Property Owners’ Association Act and Virginia Condominium Act
With House Bill 176, the Virginia General Assembly updated Virginia Code Section 55.1-1808. Section 55.1-1808 is a provision that requires the seller of a lot to disclose that the lot is located within a development that is subject to the Property Owners’ Association Act and provide to the purchaser of the lot an association disclosure packet. Under certain terms, the purchaser has the right to cancel the contract to purchase the lot upon receipt of this disclosure packet. The new law updates the language of the statute to include the term “ratified real estate contract.” Generally, the purchaser previously had the right to cancel the contract within three days of receiving the association disclosure packet. Now, the purchaser also has the right to cancel the contract of purchase for a period of up to seven days if specified in a ratified real estate contract.
In a similar manner, the General Assembly also updated Virginia Code Section 55.1-1990 (the Condominium Act’s counterpart to Section 55.1-1808). This section similarly imposes on the owner of a condominium unit a duty to disclose that the unit is subject to the Condominium Act and to provide to the purchaser of the unit a resale certificate from the unit owner’s association. Just as Section 55.1-1808 allowed for a purchaser to cancel the contract within three days of receiving the association disclosure packet, Section 55.1-1990 allows for the purchaser of a condominium unit to cancel the contract within three days of receiving the resale certificate. The updated language now includes the right of the purchaser to cancel the contract within three days, or up to seven days if specified in a ratified real estate contract, after receiving the resale certificate.
House Bill 720 – Restrictions on a property owner’s display of political signs under the Property Owners’ Association Act
No doubt, the General Assembly took note that this is a Presidential Election year. Another amendment to the Property Owners’ Association Act included new language to Virginia Code Section 55.1-1809. This section outlines the specific information that must be included in an association disclosure packet provided to the buyer of a lot by the association. New to this statute is the provision that requires the association disclosure packet to contain a statement setting forth any restrictions on the size, place, duration, or manner of placement or display of political signs by a lot owner on his own lot. While previously, potential buyers could have presumably obtained this information by reviewing the association’s governing documents, it will now be more readily apparent to a buyer.
Senate Bill 630 – Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations within Common Interest Communities
The General Assembly also updated the law to account for the continuing wave of green energy initiatives by limiting associations’ ability to prohibit or regulate the installation of electric vehicle (“EV”) charging stations. This Bill added sections 55.1-1823.1, 55.1-1962.1, and 55.1-2139.1 to the Property Owners’ Association Act, the Virginia Condominium Act, and the Virginia Real Estate Cooperative Act, respectively.
The new provision added to the Property Owners’ Association Act prohibits any association from preventing a lot owner from installing an EV charging station on his personally owned property, except as may be otherwise stated in a declaration or other recorded governing document. The law does allow, however, for the association to establish reasonable restrictions as to number, size, place, and manner of installation or placement of an EV charging station on the exterior of property owned by a lot owner. Additionally, an association may prohibit or impose reasonable restrictions on the installation of an EV charging station on common area within the development served by the association. The law also states that a lot owner shall indemnify and hold harmless an association from all liability resulting from the installation or use of an EV charging station. If any associations want to prohibit EV charging stations outright, they’ll now need to amend their declarations if they don’t presently have such a prohibition contained in the declaration already.
A similar regulation can be found in the Virginia Condominium Act and the Virginia Real Estate Cooperative Act (but with certain variations to reflect the differing forms of legal ownership found under these regimes). The statutes prohibit an association from preventing a unit owner or proprietary lessee from installing an EV charging station within a unit owner’s or lessee’s unit boundaries or a limited common element parking space appurtenant to the owned unit. However, the statutes allow an association to prohibit the installation of an EV charging station if it is not practicable due to safety risks, structural issues, or certain engineering conditions. The statutes also allow an association to require a unit owner or lessee to provide or follow a lengthy list of conditions, such as: providing detailed plans or drawings for an EV charging station, compliance with building codes or safety standards, compliance with architectural standards, payment of installation, maintenance, and operation costs, indemnification of an association from liability, payment of the costs of removal of an EV charging station, separately metering the utilities associated with an EV charging station, obtaining and maintaining insurance, and reimbursement to an association of any common expenses attributable to an EV charging station. The law states that conditions imposed on a unit owner’s or lessee’s installation of an EV charging station will run with the title to the unit. Clearly, condominium unit owners face a good number of additional costs and hurdles with respect to EV charging stations compared to lot owners in a property owners’ association.
As these new laws are put into practice, stay tuned for additional guidance from Gordon & Rees’ Community Association Team on how your association can operate soundly while minimizing its legal risks.