Business Law Insights

Litigants in civil lawsuits often ask if they will be able to recover their attorney’s fees from the opposing party if they ultimately win the case. Virginia follows the “American Rule” which provides that generally, opposing parties must pay their own attorney’s fees regardless of who wins the case. The rationale of the rule is that a plaintiff should not be deterred from bringing a case to court for fear of incurring substantial costs. However, this general rule may be altered by contractual agreement or legislation. Statutes allowing for the recovery of attorney’s fees by a successful plaintiff are intended to encourage meritorious claims.

A new law enacted by the General Assembly will require landlords to provide prospective tenants with a statement of their rights and responsibilities under the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The “Tenant Bill of Rights” will be posted on the Department of Housing and Community Development website, and shall be signed by the parties to a written rental agreement. The Bill of Rights will include, among other things, an explanation of (i) the landlord's responsibility to maintain the dwelling unit in a fit and habitable condition, (ii) the tenant's right to request repairs and other corrective action by the landlord to ensure such condition, and (iii) the tenant's right (a) to terminate the lease, (b) to be compensated for damages, (c) to withhold or defer rent, and (d) to make an assertion of material noncompliance before a court. Further, the landlord shall provide a copy of any written rental agreement and the signed Tenant Bill of Rights form to the tenant within one month of the effective date of the rental agreement. The law becomes effective July 1, 2020, therefore it does not apply to rental agreements already in effect.

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The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to consider previously unthinkable “what if” scenarios, and has taught many people valuable lessons about being better prepared for the unexpected. As many are now planning to start more conservatively saving for an unexpected financial downturn and to maintain a reasonable supply of household essentials, individuals should also take advantage of this extended period of social distancing to prepare in another way—by reevaluating or creating an estate plan. Given the current atmosphere, here are some things to consider:

According to 2019 survey by Caring.com, 79% of millennials do not have an estate plan in place. However, estate planning is not just for the wealthy or elderly. Because life often takes unexpected turns, estate planning is crucial regardless of age or financial status. In fact, the negative consequences of dying without an estate plan in place are often compounded in the case of a young adult. If you are under 40, here are a few reasons why you should make estate planning a priority:

The Virginia General Assembly has attempted to make the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act fairer to tenants by passing several bills that will take effect this July and are aimed at reducing evictions.

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