As the calendar rolled over to July 1, 2018, new laws have taken effect in the Commonwealth. The following “short” list is not comprehensive, but includes those laws that may have interest among personal injury and civil litigation attorneys.
Attorney fees for prevailing party; more than one attorney.
Repeals the provision that allows only the fee of one attorney to be taxed by the court, even if the recovering party had more than one attorney. This bill is a recommendation of the Boyd-Graves.
Personal injury claim; disclosure of insurance policy limits.
Provides that in a civil action for personal injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident, regardless of the amount of losses sustained by an injured person, an insurance company shall disclose the policy limits of an alleged tortfeasor who has been convicted of an offense of driving under the influence within 30 days of a request for such disclosure.
Life insurance; claims of creditors.
Repeals a provision that excludes, from the protections from claims of creditors that are afforded life insurance policies and annuities, the cash surrender or loan value of a policy under which the right to change the beneficiary is reserved. In 2016, the General Assembly enacted a provision that exempts protected insurance items from the claims of creditors regardless of whether the right to change a beneficiary is reserved or permitted.
Virginia Consumer Protection Act
Adds the offenses of obtaining money by false pretense, financial exploitation of mentally incapacitated persons, and construction fraud to the prohibited practices under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (59.1-196 et seq.)
HB 855/SB 197
Landlord and tenant law; notice requirements; landlord’s acceptance of rent with reservation.
Changes the landlord and tenant law notice requirements for landlords to accept full or partial rent while continuing to proceed with a court action to obtain an order of possession and subsequent eviction by creating a single notice and removing the requirement for second notice for the time period between entry of an order of possession and prior to eviction. The bill provides that the landlord may accept full or partial payment of rent and still receive an order of possession and proceed with eviction if the landlord states in the written notice to the tenant that any payment of rent, damages, money judgment, award of attorney fees, and court costs would be accepted with reservation and not constitute a waiver of the landlord’s right to evict the tenant from the dwelling unit.
Unlawful detainer; execution of writ of possession.
Permits a judge, upon request of the plaintiff, to issue a writ of possession immediately upon entry of judgment in an unlawful detainer case. The bill requires the sheriff to serve notice of the writ, including the date and time of eviction, on the defendant at least 72 hours prior to execution of the writ. The bill further provides that a sheriff shall not evict the defendant from the dwelling unit sooner than the expiration of the defendant’s 10-day appeal period.
Landlord and tenant law.
Removes remaining differences between general landlord and tenant provisions and the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act by conforming provisions pertaining to residential dwelling units in the following areas: (i) termination of a nonresidential tenancy by self-help eviction or by filing an unlawful detainer action; (ii) tenant obligations to maintain a dwelling unit; (iii) notice to the tenant in the event of foreclosure; (iv) wrongful failure to supply heat, water, hot water, or essential services; (v) prohibited provisions in the rental agreement; (vi) early termination of a rental agreement by military personnel; and (vii) remedies for the landlord’s failure to deliver possession.
Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act; definition of manufactured homepark.
Reduces from 10 to five the number of manufactured homes required on a parcel of land under single or common ownership for purposes of being subject to the Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act (55-248.41 et seq.)
HB 1227/SB 286
Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; transient lodging as primary residence.
Clarifies that the availability of the use of self-help eviction in certain circumstances to the owner of transient lodging shall not preclude such owner from pursuing any civil or criminal remedies under the laws of the Commonwealth.
SB 422/HB 755
Foreclosure; notice of sale when owner is deceased.
Provides that when the owner of a property to be sold by a trustee pursuant to a deed of trust is deceased, the notice of the sale shall be delivered to the last known address of the deceased owner, any personal representative of the deceased’s estate, and any heirs of the deceased as recorded in the land records where the property is located. The bill further provides that the trustee of a deed of trust for property that is sold after the death of the owner shall include (i) any remaining subsequent debts and obligations secured by the deed and (ii) any liens of record inferior to the deed of trust under which the sale is made, with lawful interest, in the list of debts to be paid off using any surplus from the sale prior to paying the remainder of the surplus to the decedent’s personal representative.
Security freezes for protected consumers; raises age of eligibility for someone to qualify.
Provides that sufficient proof of authority for a person to place a security freeze on a protected consumer includes a birth certification or a written, notarized statement signed by a representative that expressly describes the authority of the representative to act on behalf of the protected consumer.
Handheld personal communications devices; prohibits use in highway work zones.
Imposes a mandatory fine of $250 for using a handheld personal communications device for reading emails or texting while operating a motor vehicle in a highway work zone, defined in the bill, when workers are present.