New state laws relating to real estate have taken effect over the summer, many of which could impact homeowners, homebuyers and sellers in certain states.
One such law, enacted in California, equalizes the rules governing escrow services performed by real estate brokers, independent escrow companies and underwritten title companies (UTCs). The law, sponsored by the California Land Title Association, allows a UTC to handle transactions involving properties located in a county where it is not licensed, among other provisions.
Another California law, effective at the beginning of July, requires condominium projects’ annual budget reports include a statement about status as a Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-approved project and as a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)-approved project.
A third law, new to California, requires mobile home park management to provide to buyers and sellers, in writing, the standards that determine the approval of a prospective homeowner; it also allows management to withhold approval based on concealment of material facts, deceit or fraud.
In Florida, a newly-enacted law allows property owners to challenge the property assessment indicated on their Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice. The owner, who may be represented by a real estate attorney, agent, broker or appraiser, can challenge the assessment before his or her county’s Value Adjustment Board (VAB).
Another new law in Florida addresses homeowners insurance coverage for sinkholes, which had previously been limited due to misuse of funds. The law mandates insurance companies offer coverage for moderate damage caused by sinkholes, such as cracked walls and sunken floors, and requires policyholders to document repairs.
In Virginia, a new law shortens the period in which a locality providing water or sewer service can discontinue the service for nonpayment—down to 30 days from 60. A similar new law in Virginia allows a locality providing water or sewer service to place a lien on a property in the amount of the number of months of nonpayment, versus up to three months under a previous statute.
Another new law in Virginia makes a litany of changes to existing legislation (the Property Owners’ Association Act and the Condominium Act), with provisions that:
- Eliminate the requirement that an association retain a copy of the lease for a rented unit (it may, however, require the names of the tenant(s), authorized occupants and authorized agents, and vehicle information);
- Prohibit a unit owners’ association from conditioning or prohibiting the rental of a unit, making an assessment, or imposing a rental fee or any other fee except as expressly provided for in law;
- Prohibit associations from evicting tenants or requiring power of attorney to evict tenants, and prohibit associations from requiring power of attorney from landlords who are represented by an agent and present a property management agreement or equivalent document;
- Prohibit associations from requiring use of their lease or addendum, unless association bylaws require that their addendum be attached; and
- Provide that the unit owner may designate a licensed broker to act as the owner’s authorized representative with respect to any lease.
For more information on real estate-related legislation that went into effect this summer, contact your local or regional association of REALTORS® or your county or state representative’s office.