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Virginia Real Estate Law Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Animal / Dog Law and Land Use & Zoning for Virginia on
Q: Can I challenge the legality of Va. Code 18.2-136 "Right to Retrieve" in appellate court?

Owners of hunting dogs can access private property with or with out permission of the owner at any time. In fact, by code, a property owner can't deny access to private land under any circumstance.

I think the General Assembly has this wrong. How can I challenge this in court. Seems like... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Nov 26, 2019

One thing I love about law practice is that I keep learning new things 35 years after I started practice and about 29 years after I became a Virginia lawyer. Interesting Code section. A trip to a real library rather than the Internet version would get the history of the statute first enacted before... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Gov & Administrative Law for Virginia on
Q: Does BOD have authority to apply surplus from a special assessment to LTR?

I'm on a very small HOA BOD. We recently collected a special assessment to fix a washed out culvert. We collected a special assessment based on an estimate we had received from a local contractor. We were able to repair the culvert for less with another contractor.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Nov 25, 2019

The answer may be in your bylaws. Read them or retain a lawyer to read them.

1 Answer | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: With respect to residential lease Under what circumstances Can a lease holder (home owner) raise rent during lease?

Lease is six months beginning September 2019

Elizabeth Crego
Elizabeth Crego answered on Nov 21, 2019

A landlord can raise the rent only after the lease period ends. Typically, with your six month lease, it would convert to a month-to-month lease (unless the lease says otherwise) at the end of the six month period. For the first six months, the rent amount would stay as it is written in the lease... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Civil Litigation, Contracts, Landlord - Tenant and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can a landlord increase rent during a VA residential lease? In lease contract line 13 reads landlord can during anytime

In the event landlord can raise rent, how much notice is needed? Said differently, can the increase be effective immediately i.e. at next due payment?

In the event the tenants don't agree can the landlord evict tenants before the end of the lease?

Of note, this is a six month VA... Read more »

F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof answered on Nov 15, 2019

In consideration of a lease with a 6 month term, at the end of the 6 months, the lease becomes a month-to-month lease by operation of law unless it is renewed in a new written document. During the term of the 6 months, it is a binding contract for which the rent cannot be increased unilaterally but... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Virginia on
Q: Can I enter the rental freely?

I have a tenant renting a room in my rental property which is a 2 bedroom house. Do I have free access to the rest of the property and common areas without giving notice, if they are just entitled to the 1 bedroom? (For repairs, inspection, etc.) Also, their lease is up anyway and have been... Read more »

F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof answered on Nov 2, 2019

Your lease should address the issue of the landlord's right to enter the premises, whether it is the room being Individually leased or the whole house. Generally in Virginia, the landlord may enter the premises by giving reasonable notice to the tenant. The focus should be on what area of the... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Civil Litigation for Virginia on
Q: We just purchased a house under a Virginia Real Estate contract.

All parties agreed on price and signed. Can the seller back out because the appraisal came in higher than expected?

F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof answered on Oct 28, 2019

There are certain contingencies in a NVAR form real estate contract, revised as of July 2019, if that is what was used. There may or may not be an escape clause in the real estate contract you signed. The best way to know if to hire an attorney who can review the contract and give you a formal... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: I am trying to find the deed record for a house I am wanting to buy in Va to see if there are any easements recorded.
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 27, 2019

Order a title search from a reputable abstractor. That's what they do. If you you enter a contract contingent on the property being free and clear and the accepted contract is given to a lawyer doing the title transfer as a title agent, the title abstract is usually an included expense.

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Settlement and possession laws?

We closed on our house at 6pm Friday so the documents won’t be recorded until Monday. We’re also still working on finalizing an escrow holdback agreement for repairs seller needs to pay for post closing. It’s now Saturday and the sellers are asking for keys and access back to the property. We... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 19, 2019

You are the owner as of closing without regard to recordation, at least as to the seller, but what form of fantasy would lead you to close with an unfinished escrow agreement for repairs that aren't competed!? How are they to do the repairs? How are you to take occupancy? Who is responsible of... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Hey question I my boyfriend and his mother all own a house split 3 ways. My boyfriend and I want to rent our rooms

This is legal even if she doesn’t want it correct cause we have the Majority 66% pull

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 18, 2019

Co-tenancy isn’t majority rules unless the property is held by an entity like a corporation and the shareholders elect a board and president that orders sale. If the property is indivisible, like most homes, each owner has the right to occupy the whole, and each owner has the duty to contribute.... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can a HOA Charge you for not power washing a deck that is the Responsibility for them to keep Maintenance of everything.
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 17, 2019

What do the Covenants say about that? Do they incorporate any other documents, like bylaws? Do they create a governance system? Is that governance consistent with your state and sometimes local law? Did that governing body get duly selected in accordance with the applicable rules? Were the... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Virginia on
Q: Can someone presently be the nominee of a dead person? Do you turn into a nominee of their estate?

If someone is the nominee of a person when he/she is alive, does that person remain a nominee if the other individual dies or does that person become the owner of the dead person's property?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 17, 2019

If you are referring to the agent under a power of attorney, then the answer is no, the power of attorney automatically terminates upon the death of the principal. Also, agents under powers of attorney do not automatically inherit. Inheritance is determined by the decedent's will or, if the... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: My realtor & broker refuses to take our property off the market after we told them to. Is this legal?

We wanted to get out of our contract but they declined that. So we decided to take the house off the market. They then told us the house would remain listed until the contract expired. Can they do yhis

Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart answered on Oct 8, 2019

First you need to read the listing agreement you signed. Or consult a lawyer to review it and advise you of your obligations.

If you remove the property from the market, you may owe commissions and fees for early termination. And if they produce an offer that EXACTLY matches the terms...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: What happens to the estate if all individuals named in the will can’t be located?

Will in probate in Arkansas

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 5, 2019

All of my states have a procedure for depositing the share of the missing heir into the registry of the Court. Consult a local lawyer or the probate clerk's office.

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can I break my lease if my apartment complex is being sold to a new company?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 5, 2019

No. Unless the then-owners agree with you to terminate the lease early, your lease is not affected by their transaction. Of course, there may be tactics to secure that agreement, and a lawyer might help with that.

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1 Answer | Asked in Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can my neighbor invite a friend to live on his property in an RV?

It is being used as a full time residence.

Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart answered on Oct 2, 2019

Maybe, maybe not.

Two considerations: a) subdivision restrictions and b) zoning ordinances.

a) If you are in a subdivision with restrictions and covenants, there may be a prohibition in them. They will sometimes refer to it as 'temporary housing' or refer to campers, tents and...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Virginia on
Q: I received a 5day pay or quit notice on the 4th (VA) On the morning of 9th, the property mgr. began legal process and

is now charging legal fees, additional months rent. I paid the full amount due on the evening of the 9th through a drop box. Was legal proceedings filed prematurely? Shouldn’t I have 5 full days from the date I was served? Thank you!

F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof answered on Sep 18, 2019

I would need to review all the documents in order the give an answer. However, you may have a defense to a lawsuit if the suit is filed maturely. You should get a formal opinion from a lawyer to protect yourself.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Difference between offer to purchase real property and purchase agreement in Virginia

Buyer and seller entered into vague offer to purchase property in April. No further word from buyer until seller sent letter in August, stating all offers/ contracts have been rescinded. Buyer then called with closing date, saying he'd sue for breach of contract. Is offer to purchase a valid... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 12, 2019

You need a lawyer to review the actual exchanges. If an offer was accepted, it is a contract from that moment on, and it follows its terms until completed or breached.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: How long does a seller have to remove personal items from the property after the sale is completed?

The seller returned several times a few weeks after the sale to take items from the mobile home yard and patio. Now, over a year after the sale, the seller returned to claim items in a outside shed. In the process,the previous owner cut off a lock on the shed and started to remove items. The... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 10, 2019

What's required is a contract review. In most sale of real estate contracts, there is a provision that items on the property except for a list in the contract convey to the buyer. If not, the common law of bailment probably applies, and the buyer became a gratuitous bailee of the goods. He may not... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can someone sell a brick and mortar home but not the land it is built on?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 6, 2019

This is actually fairly common in parts of the United States. Baltimore has a long-standing tradition of selling houses that sit on land held by long-term lease. But, such situations can be quite complex. They can also be the basis for a fraud or a non-fraudulent misunderstanding that means you pay... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Virginia on
Q: I have a nephew that has been living with me for the last 4 years -no rent, no lease, no monies given at all.

I have asked him to leave several times, but he has refused because he says he doesn't have the money. In Virginia would my nephew be considered a "Tenant at Sufferance" and could he be evicted without notice?

F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof answered on Sep 4, 2019

I think your nephew would be considered as a "guest" or an "invitee" rather than a "tenant.' What ever way he is described, if you want him out of your premises, you will need to follow the requirements of Virginia law and eventually file an Unlawful Detainer to seek an Order of Possession that a... Read more »

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