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Northern Virginia Legal Blog

Buyer Beware - Buying Real Estate In Virginia

Virginia is a caveat emptor (buyer beware) jurisdiction. Sellers of real estate in Virginia are not necessarily required to fully disclose all property defects when you buy the property, especially when the sale is AS IS.

Typically, it is the buyer who must exercise the required due diligence before purchasing the property. The Virginia Supreme Court has defined due diligence as "such a measure of prudence, activity, or assiduity, as is properly to be expected from, and ordinarily exercised by, a reasonable and prudent man under the particular circumstances; not measured by any absolute standard, but depending on the relative facts of the special case." see STB Marketing, 240 Va. at 144, 393 S.E.2d at 397 (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 411 (rev. 5th ed.1979))

However, the seller cannot deliberately conceal any defects, refuse or fail to disclose known latent (hidden) defects, or divert the purchaser away from defects. For example, in Armentrout v. French, 220 Va. 458, 258 S.E.2d 519 (1979), the Virginia Supreme Court found that the purchaser of the property was relieved of their duty to inspect further when they specifically inquired about the condition of the septic system but were told by the seller that it "checked fine." In reality, the system was defective and emitted a strong odor in the house, which the sellers concealed through various means.

New Eviction Requirements In The Covid-19 Landscape

As COVID-19 began to spread in Virginia, the Virginia General Assembly conveyed, and enacted legislation designed to assist those affected by the Pandemic. This article is meant to provide an overview of the new requirements for Unlawful Detainer ("UD") proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Pandemic").

The Pandemic caused closure of United States' government facilities thereby causing massive furloughs of government employees and contractors. In response, the Virginia Assembly enacted Va. Code ยง 44-209 (Closure of United States government; civil relief for furloughed employees and contractors), which provides a 60-day stay of UD proceedings for tenants who were (1) furloughed United States government employees/contractors or (2) were employees of a company under contract with the United States government who was furloughed or not receiving wages/payments due to closure of the United States government. Therefore, if a Landlord attempts to evict a tenant who was furloughed under the above circumstances, the Court will issue a 60-Day stay to the proceeding.

Why you may (or may not) want to sublease commercial space

With all the uncertainty of our present times, if you are about to open a small business, you may be considering subleasing some commercial retail or office space. While this could wind up being a savvy business move, it could also turn into your worst nightmare.

So, how can you suss out which of the two outcomes it will be? Often, you can't. But understanding and weighing the pros and cons of subleasing commercial property is a good place to start.

They put it where?? Contractor fails

It seemed a simple enough request. Add on a couple of rooms to the back of your home that will be perfect as a mother-in-law cottage or an apartment for your soon-to-be university student.

But the contractor that you hired must not have been up to the task. The slant of the roof is not steep enough to keep the rainwater from pooling in spots. You realize that this will soon cause the shingles to rot and the roof to leak. Also, the door to the outdoor patio was not properly planed and sticks when it's opened or shut. What can you do?

Updates to Virginia Landlord and Tenant Act ("VRLTA")

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the General Assembly has enacted the following bills, which are effective as of April 22, 2019.

House Bill 340 - Closure of the United States government; civil relief for furloughed employees and contractors. Amends the Code of Virginia by adding in Chapter 7 of Title 44 a section numbered 44-209.

  • Provides a 60-day stay of an unlawful detainer for nonpayment of rent for tenants and a 30-day stay of foreclosure proceedings for homeowners of, and owners who rent to a tenant, a one-family to four-family residential dwelling unit who request a stay and provide written proof, defined in the bill, that they are (i) an employee of the United States government, (ii) an independent contractor for the United States government, or (iii) an employee of a company under contract with the United States government who was furloughed or was or is otherwise not receiving wages or payments as a result of a closure of the United States government, defined in the bill. The bill requires homeowners and owners who rent to a tenant a one-family to four-family residential dwelling unit to request such stay of foreclosure proceedings within 90 days of a closure of the United States government or 90 days following the end of such closure, whichever is later. The bill also expands the available relief to any tenant, homeowner, or owner affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic public health crisis during the period for which the Governor has declared a state of emergency (the Emergency). The bill contains an emergency clause and provides that the expanded relief provisions shall expire 90 days following the end of the Emergency.

How strong contracts can resolve construction defect claims early

Whether you are a property owner looking to improve an existing structure, someone planning to build a new home from scratch, or a contractor who provides construction or remodeling services, a dispute about the quality of work, the materials used or the design you agreed upon with the other party can lead to expensive litigation.

For construction professionals, there is also the risk of damage to your professional reputation when an issue arises that you cannot resolve outside of court. Angry customers could damage a company's reputation and drive away potential business. At the same time, those who don't receive the work they pay for should have some form of recourse to protect them from fly-by-night contractors who don't finish the job or who cut corners for profit.

Coronavirus and Your Commercial Lease: A Primer on Lease Termination Issues Raised by COVID-19

The COVID-19 virus has devastated small businesses, which are the engine of the U.S. economy. A recent survey by Goldman Sachs titled US Small Business Owners Face Great Uncertainty; Over Half Say They Cannot Operate Beyond Three Months revealed that 51% of small-business owners said they could not sustain more than three months of the current economic downturn. In addition, ninety-six (96%) said they have already been affected by COVID-19 and 75% have seen reduced sales.

To cope with this pandemic, most state governors have promulgated "stay-at-home" executive orders that close all "non-essential" businesses, including restaurants, ban gatherings of more than 10 individuals, and otherwise restrict travel barring certain enumerated See Virginia Governor Northam's Executive Order Number Fifty-Five (2020) Temporary Stay at Home Order Due to Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). 

PPP Program/CARES Act - Eligibility of Residential Cooperatives and Condominiums for Funding

We at Fox & Moghul have been receiving several queries on whether residential cooperatives and condominium associations are eligible for SBA loan funding under the Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP") included the CARES Act.

What is the PPP Program?

The PPP program is designed to provide small businesses with forgivable loans up to $349 billion to retain employees during this time of crises, which includes up to 8 weeks of payroll costs, interest on mortgage, rent and utilities. The loans would be forgiven for qualified expenses as long as the employees are retained on the company's payroll. For more details, please see U.S. Treasury Fact Sheet.

Options For Businesses Affected By The Coronavirus - Details Of The $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package - Senate Bill 3578 (Coronavirus AID, Relief, And Economic Security ACT or The Cares ACT)

We at Fox & Moghul have been monitoring the government's continuing efforts with respect to the coronavirus emergency stimulus bill. Last night, the Senate passed a bill that will aid large and small business, employees that are laid off, hospitals and state and local governments financial assistance through this coronavirus period. While the bill will still have to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the President, we have reason to quell many of the most serious fears that have arisen over the past few weeks.

Coronavirus and Your Mortgage - Possible Options for Borrowers Affected By COVID-19

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with the ability of many people to timely pay their current mortgage. We at Fox & Moghul have been receiving a high-volume of calls by distressed homeowners seeking assistance on this issue. If you are one of those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and are facing financial difficulties, including an inability to pay your mortgage, then there may be several options that are available to you under the proposed CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, AND ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT OR THE CARES ACT.

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