Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
4/26/2017

Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act

§ 55-517. Applicability.

The provisions of this chapter apply only with respect to transfers by sale, exchange, installment land sales contract, or lease with option to buy residential real property consisting of not less than one nor more than four dwelling units, whether or not the transaction is with the assistance of a licensed real estate broker or salesperson. For the purposes of this chapter, a "real estate contract" means a contract for the sale, exchange, or lease with the option to buy residential real estate subject to this chapter.

1992, c. 717; 2007, c. 265.

§ 55-518. Exemptions.

A. The following are specifically excluded from the provisions of this chapter:

1. Transfers pursuant to court order including, but not limited to, transfers ordered by a court in administration of an estate, transfers pursuant to a writ of execution, transfers by foreclosure sale or by a deed in lieu of a foreclosure, transfers by a trustee in bankruptcy, transfers by eminent domain, and transfers resulting from a decree for specific performance. Also, transfers by an assignment for the benefit of creditors pursuant to Chapter 9 (§ 55-156 et seq.) and transfers pursuant to escheats pursuant to Chapter 9 (§ 55-156 et seq.).

2. Transfers to a beneficiary of a deed of trust pursuant to a foreclosure sale or by a deed in lieu of foreclosure, or transfers by a beneficiary under a deed of trust who has acquired the real property at a sale conducted pursuant to a foreclosure sale under a deed of trust or has acquired the real property by a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

3. Transfers by a fiduciary in the course of the administration of a decedent's estate, guardianship, conservatorship, or trust.

4. Transfers from one or more co-owners solely to one or more other co-owners.

5. Transfers made solely to any combination of a spouse or a person or persons in the lineal line of consanguinity of one or more of the transferors.

6. Transfers between spouses resulting from a decree of divorce or a property settlement stipulation pursuant to the provisions of Title 20.

7. Transfers made by virtue of the record owner's failure to pay any federal, state, or local taxes.

8. Transfers to or from any governmental entity or public or quasi-public housing authority or agency.

9. Transfers involving the first sale of a dwelling; provided, that this exemption shall not apply to the disclosures required by § 55-519.1.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision 9 of this section, the builder of a new dwelling shall disclose in writing to the purchaser thereof all known material defects which would constitute a violation of any applicable building code. In addition, for property that is located wholly or partially in any locality comprising Planning District 15, the builder or owner, if the builder is not the owner of the property, shall disclose in writing whether the builder or owner has any knowledge of (i) whether mining operations have previously been conducted on the property or (ii) the presence of abandoned mines, shafts, or pits, if any. The disclosures required by this subsection shall be made by a builder or owner (i) when selling a completed dwelling, before acceptance of the purchase contract or (ii) when selling a dwelling before or during its construction, after issuance of a certificate of occupancy. Such disclosure shall not abrogate any warranty or any other contractual obligations the builder or owner may have to the purchaser. The disclosure required by this subsection may be made on the disclosure form described in § 55-519. If no defects are known by the builder to exist, no written disclosure is required by this subsection.

1992, c. 717; 1993, c. 824; 1994, cc. 80, 242; 2005, c. 510; 2006, c. 706; 2007, c. 265.

§ 55-519. Required disclosures.

A. With regard to transfers described in § 55-517, the owner of the residential real property shall furnish to a purchaser a residential property disclosure statement in a form provided by the Real Estate Board stating that the owner makes the following representations as to the real property:

1. The owner makes no representations with respect to the matters set forth and described at a website maintained by the Real Estate Board and that the purchaser is advised to consult this website for important information about the real property; and

2. The owner represents that there are no pending enforcement actions pursuant to the Uniform Statewide Building Code (§ 36-97 et seq.) that affect the safe, decent, sanitary living conditions of the property of which the owner has been notified in writing by the locality, except as disclosed on the disclosure statement, nor any pending violation of the local zoning ordinance that the violator has not abated or remedied under the zoning ordinance, within a time period set out in the written notice of violation from the locality or established by a court of competent jurisdiction, except as disclosed on the disclosure statement.

B. At the website referenced in subdivision A 1, the Real Estate Board shall include language providing notice to the purchaser that by delivering the residential property disclosure statement:

1. The owner makes no representations or warranties as to the condition of the real property or any improvements thereon, or with regard to any covenants and restrictions as may be recorded among the land records affecting the real property or any improvements thereon, and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary, including obtaining a home inspection, as defined in § 54.1-500, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

2. The owner makes no representations with respect to any matters that may pertain to parcels adjacent to the subject parcel, including zoning classification or permitted uses of adjacent parcels, and that purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary with respect to adjacent parcels in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

3. The owner makes no representations to any matters that pertain to whether the provisions of any historic district ordinance affect the property and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary with respect to any historic district designated by the locality pursuant to § 15.2-2306, including review of any local ordinance creating such district or any official map adopted by the locality depicting historic districts, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

4. The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property contains any resource protection areas established in an ordinance implementing the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (§ 62.1-44.15:67 et seq.) adopted by the locality where the property is located pursuant to § 62.1-44.15:74 and that purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary to determine whether the provisions of any such ordinance affect the property, including review of any official map adopted by the locality depicting resource protection areas, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

5. The owner makes no representations with respect to information on any sexual offenders registered under Chapter 23 (§ 19.2-387 et seq.) of Title 19.2 and that purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary with respect to such information, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

6. The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property is within a dam break inundation zone. Such disclosure statement shall advise purchasers to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary with respect to whether the property resides within a dam break inundation zone, including a review of any map adopted by the locality depicting dam break inundation zones;

7. The owner makes no representations with respect to the presence of any stormwater detention facilities located on the property, or any maintenance agreement for such facilities, and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary to determine the presence of any stormwater detention facilities on the property, or any maintenance agreement for such facilities, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

8. The owner makes no representations with respect to the presence of any wastewater system, including the type or size thereof or associated maintenance responsibilities related thereto, located on the property and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary to determine the presence of any wastewater system on the property and the costs associated with maintaining, repairing, or inspecting any wastewater system, including any costs or requirements related to the pump-out of septic tanks, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

9. The owner makes no representations with respect to any right to install or use solar energy collection devices on the property; and

10. The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property is located in one or more special flood hazard areas and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary, including (i) obtaining a flood certification or mortgage lender determination of whether the property is located in one or more special flood hazard areas, (ii) review of any map depicting special flood hazard areas, and (iii) whether flood insurance is required, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract.

C. Any purchaser who is a party to a real estate purchase contract subject to this section may provide in such contract that the disclosures provided on the Real Estate Board website be printed off and provided to such purchaser.

1992, c. 717; 1996, c. 379; 1998, cc. 384, 795; 2005, c. 510; 2006, cc. 247, 514, 533, 705, 767; 2007, cc. 265, 784; 2008, c. 491; 2009, c. 641; 2010, c. 518; 2011, c. 461; 2013, c. 357; 2015, cc. 79, 269; 2016, cc. 161, 323, 436, 505.

§ 55-519.1. Required disclosures pertaining to a military air installation.

The owner of residential real property located in any locality in which a military air installation is located shall disclose to the purchaser whether the subject parcel is located in a noise zone or accident potential zone, or both, if so designated on the official zoning map by the locality in which the property is located on a form provided by the Real Estate Board. Such disclosure shall state the specific noise zone or accident potential zone, or both, in which the property is located according to the official zoning map.

2005, c. 510; 2007, c. 265.

§ 55-519.2. Required disclosures; defective drywall.

Notwithstanding the exemptions in § 55-518, if the owner of a residential dwelling unit has actual knowledge of the existence of defective drywall in such dwelling unit, the owner shall provide to a prospective purchaser a written disclosure that the property has defective drywall. Such disclosure shall be provided to the purchaser on a form provided by the Virginia Real Estate Board and otherwise in accordance with this chapter. For purposes of this section, "defective drywall" means all defective drywall as defined in § 36-156.1.

2011, cc. 34, 46.

§ 55-519.3. Permissive disclosure; tourism activity zone.

An owner of residential property located partially or wholly within a designated tourism activity zone established pursuant to § 15.2-982 may disclose in writing to any prospective purchaser or lessee of the property that the subject property is located within a tourism activity zone, with a description of potential impacts associated with the parcel's location in a tourism activity zone, including impacts caused by special events, parades, temporary street closures, and indoor and outdoor entertainment activities.

2013, c. 246.

§ 55-519.4. Required disclosures; property previously used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Notwithstanding the exemptions in § 55-518, if the owner of a residential dwelling unit has actual knowledge that such residential property was previously used to manufacture methamphetamine and has not been cleaned up in accordance with the guidelines established pursuant to § 32.1-11.7 and the applicable licensing provisions of Chapter 11 (§ 54.1-1100 et seq.) of Title 54.1, the owner shall provide to a prospective purchaser a written disclosure that so states. Such disclosure shall be provided to the purchaser on a form provided by the Virginia Real Estate Board and otherwise in accordance with this chapter.

2013, c. 557; 2016, c. 527.

§ 55-520. Time for disclosure; termination of contract.

A. The owner of residential real property subject to this chapter shall deliver to the purchaser the written disclosure statement required by this chapter prior to the acceptance of a real estate purchase contract or otherwise be subject to the provisions of subsection B of this section. For the purposes of this chapter, "acceptance" means the full execution of a real estate purchase contract by all parties. The residential property disclosure statement may be included in the real estate purchase contract, in an addendum thereto, or in a separate document.

B. If the disclosure statement required by this chapter is delivered to the purchaser after the acceptance of the real estate purchase contract, the purchaser's sole remedy shall be to terminate the real estate purchase contract at or prior to the earliest of (i) three days after delivery of the disclosure statement in person; (ii) five days after the postmark if the disclosure statement is deposited in the United States mail, postage prepaid, and properly addressed to the purchaser; (iii) settlement upon purchase of the property; (iv) occupancy of the property by the purchaser; (v) the purchaser making written application to a lender for a mortgage loan where such application contains a disclosure that the right of termination shall end upon the application for the mortgage loan; or (vi) the execution by the purchaser after receiving the disclosure statement required by this chapter of a written waiver of the purchaser's right of termination under this chapter contained in a writing separate from the real estate purchase contract. In order to terminate a real estate purchase contract when permitted by this chapter, the purchaser must, within the times required by this chapter, give written notice to the owner by one of the following methods:

1. Hand delivery;

2. United States mail, postage prepaid, provided the sender retains sufficient proof of mailing, which may be either a United States postal certificate of mailing or a certificate of service prepared by the sender confirming such mailing;

3. Electronic means provided the sender retains sufficient proof of the electronic delivery, which may be an electronic receipt of delivery, a confirmation that the notice was sent by facsimile, or a certificate of service prepared by the sender confirming the electronic delivery; or

4. Overnight delivery using a commercial service or the United States Postal Service.

If the purchaser terminates a real estate purchase contract in compliance with this chapter, the termination shall be without penalty to the purchaser, and any deposit shall be promptly returned to the purchaser.

C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection B of § 55-524, no purchaser of residential real property located in a noise zone designated on the official zoning map of the locality as having a day-night average sound level of less than 65 decibels shall have the right to terminate a real estate purchase contract pursuant to this section for failure of the property owner to timely provide any disclosure required by § 55-519.1.

1992, c. 717; 1993, c. 818; 2005, c. 510; 2007, c. 265; 2011, c. 82.

§ 55-521. Owner liability.

A. Except with respect to the disclosures required by § 55-519.1, the owner shall not be liable for any error, inaccuracy or omission of any information delivered pursuant to this chapter if: (i) the error, inaccuracy or omission was not within the actual knowledge of the owner or was based on information provided by public agencies or by other persons providing information that is required to be disclosed pursuant to this chapter, or the owner reasonably believed the information to be correct, and (ii) the owner was not grossly negligent in obtaining the information from a third party and transmitting it. The owner shall not be liable for any error, inaccuracy, or omission of any information required to be disclosed by § 55-519.1 if the error, inaccuracy, or omission was the result of information provided by an officer or employee of the locality in which the property is located.

B. The delivery by a public agency or other person, as described in subsection C below, of any information required to be disclosed by this chapter to a prospective purchaser shall be deemed to comply with the requirements of this chapter and shall relieve the owner of any further duty under this chapter with respect to that item of information.

C. The delivery by the owner of a report or opinion prepared by a licensed engineer, land surveyor, geologist, wood-destroying insect control expert, contractor or home inspection expert, dealing with matters within the scope of the professional's license or expertise, shall satisfy the requirements of this chapter if the information is provided to the prospective purchaser pursuant to a request therefor, whether written or oral. In responding to such a request, an expert may indicate, in writing, an understanding that the information provided will be used in fulfilling the requirements of this chapter and, if so, shall indicate the required disclosures, or portions thereof, to which the information being furnished is applicable. Where such a statement is furnished, the expert shall not be responsible for any items of information, or, portions thereof, other than those expressly set forth in the statement.

1992, c. 717; 2005, c. 510; 2007, c. 265.

§ 55-522. Change in circumstances.

If information disclosed in accordance with this chapter is subsequently rendered or discovered to be inaccurate as a result of any act, occurrence, information received, circumstance or agreement subsequent to the delivery of the required disclosures, the inaccuracy resulting therefrom does not constitute a violation of this chapter. However, at or before settlement, the owner shall be required to disclose any material change in the disclosures made relative to the property. If, at the time the disclosures are required to be made, an item of information required to be disclosed is unknown or not available to the owner, the owner may state that the information is unknown or may use an approximation of the information, provided the approximation is clearly identified as such, is reasonable, is based on the actual knowledge of the owner, and is not used for the purpose of circumventing or evading this chapter.

1992, c. 717; 2007, c. 265; 2014, c. 386.

§ 55-523. Duties of real estate licensees.

A real estate licensee representing an owner of residential real property as the listing broker has a duty to inform each such owner represented by that licensee of the owner's rights and obligations under this chapter. A real estate licensee representing a purchaser of residential real property or, if the purchaser is not represented by a licensee, the real estate licensee representing an owner of residential real estate and dealing with the purchaser has a duty to inform each such purchaser of the purchaser's rights and obligations under this chapter. Provided a real estate licensee performs those duties, the licensee shall have no further duties to the parties to a residential real estate transaction under this chapter, and shall not be liable to any party to a residential real estate transaction for a violation of this chapter or for any failure to disclose any information regarding any real property subject to this chapter.

1992, c. 717 .

§ 55-524. Actions under this chapter.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter or any other statute or regulation, no cause of action shall arise against an owner or a real estate licensee for failure to disclose that an occupant of the subject real property, whether or not such real property is subject to this chapter, was afflicted with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or that the real property was the site of:

1. An act or occurrence which had no effect on the physical structure of the real property, its physical environment, or the improvements located thereon; or

2. A homicide, felony, or suicide.

B. The purchaser's remedies hereunder for failure of an owner to comply with the provisions of this chapter are as follows:

1. If the owner fails to provide the disclosure statement required by this chapter, the contract may be terminated subject to the provisions of subsection B of § 55-520.

2. In the event the owner fails to provide the disclosure required by § 55-519.1, or the owner misrepresents, willfully or otherwise, the information required in such disclosure, except as result of information provided by an officer or employee of the locality in which the property is located, the purchaser may maintain an action to recover his actual damages suffered as the result of such violation. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subdivision, no purchaser of residential real property located in a noise zone designated on the official zoning map of the locality as having a day-night average sound level of less than 65 decibels shall have a right to maintain an action for damages pursuant to this section.

C. Any action brought under this subsection shall be commenced within one year of the date the purchaser received the disclosure statement. If no disclosure statement was delivered to the purchaser, an action shall be commenced within one year of the date of settlement if by sale, or occupancy if by lease with an option to purchase.

Nothing contained herein shall prevent a purchaser from pursuing any remedies at law or equity otherwise available against an owner in the event of an owner's intentional or willful misrepresentation of the condition of the subject property.

1992, c. 717; 1993, c. 847; 2005, c. 510; 2007, c. 265.

§ 55-525. Real Estate Board to develop form; when effective.

An owner shall be required to make disclosures required by this chapter for real property subject to a real estate purchase contract which is fully executed by all parties thereto on and after January 1, 2008. On or before January 1, 2008, the Real Estate Board shall develop the form for the residential property disclosure statement in accordance with § 54.1-2105.1. The Board may at any time amend the form as the Board deems necessary and appropriate.

1992, c. 717; 1993, c. 848; 2007, c. 265.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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