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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 21. Securities And Retail Franchising
Agency 5. State Corporation Commission, Division Of Securities And Retail Franchising
Chapter 110. Retail Franchising Act Rules
3/4/2021

21VAC5-110-65. Escrow and deferral.

A. Escrow requirement. The commission may require a franchisor to escrow franchise fees and other payments made by a franchisee to the franchisor until the franchisor's pre-opening obligations under the franchise agreement have been satisfied. The commission may require escrow at any time after the submission of a registration or renewal application and upon a finding that the grounds enumerated in clause (i) of subdivision A 2 of § 13.1-562 of the Act as provided in Chapter 668 of the 2007 Acts of Assembly exist.

B. Depository. Funds subject to an escrow condition shall be placed in a separate trust account with a national bank or a state chartered bank or trust company transacting business in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

C. Compliance with escrow requirement. The franchisor shall file with the commission the following to comply with the commission's escrow requirement:

1. An original, fully executed copy of the Escrow Agreement, Form K;

2. A written consent from the depository agreeing to operate the escrow account under this regulation;

3. The name and address of the depository and the account number of the escrow account;

4. The name, address, telephone number and email address of an individual or individuals at the depository who may be contacted by the commission regarding the escrow account; and

5. An amended franchise application reflecting, in Item 5 of the Franchise Disclosure Document or in a Virginia Addendum to the Franchise Disclosure Document, that the commission has imposed the escrow requirement and the material terms of that escrow condition, including the name of the depository.

D. Operation of escrow account. After the commission imposes an escrow requirement upon the franchisor, the franchisor shall:

1. Make franchisee checks for franchise fees or other payments for the franchisor payable to the depository; and

2. Deposit with the depository, within two business days of the receipt, the funds described in subdivision 1 of this subsection.

Deposits made to the depository shall remain escrowed until the commission authorizes the release of the funds.

E. Release of escrowed funds.

1. A franchisor may apply to the commission for the release of escrowed funds together with any interest earned.

2. A franchisor's application to the commission to authorize the release of escrowed funds to the franchisor shall be in writing, verified by an authorized officer of the franchisor and shall contain:

a. The franchisor's statement that all proceeds from the sale of franchises have been placed with the depository in accordance with the terms and conditions of the escrow requirement;

b. The depository's statement, signed by an appropriate officer, setting forth the aggregate amount of escrowed funds deposited with the depository and the franchisor's account number with the depository;

c. A list of the names and addresses of each franchisee and the amount held in the escrow account for the account of each franchisee;

d. The amount of funds sought to be released;

e. A written certification from the franchisee stating the amount of funds to be released that acknowledges that the franchisor has completely performed its pre-opening obligations under the franchise agreement, including providing real estate, improvements, equipment, inventory, training, or other items as required by the franchise agreement; and

f. Other information the commission may reasonably require.

3. If the commission finds that the franchisor has fulfilled its obligations under the franchise agreement for a specified franchisee, the commission shall authorize the depository to release to the franchisor the amount held in escrow for the account of the applicable franchisee.

F. Removal of escrow requirement. The commission may remove the escrow requirement at any time, if:

1. The franchisor agrees to defer franchise fees and other initial payments; or

2. Based upon new information, the commission finds that the escrow requirement is no longer necessary and appropriate for the protection of prospective franchisees.

G. Deferral of fees in place of escrow requirement.

1. In lieu of an escrow requirement, the commission may, under appropriate circumstances, accept a franchisor's agreement to defer franchise fees and other initial payments owed by franchisees to the franchisor until the franchisor has completed its pre-opening obligations under the franchise agreement.

2. The franchisor's agreement to defer franchise fees shall be reflected in Item 5 of the Franchise Disclosure Document or in a Virginia Addendum to the Franchise Disclosure Document.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 13.1-572 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 23, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2007; Errata, 23:24 VA.R. 4079 August 6, 2007; amended, Virginia Register Volume 24, Issue 21, eff. July 1, 2008; Volume 25, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 2009.

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