Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 55.1. Property and Conveyances
Chapter 10. Real Estate Settlement Agents
12/3/2021

§ 55.1-1014. Settlement agent registration requirements and compliance with unauthorized practice of law guidelines; civil penalty.

A. Every settlement agent subject to the provisions of this chapter shall be registered as such with the appropriate licensing authority. In conjunction therewith, settlement agents shall furnish (i) their names, business addresses, and telephone numbers and (ii) such other information as may be required. Each such registration (a) shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable fee prescribed by the appropriate licensing authority and (b) shall be renewed at least biennially thereafter, except that (1) the registration of a person described in subdivision A 2 of § 55.1-1003 shall be renewed on or before May 1, 2021, and biennially thereafter and (2) the registration of a person described in subdivision A 3 of § 55.1-1003 shall be renewed at the same time as renewal of his title insurance agent license pursuant to § 38.2-1825.1. When the registration of a settlement agent is renewed, the appropriate licensing authority shall notify the registrant of the provisions of § 17.1-223.

B. The Commission shall retain the authority to enforce the provisions of and impose any penalty or remedy authorized by this title and Title 38.2 against any person who is under investigation by the Commission for or charged with a violation of this title, even if the person's license or registration has been surrendered, terminated, suspended, or revoked or has lapsed by operation of law.

C. The Virginia State Bar, in consultation with the Commission and the Real Estate Board, shall adopt regulations establishing guidelines for settlement agents designed to assist them in avoiding and preventing the unauthorized practice of law in conjunction with providing escrow, closing, and settlement services. Such guidelines shall be furnished by the appropriate licensing authority to (i) each settlement agent at the time of registration and any renewal thereof, (ii) state and federal agencies that regulate financial institutions, and (iii) members of the general public upon request. Such guidelines shall also be furnished by settlement agents to any party to a real estate transaction in which such agents are providing escrow, closing, or settlement services, upon request.

D. The Virginia State Bar shall receive complaints concerning settlement agent or financial institution noncompliance with the guidelines established pursuant to subsection C and shall (i) investigate such complaints to the extent they concern the unauthorized practice of law or any other matter within its jurisdiction and (ii) refer all other matters or allegations to the appropriate licensing authority. The willful failure of any settlement agent to comply with the guidelines shall be considered a violation of this chapter, and such agent shall be subject to a civil penalty not exceeding $5,000 for each such failure as the Virginia State Bar may determine.

1997, c. 716, §§ 6.1-2.25, 6.1-2.26; 2004, cc. 336, 597; 2009, c. 256; 2010, c. 794, § 55-525.30; 2016, c. 619; 2019, cc. 675, 712; 2020, c. 225.

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