Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 55.1. Property and Conveyances
Chapter .
11/27/2020

Chapter 24. Escheats.

§ 55.1-2400. Definition.

As used in this chapter, "known" in terms of determining whether an owner is "known" includes inspection of tax records and any other inquiry deemed to be reasonable. It need not include inspection of the premises or inspection of title records in the clerk's office in the county or city in which the land is located.

1984, c. 315, § 55-170.1; 1988, c. 312; 1996, c. 551; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2401. Appointment of escheators.

The Governor shall appoint one escheator for every judicial circuit as set forth in § 17.1-506, to serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Such escheator shall reside within the circuit to which he is appointed.

Code 1919, § 489; Code 1950, § 55-168; 1982, c. 437; 1996, c. 551; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2402. Bond of escheator.

Each escheator shall give bond for the judicial circuit for which he is appointed in the circuit court for the locality in which he resides, in the penalty of $3,000, without surety, and may continue in office until removed or until a successor is duly appointed and qualified. If property in another locality within the appointed judicial circuit escheats to the Commonwealth at the inquest hearing, the escheator shall give bond within that locality as determined by the clerk of the circuit court in the locality and in a penalty of a percentage of the assessed value of the property according to the records of the commissioner of the revenue. The bond shall be obtained within 10 days following the inquest hearing.

Code 1919, § 490; Code 1950, § 55-169; 1977, c. 583; 1982, c. 437; 1998, c. 215; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2403. Increase or reduction of penalty of escheator's bond; effect.

The court may, at any time, with reasonable notice to the escheator, increase or reduce the penalty of the bond, provided that in no case shall such penalty be reduced to less than $1,000. Upon bond being given under an order increasing or reducing the penalty of a former bond, the sureties in such former bond and their estates shall be discharged from all liability for any breach of official duty committed by such escheator after that time.

Code 1919, § 491; Code 1950, § 55-170; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2404. Annual report to escheator; lands not liable.

Each treasurer shall, every May, furnish to the escheator of his county or city a list of all lands within his district owned by any person who has died in possession of an estate of inheritance (i) intestate and without any known heir or (ii) testate without disposing of all property by will and without leaving any surviving heir to inherit the property. No land shall be liable to escheat that has been held for 15 years under adverse possession as at common law by the person claiming such land, or those under whom he holds, but only if taxes were paid throughout that period by the claimant or those under whom he holds.

Code 1919, § 492; Code 1950, § 55-171; 1977, c. 583; 1979, c. 340; 1982, cc. 453, 550; 1984, c. 315; 1990, c. 938; 1996, c. 551; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2405. Escheator to hold inquest; notice of inquest.

On receiving a list compiled pursuant to § 55.1-2404, or upon information from any person, in writing and under oath, that any of the conditions described in § 55.1-2404 exists, the escheator shall proceed to hold his inquest to determine whether any land identified has escheated to the Commonwealth. He shall (i) post notice of the time of taking such inquest at the front door of the courthouse for 30 days prior to the inquest and (ii) advertise once in a newspaper of general circulation within the county or city at least seven but not more than 30 days prior to the inquest. Notice shall also be mailed to the last owner of record, if any, as it appears in the tax records of the local treasurer. The escheator shall send a copy of the newspaper advertisement to the State Treasurer prior to the date of the inquest. The inquest shall be held in the same calendar year in which the list or information is received by the escheator. The attorney for the Commonwealth shall act as attorney for this proceeding.

Code 1919, § 493; Code 1950, § 55-172; 1977, c. 583; 1982, c. 486; 1984, c. 315; 1988, c. 377; 1996, c. 551; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2406. Jury of inquest; presentation of evidence.

The sheriff of the county or city shall summon and return 10 qualified jurors for the inquest, of whom at least seven shall be impaneled as a jury. They shall meet at the courthouse and sit in public and may be adjourned by the escheator from day to day. Every person competent to testify as a witness shall be required to give evidence openly in the presence of the jurors.

Code 1919, § 494; Code 1950, § 55-173; 1977, c. 583; 1984, c. 315; 1990, c. 938; 1996, c. 551; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2407. Attendance of jurors; compensation.

If any person summoned or adjourned as a juror fails to attend according to the summons or adjournment, the escheator shall report such failure to the circuit court having jurisdiction over the county or city in which the land that is the subject of the inquest is located. Such court may fine such person an amount not to exceed $50.

Jurors shall be compensated as provided for jurors in civil cases.

Code 1919, § 495; Code 1950, § 55-174; 1977, c. 583; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2408. How verdict signed; where returned and recorded.

When the inquest is concluded and the verdict concurred in by at least seven of the jurors impaneled such verdict shall be signed by those so concurring and by the escheator. The escheator shall, within 10 days, return the verdict to the clerk's office of the circuit court. After receiving the verdict, the clerk of such court shall record it in accordance with § 17.1-266 and shall provide copies within 10 days to the commissioner of the revenue and the local treasurer or the person performing those duties. This escheat verdict shall be recorded in the grantor index of the record books in the clerk's office.

Code 1919, § 496; Code 1950, § 55-175; 1977, c. 583; 1984, c. 315; 1988, c. 377; 1990, c. 938; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2409. Proceedings to claim land escheated.

When the verdict on an inquest is for the Commonwealth, any person claiming any interest in the lands, whether legal or equitable, may, before the sale of such land, petition the circuit court for redress. The petition shall be accompanied by a bond with good security to pay the Commonwealth all past due real estate taxes, penalties, and interest on such lands. The escheator shall be the sole defendant on behalf of the Commonwealth, and may appear on his own behalf. The escheator shall file an answer stating the objections to the claim. The cause shall be heard, without any unnecessary delay, upon the petition and answer and the evidence. Upon a judgment in favor of the claimant, he shall pay all past due taxes, penalties, and interest. Upon entry of such judgment, the court may award attorney fees to the escheator. For real estate assessment purposes, the commissioner of the revenue or assessor shall continue to assess any escheated property.

Code 1919, § 497; Code 1950, § 55-176; 1983, c. 482; 1990, c. 938; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2410. Trial by jury; judgment of court.

Upon a petition filed pursuant to § 55.1-2409, the court may impanel a jury to ascertain any facts that may be disputed and may set aside the verdict. The escheator may initiate a new inquest in accordance with § 55.1-2405.

Code 1919, § 498; Code 1950, § 55-177; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2411. Facts or evidence to be certified.

If witnesses are sworn before the court or jury, the court shall, upon request of either party, certify what facts are proved by such witnesses. If the facts cannot be certified, the court shall then certify the evidence of the witnesses. In either case, such certificate shall be a part of the record.

Code 1919, § 499; Code 1950, § 55-178; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2412. Lands may be committed to claimant while claim pending.

Pending the petition, the court may commit the lands, or any part thereof, to the claimant, after he has given bond with good security to pay the Commonwealth the rents and profits of such land, if judgment is subsequently entered for the Commonwealth.

Code 1919, § 500; Code 1950, § 55-179; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2413. Disposition of lands while claim is pending, if not committed to claimant.

If the escheator leases property remaining in his hands, he shall notify and transmit a copy of such lease, if in written form, to the State Treasurer within 30 days and remit the rent proceeds to the State Treasurer as they are received. The escheator shall be answerable to the claimant or to the Commonwealth, as determined by the court, for the rents and profits of such land and the escheator shall ensure that such land be kept free from waste and destruction. Where the escheator deems that reasonable business practice would require that insurance be obtained on such income-producing property, he shall obtain insurance coverage on the escheated property after having first obtained the approval of the State Treasurer.

Code 1919, § 501; Code 1950, § 55-180; 1977, c. 583; 1982, c. 486; 1984, c. 315; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2414. Escheator to notify State Treasurer of claim and decision.

The escheator shall certify to the State Treasurer, within 60 days after the end of a year from the date of such inquest, whether any petition has been filed claiming an interest in the property pursuant to § 55.1-2409, and if such claim is made, he shall certify the decision on such petition within 60 days after such decision.

Code 1919, § 502; Code 1950, § 55-181; 1977, c. 583; 1982, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2415. Escheators to certify lands escheated.

Every escheator shall, within 60 days after an inquest that finds on behalf of the Commonwealth, transmit to the State Treasurer a certificate showing the number of tracts or lots escheated, the reputed quantity of each parcel, a description sufficient to identify each parcel, and the names of the persons found to have died in possession of such parcel, or from whom the land escheated.

Code 1919, § 503; Code 1950, § 55-182; 1977, c. 583; 1982, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2416. Removal of parcels from the certificate.

If the escheator finds that the escheat of a parcel was improper, for whatever reason, he shall remove the parcel from the certificate transmitted to the State Treasurer pursuant to § 55.1-2415 at any time prior to sale pursuant to § 55.1-2419. The escheator shall state in writing his reasons for such removal to the satisfaction of the State Treasurer. Thereafter, unless a petition has been filed in accordance with § 55.1-2409, the escheator shall petition the circuit court to correct the verdict returned to the clerk of court pursuant to § 55.1-2408. A copy of this petition shall be sent to the State Treasurer. The escheator shall notify in writing the local treasurer or the local official performing these duties of any such error and improper escheat. The escheator shall be reimbursed the costs incurred by him for filing such a petition with the circuit court. The escheator shall file, and the clerk of court shall record, any such corrected verdict in the appropriate deed books.

1984, c. 315, § 55-182.1; 1990, c. 938; 1991, c. 684; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2417. Escheat of property with hazardous materials.

In addition to any other remedy provided by law, the Virginia Waste Management Board, pursuant to its authority granted in § 10.1-1402, or the Department of Environmental Quality, shall have recourse against any prior owner or the estate of any prior owner for the costs of cleanup of escheated property in or upon which any hazardous material as defined in § 44-146.34 is found.

1991, c. 684, § 55-182.2; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2418. Publication of escheator's certificate.

The State Treasurer shall cause the contents of the certificate transmitted pursuant to § 55.1-2415 to be published once each week for four consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city where the inquest was held.

Code 1919, § 504; 1945, p. 40; Code 1950, § 55-183; 1977, c. 583; 1982, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2419. Order of sale by Governor.

Not less than six months after the publication of the escheator's certificate pursuant to § 55.1-2418, the State Treasurer shall present to the Governor the escheator's certificate and proof of publication, and, if a claim has not been made pursuant to § 55.1-2409, or, if made, has been decided in favor of the Commonwealth, the Governor shall order the escheated land to be sold upon such terms, at such time, and at such place within the county or city in which the property is located, or if the property is located within a city that is located wholly within a county, then the sale may take place in the city, or a contiguous county or city as he deems proper. The order of sale shall be delivered to the State Treasurer, to be transmitted to the escheator, who shall proceed to sell according to such order.

1977, c. 583, § 55-184.1; 1981, c. 514; 1982, c. 486; 1996, cc. 256, 551; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2420. Form of sale agreement; notice of right to refund.

A sale agreement for the purchase of escheated property shall include a statement of the purchaser's right to claim a refund pursuant to § 55.1-2438 upon submission to the State Treasurer within 120 days of the sale of satisfactory evidence that the escheated property does not exist or was improperly escheated. The following form may be used:

Sale Agreement of Escheated Property

This agreement of sale made in triplicate this ____ day of ______, 20__, between ________, Escheator (hereinafter known as Seller), and ________ (hereinafter known as Purchaser) and ________ (hereinafter known as Agent).

WITNESS

That for and in consideration of the full purchase price of $______ by cash/check in hand paid, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the Seller agrees to sell and the Purchaser agrees to buy all that certain lot or parcel of land with all the appurtenances (if any) thereunto belonging and described as follows:

________________

________________

________________

The Seller agrees to obtain a state grant. It is hereby understood that GRANTS for lots, parcels and acreage sold pursuant to this agreement shall be WITHOUT WARRANTY and in accordance with § 55.1-2422 of the Code of Virginia. The recovery of proceeds of each sale from the Commonwealth, less the expenses of sale and the escheator's commission, may be obtained if the Purchaser, pursuant to § 55.1-2438 of the Code of Virginia, submits satisfactory evidence to the State Treasurer within 120 days of the sale that the escheated property does not exist or was improperly escheated.

WITNESS the following signatures and seals made this ______ day of ______, 20__.

____________ (SEAL)

____________ (SEAL)

Agent

____________ (SEAL)

Purchaser

____________ (SEAL)

Escheator for

____________, Virginia,

Seller

1986, c. 141, § 55-184.2; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2421. When grant to issue to purchaser; reimbursable expenses.

A. When the escheator sells for cash, he shall certify the purchase and the price to the State Treasurer, who, after determining that such price, deducting the expenses, has been paid into the state treasury and that the expenses of the inquest and sale have been paid to the escheator, shall have a grant issued and executed for the lands so sold. At the time of sale, the escheator shall require the purchaser to sign an authorization for recordation prior to distribution. A clerk's fee per parcel purchased in accordance with subdivision A 2 of § 17.1-275 shall be collected by the escheator in addition to the purchase price. The fee shall be forwarded to the State Treasurer, together with the names and addresses of the purchasers of the escheated property and the sale proceeds as required in § 55.1-2426, who shall send the fee with the grants to the local clerk's office for recording. The fee in effect at the time of sale shall be in lieu of all fees and costs. Grants of escheated property shall be exempt from all recording taxes. After recording the grants, the local clerk shall forward the grants to the escheator, who shall be responsible for notifying the purchasers of the recordation and the distribution of the grants to the purchaser.

B. Expenses reimbursable by the State Treasurer under subsection A shall include an auctioneer's fee, which shall not exceed five percent of the sale proceeds. The State Treasurer, by regulation, shall detail other appropriate reimbursable expenses.

Code 1919, § 507; Code 1950, § 55-186; 1952, c. 132; 1977, c. 583; 1981, c. 514; 1982, c. 486; 1984, c. 315; 1988, c. 377; 1990, c. 938; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2422. Form of grant of escheated property.

A grant of escheated property shall be without warranty and to the following effect:

"In consideration of the sum of $____ paid by ________, the Purchaser, into the treasury of the Commonwealth, etc., there is granted without warranty by the Commonwealth to ________, the Purchaser, a certain tract or parcel of land, containing ____ acres, lying in the county (or city) of ________, etc., (describing the bounds of the land and date of the survey or other description sufficient to identify the parcel) with its appurtenances, to ________, the Purchaser, and his heirs forever. In witness whereof, ________, the Governor of the Commonwealth, has set his hand and caused the lesser seal of the Commonwealth to be affixed hereunto, at ____, on the ________ day of ________, in the year ____."

1952, c. 132, § 55-186.1; 1977, c. 583; 1984, c. 315; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2423. Governor to sign and seal grant; Librarian of Virginia to record it; delivery to and by State Treasurer.

The State Treasurer shall deliver such grant of escheated property to the Governor, by whom it shall be signed and caused to be affixed with the lesser seal of the Commonwealth. The grant shall then be delivered by the Governor to the Librarian of Virginia, who shall record it, and the plat and certificate of survey, if provided, or other description sufficient to identify the parcel on which the grant is founded, by a procedural microphotographic process that meets archival standards. The Librarian of Virginia shall certify to the State Treasurer that the grant has been recorded and then deliver the grant to the State Treasurer, who shall in turn mail it to the party to whom it is made, or another person, as directed by such party.

1952, c. 132, § 55-186.2; 1982, cc. 486, 565; 1984, c. 315; 1998, c. 427; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2424. Recordation of certified copy of grant.

The clerk shall accept for recordation a copy of the grant of escheated property from the Commonwealth that is certified as a true copy by the Librarian of Virginia under § 55.1-2423.

2005, c. 540, § 55-186.3; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2425. Resale in case of default.

If the purchaser does not pay the purchase money into the state treasury within a reasonable time, any deposit is forfeited, and the State Treasurer may rescind the contract and order a new sale.

Code 1919, § 508; Code 1950, § 55-187; 1990, c. 938; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2426. Reports by escheators to State Treasurer.

The escheator shall file reports with the State Treasurer as required by the State Treasurer by agency directive.

Code 1919, § 510; Code 1950, § 55-189; 1977, c. 583; 1981, c. 514; 1990, c. 938; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2427. Reports by State Treasurer to the Governor; penalty on escheators for failure of duty.

The State Treasurer shall, every May 1, file a report with the Governor containing the name of any escheator who fails to perform any duty required of him by this chapter. If any escheator fails to report to and account with the State Treasurer, or fails to pay into the state treasury the proceeds of any sale made by him, or any such rents and profits, in the manner and within the time prescribed by law, he shall be fined no more than $200 for every 60 days such failure continues. If any escheator fails to perform any other duty required of him by this chapter and no specific penalty for such failure is provided, he shall be fined no more than $50. Any action for any fine under this chapter may be instituted, at the discretion of the State Treasurer or of the Attorney General, in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, after 15 days' notice.

Code 1919, § 511; Code 1950, § 55-190; 1981, c. 514; 1996, c. 551; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2428. State Treasurer may examine records of any escheator, commissioner of the revenue, or treasurer.

The State Treasurer may at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice examine the records of any escheator, commissioner of the revenue, treasurer, or other person charged with his duties.

1982, c. 486, § 55-190.1; 1990, c. 938; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2429. When State Treasurer to issue grant to purchaser.

The State Treasurer shall not request that the Governor issue a grant for the lands sold to the purchaser, or his heirs or assigns, until the purchase money has been fully paid.

Code 1919, § 512; Code 1950, § 55-191; 1982, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2430. Escheator's pay.

Except as otherwise provided in this section, the escheator shall be entitled to a commission of 10 percent on all proceeds of sales made by him of escheated lands that are paid to him or into the state treasury. Where an escheator is replaced by the appointment and qualification of a successor and where such escheator held an inquest provided for in § 55.1-2405 but the sale provided for in § 55.1-2419 has not been held, the 10 percent commission on the proceeds of the sales of the escheated lands so advertised shall be divided equally between such escheator and his successor. For each parcel that escheats, the escheator shall be paid $10 out of any money in the state treasury belonging to the Literary Fund.

Code 1919, § 513; Code 1950, § 55-192; 1977, c. 583; 1981, c. 514; 1984, c. 315; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2431. Escheat of estates in trust and equitable titles.

An estate vested in a person solely by mortgage or deed of trust shall not escheat or be forfeited to the Commonwealth by reason of the mortgagee or trustee dying without heirs, but any equitable title to lands shall escheat or be forfeited, as the case may be, if the person having the equitable title also had the legal title.

Code 1919, § 514; Code 1950, § 55-193; 1977, c. 583; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2432. Provision in favor of tenant of escheated land.

If any person holds any escheated land under a lease or has right to any rent or other profit out of such land, he shall hold and enjoy his lease, rent, or other profit, whether such lease or right to rent or other profit is found in the inquest or not.

Code 1919, § 515; Code 1950, § 55-194; 1990, c. 938; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2433. In favor of creditor of decedent.

If any debt of a person who died in possession of such lands that escheated to the Commonwealth, remains unpaid after all the personal estate of such person has been applied to the payment of his debts, the creditor may file his complaint, accompanied with an affidavit that the debt is bona fide due, to recover such debt in the circuit court to which the inquest of escheat was returned and make the escheator defendant. If the court orders that the debt or any part thereof is due, the amount ordered to be due shall be paid by the escheator, if the escheator has enough of the proceeds of sale remaining to cover the amount, or out of the state treasury, if enough of the proceeds that have been paid into the state treasury still remain in the state treasury, or to the credit of the Literary Fund.

Code 1919, § 516; Code 1950, § 55-195; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2434. Escheators to defend on behalf of Commonwealth.

The escheator shall answer and defend on the part of the Commonwealth any action against him or any petition filed under § 55.1-2409 and shall be allowed the costs incurred by him in such defense.

Code 1919, § 517; Code 1950, § 55-196; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2435. Recovery by escheator of decedent's escheated residue and of property abandoned or derelict; fee.

The residue of a decedent's estate consisting of real property belonging to the Commonwealth, or subject to escheat to the Commonwealth, and any such property abandoned or derelict, or having no rightful owner, may be recovered from any person in possession thereof by an escheator by a complaint in the name of the Commonwealth. For his services in such recovery, the escheator shall be entitled to such fee as may be approved by the State Treasurer, but in no event shall such fee exceed 10 percent of the value of such recovered property.

Code 1919, § 518; Code 1950, § 55-197; 1956, c. 15; 1966, c. 251; 1977, c. 583; 1981, c. 514; 1984, c. 315; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2436. Publication of action; what to state and require.

When any action is instituted pursuant to § 55.1-2435, the court shall cause a publication to be made once each week for four consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city in which the proceedings are held, setting forth the nature of the claim, the name and place of birth, when known, of the deceased person, or of the former owner of the property, if known, as the case may be, and a description of the property or estate claimed and requiring all persons claiming an interest in such property to appear and assert their interests in such property.

Code 1919, § 519; 1942, p. 517; Code 1950, § 55-198; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2437. Order of the court.

If no person appears and shows that he has title to the property, the court shall order that the residue or other property belongs to the Commonwealth and enforce the collection thereof or of the proceeds of the sale of such property, provided, however, that if the residue or other property was given, bequeathed, or devised by will to a charitable institution in the Commonwealth and such gift, bequest, or devise failed by reason of insufficient witnessing of such will and would otherwise escheat to the Commonwealth, and the court finds that it is in the public interest, the court may order such residue or other property, or so much thereof as was subject to such gift, bequest, or devise, to be paid to such charitable institution.

Code 1919, § 520; Code 1950, § 55-199; 1977, c. 488; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2438. How money paid into state treasury from escheats may be recovered.

A. If within 120 days from the date of sale, a purchaser submits evidence satisfactory to the State Treasurer that the property described in the grant does not exist or was improperly escheated, the State Treasurer may refund the purchase price, less the expenses of sale and the escheator's fee. Before any such refund is made, the purchaser shall return the grant to the State Treasurer, who shall inform the Librarian of Virginia of its return. Both of these officials shall note the grant's return in their records. When the Commonwealth has recorded the grant, the purchaser shall record a quitclaim deed and send proof thereof to the State Treasurer prior to the issuance of any refund.

B. After any sale of escheated lands and upon certification verified by oath of the local treasurer or other officer charged with the collection of local real estate taxes that the land so sold was, at the time of escheat to the Commonwealth, subject to the lien of unpaid local real estate taxes or that the land so sold was, at any time prior to sale, subject to other assessments, including liens for demolition, cutting or removing weeds, or abating any nuisance on the escheated land, all of which assessments were validly assessed, levied, or imposed by the locality on the lands within 20 years preceding the date of the escheat or inquest, the State Treasurer shall, upon receipt of the proceeds of sale, deduct the escheator's commission and costs of the inquest and sale. The State Treasurer shall then pay to the local treasurer out of the net proceeds of such sale, if any, the amount of the local real estate taxes and assessments, including accrued penalties and interest, up to but not exceeding the amount of the funds remaining in the hands of the State Treasurer from the proceeds of the sale. To the extent that local taxes and other appropriate local charges exceed the proceeds obtained for such escheated land at the escheat sale, such local taxes and other charges are exonerated. Any other liens on property that was escheated and sold shall shift to the proceeds of the sale and shall no longer remain a lien on the property.

C. Any person who had not asserted a claim before the sale of escheated property, being entitled to any property so escheated and sold, may recover so much of the net proceeds as remain after deduction of the escheator's commission, costs of the inquest and sale, and allowance of claims for unpaid real estate taxes and assessments due on the land or from any creditors of the decedent. The same may be allowed by the State Treasurer or, if a claim in any such case is rejected by him, a petition for recovery may be made in the manner provided in § 8.01-192 for recovering claims against the Commonwealth, but subject to the limitation in § 8.01-255.

Code 1919, § 521; Code 1950, § 55-200; 1968, c. 626; 1977, c. 583; 1979, c. 340; 1980, c. 213; 1981, c. 514; 1983, c. 482; 1984, c. 315; 1988, c. 377; 1998, c. 427; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2439. Regulations of the State Treasurer.

The State Treasurer shall adopt any necessary regulations in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

1984, c. 315, § 55-200.1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2440. Continuation of certain statutes.

The first section of Chapter 114 of the Code of 1849, and the sections following that to the seventeenth section, inclusive, of such chapter; the act passed April 12, 1852 (Chapter 18, Acts 1852); the act passed April 7, 1858 (Chapter 39, Acts 1858); and the Acts of 1857-8, as amended by the act passed March 30, 1860 (Acts of 1859-60) are continued in force.

Code 1919, § 522; Code 1950, § 55-201; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2441. Pendency of escheat proceedings no bar to condemnation proceedings.

Notwithstanding any provision contained in this chapter, the Commissioner of Highways or any locality or other political subdivision or agency of the Commonwealth possessing the power of eminent domain, for a public purpose in accordance with the law and notwithstanding the pendency of any proceeding brought for the escheat of any land wanted and needed by such Commissioner of Highways or such locality or other political subdivision or agency of the Commonwealth for such purpose, may institute, maintain, and conduct to final judgment condemnation proceedings to acquire in fee simple such land or such lesser estate, title, or interest therein as is wanted and needed for such public purpose, provided, however, that the escheator in whose name such escheat proceedings is pending and the Commonwealth are made codefendants to such condemnation proceedings, together with the owner, if known, of the land proposed to be condemned in such proceeding. The pendency of such escheat proceedings shall not constitute a bar or defense to such condemnation proceedings, nor to any proceeding therein seeking a right of entry as provided in § 25.1-223, in Chapter 3 (§ 25.1-300 et seq.) of Title 25.1, or in Article 1 (§ 33.2-1000 et seq.) of Chapter 10 of Title 33.2. No escheator, after being served with notice of the filing of any such condemnation proceeding, shall sell or dispose of any land sought to be acquired in such condemnation proceeding except upon order entered by the court in which such condemnation proceeding is pending. The funds paid into court as compensation or damages for the land so taken or damaged shall, after payment of taxes and other claims constituting valid liens against the land so taken, be ordered distributed to the party entitled thereto or be ordered paid to the escheator of such land, or to the State Treasurer, as the court may direct.

1968, c. 699, § 55-201.1; 2003, c. 940; 2019, c. 712.

Chapter 25. Virginia Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act.

Article 1. Definitions; Property Abandoned or Assumed Abandoned.

§ 55.1-2500. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Act" means the Virginia Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (§ 55.1-2500 et seq.).

"Administrator" means the State Treasurer or his designee.

"Apparent owner" means the person whose name appears on the records of the holder as the person entitled to property held, issued, or owing by the holder.

"Banking organization" means any bank, trust company, savings bank (industrial bank, land bank, safe deposit company), or private banker or any other organization defined by law as a bank or banking organization.

"Business association" means any corporation, joint-stock company, investment company, business trust, partnership, limited liability company, cooperative, or association for business purposes of two or more individuals, whether or not for profit, including a banking organization, financial organization, insurance company, or utility.

"Credit balance" means an item of intangible property resulting from or attributable to the sale of goods or services, including an overpayment, credit memo, refund, discount, rebate, unidentified remittance, or deposit.

"Domicile" means (i) the state of incorporation, in the case of a corporation incorporated under the laws of a state; (ii) the state of organization, in the case of an unincorporated business association formed under the laws of a state; (iii) the state of the principal place of business, in the case of a nonnatural person not incorporated or formed under the laws of a state; and (iv) the state of principal residency, in the case of a natural person.

"Due diligence" includes the mailing of a letter by first-class mail to the last known address of the owner as indicated on the records of the holder.

"Financial organization" means any savings and loan association (cooperative bank), building and loan association, or credit union.

"Gift certificate" means a certificate, electronic card, or other medium that evidences the giving of consideration in exchange for the right to redeem the certificate, electronic card, or other medium for goods, food, services, credit, or money of an equal value.

"Holder" means a person, wherever organized or domiciled, that is (i) in possession of property belonging to another; (ii) a trustee, in the case of a trust; or (iii) indebted to another on an obligation.

"Insurance company" means an association, corporation, or fraternal or mutual benefit organization, whether or not for profit, that is engaged in providing insurance coverage, including accident, burial, casualty, contract performance, credit life, dental, fidelity, fire, health, hospitalization, illness, life (including endowments and annuities), malpractice, marine, mortgage, surety, and wage protection insurance.

"Intangible property" includes (i) moneys, checks, drafts, deposits, interest, and dividend income; (ii) credits, customer overpayments, gift certificates, security deposits, refunds, unpaid wages, and unidentified remittances; (iii) stocks and other intangible ownership interests in business associations; (iv) moneys deposited to redeem stocks, bonds, coupons, and other securities or to make distributions; (v) amounts due and payable under the terms of insurance policies; and (vi) amounts distributable from a trust or custodial fund established under a plan to provide any health, welfare, pension, vacation, severance, retirement, death, stock purchase, profit sharing, employee savings, supplemental unemployment insurance, or similar benefit.

"Last known address" means a description of the location of the apparent owner sufficient to identify the state of residence of the apparent owner for the purpose of the delivery of mail.

"Owner" means (i) a depositor, in the case of a deposit; (ii) a beneficiary, in the case of a trust, other than a deposit in trust; (iii) a creditor, claimant, or payee, in the case of other intangible property; or (iv) a person having a legal or equitable interest in property subject to this chapter or his legal representative.

"Payable" means the earliest date upon which the owner of property could become entitled to the payments, possession, delivery, or distribution of such property from a holder.

"Person" means an individual; a business association; a government or governmental subdivision or agency, public corporation, or public authority; an estate; a trust; two or more persons having a joint or common interest; or any other legal or commercial entity.

"Promotional incentive" means a coupon, rebate, or other promotional device offered to induce a consumer to purchase goods, food, or services and for which (i) no direct consideration is given by the consumer or (ii) the consideration given is less than the value of the goods, food, or services to be received.

"State," when applied to a part of the United States, includes any state, district, commonwealth, territory, and insular possession and any other area subject to the legislative authority of the United States.

"Unclaimed property" means property for which the owner, as shown by the records of the holder of his property, has ceased, failed, or neglected, within the times provided in this chapter, to make presentment and demand for payment and satisfaction or to do any other act in relation to or concerning such property. As used in this definition, "act" excludes any act of a holder of unclaimed property not done at the express request or authorization of the owner.

"Utility" means a person that owns or operates, for public use, any plant, equipment, property, franchise, or license for the transmission of communications or the production, storage, transmission, sale, delivery, or furnishing of electricity, water, steam, or gas.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.2; 1981, c. 47; 1982, c. 331; 1983, c. 190; 1984, c. 121; 1988, c. 378; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2501. Property presumed abandoned; general rule.

All tangible and intangible property, including any income or increment thereon, less any lawful charges, that is held, issued, or owing in the ordinary course of the holder's business and has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than five years after it became payable is presumed abandoned, except as otherwise provided by this chapter. Property is payable for the purpose of this chapter notwithstanding the owner's failure to make demand or to present any instrument or document required to receive payment.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.2:1; 1985, c. 294; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2502. Taking custody of intangible unclaimed property; general rules.

Unless otherwise provided in this chapter or by other law of the Commonwealth, intangible property is subject to the custody of the Commonwealth as unclaimed property if the conditions leading to a presumption of abandonment as described in §§ 55.1-2501, 55.1-2503, and 55.1-2505 through 55.1-2521 are satisfied and:

1. The last known address, as shown on the records of the holder, of the apparent owner is in the Commonwealth;

2. The records of the holder do not reflect the identity of the person entitled to the property, and it is established that the last known address of the person entitled to the property is in the Commonwealth;

3. The records of the holder do not reflect the last known address of the apparent owner, and it is established that (i) the last known address of the person entitled to the property is in the Commonwealth or (ii) the holder is a domiciliary or a government or governmental subdivision or agency of the Commonwealth and has not previously paid the property to the state of the last known address of the apparent owner or other person entitled to the property;

4. The last known address, as shown on the records of the holder, of the apparent owner or other person entitled to the property is in a state that does not provide by law for the escheat or custodial taking of the property, or its escheat or unclaimed property law is not applicable to the property, and the holder is a domiciliary or a government or governmental subdivision or agency of the Commonwealth;

5. The last known address, as shown on the records of the holder, of the apparent owner is in a foreign nation, and the holder is a domiciliary or a government or governmental subdivision or agency of the Commonwealth; or

6. a. The transaction out of which the property arose occurred in the Commonwealth, and (i) the last known address of the apparent owner or other person entitled to the property is unknown or (ii) the last known address of the apparent owner or other person entitled to the property is in a state that does not provide by law for the escheat or custodial taking of the property, or its escheat or unclaimed property law is not applicable to the property; and

b. The holder is a domiciliary of a state that does not provide by law for the escheat or custodial taking of the property, or its escheat or unclaimed property law is not applicable to the property.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.2:2; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2503. Bank deposits and funds in financial organizations.

A. Any demand, savings, or matured time deposit with a banking or financial organization, including deposits that are automatically renewable, and any funds paid toward the purchase of shares, a mutual investment certificate, or any other interest in a banking or financial organization is presumed abandoned unless the owner has, within five years:

1. In the case of a deposit or ownership of shares, increased or decreased the amount of the deposit or the number of shares owned, or presented the passbook or other similar evidence of the deposit or ownership of shares for the crediting of interest or dividends, or negotiated a check in payment of interest or dividends on a time deposit or ownership of shares;

2. Communicated in writing with the banking or financial organization concerning the property;

3. Otherwise indicated an interest in the property as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the banking or financial organization;

4. Owned other property to which subdivision 1, 2, or 3 is applicable if the banking or financial organization communicated in writing with the owner with regard to the property that would otherwise be presumed abandoned under this section at the address to which communications regarding the other property regularly are sent;

5. Had another relationship with the banking or financial organization concerning which the owner has (i) communicated in writing with the banking or financial organization, or (ii) otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the banking or financial organization if the banking or financial organization communicates in writing with the owner with regard to the property that would otherwise be abandoned under this section at the address to which communications regarding the other relationship regularly are sent; or

6. A deposit made with or purchase of shares in a banking or financial organization by a court or by a guardian pursuant to an order of a court or by any other person for the benefit of a person who was an infant at the time of the making of such deposit or purchase of shares, which deposit or ownership of shares is subject to withdrawal or transfer only upon the further order of such court or such guardian or other person, shall not be subject to the provisions of this chapter until one year after such infant attains the age of 18 years or until one year after the death of such infant, whichever occurs sooner. These accounts are not subject to dormant service charges.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, share accounts of a member of a state or federally chartered credit union that is subject to or covered by life savings insurance provided by the credit union at no additional charge to the member shall be presumed abandoned five years after the date of the second mailing of a statement of account or other notification or communication that was returned as undeliverable or five years after the date the credit union discontinued the mailings to the member, whichever occurs earlier. Funds held or owing under the life savings insurance policy are presumed abandoned pursuant to § 55.1-2507.

C. For purposes of this section, "property" includes any interest or dividends thereon. No banking or financial organization may deduct any service charge or cease to accrue interest on any account from the date the account is declared dormant or inactive by such organization except in conformity with cessation of interest or service charges generally assessed upon active accounts and except as provided in this section. With respect to any property described in this section, a holder may not impose any charges due to dormancy or inactivity that differ from charges imposed on active accounts or cease to pay interest due to dormancy or inactivity that differs from the cessation of payment of interest on active accounts unless:

1. There is an enforceable contract between the holder and the owner of the property pursuant to which the holder may impose those charges or cease payment of interest;

2. For property in excess of $100, the holder, no more than three months prior to the initial imposition of those charges or cessation of interest, has given written notice to the owner of the amount of those charges at the last known address of the owner stating that those charges will be imposed or that interest will cease; however, such notice need not be given with respect to charges imposed or interest ceased before July 1, 1984;

3. When the holder receives a request from the owner of the property to reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest with respect to such property, the holder may at its option either:

a. Reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest with respect to any such property, in which event the holder shall reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest for all such property that becomes subject to the reporting requirements in § 55.1-2524 for the Department of the Treasury; or

b. Not reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest with respect to any such property, in which event the holder shall not be required to reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest for any such property that becomes subject to the reporting requirements in § 55.1-2524 for the Department of the Treasury; and

4. The holder may at its option reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest with respect to any or all such property to correct a documented internal error without becoming required to reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest for all such property that becomes subject to the reporting requirements in § 55.1-2524 for the Department of the Treasury.

Notwithstanding any provision of this subsection to the contrary, a holder that is a state-chartered credit union may refund charges or reverse or cancel those charges or retroactively credit interest with respect to such property to the same extent that a federally chartered credit union is authorized to do so pursuant to applicable provisions of federal law.

D. Any automatically renewable property to which this section applies is matured upon the expiration of its initial time period. However, in the case of any renewal to which the owner consents at or about the time of renewal by communicating in writing with the banking or financial organization or otherwise indicates consent as specified in subsection A, the property is matured upon the expiration of the last time period for which consent was given. If, at the time provided for delivery in subsection D of § 55.1-2524, a penalty or forfeiture in the payment of interest would result from the delivery of the property, the time for delivery is extended until the time when no penalty or forfeiture would result. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, any automatically renewable time deposit that has matured shall be presumed abandoned five years after the date of the second mailing of a statement of account or other notification or communication that was returned as undeliverable or five years after the date the holder discontinued the mailings to the apparent owner, whichever occurs earlier. However, any automatically renewable time deposit for which no such statement or other notification or mailing is required to be sent by the banking or financial organization shall be presumed abandoned as otherwise provided in this section.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.3:01; 1985, c. 294; 1991, c. 357; 1995, c. 624; 1996, c. 419; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2008, cc. 90, 556; 2018, cc. 359, 439; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2504. Traveler's checks and money orders.

A. Except as otherwise provided in this section, any sum payable on a traveler's check that has been outstanding for more than 15 years after its issuance is presumed abandoned unless the owner, within 15 years, has communicated in writing with the issuer concerning it or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the issuer.

Except as otherwise provided in this section, any sum payable on a money order or similar written instrument, other than a third-party bank check, that has been outstanding for more than seven years after its issuance is presumed abandoned unless the owner, within seven years, has communicated in writing with the issuer concerning it or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the issuer.

B. No holder may deduct from the amount of any traveler's check or money order any charges imposed by reason of the failure to present those instruments for payment unless (i) there is a valid and enforceable written contract between the issuer and the owner of the property pursuant to which the issuer may impose those charges and (ii) the issuer regularly imposes those charges and does not regularly reverse or otherwise cancel those charges with respect to such property.

C. Any sum payable on a traveler's check, money order, or similar written instrument, other than a third-party bank check, described in this section shall not be subjected to the custody of the Commonwealth as unclaimed property unless:

1. The records of the issuer show that the traveler's check, money order, or similar written instrument was purchased in the Commonwealth;

2. The issuer has its principal place of business in the Commonwealth, and the records of the issuer do not show the state in which the traveler's check, money order, or similar written instrument was purchased; or

3. The issuer has its principal place of business in the Commonwealth, the records of the issuer show the state in which the traveler's check, money order, or similar written instrument was purchased, and the laws of the state of purchase do not provide for the escheat or custodial taking of the property, or its escheat or unclaimed property law is not applicable to the property.

D. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the provisions of subsection C relating to the requirements for subjecting certain written instruments to the custody of the Commonwealth apply to sums payable on traveler's checks, money orders, and similar written instruments presumed abandoned on or after February 1, 1965, except to the extent that those sums have been paid over to a state prior to January 1, 1974.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.3:02; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2505. Checks, drafts, and similar instruments issued or certified by banking and financial organizations.

Any sum payable on a check, draft, or similar instrument, except money orders, traveler's checks, and other similar instruments subject to § 55.1-2504, on which a banking or financial organization is directly liable, including cashier's checks and certified checks, that has been outstanding for more than five years after it was payable, or after its issuance if payable on demand, is presumed abandoned unless the owner, within five years, has communicated in writing with the banking or financial organization concerning it or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the banking or financial organization.

A holder may not deduct from the amount of any instrument subject to this section any charges imposed by reason of the failure to present the instrument for payment unless there is a valid and enforceable written contract between the holder and the owner of the instrument pursuant to which the holder may impose those charges and the holder regularly imposes those charges and does not regularly reverse or otherwise cancel those charges with respect to such instruments.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.3:2; 1985, c. 294; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2506. Contents of safe deposit box or other safekeeping repository.

All tangible and intangible property held in a safe deposit box or any other safekeeping repository in the Commonwealth in the ordinary course of the holder's business and all proceeds resulting from the lawful sale of this property shall be presumed abandoned if unclaimed by the owner for more than five years after the lease or rental period on the box or other repository has expired.

1985, c. 294, § 55-210.3:3; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2507. Funds owing under life insurance policies.

A. Funds held or owing under any life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract that has matured or terminated are presumed abandoned if unclaimed for more than five years after the funds became due and payable as established from the records of the insurance company holding or owing the funds, except that property described in subdivision C 2 is presumed abandoned if unclaimed for more than two years.

B. If a person other than the insured or annuitant is entitled to the funds and no address of the person is known to the company or it is not definite and certain from the records of the company who is entitled to the funds, it is presumed that the last known address of the person entitled to the funds is the same as the last known address of the insured or annuitant according to the records of the company.

C. For purposes of this section, a life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract not matured by actual proof of the death of the insured or annuitant according to the records of the company is deemed matured and the proceeds due and payable if:

1. The company knows that the insured or annuitant has died; or

2. (i) The insured has attained, or would have attained if he were living, the limiting age under the mortality table on which the reserve is based; (ii) the policy was in force at the time the insured attained, or would have attained, the limiting age specified in clause (i); and (iii) neither the insured nor any other person appearing to have an interest in the policy within the preceding two years, according to the records of the company, has assigned, readjusted, or paid premiums on the policy, subjected the policy to a loan, corresponded in writing with the company concerning the policy, or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the company.

D. For purposes of this section, the application of an automatic premium loan provision or other nonforfeiture provision contained in an insurance policy does not prevent a policy from being matured or terminated under subsection A if the insured has died or the insured or the beneficiaries of the policy otherwise have become entitled to the proceeds thereof before the depletion of the cash surrender value of the policy by the application of those provisions.

E. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the company learns of the death of the insured or annuitant and the beneficiary has not communicated with the insurer within four months after the death, the company shall take reasonable steps to locate the beneficiary and pay the proceeds to the beneficiary.

F. Commencing July 1, 1986, every change of beneficiary form issued by an insurance company under any life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract to an insured or owner who is a resident of the Commonwealth shall request the following information:

1. The name of each beneficiary or, if the class of beneficiaries is named, the name of each current beneficiary in the class;

2. The address of each beneficiary; and

3. The relationship of each beneficiary to the insured.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.4:01; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2508. Intangible personal property held by insurance corporation subject to § 55.1-2501.

An insurance corporation holding any other intangible personal property not covered by subsection A of § 55.1-2507 or § 55.1-2509 shall be otherwise subject to § 55.1-2501.

1981, c. 47, § 55-210.4:1; 2003, cc. 750, 765; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2509. Unclaimed demutualization proceeds.

Unclaimed property payable or distributable in the course of the demutualization of an insurance company is presumed abandoned five years after the earlier of (i) the date of last contact with the policyholder or (ii) the date the property became payable or distributable. The report filed on November 1, 2003 will include demutualization distribution property for which there has been no policyholder contact for the five years prior to June 30, 2003.

2003, cc. 750, 765, § 55-210.4:2; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2510. Deposits held by utilities.

Any deposit, including any interest thereon, made by a subscriber with a utility to secure payment or any sum paid in advance for utility services to be furnished, less any lawful deductions, that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after termination of the services for which the deposit or advance payment was made is presumed abandoned.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.5; 1981, c. 47; 1983, c. 190; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2511. Intangible interest in business association.

A. Any intangible interest in a business association, as evidenced by the stock records or membership records of the association, is presumed abandoned five years after the date of the most recent dividend or other distribution unclaimed by the apparent owner with respect to the stock or other interest or, if a dividend or other distribution has not been paid on the stock or other interest, or the stock or other interest is held pursuant to a plan that provides for the automatic reinvestment of dividends or other distributions, five years after the date of the second mailing of a statement of account or other notification or communication that was returned as undeliverable or five years after the date the holder discontinued the mailings to the apparent owner, whichever occurs earlier. With respect to such interest, the business association shall be deemed the holder.

B. Any dividend or other distribution held for or owing to a person at the time the stock or other security to which such dividend or other distribution attaches is considered abandoned at the same time.

1970, c. 158, § 55-210.6:1; 1980, c. 293; 1981, c. 47; 1991, c. 357; 1995, c. 624; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2512. Refunds held by business associations.

Except to the extent otherwise ordered by a court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction, any sum that a business association has been ordered to refund by a court or administrative agency that has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after it became payable in accordance with the final determination or order providing for the refund, regardless of whether the final determination or order requires any person entitled to a refund to make a claim for it, is presumed abandoned.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.6:2; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2513. Property of business associations held in course of dissolution.

All intangible property distributable in the course of a voluntary or involuntary dissolution of a business association that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after the date for specified final distribution is presumed abandoned.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.7; 1981, c. 47; 1983, c. 190; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2514. Intangible personal property held in fiduciary capacity.

A. All intangible personal property, and any income or increment thereon, held in a fiduciary capacity for the benefit of another person is presumed abandoned unless the owner has, within five years after it became payable, increased or decreased the principal, accepted payment of principal or income, corresponded in writing concerning the property, or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file with and prepared by the fiduciary or an employee of the fiduciary.

B. Funds in an individual retirement account, a retirement plan for self-employed individuals, or a similar account or plan established pursuant to the Internal Revenue laws of the United States are not payable under this section unless, under the terms of the account or plan, distribution of all or part of the funds would then be mandatory.

C. For the purpose of this section, a person who holds property as an agent for a business association is deemed to hold the property in a fiduciary capacity for that business association alone, unless such person's agreement with the business association provides otherwise. A person who is so deemed to hold property in a fiduciary capacity for a business association alone is the holder of the property only insofar as the interest of the business association in the property is concerned, and the business association is the holder of the property insofar as the interest of any other person in the property is concerned.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.8; 1981, c. 47; 1982, c. 331; 1984, c. 121; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2515. Gift certificates and credit balances.

A. Except as described in subsection B, a gift certificate or credit balance issued in the ordinary course of the issuer's business that has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than five years after such gift certificate or credit balance became payable is presumed abandoned.

B. The following property is exempt from the provisions of this chapter and shall not be assessed by the administrator as unclaimed property: (i) credit balances payable to a business association; (ii) outstanding checks resulting from or attributable to the sale of goods or services to a business association; (iii) promotional incentives; and (iv) credits, gift certificates, coupons, layaways, and similar items, provided that such credits, gift certificates, coupons, layaways, and similar items are redeemable in merchandise, in services, or through future purchases.

1983, c. 190, § 55-210.8:1; 1988, cc. 595, 643; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2516. Wages.

Unpaid wages, including wages represented by unpresented payroll checks owing in the ordinary course of the holder's business, that have remained unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after such unpaid wages became payable are presumed abandoned.

1983, c. 190, § 55-210.8:2; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2517. Intangible property held for owner by public agency.

All intangible property held for the owner by any government or governmental subdivision or agency, public corporation, or public authority that has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after it became payable is presumed abandoned.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.9; 1980, c. 293; 1982, c. 331; 1983, c. 190; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2518. Property held by courts.

All intangible property held for the owner by any state or federal court that has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after it became payable is presumed abandoned.

1983, c. 190, § 55-210.9:1; 1985, c. 294; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2519. Responsibilities of general receiver and clerk.

The general receiver, if one has been appointed, and the clerk of each circuit court shall be responsible for identifying moneys held by them in their respective accounts that have remained unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after such moneys became payable and for petitioning the court to remit such money to the administrator. There shall be no obligation to report or remit funds deposited as compensation and damages in condemnation proceedings pursuant to § 25.1-237 prior to a final court order or pursuant to § 33.2-1019.

1988, c. 841, § 55-210.9:2; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2520. Employee benefit trust distribution.

A. All employee benefit trust distributions and any income or other increment thereon are abandoned to the Commonwealth under the provisions of this chapter if the owner has not, within 10 years after it became payable, accepted such distribution, corresponded in writing concerning such distribution, or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file with the fiduciary of the trust or custodial fund or administrator of the plan under which such trust or fund is established.

B. An employee benefit trust distribution and any income or other increment thereon shall not be presumed abandoned to the Commonwealth under the provisions of this chapter if, at the time such distribution becomes payable to a participant in an employee benefit plan, (i) such plan contains a provision for forfeiture or expressly authorizes the trustee to declare a forfeiture of a distribution to a beneficiary thereof who cannot be found after a period of time specified in such plan and (ii) the trust or fund established under the plan has not terminated prior to the date on which such distribution would become forfeitable in accordance with such provision.

1981, c. 47, § 55-210.10:1; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2521. Holder of tangible or intangible personal property may voluntarily report such property.

Any holder of tangible or intangible personal property the owner of which is unlocatable may voluntarily report the property to the administrator, prior to the statutory due dates, whereupon the property shall be presumed abandoned under this chapter.

1981, c. 47, § 55-210.10:2; 1983, c. 190; 2019, c. 712.

Article 2. Reciprocity for Property Presumed Abandoned or Escheated Under Laws of Another State.

§ 55.1-2522. Certain property not presumed abandoned in the Commonwealth.

If specific property that is subject to the provisions of §§ 55.1-2501, 55.1-2503, 55.1-2507, 55.1-2511, 55.1-2513, 55.1-2514, 55.1-2520, and 55.1-2521 is payable to an owner whose last known address is in another state by a holder that is subject to the jurisdiction of that state, the specific property is not presumed abandoned in the Commonwealth and subject to this chapter if:

1. It may be claimed as abandoned or escheated under the laws of such other state; and

2. The laws of such other state make reciprocal provision that similar specific property is not presumed abandoned or escheatable by such other state when payable to an owner whose last known address is within the Commonwealth by a holder that is subject to the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.11; 1981, c. 47; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2523. Interstate agreements and cooperation.

A. The administrator may enter into agreements with other states to exchange information needed to enable the Commonwealth or another state to audit or otherwise determine unclaimed property to which the Commonwealth or another state may be entitled subject to a claim of custody. The administrator may by rule require the reporting of information needed to enable compliance with agreements made pursuant to this section and prescribe the form.

B. To avoid conflicts between the administrator's procedures and the procedures of administrators in other jurisdictions that enact the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, the administrator shall, so far as is consistent with the purposes, policies, and provisions of this chapter, before adopting, amending, or repealing rules, advise and consult with administrators in other jurisdictions that enact substantially the Act and take into consideration the rules of administrators in other jurisdictions that enact the Act.

C. The administrator may join with other states to seek enforcement of the Act against any person who is or may be holding property reportable under the Act. At the request of another state, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth may bring an action in the name of the administrator of the other state in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce the unclaimed property laws of the other state against a holder in the Commonwealth of property subject to escheat or a claim of abandonment by the other state, if the other state has agreed to pay expenses incurred by the Attorney General in bringing the action.

Similarly, the administrator may request that the Attorney General of another state, or any other person, bring an action in the other state in the name of the administrator. The Commonwealth shall pay all expenses, including attorney fees, in any such action, and such expenses shall not be deducted from the amount that is subject to the claim by the owner under this chapter.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.11:01; 2019, c. 712.

Article 3. Procedural and Administrative Matters.

§ 55.1-2524. Report and remittance to be made by holder of funds or property presumed abandoned; holder to exercise due diligence to locate owner.

A. Every person holding funds or other property, tangible or intangible, presumed abandoned under this chapter shall report and remit to the administrator with respect to the property as provided in this article. Reports containing 25 or more items shall be remitted in an electronic format as prescribed by the administrator. The administrator may waive this requirement when he determines that it creates an undue hardship.

B. The report shall be verified and shall include:

1. The name and social security or federal identification number, if known, and last known address, including zip code, if any, of each person appearing from the records of the holder to be the owner of any property of the value of $100 or more presumed abandoned under this chapter;

2. In the case of unclaimed funds of insurance corporations, the full name of the insured or annuitant and any beneficiary, if known, and the last known address according to the insurance corporation's records;

3. In the case of the contents of a safe deposit box or other safekeeping repository or in the case of other tangible property, a description of the property and the place where it is held and may be inspected by the administrator and any amounts owing to the holder;

4. The nature and identifying number, if any, or description of the property and the amount appearing from the records to be due, except that items of value under $100 each may be reported in aggregate;

5. The date when the property became payable, demandable, or returnable and the date of the last transaction with the owner with respect to the property; and

6. Other information that the administrator prescribes by rule as reasonably necessary for the administration of this chapter.

C. If the person holding property presumed abandoned is a successor to other persons who previously held the property for the owner, or if the holder has changed his name while holding the property, he shall file with his report all prior known names and addresses of each holder of the property.

D. The report and remittance, including the remittance of unclaimed demutualization proceeds made pursuant to § 55.1-2509, shall be filed before November 1 of each year for the period ending June 30 of such year, but the report and remittance of insurance corporations shall be filed before May 1 of each year for the period ending December 31 of the previous year. When property is evidenced by certificate of ownership as set forth in § 55.1-2511, the holder shall deliver to the administrator a duplicate of any such certificate registered in the name "Treasurer of Virginia" or the Treasurer's designated nominee at the time of report and remittance. The administrator may postpone the reporting and remittance date upon written request by any person required to file a report.

E. If the holder of property presumed abandoned under this chapter knows the whereabouts of the owner, the holder shall, before filing the annual report, communicate with the owner and take necessary steps to prevent abandonment from being presumed. All holders shall exercise due diligence, as defined in § 55.1-2500, at least 60 days prior to the submission of the report to ascertain the whereabouts of the owner if (i) the holder has in its records an address for the apparent owner that the holder's records do not disclose to be inaccurate and (ii) the property has a value of $100 or more.

F. Verification shall be executed (i) if made by a partnership, by a partner; (ii) if made by an unincorporated association or private corporation, by an officer; and (iii) if made by a public corporation, by its chief fiscal officer.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.12; 1981, c. 47; 1982, c. 331; 1983, c. 190; 1984, c. 121; 1985, c. 294; 1987, c. 236; 1988, c. 378; 1992, c. 583; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2003, cc. 750, 765; 2004, c. 524; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2525. Notices to be published by administrator.

A. The administrator shall cause to be published notice of the report filed under subsection D of § 55.1-2524 once each year in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the last known address of any person to be named in the notice is located. If no address is listed or if the address is outside of the Commonwealth, the notice shall be published in the area in which the holder of the abandoned property has his principal place of business.

B. The published notice shall be entitled "Commonwealth of Virginia Unclaimed Property List" and shall contain:

1. The names in alphabetical order and account numbers of persons listed in the report and entitled to notice within the area as specified in subsection A; and

2. A statement that information concerning the amount or description of the property and the name and address of the holder may be obtained by any persons possessing an interest in the property by addressing an inquiry to the administrator.

C. The administrator is not required to publish in such notice any item of less than $100 unless he deems such publication to be in the public interest.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.13; 1981, c. 47; 1983, c. 190; 1987, c. 236; 1988, c. 378; 1990, c. 460; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2526. Holder relieved of liability for property paid or delivered to administrator; payment to owner by holder; proceedings against prior holder; notice to administrator and Attorney General; reimbursement of holder.

A. Upon the payment or delivery of abandoned property to the administrator, the Commonwealth shall assume custody and shall be responsible for the safekeeping of such property. Any person who pays or delivers abandoned property to the administrator under this chapter is relieved of all liability to the extent of the value of the property so paid or delivered for any claim that then exists or that thereafter may arise or be made in respect to the property. Any holder that has paid moneys to the administrator pursuant to this chapter may make payment to any person appearing to such holder to be entitled thereto, and upon proof of such payment and proof that the payee was entitled thereto, the administrator shall forthwith reimburse the holder for the payment.

B. In the event that legal proceedings are instituted against a prior holder in a court of the Commonwealth, or in any other state or federal court, by any other state claiming to be entitled to unclaimed funds or abandoned property previously paid or delivered to the administrator, such holder shall give written notice to the administrator and the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of such proceedings (i) within 10 days after service of process or (ii) at least 10 days before the return date on which an answer or similar pleading is required to be filed. The Attorney General may intervene or take such other action as he deems appropriate or necessary to protect the interests of the Commonwealth.

C. If the notice provided in subsection B is given by the holder and thereafter a judgment is entered against the holder for any amount paid to the administrator pursuant to the terms of this chapter, the administrator shall, upon being furnished with proof thereof, return to the holder the amount of such judgment, not to exceed, however, the amount of the abandoned property paid to the administrator.

D. Property removed from a safe deposit box or other safekeeping repository that is received by the administrator shall be subject to the holder's right under this subsection to be reimbursed for the actual cost of the opening and to any valid lien or contract providing for the holder to be reimbursed for unpaid rent or storage charges. The administrator shall make the reimbursement to the holder out of the proceeds remaining after the deduction of the administrator's selling cost.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.15; 1964, c. 466; 1984, c. 121; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2527. Crediting of dividends, interest, or increments to owner's account.

Whenever property other than money is paid or delivered to the administrator under this chapter, the owner is entitled to receive from the administrator any dividends, interest, or other increments realized or accruing on the property at or before liquidation or conversion of such property into money.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.16:1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2528. Periods of limitation.

A. The expiration of any period of time specified by statute or court order during which an action or proceeding may be commenced or enforced to obtain payment of a claim for money or recovery of property shall not prevent the money or property from being presumed abandoned property or affect any duty to file a report required by this chapter or to pay or deliver abandoned property to the administrator.

B. Except as provided in subsection C, an action or proceeding shall not be maintained by the administrator to enforce this chapter more than five years after the earlier of (i) the date on which the holder identified the property on a report filed with the administrator, (ii) the date on which the holder first filed a report with the administrator wherein the holder should have but failed to report the property, or (iii) the date on which the holder filed a report with the administrator giving reasonable notice to the administrator of a dispute regarding the property.

C. An action or proceeding shall not be maintained by the administrator to enforce this chapter with respect to any property more than 10 years following the date on which such property first became reportable if the holder (i) filed a materially false or fraudulent report with the intent to evade delivery of property otherwise subject to this chapter or (ii) failed to file a report with the administrator.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.17; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2529. Sale of abandoned property by administrator.

A. Except as provided in subsection C, all abandoned property other than money or other certificate of ownership delivered to the administrator under this chapter shall be sold by him to the highest bidder at public sale (i) in such city, within or outside the Commonwealth, as affords in his judgment the most favorable market for the property involved or (ii) through the use of electronic media in a format approved by the administrator. The administrator may decline the highest bid and reoffer the property for sale if he considers the price bid insufficient. He need not offer any property for sale if, in his opinion, the probable cost of sale exceeds the value of the property.

B. Any sale held under this section within the Commonwealth shall be preceded by a single publication of notice of such sale at least three weeks in advance of the sale. Such notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city where the property is to be sold. If any sale is to occur outside the Commonwealth, then the administrator may use such forms of notice or advertising as he deems necessary to constitute reasonable notice, including post, print, visual, telecommunications, electronic media, or any combination thereof. For the purposes of this section, any sale through the use of electronic media, including the Internet, shall be deemed to be a sale outside of the Commonwealth.

C. Securities listed on an established stock exchange shall be sold at prices prevailing at the time of sale on the exchange. Other securities may be sold over the counter at prices prevailing at the time of sale or by any other method the administrator deems advisable.

Unless the administrator deems it to be in the best interest of the Commonwealth to do otherwise, all securities delivered to the administrator shall be held for at least one year before the securities may be sold. If the administrator sells any securities before the expiration of the one-year period, any person making a claim pursuant to this chapter before the end of the one-year period is entitled to either the proceeds of the sale of the securities or the market value of the securities at the time the claim is made, whichever amount is greater. Any person making a claim pursuant to this chapter after the expiration of the one-year period is entitled to receive either the securities delivered to the administrator by the holder, if they still remain in the hands of the administrator, or the proceeds of the sale, but no person has any claim under this chapter against the Commonwealth, the holder, or any transfer agent, registrar, or other person acting for or on behalf of the holder for any appreciation in the value of the property occurring after delivery by the holder to the Commonwealth.

D. The purchaser of property at any sale conducted by the administrator pursuant to this chapter shall receive title to property purchased pursuant to subsections A or B and is entitled to ownership of property purchased pursuant to subsection C, free from all claims of the owner or previous holder thereof and of all persons claiming through or under such owner or previous holder. The administrator shall execute all documents necessary to complete the transfer of ownership.

E. If the administrator determines after investigation that any property delivered to him pursuant to this chapter has insubstantial commercial value, he may destroy or otherwise dispose of the property at any time. No action or proceeding may be maintained against the Commonwealth or any officer or against the holder for or on account of any action taken by the administrator with respect to the property pursuant to this subsection.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.18; 1981, c. 47; 1982, c. 331; 1984, c. 121; 1985, c. 294; 1994, c. 83; 2004, c. 535; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2530. Securities received in name of owner.

Whenever the administrator receives securities under this chapter in the name of the owner, he shall take appropriate action to transfer the record of ownership of such securities into the title of the State Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Virginia as soon as practical.

1981, c. 47, § 55-210.18:1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2531. Disposition of funds received under chapter; records to be kept by administrator.

A. All funds received under this chapter, including the proceeds from the sale of abandoned property under § 55.1-2529, shall be deposited by the administrator in the Literary Fund of the Commonwealth as soon as practical, except that the administrator shall retain in a separate trust fund a sum sufficient from which he shall make prompt payment of claims duly allowed by him as provided by subsection B. Before making the deposit, he shall record the name and last known address of each person appearing from the holders' reports to be entitled to the abandoned property, the name and last known address of each insured person or annuitant, and, with respect to each policy or contract listed in the report of an insurance corporation, its number, the name of the corporation, and the amount due.

B. Before making any deposit to the credit of the Literary Fund, the administrator may deduct (i) any costs in connection with the sale of abandoned property, (ii) any costs of mailing and publication in connection with any abandoned property, (iii) operating expenses, and (iv) amounts required to make payments to other states, during the next fiscal year, through reciprocity agreements.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.19; 1981, c. 47; 1984, c. 121; 1985, c. 294; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2532. Filing claim to property or proceeds of sale of such property.

A. Any person claiming an interest in any property delivered to the Commonwealth under this chapter may file a claim to such property or to the proceeds from the sale of such property on a form prescribed by the administrator.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person claiming an interest in any property delivered to the Commonwealth under this chapter for a reported owner who is deceased shall submit evidence of the claimant's entitlement to payment together with a form prescribed by the administrator. In order of preference, such evidence may include (i) a certificate of qualification as the executor or an order of appointment as the administrator or personal representative of the decedent's estate under the laws of the state of the decedent's domicile; (ii) if applicable, an affidavit authorizing the claimant to be the designated successor under the Virginia Small Estate Act (§ 64.2-600 et seq.), or its equivalent under the laws of the state of the decedent's domicile that names the claimant as the designated successor; or (iii) the order of distribution or the final accounting for a closed estate that reflects payment due in whole or in part to the claimant. When, in the absence of any such evidence, (a) the death of the reported owner occurred at least one year prior to filing the claim and (b) the amount claimed is $25,000 or less, exclusive of any interest owed pursuant to subsection C of § 55.1-2533, the administrator may allow the claimant to submit an affidavit stating the claimant's entitlement to payment in the absence of sufficient documentation, and the administrator may approve the claim in his discretion, returning or paying all or the appropriate share of the deceased owner's property to the claimant. The administrator may pay or deliver all of the deceased owner's property to a claimant who submits the prescribed affidavit evidencing his agreement to receive and distribute the property to the other rightful heirs or beneficiaries and acknowledging his assumption of liability to those beneficiaries or heirs for failure to do so.

C. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when paying or delivering unclaimed property under subsection B to a claimant who is not authorized to represent the decedent's estate as the personal representative or the designated successor or the equivalent, the administrator is discharged and released to the same extent as if the administrator dealt with the authorized representative or designated successor for the decedent's estate. The administrator shall deny any subsequent claim to the same property. Any person subsequently claiming an equal or superior right to the deceased owner's property whose claim is denied by the administrator for this reason may seek redress from the claimant to whom payment was made.

D. The administrator shall develop and make available a plain English explanation of a person's right to make a claim, in accordance with the provisions of this section, for property delivered to the Commonwealth in cases where the reported owner of the property is deceased. The administrator shall also post such document on the Department of the Treasury's website.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.20; 2016, cc. 350, 529; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2533. Consideration of and hearing on claim by administrator; payment; interest.

A. The administrator shall consider any claim for property held by the administrator pursuant to the provisions of this chapter that is filed under this chapter and may hold a hearing and receive evidence concerning such claim. If a hearing is held, he shall prepare a finding and a decision in writing on each claim filed, stating the substance of any evidence heard by him and the reasons for his decision. The decision shall be a public record.

B. If the claim is allowed, the administrator shall make payment as soon as practical. The administrator is authorized to deduct from the claim the costs for notices, sales, and other related incurred expenses.

C. The administrator shall add interest at the rate of five percent or such lesser rate as the property earned while in the possession of the holder, compounded annually, to the amount of any claim paid to the owner, if the property claimed was interest-bearing to the owner while in the possession of the holder. If the holder fails to report an applicable rate of interest, the interest rate will be set at five percent or such lesser rate as determined by the one-year Treasury Constant Maturity Rate as published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System as of November 1 of the report year. Such interest shall begin to accumulate on the date the property is delivered to the administrator and shall cease on the date on which payment is made to the owner. No interest shall be payable for any period prior to July 1, 1981.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.21; 1981, c. 47; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2004, c. 523; 2005, c. 118; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2534. Judicial review of decision of administrator.

Any person aggrieved by an act or decision of the administrator with respect to a claim for property held by the administrator pursuant to the provisions of this chapter may commence an action in the circuit court of the county or city in which the property claimed is situated to establish his claim. The proceeding shall be brought within three years after the decision of the administrator or, if the administrator fails to act, within three years from the filing of the claim.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.22; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2535. Election of administrator not to receive property or to postpone taking possession of funds.

The administrator, after receiving reports of property deemed abandoned pursuant to this chapter, may decline to receive any property reported that he deems to have a value less than the cost of giving notice and holding sale, or he may, if he deems it desirable because of the small sum involved, postpone taking possession until a sufficient sum accumulates. Unless the holder of the property is notified to the contrary within 120 days after filing the report required under § 55.1-2524, the administrator shall be deemed to have elected to receive the custody of the property.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.23; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2536. Requests for verified reports and examinations of records.

A. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the administrator may require any person that has not filed a report to file a verified report stating whether or not the person is holding any unclaimed property reportable or deliverable under this chapter.

B. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the administrator may at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice examine the records of any person to determine whether the person has complied with the provisions of this chapter. The administrator may conduct the examination even if the person believes it is not in possession of any property reportable or deliverable under this chapter. The administrator may examine all necessary records to determine the amount, if any, of property that would have been reportable or deliverable under this chapter for the 10 years prior to the fiscal year end preceding the opening of the examination; however, for any holder that has not previously filed any report under this chapter, the administrator may examine property presumed abandoned for report year 1985 and subsequent years.

C. If a holder fails to maintain the records required by § 55.1-2537 and the records of the holder available for the periods subject to this chapter are insufficient to permit the preparation of a report, the holder shall be required to report and pay such amounts as may reasonably be estimated from any available records.

D. The administrator may contract with a person who is not an employee of the Commonwealth to perform an audit or examination under this article; however, with respect to any holder that is domiciled in the Commonwealth or that maintains its principal place of business in the Commonwealth, no such contract shall (i) be on a contingency fee basis or (ii) permit statistical estimation without the consent of the holder.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.24; 1983, c. 190; 1985, c. 294; 1991, c. 357; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2537. Retention of records.

A. Every holder required to file a report under § 55.1-2524, shall retain all books, records, and documents necessary to establish the accuracy and compliance of such report for five years after the report is filed pursuant to subsection B of § 55.1-2524. If no report is filed, the holder shall retain such books, records, and documents for 10 years after the property becomes reportable, except to the extent that shorter time is provided in accordance with the Virginia Public Records Act (§ 42.1-76 et seq.), in accordance with subsection B, or by rule of the administrator. As to any property for which it has obtained the last known address of the owner, the holder shall maintain a record of the name and last known address of the owner for the same retention period.

B. Any business association that sells in the Commonwealth its traveler's checks, money orders, or other similar written instruments, other than third-party bank checks on which the business association is directly liable, or that provides such instruments to others for sale in the Commonwealth, shall maintain a record of those instruments while they remain outstanding, indicating the state and date of issue for three years after the date the property is reportable.

1983, c. 190, § 55-210.24:1; 1985, c. 294; 1988, c. 378; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2538. Confidentiality of information and records.

Any information or records required to be furnished to the Division of Unclaimed Property shall be confidential except as is otherwise necessary in the proper administration of this chapter.

1988, c. 378, § 55-210.24:2; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2539. Enforcement of chapter.

The administrator may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to enforce this chapter. The administrator shall commence enforcement for compliance with the provisions of this chapter within the period specified in § 55.1-2528. The holder may waive in writing the protection of this section.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.25; 1983, c. 190; 1988, c. 643; 1991, c. 357; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2540. Interest and penalties.

A. Any person who fails to pay or deliver property within the time prescribed by this chapter shall be required to pay to the administrator interest at the same annual rate as is applicable to delinquent taxes under § 58.1-1812 on the property or value thereof from the date the property should have been paid or delivered. Such interest rate shall vary with the rate specified in § 58.1-1812.

B. Any person who does not exercise due diligence as defined in § 55.1-2500 shall pay a civil penalty not to exceed $50 for each account upon which due diligence was not performed.

C. Except as otherwise provided in subsection D, a holder that (i) fails to report, pay, or deliver property within the time prescribed by this chapter; (ii) files a false report; or (iii) fails to perform other duties imposed by this chapter without good cause shall pay to the administrator, in addition to interest as provided in subsection A, a civil penalty of $100 for each day the report, payment, or delivery is withheld or the duty is not performed, up to a maximum of the lesser of $10,000 or 25 percent of the value of the property that should have been but was not reported.

D. A holder that (i) willfully fails to report, pay, or deliver property within the time prescribed by this chapter; (ii) willfully fails to perform other duties imposed by this chapter without good cause; or (iii) makes a fraudulent report to the administrator shall pay to the administrator, in addition to interest as provided in subsection A, a civil penalty of $1,000 for each day the report, payment, or delivery is withheld or the duty is not performed, up to a maximum of the lesser of $50,000 or 100 percent of the value of the property that should have been but was not reported.

E. The administrator for good cause may waive, in whole or in part, interest under subsection A and penalties under subsections B, C, and D. All civil penalties shall be payable to the State Treasurer and credited to the Literary Fund.

1984, c. 121, § 55-210.26:1; 1988, c. 378; 1992, c. 583; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2541. Determinations; appeal procedures; regulations of administrator.

A. For the purposes of this section, "jeopardized by delay" means a finding that the applicant intends to undertake a wrongful act with the intent to prejudice, or to render ineffectual, future proceedings to enforce this chapter.

B. The administrator may adopt necessary regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

C. If the administrator ascertains that any person has failed to pay or deliver abandoned property in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, he shall issue a written notice to such person demanding remittance of the property and payment of any penalties and interest prescribed by law. Every such notice shall be accompanied by a detailed explanation of the holder's right to secure an administrative or judicial review. The abandoned property, together with penalties and interest, if any, shall be remitted to the administrator within 90 days from the date notice is received by the holder unless the holder requests (i) an administrative review in accordance with regulations promulgated pursuant to subsection D or (ii) a judicial review in accordance with § 55.1-2534.

D. The administrator shall promulgate regulations pursuant to which any person (i) asserting ownership of property remitted to the Commonwealth under this chapter, (ii) required to pay or deliver abandoned property pursuant to this chapter, or (iii) otherwise aggrieved by a decision of the administrator may file an application for administrative appeal and correction of the administrator's determination.

E. On receipt of the application as provided in regulations promulgated pursuant to subsection D, or if regulations promulgated thereunder are not in effect, on receipt of an application requesting an administrative review by the State Treasurer, the administrator shall suspend collection activity until a final determination is issued by the State Treasurer, unless the administrator determines that collection would be jeopardized by delay. Interest shall continue to accrue in accordance with the provisions of § 55.1-2540, but no further penalty shall be imposed while collection activity is suspended.

F. If the State Treasurer is satisfied, by evidence submitted or otherwise, that there has been an erroneous or improper demand for the remittance of property, the State Treasurer shall order that the applicant be exonerated from the remittance of such portion as is erroneously or improperly demanded, if not already collected, and that it be returned or refunded to the applicant, if already collected. The State Treasurer shall refrain from collecting a contested charge until he has made a final determination under this section unless he determines that collection may be jeopardized by delay.

G. Except as otherwise provided in regulations promulgated pursuant to subsection D, the State Treasurer shall issue a written determination to the applicant within 90 days of receipt of an application for correction, unless the applicant is notified that a longer period will be required. All determinations of the State Treasurer shall include a written finding of fact and supporting law, and all such determinations shall be publicly reported.

H. Following a determination by the State Treasurer, the applicant may apply (i) in the case of a claim for property by a purported owner, to the appropriate circuit court pursuant to § 55.1-2534 and (ii) in the case of a dispute between a holder and the State Treasurer, to the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, within the time period established in § 55.1-2534.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.27; 2000, cc. 733, 745; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2542. Agreements to locate reported property; penalty.

A. It is unlawful for any person to seek or receive from another person or contract with another person for a fee or compensation for locating property that he knows has been reported or paid or delivered to the administrator pursuant to this chapter prior to 36 months after the date of delivery of the property by the holder to the administrator as required by this chapter.

B. No agreement entered into after 36 months from the required date of delivery of the property by the holder to the administrator is valid if a person thereby undertakes to locate property included in a report for a fee or other compensation exceeding 10 percent of the value of the recoverable property. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent an owner from asserting at any time that an agreement to locate property is based upon an excessive or unjust consideration.

C. State warrants that may be issued in payment and redemption of previously abandoned property or the liquidation proceeds of previously abandoned property may be issued in the discretion of the administrator directly to the person entitled to the money as the owner, heir, or legatee, or as fiduciary of the estate of the deceased owner, heir, or legatee, and not to a named attorney-in-fact, agent, or assignee or any other person regardless of a written instruction to the contrary. The administrator need not recognize nor is the administrator bound by any terms of a purported power of attorney or assignment that may be presented as having been executed by a person as the purported owner, heir, legatee, or fiduciary of the estate of a deceased owner of such abandoned property.

D. A person who violates subsection A or B is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000.

1981, c. 47, § 55-210.27:1; 1988, c. 378; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2543. Property presumed abandoned or escheated under laws of another state.

This chapter shall not apply to any property that has been presumed abandoned or escheated under the laws of another state prior to January 1, 1961.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.28; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2544. Property held or payable pursuant to Title 51.1.

This chapter shall not apply to any funds or other property, tangible or intangible, held or payable pursuant to Title 51.1.

1983, c. 308, § 55-210.28:1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2545. Construction of chapter.

This chapter shall be construed so as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states that enact it.

1960, c. 330, § 55-210.29; 2019, c. 712.

Chapter 26. Property Loaned to Museums.

§ 55.1-2600. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Loaned property" means all museum property deposited on or after July 1, 2002, with a museum not accompanied by a transfer of title to the property.

"Museum" means an institution located in the Commonwealth and operated by a nonprofit corporation or public agency whose primary purpose is educational, scientific, or aesthetic and that owns, borrows, or cares for and studies, archives, or exhibits museum property.

"Museum property" means all tangible objects, animate and inanimate, under a museum's care that have intrinsic value to science, history, art, or culture, except for botanical or zoological specimens loaned to a museum for scientific research.

2002, c. 883, § 55-210.31; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2601. Status of loaned property; statute of limitations on recovery.

A. Except as may be otherwise provided in a written agreement between a lender and a museum, no action shall be brought against a museum to recover loaned property when more than five years have passed from (i) the receipt by the museum of written communication concerning the loaned property or (ii) any display of interest in the property by the lender as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the museum.

B. Loaned property shall be deemed to have been donated to the museum if no action to recover the property is initiated within one year after the museum gives notice of termination of the loan as provided in §§ 55.1-2604 and 55.1-2605.

C. Loaned property shall not be delivered to the Commonwealth, and shall be exempt from the provisions of Chapter 25 (§ 55.1-2500 et seq.), but shall pass to the museum if no person takes action under Chapter 2 (§ 64.2-200 et seq.) of Title 64.2.

2002, c. 883, § 55-210.32; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2602. Notice to lenders of the provisions of this chapter.

When a museum accepts a loan of property, the museum shall inform the lender in writing of the provisions of this chapter.

2002, c. 883, § 55-210.33; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2603. Status of title to property acquired from museum.

Any person who purchases property from a museum acquires good title to the property if the museum represents that it has acquired title to the property pursuant to § 55.1-2601.

2002, c. 883, § 55-210.34; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2604. Notice of termination of loan; content of notice.

A. If the property was loaned to the museum for an indefinite time, the museum may provide notice of termination of a loan of property at any time on the museum's website or by providing written notice of such termination to the lender, if known. If the property was loaned to the museum for a specified term, the museum may provide notice of termination of the loan in the same manner at any time after the expiration of the specified term.

B. Notices given under this section shall contain:

1. The name and address, if known, of the lender;

2. The date of the loan;

3. The name, address, and telephone number of the appropriate office or official to be contacted at the museum for information regarding the loan; and

4. Any other information deemed necessary by the museum.

2002, c. 883, § 55-210.35; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2605. Procedure for giving notice of termination of a loan of property; responsibility of owner of loaned property.

A. To give notice of termination of a loan of property, the museum shall mail a notice to the lender at the most recent address of the lender as shown on the museum's records pertaining to the loaned property. If the museum has no address in its records, or the museum does not receive written proof of receipt of the mailed notice within 30 days of the date the notice was mailed, the museum shall cause to be published notice at least once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city in which the museum is located and in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city of the lender's last known address if different from the county or city in which the museum is located.

B. For purposes of this section, if the loan of property was made to a branch of the museum, the museum shall be deemed to be located in the county or city where the branch is located. In all other cases, the museum shall be deemed to be located in the county or city in which its principal place of business is located.

C. The owner of property loaned to a museum shall notify the museum promptly in writing of any change of address or change in ownership of the property.

2002, c. 883, § 55-210.36; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2606. Acquiring title to undocumented property.

A. A museum shall have the authority to acquire legal title to undocumented property if the museum can verify through written records that it has held such property for five years or longer, during which period no valid claim to the property has been asserted and no person has contacted the museum regarding the property, by complying with the following procedure:

1. The museum shall cause to be published a notice once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city in which the museum is located and in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city of the lender's last known address if different from the county or city in which the museum is located. The notice shall include:

a. A brief and general description of the undocumented property;

b. The date or approximate date of the loan or acquisition of the property by the museum, if known;

c. Notice of the museum's intent to claim title to the property if no valid claims are made within 65 days following the date of the first publication of the notice under this subdivision 1;

d. The name, address, and telephone number of the representative of the museum to contact for more information or to make a claim; and

e. If known, the name and last known address of the lender.

2. If no valid claims have been made by the end of the 65-day period following the date of the first publication of the notice under subdivision 1 c, the museum shall cause to be published a second notice once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city in which the museum is located and in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city of the lender's last known address if different from the county or city in which the museum is located. The second notice shall include:

a. A brief and general description of the undocumented property;

b. The date or approximate date of the loan or acquisition of the property by the museum, if known;

c. Notice that the museum claims title to the property as of the date of the end of the 65-day period following the date of the first publication of the notice under subdivision 1; and

d. If known, the name and last known address of the lender.

B. Upon compliance with the requirements set forth in subsection A, clear and unrestricted title is transferred, as of the date specified in subdivision A 1 c, to the museum and not to the Commonwealth.

2002, c. 883, § 55-210.37; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2607. Status of property loaned to or deposited with museum prior to July 1, 2002.

Except as otherwise provided in a written agreement between a lender and a museum, property loaned to or deposited with a museum prior to July 1, 2002, may be discarded or transferred to another museum located in Virginia, provided that (i) the notice provisions of §§ 55.1-2604 and 55.1-2605 have been complied with and (ii) such property is held by the museum receiving the transfer for at least three years before it sells or disposes of such property.

2005, c. 480, § 55-210.38; 2019, c. 712.

Chapter 27. Drift Property.

§ 55.1-2700. Who is entitled to drift property.

When any property other than abandoned watercraft has drifted on any of the waters of the Commonwealth and is deposited and left on the lands of any person other than the owner of such property, and there is no indicia of ownership, the owner of such land shall, as against all persons other than the owner of such property, be deemed and treated, and have the same rights and remedies relating thereto, as such owner of such property.

Code 1919, § 3569; Code 1950, § 55-207; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2701. Conditions on which owner may remove drift property.

The owner of property described in § 55.1-2700, after he has paid to the owner of the land a just compensation for any proper care, labor, or expense bestowed, done, or incurred by him for such property, may enter upon the land and, doing as little injury as possible, remove the property, but shall pay the owner of the land for any damage caused to him by such entry and removal.

Code 1919, § 3570; Code 1950, § 55-208; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2702. When owner of land may sell drift property; owner of property entitled to proceeds after payment of expenses, etc.

If the owner of drift property described in § 55.1-2700 does not, within three months from the time the property was so deposited, remove or demand the property from the owner of the land, the owner of the land may sell the property or otherwise convert it to his own use, provided that the owner of the land, after deducting a just compensation for any proper care, labor, or expense bestowed, done, or incurred by him for the property from the amount received by him as the price thereof, or the actual value thereof at the time of such sale or other conversion, shall pay to the owner of the property, if he elects to receive it, the residue of the price or of the actual value, as the case may be. The owner of the property, after he has demanded such residue and proved by the affidavit of some other person, or by a competent witness, his right thereto, or offered to prove such right, and if the owner of the land has refused or declined to inspect or hear the evidence thereof, (i) may recover such residue, when the property has been sold, as money received for his use; (ii) may recover such residue, when the property has not been sold, as the price of goods sold by the owner of the property to the owner of the land; or (iii) may have his action of trover to the extent of such residue.

Code 1919, § 3571; Code 1950, § 55-209; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2703. Right of property to be proved.

In any action relating to the ownership of any property described in § 55.1-2700, the person, other than the owner of such land, claiming to be the owner of the property must prove his ownership in order to sustain his claim.

Code 1919, § 3572; Code 1950, § 55-210; 2019, c. 712.

Chapter 28. Trespasses; Fences.

Article 1. Electric Fences.

§ 55.1-2800. Definition.

As used in this article, "electric fence" means a fence designed to conduct electric current along one or more wires of such fence so that a person or animal touching any such wire or wires will receive an electric shock.

1982, c. 280, § 55-298.4; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2801. Unlawful to sell, distribute, construct, install, maintain, or use certain electric fences upon agricultural land.

A. It is unlawful for any person to sell, distribute, construct, install, maintain, or use upon any land used for agricultural purposes or, for any person exercising supervision or control over any such land, to permit any other person to construct, install, maintain, or use any electric fence energized with an electric charge unless the charge is regulated by a controlling device. Except as otherwise provided in this article, such controlling device shall display the approved label of and shall conform to the safety standards promulgated by the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., in its publication number UL69, dated June 30, 2009, and entitled "Standard for Safety for Electric-Fence Controllers," as the same may from time to time be supplemented, or shall display the approved label of and meet the safety standards promulgated by the International Electrotechnical Commission in its publication IEC 60335-2-76, second edition (BS EN 69335-2-76), as the same may from time to time be supplemented.

B. No metallically continuous fence or set of electrically connected fences shall be supplied by more than one controlling device.

C. Any controlling device shall be suitably grounded when placed in service.

1982, c. 280, § 55-298.1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2802. Unlawful to sell other controlling devices unless they meet certain standards.

A. A controlling device that does not conform to the requirements of § 55.1-2801 shall not be sold, distributed, constructed, installed, maintained, or used unless it meets the following standards:

1. A peak-discharge-output type controlling device that delivers intermittent current of a value not in excess of four milliampere-seconds for a maximum "on" period of two-tenths second and a minimum "off" period of three-quarters second. The mean value of the peak output from such device shall progressively decrease from four milliampere-seconds at maximum "on" periods of both two-tenths and one-tenth second to three and two-tenths milliampere-seconds at six-hundredths second, one and nine-tenths milliampere-seconds at three-hundredths second, and consequently to shorter "on" periods as output current increases.

2. A sinusoidal-output type controlling device that delivers an intermittent current of a value not in excess of five milliamperes for a maximum "on" period of two-tenths second and a minimum "off" period of nine-tenths second. The effective value of the output from such device may increase as the "on" period decreases, increasing from 40 milliamperes for one-tenth second to 57 milliamperes for five-hundredths second, and 65 milliamperes for twenty-seven thousandths second.

3. Any other type of controlling device that delivers a maximum intermittent current output of a value not in excess of four milliampere-seconds for a maximum "on" period of two-tenths second and a minimum "off" period of nine-tenths second.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, no electric fence controlling device shall be sold, distributed, constructed, installed, maintained, or used that will permit for longer than one second an uninterrupted electric current on the fence with an effective value in excess of five milliamperes when the load, including the measuring device, is not less than 450 ohms nor more than 550 ohms.

1982, c. 280, §§ 55-298.2, 55-298.3; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2803. Penalty.

Any person who violates any provision of this article is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1982, c. 280, § 55-298.5; 2019, c. 712.

Article 2. What Constitutes Lawful Fence.

§ 55.1-2804. Description of lawful fence.

Every fence shall be deemed a lawful fence as to any domesticated livestock that could not creep through such fence, if it is:

1. At least five feet high, including, if the fence is on a mound, the mound to the bottom of the ditch;

2. Made of barbed wire, at least 42 inches high, consisting of at least four strands of barbed wire, firmly fixed to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground, spaced no farther than 12 feet apart unless a substantial stay or brace is installed halfway between such posts, trees, or other supports to which such wires are also fixed;

3. Made of boards, planks, or rails, at least 42 inches high, consisting of at least three boards firmly attached to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground;

4. At least three feet high, if such fence is within the limits of any town whose charter neither prescribes, nor gives to the town council power to prescribe, what shall constitute a lawful fence within such corporate limits; or

5. Any other fence, except as otherwise described in this section, if it is:

a. At least 42 inches high;

b. Constructed from materials sold for fencing or consisting of systems or devices based on technology generally accepted as appropriate for the confinement or restriction of domesticated livestock; and

c. Installed pursuant to generally acceptable standards so that applicable domesticated livestock cannot creep through the same.

A cattle guard reasonably sufficient to turn all kinds of livestock shall also be deemed a lawful fence as to any domesticated livestock.

Nothing contained in this section shall affect the right of any such town to regulate or forbid the running at large of cattle and other domestic animals within its corporate limits.

The Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services may adopt regulations regarding lawful fencing consistent with this section to provide greater specificity as to the requirements of lawful fencing. The absence of any such regulation shall not affect the validity or applicability of this section as it relates to what constitutes lawful fencing.

Code 1950, § 8-869; 1977, c. 624, § 55-299; 2007, c. 574; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2805. Proceeding to declare stream of water or canal a lawful fence.

A. The circuit court of any county, upon a petition of any owner or tenant of lands on any stream of water or canal, may declare and establish such stream or canal, or any part of either within the limits and jurisdiction of the county, a lawful fence as to any domesticated livestock. Notice of the application shall be given by posting a copy of the petition at the front door of the courthouse and at two or more public places at or near the stream or canal to which the petition applies, for 30 days, and by publishing such notice once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in such county. At or before the trial of the cause, any person interested may enter himself a defendant.

B. The court may, upon petition and notice of any person interested, revoke or alter any order made under subsection A, but such order shall not be made within one year from the date of the original and shall not take effect until six months after it is made.

Code 1950, §§ 8-870, 8-871; 1977, c. 624, §§ 55-300, 55-301; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2806. Boundary lines of certain low grounds on James River a lawful fence.

The owners and occupants of low grounds on either side of the James River in Albemarle, Buckingham, and Goochland Counties, enclosed by lawful fences on the back and hill lands, need not keep up any fence on the boundary lines running across the low grounds to the river, and such boundary lines shall be deemed a lawful fence, except where public roads cross the river or run parallel with its banks.

Code 1950, § 8-872; 1977, c. 624, § 55-302; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2807. Statutes declaring watercourses lawful fences continued.

All acts declaring any river, stream, or watercourse, or any part thereof, or any boundary in any county, a lawful fence, or authorizing any court so to declare the same, or enacting a special fence law for any county or any part thereof, and all acts relating to the making or repairing of division fences in any county or in any part thereof that may be in force on the day before the Code of 1887 took effect, shall continue in force.

Code 1950, § 8-873; 1977, c. 624, § 55-303; 2019, c. 712.

Article 3. Cattle Guards and Gates Across Rights-of Way.

§ 55.1-2808. Property owner may place cattle guards or gates across right-of-way.

Any owner of property on which there is a road or way, not a public road, a highway, a street, or an alley, over which an easement exists for ingress and egress of others may place cattle guards or gates across such way when required for the protection of livestock.

Code 1950, § 8-873.1; 1954, c. 461; 1977, c. 624, § 55-304; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2809. Persons having easement may replace gate with cattle guard; maintenance and use thereof; deemed lawful gate.

Any person having an easement of right-of-way across the lands of another may, at his own expense, replace any gate thereon with a substantial cattle guard sufficient to turn livestock. Such cattle guards shall be maintained by the owner of the easement, who shall be responsible for keeping such cattle guards at all times in sufficient condition to turn livestock. If a cattle guard is rendered inoperative by inclement weather, the easement owner shall utilize and maintain any reasonable alternative method sufficient to turn livestock from the inoperative cattle guard until such cattle guard is rendered operative again. If the gate to be replaced is needed or used for the orderly ingress and egress of equipment or animals thereover, then such persons acting under the authority of this section shall construct such cattle guards so as to allow such ingress and egress or, if such easement is of sufficient width, may place such cattle guard adjacent to such gate.

Such a cattle guard shall be deemed a lawful gate and not an interference with such easement.

Code 1950, §§ 8-873.2, 8-873.3; 1954, c. 461; 1977, c. 624, § 55-305; 1992, c. 483; 2019, c. 712.

Article 4. Trespass in Crossing Lawful Fence.

§ 55.1-2810. Damages for trespass by animals; punitive and double damages.

A. If any domesticated livestock enters into any grounds enclosed by a lawful fence, as defined in §§ 55.1-2804 through 55.1-2807, the owner or manager of any such animal shall be liable for the actual damages sustained.

B. Punitive damages may be awarded but shall not exceed $20 in any case.

C. For every second and subsequent trespass, the owner or manager of such animal shall be liable for double damages, both actual and punitive.

Code 1950, §§ 8-874 through 8-876; 1977, c. 624, § 55-306; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2811. Lien on animals.

If the court enters judgment for the owner or tenant of the grounds enclosed by a lawful fence pursuant to § 55.1-2810, the landowner shall have a lien upon such animal. Upon entry of the judgment, the court shall issue a writ of fieri facias pursuant to § 8.01-478, and the animal found to have trespassed shall be levied upon by the officer to whom such execution was issued, who shall sell such animal, as provided in Chapter 18 (§ 8.01-466 et seq.) of Title 8.01.

Code 1950, § 8-877; 1977, c. 624, § 55-307; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2812. Impounding animals.

Whenever any animal is found trespassing upon any grounds enclosed by a lawful fence, the owner or tenant of such enclosed grounds shall have the right to take up and impound such animal until the damages provided for pursuant to this article have been paid, or until such animal is taken under execution by the officer as provided by § 55.1-2811. The costs of taking up and impounding such animal shall be estimated as a part of the actual damage.

Code 1950, § 8-878; 1977, c. 624, § 55-308; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2813. Duty to issue warrant when animal impounded.

An owner or tenant of lands trespassed upon by any domesticated livestock, within three days after the taking up and impounding such animal unless the damages are otherwise settled, shall apply to a person authorized to issue warrants of the county or city in which such land is situated for a warrant for the amount of damages claimed by him. The court, or the clerk thereof, shall issue such warrant, to be made returnable at as early a date, but not less than three days after such issuance, as shall be deemed best by him; and upon the hearing of the case the judge shall give such judgment as is deemed just and right.

Code 1950, § 8-879; 1968, c. 639; 1977, c. 624, § 55-309; 2019, c. 712.

Article 5. No-Fence Law.

§ 55.1-2814. How governing body of county may make local fence law.

The board of supervisors or other governing body in any county, after publishing notice as required by subsection F of § 15.2-1427, may, by ordinance, declare the boundary line of each lot or tract of land or any stream in such county, any magisterial district of such county, or any selected portion of such county, to be a lawful fence as to any or all domesticated livestock, or may declare any other kind of fence for such county, magisterial district, or selected portion of the county than as prescribed by § 55.1-2804 to be a lawful fence, as to any or all of such animals.

Code 1950, § 8-880; 1977, c. 624, § 55-310; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2815. Effect of such law on certain fences.

A declaration made by ordinance adopted pursuant to § 55.1-2814 shall not apply to relieve the adjoining landowners from making and maintaining their division fences, as defined by § 55.1-2804; however, Article 6 (§ 55.1-2821 et seq.) shall apply to such division fences.

Code 1950, § 8-881; 1977, c. 624, § 55-311; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2816. Application to railroad companies.

No action taken under the provisions of § 55.1-2814 shall relieve any railroad company of any duty or obligation imposed on every such company by § 56-429, or imposed by any other statute now in force, in reference to fencing their lines of railway and rights-of-way.

Code 1950, § 8-882; 1977, c. 624, § 55-312; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2817. No authority to adopt more stringent fence laws.

Nothing in § 55.1-2814 shall authorize or require the boards of supervisors or other governing bodies of counties to declare a more stringent fence as a lawful fence for any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of any county than as prescribed by § 55.1-2804.

Code 1950, § 8-883; 1977, c. 624, § 55-313; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2818. Effect on existing fence laws or no-fence laws.

Nothing in § 55.1-2814 shall repeal the existing fence laws in any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of any county, until changed by the board of supervisors or other governing body, by ordinance and in accordance with the provisions thereof, nor shall the provisions of § 55.1-2814 apply to any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of any county in which the no-fence law is now in force, if such no-fence law exists otherwise than in an ordinance adopted by the board of supervisors or other governing body of such county entered pursuant to § 55.1-2814.

Code 1950, § 8-884; 1977, c. 624, § 55-314; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2819. Lands under quarantine.

The boundary line of each lot or tract of land in any county in the Commonwealth that is under quarantine shall be a lawful fence as to any and all domesticated livestock.

Code 1950, § 8-885; 1977, c. 624, § 55-315; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2820. When unlawful for animals to run at large.

It is unlawful for the owner or manager of any domesticated livestock to permit any such animal, as to which the boundaries of lots or tracts of land have been or may be constituted a lawful fence, to run at large beyond the limits of his own lands within the county, magisterial district, or portion of such county in which such boundaries have been constituted and are a lawful fence.

Code 1950, § 8-886; 1977, c. 624, § 55-316; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

Article 6. Division Fences.

§ 55.1-2821. Obligation to provide division fences.

Adjoining landowners shall build and maintain, at their joint and equal expense, division fences between their lands, unless one of them chooses to let his land lie open or unless they agree otherwise.

Code 1950, § 8-887; 1970, c. 713; 1977, c. 624, § 55-317; 2005, c. 873; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2822. When no division fence has been built.

If no division fence has been built, either one of the adjoining landowners may give notice in writing of his desire and intention to build such fence to the landowner of the adjoining land, or to his agent, and require him to build his half of such fence. The landowner so notified may, within 10 days after receiving such notice, give notice in writing to the person so desiring to build such fence, or to his agent, of his intention to let his land lie open. If the landowner giving the original notice subsequently builds such division fence and the landowner who has so chosen to let his land lie open, or his successors in title, subsequently encloses his land, he, or his successors, shall be liable to the landowner who built such fence, or to his successors in title, for one-half of the value of such fence at the time such land was so enclosed, and such fence shall thereafter be deemed a division fence between such lands.

If, however, the person so notified fails to give notice of his intention to let his land lie open, and fails to agree, within 30 days after being so notified, to build his half of such fence, he shall be liable to the person who builds the fence for one-half of the expense, and such fence shall thereafter be deemed a division fence between such lands.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, no successor in title shall be liable for any amount prior to the recordation and proper recordation of the notice in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located.

Code 1950, § 8-888; 1977, c. 624, § 55-318; 1985, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2823. When division fence already built.

When any fence (i) that has been built and used by adjoining landowners as a division fence, or any fence that has been built by one landowner and the other landowner is afterwards required to pay half of the value or expense of such fence under the provisions contained in this article, and (ii) that has thereby become a division fence between such lands, becomes out of repair to the extent that it is no longer a lawful fence, either one of such adjoining landowners may give written notice to the other, or to his agent, of his desire and intention to repair such fence and require him to repair his half of such fence. If the landowner receiving written notice fails to repair his half within 30 days after being so notified, the one giving such notice may then repair the entire fence so as to make it a lawful fence, and the other shall be liable to him for one-half of the expense of such repairs.

Code 1950, § 8-889; 1977, c. 624, § 55-319; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2824. Recovery of amount due in connection with division fence.

Any sum that may be due and payable by one adjoining landowner to another in pursuance of any of the provisions of §§ 55.1-2822 and 55.1-2823 may be recovered by action or warrant in debt, according to the jurisdictional amount.

Code 1950, § 8-890; 1977, c. 624, § 55-320; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2825. Requirements for agreement to bind successors in title; subsequent owners.

No agreement made between adjoining landowners, with respect to the construction or maintenance of the division fence between their lands, shall be binding on their successors in title unless it (i) is in writing and specifically so state, (ii) is recorded in the deed book in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located, and (iii) is properly indexed as deeds are required by law to be indexed.

If any notice, as required by § 55.1-2822 or 55.1-2823 is recorded in the deed book in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located and is properly indexed as deeds are required by law to be indexed, then any subsequent owners of such land shall be liable for any sum that may be due pursuant to § 55.1-2824.

Code 1950, § 8-891; 1977, c. 624, § 55-321; 1985, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2826. How notice given.

Any notice required to be given pursuant to this article shall be given to the landowner, if he resides in the county in which the land lies; otherwise, it may be given to such person as, under the laws of the Commonwealth, would be his agent or to any person occupying such land as tenant of the landowner, who shall, for the purposes of this article, be deemed the agent of such landowner.

Code 1950, § 8-892; 1977, c. 624, § 55-322; 2019, c. 712.

Article 7. Special Provisions for Unincorporated Communities.

§ 55.1-2827. Courts to fix boundaries of villages to prevent animals from running at large.

The circuit court of any county in which is situated any village or unincorporated community having within defined boundaries a population of 300 or more shall have jurisdiction to fix the boundaries of such village or unincorporated community for the purpose of preventing domesticated livestock from running at large within such boundaries.

Code 1950, § 8-893; 1977, c. 624, § 55-323; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2828. Petition for action to fix boundaries of village or unincorporated community.

Twenty or more landowners residing within the boundaries referred to in § 55.1-2827 may file a petition signed by them requesting that the boundaries of such village or unincorporated community be fixed for the purposes of § 55.1-2827. Notice of the intention to file such petition, stating the date on which the petition will be filed, and such notice shall be (i) posted at the front door of the courthouse of such county, and at three or more conspicuous places within such boundaries and (ii) published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in the county where the village or unincorporated community is located, at least 10 days before the day on which such petition is to be presented. Such petition shall state with reasonable certainty the boundaries within which it is desired to prohibit such animals from running at large, that at least 300 persons reside within such boundaries, and that a majority of the landowners residing therein are in favor of prohibiting such animals from running at large.

Code 1950, § 8-894; 1977, c. 624, § 55-324; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2829. Entry of order if petition not contested.

A petition filed pursuant to § 55.1-2828, if verified by the oath of one or more of the petitioners, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein, and the court without further evidence shall proceed to enter the order fixing the boundaries of the village or unincorporated community unless such petition is contested.

Code 1950, § 8-895; 1977, c. 624, § 55-325; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2830. Procedure in case of contest.

Any person having a lawful interest in any land within the boundaries referred to in any petition to fix the boundaries of a village or unincorporated community who wishes to contest such petition may intervene in such action as a defendant. In case of such contest, the judge shall hear the evidence and, if in doubt as to the facts, may appoint one or more persons to canvass such community and report to the court the number of persons residing within such boundaries, the names of all the landowners residing therein, and whether such landowners are for or against the petition.

Code 1950, § 8-896; 1977, c. 624, § 55-326; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2831. Order of court.

The court shall enter an order fixing the boundaries of any village or unincorporated community having within defined boundaries a population of 300 or more for the purpose of preventing domesticated livestock from running at large within such boundaries if (i) in the case of a contested petition, it appears from the evidence or from a report, if any is required pursuant to § 55.1-2830, that at least 300 persons reside within the boundaries referred to in a petition filed pursuant to § 55.1-2828 and that a majority of the landowners residing therein are in favor of prohibiting domesticated livestock from running at large or (ii) in the case of an uncontested petition, on the basis of the evidence presented in the petition itself.

Code 1950, § 8-897; 1977, c. 624, § 55-327; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2832. Animals shall not run at large after entry of order.

After the expiration of 10 days from the date of entering an order pursuant to § 55.1-2831, it is unlawful for any domesticated livestock to run at large within such boundaries, and any person owning or having charge of any such animal who permits such livestock to run at large within such boundaries is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. Each day such animal is permitted to run at large constitutes a separate offense, and any such animal found running at large upon any street, alley, road, or other public ground within such boundaries may be taken up and impounded by any person who may retain such animal in his custody until the expense of keeping such animal is paid.

Code 1950, § 8-898; 1977, c. 624, § 55-328; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2833. Costs.

If the petition is uncontested, the costs shall be borne by the petitioner; if it is contested, costs shall be awarded to the prevailing party.

Code 1950, § 8-899; 1977, c. 624, § 55-329; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2834. Owner of domesticated livestock liable for trespasses.

If any domesticated livestock, as to which the boundaries of the lots or tracts of land in any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of such county constitute a lawful fence, are found going at large within such county, district, or portion of such county, or upon the lands of any person other than the owner, the owner or manager of such animals shall be liable for all damage or injury done by such animals to the owner of the crops or lands upon which they trespass, whether the animals wander from the premises of their owner in the county in which the trespass was committed or from another county, provided that when the boundaries of lots or tracts of land in only one of two adjoining counties constitutes a lawful fence, and any of such animals escapes across the line or boundary of the two counties, the owner of such animal shall not be liable to the fine imposed by subsection B of § 55.1-2810, nor for any trespass committed by such animal upon the lands lying next to such line or boundary, nor to a forfeiture of the animal, unless the land upon which the trespass is alleged to have been committed is enclosed, as provided in § 55.1-2804.

Code 1950, § 8-900; 1977, c. 624, § 55-330; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

Article 8. Cutting Timber.

§ 55.1-2835. Damages recoverable for timber cutting.

If any person, firm, or corporation encroaches and cuts timber, except when acting prudently and under bona fide claim of right, the owner of such timber shall, in addition to all other remedies afforded by law, have the benefit of a right to, and a summary remedy for recovery of, damages in an amount as specified in this article and recovered as provided for in this article.

If the trespass is proven, the defendant shall have the burden of proving that he acted prudently and under a bona fide claim of right.

Code 1950, § 8-906; 1952, c. 658; 1968, c. 251; 1977, c. 624, § 55-331; 1993, c. 580; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2836. Procedure for determination of damage.

A. The owner of the land on which a trespass as described in § 55.1-2835 was committed shall have the right, within 90 days after the discovery of such trespass and the identity of the trespasser, to notify the trespasser and to appoint an experienced timber estimator to determine the amount of damages. For the purposes of determining damages, the value of the timber cut shall be calculated by first determining the value of the timber on the stump. Within 30 days after receiving notice of the alleged trespass and of the appointment of such estimator, the alleged trespasser, if he does not deny the fact of trespass, shall appoint an experienced timber estimator to participate with the one already so appointed in the estimation of damages. If the two estimators cannot agree, they shall select a third person, experienced and disinterested, who shall make a decision that shall be final and conclusive and not subject to appeal. The estimation of damages and the rendition of statement must be effected within 30 days from the receipt of notice of appointment, by the trespasser, of an estimator.

If the alleged trespasser fails to appoint an estimator within the prescribed time, or to notify within such time that the allegation of the fact of trespass is disputed, the estimator appointed by the injured party may make an estimate, and collection or recovery may be had accordingly.

B. Any person who (i) severs or removes any timber from the land of another without legal right or permission or (ii) authorizes or directs the severing or removal of timber or trees from the land of another without legal right or permission shall be liable to pay to the rightful owner of the timber three times the value of the timber on the stump and shall pay to the rightful owner of the property the reforestation costs incurred not to exceed $450 per acre, the costs of ascertaining the value of the timber, any directly associated legal costs, and reasonable attorney fees incurred by the owner of the timber as a result of the trespass.

Code 1950, § 8-907; 1977, c. 624, § 55-332; 1987, c. 105; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2016, cc. 245, 562; 2019, cc. 348, 353, 712.

§ 55.1-2837. When person damaged may proceed in court.

If the amount specified in subsection B of § 55.1-2836 is not paid within 30 days after rendition of statement, the person upon whose land the trespass occurred may proceed for judgment in the amount of payment as specified in § 55.1-2836.

If upon receiving notice of the alleged trespass and of the appointment of an estimator, the person so receiving notice does not admit the fact of trespass, he may decline to appoint an estimator and notify the other party to such effect, together with his reason for refusing to appoint an estimator, and in such case the aggrieved party may proceed in the appropriate court.

Code 1950, § 8-909; 1968, c. 251; 1977, c. 624, § 55-334; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2838. Larceny of timber; penalty.

A. Any person who knowingly and willfully takes, steals, and removes from the lands of another any timber growing, standing, or lying on the lands is guilty of larceny. Any person so convicted shall be ordered to pay restitution calculated pursuant to § 55.1-2836.

B. In a criminal prosecution pursuant to subsection A, it shall be prima facie evidence of the intent to steal the timber if the timber was harvested or removed from property marked with readily visible paint marks not more than 100 feet apart on trees or posts along the property line, where the paint marks were vertical lines at least two inches in width and at least eight inches in length and the center of the mark was not less than three feet nor more than six feet from the ground or normal water surface.

2004, cc. 604, 615, § 55-334.1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2839. Larceny of timber; failure to remit payment to owner; penalty.

A. Any person who buys timber directly from the owner of the land on which the timber is grown shall make payment in full to the owner by the date specified in the written timber sales agreement or, if there is no such written agreement, within 60 days from the date that the buyer removes the timber from the property.

B. Any person who, without the consent of the seller, fails to make payment in full within the time period established by subsection A is guilty of timber theft, which is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, and shall be ordered to pay restitution equal to three times the value of the timber established in the timber sale agreement, whether written or oral, in addition to any penalties imposed by the court.

C. No person shall be prosecuted under this section if he remits payment in full within the time period established by subsection A or D to a person he believes in good faith to be the rightful owner of the timber.

D. An owner of land who does not receive payment in full within the time period established in subsection A may notify the timber buyer in writing of his demand for payment at such buyer's last known address by certified mail or by personal delivery. The timber buyer's failure to make payment in full within 10 days after such mailing or personal delivery shall constitute prima facie evidence of such buyer's intent to violate the provisions of subsection A. However, no person who remits payment in full within 10 days after such demand for payment shall be prosecuted for violating the provisions of subsection A, notwithstanding his failure to remit payment in full within the time period established in subsection A.

2019, cc. 348, 353, § 55-334.2.

§ 55.1-2840. Load tickets required for certain sales of timber; penalty.

A. Whenever a timber buyer acquires timber and the load is sold by weight, cord, or measure of board feet, such buyer shall, upon request of the owner of the land from which the timber is removed, furnish such landowner within 30 days of the request or 30 days from the date that the timber is removed, whichever is later, a true and accurate accounting of each load removed from the property related to the sale.

Such accounting shall include all supporting documentation, such as load tickets or settlement statements provided to the timber buyer by the facility receiving, weighing, scaling, or measuring the trees, timber, or wood, and shall contain, at a minimum, (i) the name of the facility receiving, weighing, scaling, or measuring the trees, timber, or wood; (ii) the date the trees, timber, or wood was received at the facility; (iii) the name of the producer or logging company; (iv) the type of wood; (v) the type of product; (vi) the weight or scale information, including the total volume if the load is measured by scale, or the gross and tare, or net weights, if the load is measured by weight; and (vii) the weight, scale, or amount of wood deducted and the deduction classification.

B. No load ticket or settlement report shall be required to include price or market value information unless the timber sales agreement, whether written or oral, stipulates that the landowner is to be paid based on a share of the value of the timber removed.

C. Any person who fails to provide the information required by this section, or who knowingly provides false information, is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

2019, cc. 348, 353, § 55-334.3.

§ 55.1-2841. Effect of article.

Nothing in this article shall have the effect of precluding any compromise or agreed settlement that the parties in dispute may effect as to the civil remedies provided by this article, nor of barring any other remedy provided for by law.

Code 1950, § 8-910; 1977, c. 624, § 55-335; 2019, c. 712.

Chapter 29. Virginia Self-Service Storage Act.

§ 55.1-2900. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Default" means the failure to perform on time any obligation or duty set forth in the rental agreement or this chapter.

"Last known address" means that address or electronic mail address provided by the occupant in the rental agreement or the address or electronic mail address provided by the occupant in a subsequent written notice of a change of address.

"Leased space" means the individual storage space at the self-service facility that is leased or rented to an occupant pursuant to a rental agreement.

"Occupant" means a person, his sublessee, successor, or assign, entitled to the use of a leased space at a self-service storage facility under a rental agreement.

"Owner" means the owner, operator, lessor, or sublessor of a self-service storage facility, his agent, or any other person authorized to manage the facility or to receive rent from any occupant under a rental agreement.

The owner of a self-service storage facility is not a warehouseman as defined in § 8.7-102, unless the owner issues a warehouse receipt, bill of lading, or other document of title for the personal property stored, in which event, the owner and the occupant are subject to the provisions of Title 8.7 dealing with warehousemen.

"Personal property" means movable property not affixed to land and includes goods, wares, merchandise, and household items and furnishings.

"Rental agreement" means any agreement or lease that establishes or modifies the terms, conditions, or rules concerning the use and occupancy of a self-service storage facility.

"Self-service storage facility" means any real property designed and used for renting or leasing individual storage spaces, other than storage spaces that are leased or rented as an incident to the lease or rental of residential property or dwelling units, to which the occupants thereof have access for storing or removing their personal property. No occupant shall use a self-service storage facility for residential purposes.

"Verified mail" means any method of mailing that is offered by the United States Postal Service or private delivery service that provides evidence of mailing.

1981, c. 627, § 55-417; 2009, c. 664; 2015, c. 208; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2901. Lien on personal property stored within a leased space.

A. The owner shall have a lien on all personal property stored within each leased space for rent, labor, or other charges, and for expenses reasonably incurred in its sale pursuant to this chapter. Such lien shall attach as of the date the personal property is stored within each leased space and, to the extent that the property remains stored within such leased space, as provided in this subsection, shall be superior to any other existing liens or security interests to the extent of $250 or, if the leased space is a climate-controlled facility, $500. In addition, such lien shall extend to the proceeds, if any, remaining after the satisfaction of any perfected liens, and the owner may retain possession of such proceeds until the balance, if any, of such charges is paid.

B. In the case of any watercraft that is subject to a lien, previously recorded on the certificate of title, the owner, so long as the watercraft remains stored within such leased space, shall have a lien on such watercraft as provided in this subsection to the extent of $250 or, if the leased space is a climate-controlled facility, $500. In addition, such lien shall extend to the proceeds, if any, remaining after the satisfaction of any recorded liens, and the owner may retain possession of such proceeds until the balance, if any, of such charges is paid.

C. The rental agreement shall contain a statement, in bold type, advising the occupant of the existence of such lien and that the personal property stored within the leased space may be sold to satisfy the lien if the occupant is in default.

D. In the case of any motor vehicle that is subject to a lien, previously recorded on the certificate of title, the owner, so long as the motor vehicle remains stored within such leased space, shall have a lien on such vehicle in accordance with § 46.2-644.01.

1981, c. 627, § 55-418; 1984, c. 717; 1999, c. 149; 2005, c. 275; 2009, c. 664; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2902. Enforcement of lien.

A. 1. If any occupant is in default under a rental agreement, the owner shall notify the occupant of such default by regular mail at his last known address, or, if expressly provided for in the rental agreement, such notice may be given by electronic means. If such default is not cured within 10 days after its occurrence, then the owner may proceed to enforce such lien by selling the contents of the occupant's unit at public auction, for cash, and apply the proceeds to satisfaction of the lien, with the surplus, if any, to be disbursed as provided in this section. Before conducting such a public auction, the owner shall notify the occupant as prescribed in subsection C and shall advertise the time, place, and terms of such auction in such manner as to give the public notice.

2. In the case of personal property having a fair market value in excess of $1,000, and against which a creditor has filed a financing statement in the name of the occupant at the State Corporation Commission or in the county or city where the self-service storage facility is located or in the county or city in the Commonwealth shown as the last known address of the occupant, or if such personal property is a watercraft required by the laws of the Commonwealth to be registered and the Department of Wildlife Resources shows a lien on the certificate of title, the owner shall notify the lienholder of record, by certified mail, at the address on the financing statement or certificate of title, at least 10 days prior to the time and place of the proposed public auction.

If the owner of the personal property cannot be ascertained, the name of "John Doe" shall be substituted in the proceedings provided for in this section and no written notice shall be required. Whenever a watercraft is sold pursuant to this subsection, the Department of Wildlife Resources shall issue a certificate of title and registration to the purchaser of such watercraft upon his application containing the serial or motor number of the watercraft purchased, together with an affidavit by the lienholder, or by the person conducting the public auction, evidencing compliance with the provisions of this subsection.

B. Whenever the occupant is in default, the owner shall have the right to deny the occupant access to the leased space.

C. After the occupant has been in default for a period of 10 days, and before the owner can sell the occupant's personal property in accordance with this chapter, the owner shall send a further notice of default, by verified mail, postage prepaid, to the occupant at his last known address, or, if expressly provided for in the rental agreement, such notice may be given by electronic means, provided that 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. Such notice of default shall include:

1. An itemized statement of the owner's claim, indicating the charges due on the date of the notice and the date when the charges became due;

2. A demand for payment of the charges due within a specified time not less than 20 days after the date of the notice;

3. A statement that the contents of the occupant's leased space are subject to the owner's lien;

4. A conspicuous statement that unless the claim is paid within the time stated, the contents of the occupant's space will be sold at public auction at a specified time and place; and

5. The name, street address, and telephone number of the owner or his designated agent whom the occupant may contact to respond to the notice.

D. At any time prior to the public auction pursuant to this section, the occupant may pay the amount necessary to satisfy the lien and thereby redeem the personal property.

E. In the event of a public auction pursuant to this section, the owner may satisfy his lien from the proceeds of the public auction and shall hold the balance, if any, for delivery on demand to the occupant or other lienholder referred to in this chapter. However, the owner shall not be obligated to hold any balance for a lienholder of record notified pursuant to subdivision A 2, or any other lien creditor, that fails to claim an interest in the balance within 30 days of the public auction. So long as the owner complies with the provisions of this chapter, the owner's liability to the occupant under this chapter shall be limited to the net proceeds received from the public auction of any personal property and, as to other lienholders, shall be limited to the net proceeds received from the public auction of any personal property covered by such superior lien.

F. Any public auction of the personal property shall be held (i) at the self-service storage facility, (ii) at the nearest suitable place to where the personal property is held or stored, or (iii) online. An advertisement shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality in which the public auction is to be held, or in the case of an online public auction, in the county, city, or town in which the self-service storage facility is located, at least once prior to the public auction. The advertisement shall state (a) the fact that it is a public auction; (b) the date, time, and location of the public auction; and (c) the form of payment that will be accepted.

G. A purchaser in good faith of any personal property sold or otherwise disposed of pursuant to this chapter takes such property free and clear of any rights of persons against whom the lien was valid.

H. Any notice made pursuant to this section shall be presumed delivered when it is (i) deposited with the United States Postal Service and properly addressed to the occupant's last known address with postage prepaid or (ii) sent by electronic means, provided that 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. In the event of a dispute, the sender shall have the burden to demonstrate delivery of the notice of default.

I. In the case of any motor vehicle, so long as the motor vehicle remains stored within such leased space, the owner shall have a lien on such vehicle in accordance with § 46.2-644.01.

1981, c. 627, § 55-419; 1984, cc. 717, 774; 2000, c. 655; 2009, c. 664; 2015, c. 208; 2019, cc. 485, 712; 2020, c. 958.

§ 55.1-2903. Other legal remedies may be used.

The provisions of this chapter shall not preempt or limit the owner's use of any additional remedy otherwise allowed by law.

2000, c. 655, § 55-419.1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2904. Care, custody, and control of property.

Unless the rental agreement specifically provides otherwise, the exclusive care, custody, and control of all personal property stored in the leased space shall remain vested in the occupant.

1981, c. 627, § 55-420; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2905. Savings clause.

All rental agreements, entered into prior to July 1, 1981, that have not been extended or renewed after that date, shall remain valid and may be enforced or terminated in accordance with their terms or as permitted by any other statute or law of the Commonwealth.

1981, c. 627, § 55-421; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2906. Effective date and application of chapter.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all rental agreements entered into or extended or renewed after July 1, 1981.

1981, c. 627, § 55-423; 2019, c. 712.

Chapter 30. Residential Executory Real Estate Contracts Act.

§ 55.1-3000. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Notice" means notice given in writing by either regular mail or hand delivery, with the sender retaining sufficient proof of having given such notice in the form of a certificate of service confirming such mailing or hand delivery prepared by the sender.

"Option payment" means the amount paid by the purchaser in a residential executory real estate contract in exchange for the right to purchase the property that is the subject of such contract at a specific price within a specified time.

"Purchaser" means a person who enters into a residential executory real estate contract.

"Residential executory real estate contract" means an installment land contract, lease option contract, or rent-to-own contract by which a purchaser acquires any right or interest in real property other than a right of first refusal and occupies or intends to occupy the property as his primary residence.

"Vendor" means the person who sells, or proposes to sell, real property under a residential executory real estate contract.

2019, c. 511, § 55-252.1.

§ 55.1-3001. Exemptions.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to residential executory real estate contracts where the vendor is:

1. A natural person, an estate, or a legal entity that owns no more than two single-family residential dwelling units in the Commonwealth unless the person or entity is an agent, affiliate, subsidiary, or parent company to another legal entity that owns at least one additional residential dwelling unit in the Commonwealth;

2. A real estate licensee pursuant to Chapter 21 (§ 54.1-2100 et seq.) of Title 54.1; or

3. A bank, savings institution, credit union, or mortgage lender licensed under Title 6.2.

2019, c. 511, § 55-252.2.

§ 55.1-3002. Provisions applicable to residential executory real estate contracts.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a residential executory real estate contract shall be subject to the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (§ 55.1-1200 et seq.).

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the following provisions shall be applicable to every residential executory real estate contract:

1. The purchaser shall have the right to exercise the option to purchase the property at any time before the option expires, and no fee or penalty shall be charged to any purchaser who exercises the option at an earlier time than anticipated under the contract.

2. If the purchaser defaults in the payment of rent or other requirements under a lease, the vendor may serve notice of such default. If default is limited solely to failure to pay rent or other monetary charges, the vendor may terminate the lease and recover possession of the premises only if the delinquent obligation remains outstanding more than 30 days after notice is served upon the purchaser notifying him of (i) the nonpayment, (ii) the amount of the delinquency, and (iii) the vendor's intention to terminate the lease if the default is not timely cured.

3. The vendor may not forfeit the option payment or any portion of such payment, provided, however, that the vendor may apply the option payment (i) to any amounts owed by such purchaser under the residential executory real estate contract or (ii) as otherwise directed by court order in an interpleader action filed by such vendor pursuant to § 8.01-364 in a court of competent jurisdiction.

4. If the vendor defaults, the purchaser shall be entitled to bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction (i) to enjoin further violations; (ii) to recover the purchaser's actual damages; (iii) for specific performance of the contract; (iv) for rescission; or (v) to receive other equitable relief as the court may find appropriate in the interests of justice.

5. The prevailing party in any proceeding under this chapter in a court of competent jurisdiction may be awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs.

C. A residential executory real estate contract may be recorded among the land records in the office of the clerk of the circuit court where the real property is located.

D. The provisions contained in this section shall not be waived by contract.

2019, c. 511, § 55-252.3.

§ 55.1-3003. Board for Housing and Community Development; development of best practice provisions for residential executory real estate contracts.

The Board for Housing and Community Development shall develop and make available on its website best practice provisions for residential executory real estate contracts. Such best practice provisions shall include (i) the full names and current mailing addresses of all parties to the contract; (ii) a legal description of the subject premises; (iii) the term of the contract or rental agreement and the amount of periodic payments or rent due; (iv) the most recent assessment of the value of the subject premises by the relevant property tax assessor, as well as the amount of property tax assigned to the property in the year preceding the transaction; (v) a statement disclosing any liens or encumbrances against the subject premises; (vi) the contract sales price for the subject premises, which shall be stated as a precise fixed amount in United States dollars; (vii) a description and the amount of any charges or fees for services that are includable in the contract separate from the contract sales price; (viii) the amount of any option payment and the deadline by which such option payment is required to be paid; (ix) the residual amount of the contract sales price that is required to be paid after the option payment has been made; (x) the total amount that the purchaser is required to pay in order to complete the purchase of the property under the terms of the contract, including the combined amount of the option, contract sales price, and rent payments coming due over the term of the contract; (xi) the amount that may be paid to extend the option, if any, and the duration of any such extension; and (xii) the notarized signature of each party and date of each signature.

2019, c. 511, § 55-252.4.