October 21, 2021
Virginia statutes provide enforcement remedies giving community association leaders great power over their members. Sometimes such powers are misused by submission of inaccurate statements in a lawsuit, notice, lien or certificate that harms the reputation of the owner or interferes with sale to a purchaser.
October 13, 2021
The value of various features of subdivision development can be evaluated by whether they makes people happy or leads to acrimony. The value of property is inextricably intertwined with its use potential. Generally, where there are few disputes among the owners, this may indicate that the developer did something right in creating the community.
July 16, 2021
Many owners want to know what options they have to overturn bad board decisions without using litigation and when waiting to the annual director election isn’t an option. This raises the issue of what legally binding results “community organizing” can accomplish when the board majority appears to have already made up their mind.
July 13, 2021
According to trade association data, approximately 1,980,000 Virginians live in 778,000 homes in more than 8,7000 community associations (HOAs, condominiums, etc.). In the District of Columbia, approximately 111,000 residents live in 48,000 homes located in more than 1,300, community associations.
June 25, 2021
Condominium and HOA leaders usually expect the owners and tenants to do what they tell them to do, and often struggle to back down when their authority is questioned. At the same time, boards and committees like to make decisions that affect others without being monitored or disclosing what was done.
June 11, 2021
Before Jaime Harrison ran for U.S. Senate or became chair of the Democratic National Committee, he was a director on the board of a condominium in Alexandria, Virginia while I was an owner-occupant. We had annual elections for board positions. Sometimes there was an election, other times we left without voting because there was not quorum.
May 20, 2021
On May 14, 2021, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam lifted the indoor mask mandate in light of updated CDC guidance. Governor Northam also declared that the indoor capacity restrictions and distancing restrictions will ease, effective May 28, 2021. The District of Columbia and neighboring states are also lifting restrictions, effective around the Memorial Day weekend.
April 8, 2021
When a homeowner receives a notice of violation from their HOA or condominium, they must decide if they are going to fight it, comply or file an architectural application to receive formal approval. There are many instances when the homeowner can and ought to keep the installed improvement. However, there are other situations in which it makes more sense to comply with the HOA’s request or to otherwise adjust things to address the violation. Also, HOAs frequently send out notices in error or the homeowner receives them after the violation was cured. However, the story does not always end with the voluntary compliance by the landowner. Often the covenant enforcement process will continue with additional letters or HOA hearings despite the correction. There may be pending litigation. The HOA or neighbor instigating such in or out of court complaints may have some sort of axe to grind and wants to continue the legal action vindictively. This blog post addresses the legal aspects of covenant enforcement when the accused owner has cured or abandoned the complained of structure or activity. I am not saying that the owner’s default response to a HOA letter ought to be to just obey it.
Fairfax County Circuit Court considered such questions in a 2004 decision. Rose Hall HOA filed a complaint with the court seeking an injunction and attorney’s fees against an owner, Charles H. Jelinek, whose architectural application for a black ornamental fence was denied but they installed it anyway. While suit was pending, the Jenlineks removed the complained of fence. The letter opinion of Judge Kathleen MacKay doesn’t say whether they removed the fence because it was not allowed by the language of the covenants or if the owners took it down not because they were in the wrong but to simply avoid continued legal action. The HOA filed discovery requests in an effort to continue fighting in court. The Jelineks filed a motion to have the suit dismissed on the grounds that it was now moot because the fence was removed. The HOA wanted to continue the suit, not because they thought that the fence would be put back up, but only because they wanted to get an award of attorney’s fees as the prevailing party. Did the HOA “prevail” in the litigation because the owner removed the complained of fence after suit was filed? In this suit, the HOA did not seek any damages. The court found that now that the fence is gone, the HOA cannot prevail because an injunction order cannot be entered because the grounds for the injunction is no longer at issue. Where the defendants action sought to be enjoined has been abandoned, the whole grounds for equitable relief no longer exists, and the matter ought to be dismissed. Unlike suits for money damages, cases like injunctions or declaratory judgments are in what’s called “equity jurisdiction,” which requires an actual controversy to be presently existing. This doctrine is commonly referred to as a question of “mootness” (when the alleged violation has ceased) or “ripeness” (when the offense hasn’t happened yet). The court found the case moot and dismissed it in its entirely.
In some cases, the factual context for the mootness question is less clear-cut than a complaint about a fence that has been completely removed. Sometimes suits for injunctions are more about conduct or how improvements or objects on the property are used rather than their mere existence. In cases involve flooding or erosion, the water infiltration may not occur every day, and in fact may be irregular depending upon the weather or how the defendant has configured downspouts that day, or other conditions. In some cases, an injunction may be granted even if the complained of conduct only occurred once. Some cases raises a question as to whether the complained of improvement actually violates a legal obligation owed by the landowner to the association under the governing instruments or if the HOA is overstepping its bounds. The owner may decide to reconfigure the fence, drain or other structure or vegetation to conform to the instruments (and not necessary what the manager is ordering them to do). The opponents may want to pursue the case more aggressively, arguing that the corrective activity somehow functioned as an admission that the HOA or neighbor was right and the owner was wrong. However, that may misconstrue the defendant’s actions or intentions. Also, angry people sometimes want their opponent to cease doing things related things that have always been legal as a kind of punishment.
For reasons such as these, when HOA or neighbor disputes escalate to litigation, sometimes “giving in” on certain points can be a powerful legal defense strategy, but one that must be properly navigated to resolve the dispute while adequately defending the owner’s rights.
Rose Hall HOA, Inc. v. Jelinek, et al., 66 Va. Cir. 172 (Fairfax Co. Oct. 28, 2004)(MacKay, J.).
Note that the picture associated with this blog post is a stock image and does not depict anything discussed in this article.
February 17, 2021
When landowners purchase real estate, they get the opportunity to obtain a land survey or to save a few hundred dollars by avoiding it. During the home buying process, purchasers’ financial situation is usually stretched to their utmost limit. The owner may not understand the value of paying $200-$600 for a survey plat when there is no known issue that would be addressed by the boundary survey. But checking out “known unknowns” is an important part of buying real estate. Relinquishing the opportunity to obtain a survey before purchase is often at the buyer’s peril.
A home inspection may reveal defects in the construction or maintenance of the home that could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to remedy. The title examination process conducted by the settlement company reveals the legal description of the property and any title problems that may exist. However, there are basic questions about what the buyer actually obtains for the purchase price that can only be answered by a land survey that reflects the findings of a title search and proper field work. For example, fences, walls, shrubs and driveways may give misleading impressions of the boundaries. Such impressions may be at odds with the dimensions of the lot as shown in the subdivision plat.
A lot may be encumbered by a pipestem driveway easement serving a lot behind the property and the location of the paved portions, trees and fences around the easement may encroach into the easement or the driveway veers off the easement. Legal disputes frequently arise between the owners of pipestem lots and the properties across which their driveways run. Purchasers are often attracted to lots adjacent to HOA common areas or public parks because many people would rather see a wooded area, pond, or creek behind one’s house, instead of other people’s backyards. However, whether publicly or privately owned, park-like areas are attractive to joggers and hikers in the neighborhood who might find it easier to cut across someone’s lawn rather than exit the woods through an established walkway. Property owners frequently use fences or shrubs to define boundaries, but it may not be apparent where one can place such things without a survey that shows the locations of boundaries and easements.
Surveys are essential to evaluating how local government zoning laws or HOA protective covenants restrict the erection of fences, trees, walls, sheds and play equipment. If a lot is on a corner, it probably has two sides that the county and/or HOA would treat as a second front yard, despite the orientation of the house and driveway on the lot. Whether a yard is deemed front, side or back may makes a big difference in determining options regarding fences and other structures. For example, owners typically cannot place tall privacy fences in yards fronting a road without written permission.
The inclination of many people is to maximize the use of their lot by constructing additions, porches, decks, outdoor living areas, treehouses, storage structures, driveway expansions, and so on to make their property more useful. However, public and private land use rules (zoning laws and HOA standards) typically make it easier to put things behind the house and more difficult to clutter the front yard. A survey can show the location of the boundary lines and the existing distances between the sides of the house to the boundaries.
In working with a surveyor, its important to know how to “shop” for the kind of survey that is most useful to the lot owner. Its easy for a surveyor to take a copy of the subdivision plat and the most recent deed, stop by the house for a few measurements, and reflect the current location of the house on the lot on a new survey. This is typically the cheapest kind of survey because it reflects a minimal effort to update previous surveying work. What is more useful is a boundary survey made that reflects any easements previously recorded. When a survey states on its face that no title report was furnished, that means that there could be an easement that reflects a substantial encumbrance or limitation on the owner’s ability to use the property the way she wants, but the plat doesn’t reflect that. It’s a kind of disclaimer that the survey has limited value. Obtaining a title report and providing it to the surveyor isn’t hard, but it’s a step that usually isn’t taken unless the owner requests it. Even if the buyer doesn’t obtain a proper survey before going to the real estate closing, it’s possible to get a title report and have a survey prepared at any time.
As an attorney representing lot owners in a variety of disputes involving neighbors, co-owners, HOAs or contractors, obtaining a survey is frequently the first “next step” discussed to properly evaluate the legal dispute so that we know where we are going. The survey informs the owner what they actually own subject to defined restrictions such as easements. This means that the owner can make informed decisions when it comes to adding or removing structures and plants to the property. Many people faced with a legal dispute want some answers that do not cost thousands of dollars. Sometimes a title report and survey focus the issues in ways that make it easier to resolve or prevent legal disputes.
February 3, 2021
Wrongful legal actions by community association boards generally fall into two categories. The first are contracts, resolutions or other actions that the board generally has the authority under the declaration to take, but they failed to properly do so pursuant to the bylaws or applicable law. For example, suppose the HOA has the authority to enter into a landscaping contract, but the documents required the contract to be signed by a director and it was only signed by a manager. Or the HOA has the power under the declaration to regulate use of the service elevator, but the rules on the website have not yet been formally adopted by the board, and were only signed by one director. As another example, the declaration allows the board to adopt rules and regulations regarding parking on the common area, and the manager is towing guest cars despite the fact that the board has not adopted a parking permit system. These are the kinds of defects that can be corrected by conducting a proper meeting with a quorum and conducting necessary business according to the governing instruments. For such items, the board’s discretion is probably protected by the business judgment rule, so long as they follow the declaration. When HOA officers take actions informally, sometimes later these actions are “ratified” by formal board action with a quorum in a properly noticed meeting. It can often by difficult for lot owners who are not aligned with the majority to challenge policies on such matters, if the board can later “fix” any procedural defects by a later, properly conducted assembly. This is why HOA boards, managers and attorneys argue for a broad reading of the declaration and other governing instruments. It can be difficult for an owner to challenge a decision or policy such as this if they at one time acted in a way that seemly condoned it or failed to object. Nonetheless, just because an issue lies within the board’s discretion does not give them carte blanche. Ineffectively adopted policies are unenforceable until properly decided according to the statutes and bylaws, and they have to be enforced equitably. For these reasons, the scope of the board’s “mandate” in the development is important to directors and owners alike, but it may not be 100% clear if the governing instruments are ambiguous. Just because a covenant seems ambiguous does not mean that it is devoid of meaning or means whatever the board says. The law of property includes rules on how to interpret conflicting or ambiguous legal documents.
The other, more exciting kind of problems are where the association’s leaders act in a way that is outside the scope of their legal authority. For example, the covenants say nothing about regulation of trees and shrubs, and only talk about architectural standards for garages and sheds. If the board adopts and tries to enforce rules regarding replacement of dead trees that are cut down, such rules may be void from the get-go. As other examples, the board may be dominated by directors who want to undertake the maintenance and repair of property that is not actually a common area. The state laws and governing instruments establish parameters around which a community may regulate or spend money. Where the “line” is may not always seem clear, but the existence of such legal limits on board authority is important. If the association does not have the authority to do something, then the corporate action may be deemed “ultra vires” (Latin for “beyond the powers”). Challenges by individual owners to ultra vires HOA actions often have more “traction” or “legs” than those that concern things properly within the board’s authority. This is because “ultra vires” acts are ordinarily “void ab initio” (void at the outset).
An older, published Virginia case involved an ultra vires contract made by agents of a bank, City of Bristol v. Dominion Nat ‘l Bank, 153 Va. 71 (1929). The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals observed that, “When the contract is once declared ultra vires, the fact that it is executed does not validate it, nor can it be ratified so as to make it the basis of suit or action, nor does the doctrine of estoppel apply.” Lawyers are always trying to find ways to make things workable despite the lack of authority. The doctrine of estoppel allows for a party to be held responsible for something because they induced another party to rely upon a representation or action that was made. What the Supreme Court was saying in City of Bristol v. Dominion National Bank was that when an action is truly ultra vires, it cannot be rendered valid because people acted as though it was. Colorfully, Justice Henry W. Holt remarked about ultra vires contracts: “As a contract it is wastepaper and as a contract worthless.” Lawyers have nightmares about court’s ruling like that about that things they draft for clients.
Justice Holt observed that an ultra vires contract may nonetheless include a remedy: “But it by no means follows that a claimant is always without remedy. There may be a recovery on an implied assumpsit for benefits conferred and kept.” So, if someone received goods or a service then they might be responsible for paying for them, on a theory of quasi-contract. The doctrine of ultra vires does not necessarily mean that everything becomes “free.”
When homeowners find themselves in legal disputes with HOA or condominium boards and managers, frequently they will be told that the association’s lack of specified authority in the governing instruments does not matter, because the lot owner waited too long to challenge what is being done, or they agreed to pay a fee or assessment, or otherwise knew about what was happening but did not quickly object. However, such arguments ignore longstanding legal principles about what it means to be a “chartered” organization. Community Associations often assert such defenses as estoppel, statutes of limitation, laches, waiver, condonation, and so on. However, if the board’s action was truly ultra vires, then those arguments may not apply.
The discussion about HOAs and ultra vires contracts and resolutions illustrates why association directors and their advisors want to be able to easily amend the governing instruments, and control that amendment process. Older HOAs and condominiums tend to have covenants and bylaws that are more “owner friendly” in terms of allocation of rights between the lot owners and the board. A valid amendment can change the size or shape of the board’s procedural requirements and/or substantive authority, potentially transforming something that would otherwise be ultra vires into legitimately within their mandate. Even the “benign” community associations are one election or one amendment away from a potentially toxic situation. The good news is that the reverse is also true: election of good directors or adoption of an improved declaration can improve the situation in a community association. Sometimes its hard to tell if the person or document being proposed would be good or bad.
(Note that the photograph associated with this blog post is a stock image and does not depict anyone or anything referenced in the article)
February 1, 2021
Under Virginia law, a nonstock corporation must submit annual filings to avoid having its corporate status automatically “terminated” by the State Corporation Commission pursuant to Va. Code § 13.1-914. When people see that a corporation’s status is deemed “inactive” as terminated by a regulatory agency, they wonder if it no longer “exists,” particularly in the HOA context. It is common for HOA boards to neglect their annual registration requirements, because every one or two years a new board is elected that may not be aware of such requirements. Lot owners become interested in the meaning of the “inactive” status because HOAs are frequently demanding that members pay assessments and obey architectural restrictions. Anyone can check the status of a corporation by logging on to the SCC website. As a legal matter, the “automatic termination” of the HOA’s corporate status usually does not mean much. Under Virginia law, “incorporated” status is a feature of statutes that confer certain powers and responsibilities on a business or association that would not otherwise apply. Persons in business or associations are attracted to incorporation because of the liability shield, legal immunities available to the board of directors, and the ability to open a bank account.
Ordinarily, upon termination, the property and business of a corporation pass to the last board of directors as “Trustees in Liquidation” who are responsible for winding up the affairs of the company. Va. Code § 13.1-914. This sounds like a big deal. However, Va. Code § 13.1-916 allows a nonstock corporation to reinstate its active corporate status by filing a form and certain fees within five years of the date of automatic termination. BOOM! The corporation is “active” again. If a HOA corporation has periods of “automatically terminated” status in its history, what does that mean? Does that mean that the actions of the board of directors or officers are voided? Do all debts owed to or duties owed by the HOA vaporize? No. If the automatically terminated corporation is reinstated within the five year period, by Virginia law its as though the “termination” was never in effect:
Upon entry of the order of reinstatement, the corporate existence shall be deemed to have continued from the date of termination as if termination had never occurred, and any liability incurred by the corporation or a director, officer, or other agent after the termination and before the reinstatement is determined as if the termination of the corporation’s existence had never occurred.Va. Code § 13.1-916.
This statute is not some sort of scheme dreamed up by a HOA industry lobbyist. The statutes for stock (for profit) corporations and limited liability companies are similar. But in any case it can be the cause of confusion. If a nonstock corporation is currently in a state of “automatic termination,” its members may not know whether will ever reinstate. According to the statutes, the last board of directors acts as trustees for the corporation, and can sue or be sued in a fiduciary capacity.
Even if the HOA’s directors or trustees fail to reinstate the corporation’s active status within five years, that does not mean that the association necessarily ceases to exist. Virginia law allows for unincorporated associations, including property owners associations. Of course, an unincorporated association does not enjoy the legal powers of an incorporated association. But that does not mean that it ceases to exist. This is because the incorporated status is a legal characteristic of the group, and not its cause for existing. When HOAs are automatically terminated for over five years, sometimes their leaders decide to re-incorporate. Corporate law includes the notion of a business maintaining continuity that perpetuates beyond the change of business form.
As a side note, some community associations in Virginia are initially organized in a manner that does not contemplate incorporation. Condominium associations are usually not incorporated. Some HOAs are initially organized as unincorporated associations and the covenants may not accommodate future incorporation without amendment. Such associations may need to amend their declaration if they incorporate.
Remember that a property owners’ association is not some sort of local government entity created by a municipal charter coming from the state capital. When a community association law problem arises, the starting point of any legal analysis is the declaration of covenants and any amendments. That is the document that the courts treat as the “contract” between the lot owners and the association.
Update (Feb. 5, 2021):
The 2018 Mendez case in Fairfax Circuit Court is instructive about what can happen with a “lapsed” nonstock HOA corporation. The Huntington Forest HOA negligently allowed their corporate status to lapse for longer than five years, while continuing to function through a board of directors. When the board later realized what had happened, they re-incorporated the homeowners association with the SCC. The Circuit Court observed that the declaration of covenants “survived” the automatic termination of the corporation’s existence. Upon termination, the property of the association is held by the last board of directors as trustees in liquidation. However, the POAA does not require for property to be formally owned by the incorporated HOA entity to endure in its status as a common area. The POAA looks to whether the common areas are designated as such in the declaration, and whether the association is obligated to maintain or operate the common areas. The Circuit Court found the nonstock corporation holding the “new” SCC charter to be in continuity with the original throughout the functioning yet unincorporated period of its organizational history. The Court found that the newly incorporated entity to be the “true” Huntington Forest HOA board, and not the trustees in liquidation of the terminated one. The “new” corporation was not owed legal recognition because it was calling itself the same HOA or was performing the functions as before. The court, in essence, ruled that this is NOT one of those instances where a group of interested neighbors get together and form a nonstock corporation for the purposes of collecting dues and telling people what to do with their land. The subdivision maintained continuity through the declaration of covenants as the principal governing instrument. The outcome of the Mendez case may have been different if the declaration had different language or had been amended in a way that was incompatible with the reincorporation.
Mendez v. Huntington Forest HOA, 99 Va. Cir. 160 (Fairfax Co. Jun. 4, 2018).
January 27, 2021
“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” -Winston Churchill.
The Virginia General Assembly is currently in session. One interesting bill to Virginia homeowners is 2021 HB1816. This bill seeks to amend the Property Owners Association Act and Virginia Condominium Act regarding the use of “electronic means” for meetings and voting. Making videoconference a larger and better part of HOAs and condominiums is a good thing. But this flawed bill ought to undergo changes necessary to protect Virginia landowners and the integrity of the community association “open meeting” policies in place in Virginia.
I am a practicing attorney who represents lot owners and unit owners in community association matters. Sometimes my clients are in opposition to association boards, and in other cases they are dealing with a dispute with a neighbor where they are aligned on the same side as the board. I am familiar with the essential role of already existing “open meeting” statutes for community association in establishing procedural safeguards. To the extent that state law gives associations substantial power, these open meeting rules must be preserved and strengthened.
As Virginia law currently stands, the statutes require almost all deliberations of boards of directors to be conducted in properly-noticed meetings that owners are able to attend or follow along and participate in contemporaneously. The POAA (and Condo Act) prohibits boards and committees from doing business in informal “work sessions” or email exchanges (with very limited exceptions for executive session). Va. Code § 55.1-1816. This is important, because most HOAs have the power under their governing instruments and the POAA to adopt rules and regulations that can impose limits on how they can use or improve their property. Va. Code § 55.1- 1819. This is significant because the ability to use or improve property is an essential aspect of its value as an investment, and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans have to be exercised somewhere, and the home is the most important place for exercising freedoms of all kinds. The “open meeting” requirements for HOAs and Condos, which are supposed to (supposedly) function as “mini-democracies”, are similar to the open government laws that require local government board members to conduct all business (with very limited exceptions) in noticed meetings.
HB1816 would weaken these protections, and in associations where safeguards are not otherwise enshrined in their governing instruments, facilitate common practices by HOA boards, committees, and managers to circumvent the “open meeting” requirements by making important decisions for the community by text message, email, telephone, or informal social gatherings.
HB1816 , in the amendments to § 55.1-1832(F) and § 55.1-1935(E), would allow any meeting of a HOA or condominium, be it a board meeting, committee meeting, or annual or special meeting of the members to be conducted by “electronic means.” Most Virginians are now familiar with various forms of videoconference, be it Zoom, WebEx, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting or other similar programs. The Coronavirus has made these technologies a common practice. I have previously posted about the use of remote meeting technology in my December 2020 article, Presenting to HOA Boards and Committees in Remote Hearings. I use these services and think that they are a great thing. I think that they ought to be used in Condominium and HOAs because they have the power to increase participation by many members who may not otherwise be able to participate because of a disability, mobility concerns, inability to drive, or childcare obligations. This also promotes access to justice because homeowners are more likely to be able to retain an attorney to help them in such hearings because it reduces travel time.
In 2020, the General Assembly passed special, emergency legislation that helped for association boards to meet and conduct business during the coronavirus epidemic. I posted analyses of that in my May 2020 post, Virginia Temporarily Relaxes HOA Open Meeting Statutes for Coronavirus. HB1816 would work to make that permanent and more. It’s the “more” part that is a problem.
The problem with HB1816 is not that it facilitates use of these videoconference programs in HOAs is that it goes well beyond that. In conjunction with other changes, HB1816 seeks to broaden the definition of “electronic means” in Va. Code § 55.1-1800 and § 55.1-1900 to include “teleconference, videoconference, internet exchange, or other electronic methods.” Those statutes incorporate the definitions found in Va. Code § 59.1-480 of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. That statute defines “Electronic” as “relating to technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, or similar capabilities.” But the referenced statute doesn’t define “internet exchange” or “other electronic methods”. The definition as written is broad enough to encompass text message and email correspondence between board members, committee members and/or members. This is a terrible way for HOAs and condominiums to decide important questions such as enactment of million dollar budgets, to change rules to governing the use of land in the subdivision, or to impose penalties against an owner for an alleged rule violation. In many HOAs and condominiums, this would facilitate boards changing the rules on an informal basis, as they see fit. Founding Father John Adams believed that the USA ought to be “a government of laws, not of men.” In other words, everyone has to follow the laws (or the declaration or contract), including the rulers or directors. HB1816 would in many cases cause the POAA to reflect a public policy that the rules and standards in the governing documents simply don’t matter, its whatever the board wants. The is because HB1816 would remove statutory protections requiring HOA boards to follow their own rules and to not change the rules whenever they want to do something different.
HB1816 easily passed the House of Delegates and now sits in the General Laws Committee of the Virginia Senate. I hope that it does not get out of that committee, without changes to the definition of “Electronic Means.” Note that passage of this bill as written would not be “game over” for homeowners dealing with HOA bullies. But failure to fix the language would “bless” all sorts of mischief that needs to be stopped. Boards still need to follow the declaration and bylaws and the other protections of the POAA and common law. But legal reforms ought to make the law better and more clear, not the opposite. It appears to me that certain people are promoting this bill at this time to try to exploit the pandemic before it is over, by use of this bill which is ostensibly to help people do social distancing. For these reasons, I do not support HB1816. I think that the definition of “Electronic Means” needs to be revised, to only include technologies similar to Zoom, WebEx, MS Teams and the like, and to not include text message, chat rooms or emails.
January 28, 2021 Update:
On the evening of January of January 27, 2021, the Virginia Senate General Laws Committee reported out SB 1183 which appears to be a bill originating in the senate that is identical, or nearly so with, HB1816. This legislation has not yet been voted on by the full senate.
February 9, 2021 Update:
Around February 5, 2021, the Virginia Senate postponed further action on HB1816 and SB 1183 to the General Assembly’s “special” 2021 session which is essentially an extension of time for the “general” session.
Close of Special Session Update:
In the General Assembly’s 2020 Special Session 1, HB1816 was passed by both legislative chambers and signed by Governor Northam.
Referenced Legal Authority:
(the photo for this post is a stock image and doesn’t depict anyone having to do with this post)