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February 28, 2014 Published in From Richmond, Top Stories

House Of Delegates Defeats Measure To Strip Property Owners Of Rights

The General Assembly defeated a Senate Amendment to HB791 today 39-55, which would grant Home Owners’ Associations, or HOAs, the power to levy fines and shut off the utilities of property owners regardless of the powers listed in their charters and bylaws.

“If you live in an HOA neighborhood that cannot currently fine you, this bill would give HOAs the ability to fine you $900 for anything.” said Del. Scott Surovell (D-44).

•      HB791: Gives Home Owners’ Associations the ability to suspend a property owner’s right to facilities and utilities, and levy fines unless expressly prohibited by the governing documents.

A bipartisan group of 55 legislators joined Del. Surovell opposing this bill.

Senator Chap Petersen, who spoke out against the bill in the Senate, said after the House vote, ”If somebody is using their own private property to put up Christmas lights, or to put out a campaign sign- the bottom line is that's their private property. If the HOA does not have the power to fine the owners for the use of their private property, we should not grant them that

power. I'm pleased that the House of Delegates agrees."

 Del. Surovell agreed with that analysis.

If an HOA wants the power to fine, they should follow the democratic process and give the community a chance to vote on the measure,” Surovell said. “Instead, this is an HOA power grab that would overturn the tenants of contract and common law, allowing them to fine Virginia homeowners for any reason.”

The bill now goes back to the Senate where it will vote whether to insist on substitute and decide if a conference committee can agree on an acceptable substitute.

The House of Delegates previously passed the bill 60-40 and the Senate passed a substitute bill with an amendment 30-9. The substitute version of the bill will now have to be debated and voted upon again in the House of Delegates before it can go to Governor Terry McAuliffe.

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