Traps for the Small Landlord: Potential Awards of Attorney’ Fees to Tenants Under the VRLTA

Residential leases normally are written by, or on behalf of, landlords. As such, they often give landlords the right to recover their attorneys’ fees and costs in a successful legal action against a tenant – but don’t give similar rights to tenants. But a recent trend in Virginia landlord-tenant law has created opportunities for tenants to recover legal fees from landlords – even when a lease is silent in that regard. In deciding whether to resolve landlord-tenant disputes through litigation, it is important for landlords, in consultation with legal counsel, to consider the potential financial exposure created by these provisions.... READ MORE >

Challenging Land Use Decisions in Virginia

In our land use practice, Alliance Law Group typically represents individuals, community or homeowner associations, and businesses that oppose a development project because of the possible adverse impact on the character of their communities or the value of their homes or businesses. For those seeking to stop such development, consideration should be given to retaining experienced legal counsel as early in the land use process as possible. They can advise you of the applicable legal standards and may be able to point out arguments on which you have not focused. However, if the land use application is approved, it may... READ MORE >

What is RLUIPA and How Does it Affect Land Use Decisions?

This is the first in a series of articles that we will post over the next few weeks concerning the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”). We will explain what it is and what it means in the context of those opposing a land use application to build or expand a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution in their community. In Virginia, and elsewhere, land use issues generally are governed by local, and sometimes, state law. But RLUIPA is an important federal law that sometimes comes into play. In the land use context, RLUIPA applies to the... READ MORE >

A Few Tips on Construction Contracts in Virginia

Whether you are redoing your office condo, putting an addition on your house, or undertaking any other type of construction project, there are a few things to keep in mind as you select a contractor and get the construction process underway. Following these tips will not guarantee a problem-free project, but may reduce the chances of having problems and make that those occur easier to handle. First select a legally qualified contractor. Ask to see the contractor’s Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation license. In Virginia, contractors must have a DPOR license which has two components: Class and Specialty.... READ MORE >

Regulation of Airbnb & Other Short-Term Rentals in Virginia

The provision of short-term rentals via online platforms such as Airbnb, FlipKey and HomeAway is part of the growing “shared economy.” In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly established a framework by which local governments may regulate these and other short-term rentals. The law defines a short-term rental (STR) business as “the provision of a room…intended for occupancy for…lodging purposes, for a period of fewer than 30 consecutive days, in exchange for a charge….” Homeowners, landlords, or tenants considering whether to cash in on the STR trend, or board members of an HOA or a condominium association deciding whether (or on... READ MORE >

Landlords: Does your Pet Policy violate the Law?

Under federal and Virginia fair housing laws, a landlord must provide reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. A person is considered disabled when he or she has a physical or mental impairment that that substantially limits one or more of that person’s life activities, and that person has a record of having the impairment or is regarded as having the impairment. Many people who have invisible disabilities are assisted by emotional support animals (ESAs). An ESA is an animal that helps a person alleviate symptoms of a mental or emotional impairment by providing companionship and affection. Unlike service animals, such... READ MORE >