In this Issue:

Announcements:

Research and Perspectives:

Legal Updates:

Economy:

Past Announcements:

Announcements:

Governor Northam: Phase Two Expected to Begin for Most of Virginia on Friday, June 5th

On Wednesday, June 2, Governor Northam signed Executive Order 65 and announced that Virginia will enter Phase Two on Friday, June 5.  The City of Richmond and Northern Virginia will remain in Phase One. The Governor made this announcement based on several key statewide health metrics which continue to show positive signs: Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of people hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to trend downward as testing increases.

Phase Two guidelines for specific sectors can be found here. Phase One guidelines sectors are available here. Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Overview of Phase Two:

  • Maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.
  • The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 50 people.
  • All businesses should still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures.
  • Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer indoor dining at 50 percent occupancy
  • Fitness centers may open indoor areas at 30 percent occupancy, and certain recreation and entertainment venues without shared equipment may open with restrictions. These venues include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues. Swimming pools may also expand operations to both indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction.
  • The current guidelines for religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will largely remain the same in Phase Two.
  • Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals will also remain closed in Phase Two.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Five and Order of Public Health Emergency Six is available here.

Virginia Department of Health Face Covering Signage for Businesses

To help the business community address customer questions on Executive Order 63, which compels citizens to wear face coverings in many public settings, the Virginia Department of Health has designed a helpful sign that businesses may use to encourage folks to wear a face covering for public safety. You can find this resource here: https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/ which will be updated with new translations.

Executive Order 63 – Face Covering Requirements/Workplace Safety Regulations

On Tuesday, May 26th, Governor Northam issued Executive Order 63 requiring Virginians to wear face coverings while in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This requirement becomes effective Friday, May 29th.  The Governor also directed the Department of Labor and Industry to develop emergency temporary standards to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19. Click here to read to full text of Executive Order 63. For more information on how to wear, make, or clean face coverings, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website here.

HBAV will be seeking additional guidance and recommendations from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) on how this requirement impacts in the housing industry – and as mentioned above, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry will be released temporary standards to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19.  We will provide you that information as soon as it becomes available.

In the meantime, we are urging HBAV members to practice common-sense and to err on the side of caution.  Some recommended measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Continue maintaining social distancing on job sites and in offices if teleworking is not feasible
  • Utilize virtual/electronic meetings with customers and employees to the greatest extent possible
  • Wash hands, job site tools, and workspace surfaces
  • By-appointment only for model homes and open houses; have employees utilize face coverings during appointments
    • While scheduling appointments, have employees suggest that the customer bring a face covering to the appointment
  • During local building department inspections:
    • Bring face covering in there is a chance that you will interact directly with the inspector
    • Plan ahead with the local building inspector – minimize the number of individuals inside the home; if feasible, allow inspector to conduct his or her review while builder/contractors are outside or in a car.

Face Coverings Required: Patrons

All patrons in the Commonwealth aged ten and over shall when entering, exiting, traveling through, and spending time inside the settings listed below cover their mouth and nose with a face covering, as described and recommended by the CDC:

  • Personal care and grooming businesses
  • Essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail including home improvement, hardware. Building material, and building supply retailers, grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Food and beverage establishments, including but not limited to, restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers markets, when permitted to reopen for indoor dining.
  • Entertainment or recreation businesses, including but not limited to, racetracks, historic horse racing facilities, theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement, once permitted to reopen to the public. Face coverings shall also be required when patrons are outdoors at these businesses if a distance of six feet from every other person cannot be maintained.
  • Train stations, bus stations, and intrastate public transportation, including buses, rideshares, trains, taxis, and cars for hire, as well as any waiting or congregating areas associated with boarding public transportation. This requirement shall not apply in any area under federal jurisdiction or control.
  • State or local government buildings when accessed for the purpose of securing public services, with the exception of students in daycare centers or participating in-person classes in K-12 education or institutions of higher education
  • Any indoor space shared by groups of people who may congregate within six feet of one another or who are in close proximity to each other for more than ten minutes. This restriction does not apply to persons while inside their residence or the personal residence of another.

Face Coverings Required: Employees of Essential Retail Businesses

All employees of essential retail businesses as listed in Amended Executive Order 61 and Amended Order of Public Health Emergency Three (section c, paragraph 1) shall wear a fac covering whenever working in customer facing areas. This includes employees of:

  1. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  2. Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
  3. Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  4. Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;
  5. Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  6. Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  7. Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  8. Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
  9. Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  10. Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  11. Pet and feed stores; l. Printing and office supply stores; and m. Laundromats and dry cleaners.

A face covering includes anything that covers your nose and mouth, such as a mask, scarf, or bandana. Medical-grade masks and personal protective equipment should be reserved for health care professionals.

The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to following:

  1. While eating or drinking;
  2. Individuals exercising or using exercise equipment;
  3. Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
  4. Any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for which the mouth needs to be visible;
  5. When temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to secure government or medical services; and
  6. Persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face covering. Nothing in this Order shall require the use of a face covering by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition.

Any person who declines to wear a face covering because of a medical condition shall not be required to produce or carry medical documentation verifying the stated condition nor shall the person be required to identify the precise underlying medical condition.

The Governor is also directing the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry to develop emergency temporary standards for occupational safety that will protect employees from the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces. These occupational safety standards will require the approval by vote of the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board and must address personal protective equipment, sanitation, record-keeping of incidents, and hazard communication. Upon approval, the Department of Labor and Industry will be able to enforce the standards through civil penalties and business closures. Click here to read to full text of Executive Order 63.

Virginia Department of Tax’s 2020 Legislative Summary – Summary of Changes to State and Local Tax Law

The Virginia Department of Tax has released the 2020 Legislative Summary which provides an overview of state and local tax legislation enacted by the 2020 Session of the Virginia General Assembly. Please review the Department’s overview here for any changes that may impact your personal or business tax liability.

Call for Topics and Speakers: 2020 Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference

The Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference is requesting suggested topics and speakers to include as part of the 2020 Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference (VAGHC) program on Nov. 18-20.

The proposed topics and speakers can focus on issues or trends that you see or experience in the housing and community development field, whether in Virginia or throughout the country. These can be topics in which you are an expert or can be issues and trends that you would like to see discussed during the conference. Click here to learn more and submit recommendations for topics and speakers.

Research and Perspectives:

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University: Housing Could Help Lead the Post-COVID Economic Recovery

The US is clearly entering a recession and the only question is how bad it will be. US gross domestic product fell by an annual rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 with a much larger decline expected for Q2. Although it’s too soon to say how far the economy will fall and when the slide will end, the housing industry may be poised to help lead the recovery, when it occurs, unlike it was after the Great Recession of the late 2000s. This would be in keeping with trends over the last five decades, when housing played a major role in the recoveries from virtually every major downturn. Click here to read more.

Legal Updates:

Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh: Supreme Court of Virginia Limits Ability to Challenge Foreclosures

One of the risks involved with purchasing property at a foreclosure sale is that the prior owner may attempt to challenge the validity of the sale. Often, the challenge to the foreclosure sale is an attempt to avoid or delay eviction after the foreclosure, as the Supreme Court reviewed at length in its ruling in Parrish v. Fannie Mae, 292 Va. 44 (2016). These challenges may also result in a claim on the new owner’s title insurance policy.

On April 2, 2020, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued an opinion that clarifies and further limits the ability of a foreclosed property owner to rescind a completed foreclosure sale. Click here to read more.

Virginia Multifamily Landlord Lease Enforcement During COVID-19 Pandemic

Multifamily landlords looking to enforce lease provisions during the COVID-19 pandemic face a complicated framework of quickly enacted emergency federal, state and local laws and uncertainty over a shifting regulatory landscape. This article seeks to clarify what multifamily landlords in Virginia can and cannot do under the current federal, state and local regulations. Click here to read more.

IRS Issues Proposed Regs on Rehabilitation Credit

The IRS has released 26 CFR Part 1, resolving questions regarding the five-year period to claim rehabilitation credits for qualified rehabilitation buildings (QRBs).  Prior to the proposed regulation, practitioners were unclear on the special rules of Internal Revenue Code (the Code) sections 47 and 50, relating to recapture, basis adjustment and leased property.  Practitioners also were unclear on whether rehabilitation credits are allocated ratably over the five-year period or whether five different rehabilitation credits are determined in each year of the five-year period.  Rehabilitation credits are no longer fully allowed in the taxable year the QRB is placed into service but must be claimed ratably over the five-year period beginning in the year the QRB is placed into service.  The rehabilitation credit is determined in the year the QRB is placed into service (consistent with prior law). Click here to read more.

Economy:

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond: What Businesses are Saying About the COVID Crisis

In the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s latest survey period, they asked firms to describe their current operating status and challenges with respect to COVID-19 and their expectations for when and how business will return to pre-pandemic levels.

Just over half of surveyed firms thought that it would take more than six months for conditions to return to a pre-COVID level of activity. These beliefs were fairly consistent across firms of different sizes and industries, with a few exceptions. 38.6% of construction respondents stated that it would take 6 months to one year to return to pre-COVID-19 level of activity and 24.6% of construction industry respondents stated that it would take over one year.  Click here to read more.

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond:  Housing Crisis Comparison Suggests COVID-19 Could Leave Economic Scars

Researchers and policymakers are wondering whether the economic losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic will prove temporary or persistent. Examining the housing crisis of 2006–09 may provide some clues. Despite the fact that the housing crisis represented a temporary demand-side shock, it had lasting negative effects on employment and GDP in regions most exposed to the boom and bust in house prices. Click here to read more.

Past Announcements:

Governor Northam launches COVID-19 Housing Issues Website

Governor Northam announced that his administration has launched a website of resources, ”Stay Home Virginia”, in partnership with the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The website is a consolidation of many useful tools, helpful information, and resources for renters, homeowners, landlords, and those experiencing homelessness. Summaries of both the federal and state protections are also outlined. Click here for the Governor’s press release on the current state of housing security efforts.