Foreclosure and COVID-19

Foreclosure Actions in the Wake of COVID-19

In the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic, state governments across the country have issued moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures for certain residential and commercial properties. Many counties and cities have also issued their own moratoriums, adding to the complexity and uncertainty of what protections there are in place for tenants, landlords, and borrowers.

The situation is constantly evolving, and each restriction varies in a number of ways. You may need to consult a real estate attorney in Ashburn, VA, to answer the following questions:

Which remedies are restricted? – In some areas, it is just foreclosures, whereas, in other areas, it includes other tenant protections and sometimes some protections for the property owners, too (from lender remedies).

Who is protected? In some cases, it is only residential properties that are covered, and in some areas, it is flexible as to the asset class or type of tenant.

What are the standards? A real estate attorney can confirm that there are some cases where one needs to prove that the default was caused by COVID-19, but there are no standards in place for the protection to apply in others.

Regardless of the prohibited remedies or processes, it is crucial to note that no known restrictions absolve the party from obligations to comply. Be aware that neither rent nor mortgage payments are simply permanently forgiven.

Black Lives Matter

HOA Regulations and Black Lives Matter Signs in Virginia

Political lawn signs are always a hot topic for people who live in HOA communities, especially around election time when political signs start popping up in many yards and windows. If you own a home in an HOA community, its smart to find out if HOA political signs are okay there. Otherwise, this could be a source of friction between you and your association, causing the need for you to retain an HOA attorney in Ashburn, VA.

Many homeowners and condo associations place restrictions on the placement of signs on private property, including political signs. Is an HOA restricting your First Amendment rights when they prevent you from displaying Black Lives Matter signs? The answer is no.

To put explain briefly, the First Amendment limits federal, state, and local governments from doing things that restrict people’s freedom of speech. However, your HOA is not a part of the government. Its a private entity, albeit a non-profit one in most cases. An HOA attorney would explain that your HOA is subject to the governing rules enacted by government entities, but the First Amendment, by itself, does not stop your HOA from restricting HOA political signs. As a homeowner and a party to a binding agreement with your HOA, you agree to adhere to the association’s regulations.

If your association sets sign restrictions or attempts to levy fines against a homeowner for placing a sign, it would be smart to consult with your HOA attorney. There are some conflicting sources out there, and it’s best to stick to legal advice from someone knowledgeable in this area.

Things to Know Before Buying an Investment Property

Buying an Investment PropertyUnlike your other assets, real estate lives up to its name. It is buildings or land someone owns. Many people that have the available capital sometimes buy residential and commercial buildings and rent them. Rental properties are effective ways to generate supplemental income for people that work and retirees. Learn how to successfully invest in rental properties with advice from a real estate attorney in Ashburn, VA.


Investing Can Be Lucrative, But It Takes Work

Real estate such as a home or condominium can be risky to purchase, like any investment, which is why you should follow the advice of experienced professionals. Invest in a property because it has an affordable price rather than an aesthetic reason. Remember, your primary goal is to make money from the structure you buy. It would be best if you also researched a building to make sure the property will attract your target commercial or residential renter.


Prepare Yourself for the Costs of the Transaction

Unless you have sizable savings, you will need to secure a down payment of at least 20% because mortgage insurance does not cover investment properties. Also, it would help if you chose the loan option that works best with your current financial situation.


Advisors and consultants, including a real estate attorney, may recommend investing in a low-cost home for your first investment property. You won’t lose much on a less valuable house if you don’t earn your desired profits.

Choosing the Right Attorneys in Ashburn, VA, to Meet Your Real Estate Needs

Real Estate AttorneyReal estate issues can be complex with a myriad of details to be covered and procedures to follow. It’s not a simple journey for a layperson. It’s one that’s best taken with an experienced attorney by your side so you don’t take a misstep that can prove disastrous or end up making a simple matter into a very challenging one.


At the firm of Raymond A. Ceresa Attorney at Law, we know about attorneys in Ashburn, VA, and we’re going to tell you what to look for when you’re seeking a lawyer to handle your real estate transactions.


Experience should be at the top of your checklist for a real estate lawyer. Education is essential, but when it’s backed with practical knowledge gained in the field, it’s much more applicable. Make sure the experience has been achieved in the area you’re considering; it doesn’t make much sense to hire a criminal defense attorney when you’re looking to settle a dispute with your homeowners’ association, for example.


We suggest you choose an attorney once you’ve had the opportunity to consult with him or her in person or by phone. It will help to assure you that you are making the right decision.

Effect of Dismissal Without Prejudice in Mortgage Foreclosure Suits

Real Estate LawCases that are dismissed “with prejudice” are permanently dismissed.  A case that is dismissed “without prejudice” is merely temporarily dismissed. A temporary dismissal means that the plaintiff is allowed to re-file charges, alter the claim, or bring the case to another court. There is sometimes confusion about whether there is a limitation on refiling an action after more than one involuntary dismissal without prejudice, particularly in the mortgage foreclosure context. This is where advice from a real estate lawyer in Ashburn, VA, is essential.


Virginia Rule of Civil Procedure 1.420(b) requires that the order of dismissal expressly state that the dismissal is without prejudice in order to ensure that an involuntary dismissal does not then operate as an adjudication on the merits. There are rare occasions where a trial court involuntarily dismisses without prejudice a second or third time after a motion. Later, the question can arise as to whether a plaintiff can continue to take “kicks at the can” after dismissal or whether the number of “kicks” is limited.


A real estate lawyer would advise you that the only question is whether the refiled mortgage foreclosure is based on the same underlying defaults as the one dismissed was. If that’s the case, and the five-year limitations period has run out, then it makes no difference if the dismissal was with or without prejudice as the complainant is at the end of its road.  If not, even if the limitations period has gone by, the new action will not be precluded regardless of the number or type of prior dismissals.

Do Short-Term Vacation Rentals Violate HOA Regulations?

Short-Term Vacation Rental

Some property owners put their homes on the market for short-term summer rentals. This may be acceptable, or it may be a direct contravention of Homeowners Association (HOA) policies. If your association is looking to clarify whether “short-term rentals violate the regulations?” we’ll provide the advice you need at Ceresa Law.


As an HOA lawyer in Loudoun County, VA, we have a vast amount of experience dealing with HOA issues of all types and are prepared to handle this matter for you.


Some HOAs allow short-term rentals so that homeowners can use their dormant properties for extra income. Others are vehemently against this practice over concerns of noise and damage caused by transient visitors.


As your HOA lawyer, our firm can examine the current agreement to see if it allows such practices and act accordingly on behalf of your community. If the document prohibits short-term summer rentals, we can take steps to have them prevented. Our team can create a policy that clearly states they are not allowed and outlines punitive actions for violation.


If short-term rentals are not allowed, but your HOA wishes to permit them, we can draft an amendment to the policy that sets boundaries and requirements for compliance. This lets all parties know what is expected and helps homeowners stay in good standing and on good terms with neighbors.


Regardless if summer rentals are allowed or not, it’s wise to have an HOA lawyer in Loudoun County, VA, go over your association agreement to make sure that it’s well-defined and updated for modern considerations such as Airbnb. A little preparation can go a long way to preventing miscommunication and disagreements.

What is the Landlords’ Liability

Landlords' LiabilityWhen you own rental properties and have tenants, you may wish to consult with a law firm in Loudoun County, VA, regarding landlord liability and exposure. In the meantime, here are a few things to consider.


Injury Responsibility – A landlord may be held responsible for an injury on the rental property if it can be shown that the landlord (or his or her agent) was somehow negligent in maintaining the property and that this negligence was the cause of the injury.


Dangerous Conditions – In many cases, actual negligence need not be specifically proven. It is sufficient for the plaintiff tenant to show that the landlord knew, or should have known, of a dangerous condition and, either failed to repair it or failed to give adequate warning of it to the tenant.


Inspecting the Premises –To avoid lawsuits for negligence, landlords should inspect the premises regularly, and not only at the beginning and the end of a lease.


Other PerilsMost insurance policies cover damages and losses from fire, weather, burglary, and acts of vandalism. “Other perils,” depending on the region, usually are not covered. The two most common of these are losses from earthquakes and floods.


Liability Claims – Typically, liability claims are covered by a comprehensive general liability policy, which includes payment of awards for damages, as well as legal fees and costs incurred in defending against lawsuits.


Can a Tenant Use the Exclusionary Rule When Fighting an Eviction?

Eviction NoticeThe Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons or property. The “exclusionary rule,” as it is commonly known, prohibits the use of any evidence which is obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment.


In practice, the exclusionary rule has typically been applied only to cases where the state seeks to use illegally seized evidence to prosecute an individual who experienced an unlawful search criminally. Experts in condominium law in Ashburn, VA, advise that although the exclusionary rule is occasionally applied outside of a pure criminal proceeding, Nationwide Housing Corp. v. Skoglund (Minn. App. 2018) established “that the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule does not extend to a civil eviction proceeding brought by a private landlord.”


The tenant, in that case, argued that eviction is similar to the quasi-criminal civil forfeiture proceeding; however, the appellate court clarified that an eviction proceeding is clearly civil in nature and solely determines whether “an occupant may be removed from possession of real property by the process of law.” Thus, within condominium law, although the exclusionary rule can sometimes be applied outside of criminal court proceedings, it has not been applied to a typical landlord-tenant relationship.

When is a Loan not a Loan? Mortgage and Loan Basics

Mortgage and Loan BasicsMany homeowners think that a mortgage and a loan are interchangeable terms. However, they are both much more complicated than that. If you’re considering purchasing a home, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basics surrounding these terms. Before you approach a lender or a real estate attorney in Ashburn, VA, you’ll want to ensure you understand everything they might speak to you about.


Similarities & Differences Between Mortgages & Loans

A mortgage is similar to a long-term loan in that a lender assists with the financial side of home buying. However, unlike a loan, it transfers an interest in a property as a guarantee of repayment. This safeguard is a legally binding agreement so that the lender has access to some form of compensation if the borrower does not pay off the loan.


There are many types of lenders to consider as well, such as brokers, direct and secondary market lenders, and mortgage bankers. Learning more about these lenders and how they differ allows you to make a more informed decision. Working with a real estate attorney gives you access to the resources you need to understand the complexities and basics of mortgages and loans.

Notice to Vacate: Can Condominium Boards Evict an Owner/Tenant?

Notice to VacateDealing with a troublesome tenant can be difficult for landlords and homeowners associations alike. While landlords who are renting space out to tenants have the option to evict, specific communities, where the tenants own their home, do not always have that choice. Depending on the state, HOAs may have the option to forcibly remove tenants if necessary. Meeting with attorneys in Ashburn, VA, can give you a better idea of what authority you hold.


Homeowners Association Authority

In some states, there are bylaws that allow HOAs to foreclose and evict owners who fail to obey the community rules or who have missed too many payments. The HOA has the authority to write up and enforce its own guidelines, which allows them to remove homeowners if they refuse to comply. However, HOAs must still follow the same legal processes that landlords and other property managers undergo.


Whether you’re a part of a homeowners association or you’re a homeowner being wrongfully evicted, you’ll want advice from a qualified team of attorneys who specialize in real estate law, like the ones at the office of Raymond A. Ceresa, Attorney at Law. With the right legal counsel, understanding local bylaws is infinitely easier.