Title 55 has been repealed, long live Title 55.1: Tools to ease the transition from Title 55 to Title 55.1.

Effective October 1, 2019, Title 55 will be repealed and recodified as Title 55.1. What does this mean for you? If you work in any field relating to real estate, it will have a variety of effects.

The most obvious and broad ranging impact will be the need to change all references to Title 55 to the appropriate updated citation in Title 55.1. While this is no small undertaking, the recodification process isn’t limited to reorganization – some provisions of Title 55 are being repealed, others are being moved to different areas of the Virginia Code, and new substantive provisions are also being added to Title 55.1.

 Fortunately, an advisory panel of practitioners and staff from Virginia’s Division of Legislative Services prepared a detailed report of these changes, which is available here (the “Report”). As the introduction to the Report explains, the purpose of the recodification is to “(i) organize the law in a more logical manner, (ii) remove obsolete and duplicative provisions, and (iii) improve the structure and clarity of statutes pertaining to real and personal property in the Commonwealth.” Overall, the Report can serve as a comprehensive reference manual to assist in the transition to Title 55.1.

For example, the Report details the complete reorganization of all provisions of Title 55. After October 1, 2019, they will fall under five new Subtitles in Title 55.1:

  • Subtitle I. Property Conveyances
  • Subtitle II. Real Estate Settlements and Recordation
  • Subtitle III. Rental Conveyances
  • Subtitle IV. Common Interest Communities
  • Subtitle V. Miscellaneous

(Report 1-467.) As mentioned above, the recodification also moves some former provisions of Title 55 into other areas of the Code (Report 523-564), and deletes some provisions that were found to be unnecessary or obsolete (Report ix). Furthermore, the recodification makes technical and grammatical corrections throughout the new Title 55.1 (Report x-xii).

Finally, substantive changes are also made to Title 55 in certain areas, and these too are addressed in detail in the Report. When such changes are made, a drafting note will also be included in the affected section. In addition to the provisions that were deleted, substantive changes made to Title 55 include:

  • Updating the titling conventions in former Chapter 3 (“Property Rights of Married Women” changed to “Property Rights of Married Persons”);
  • Adding a new section, § 54.1-2345.1, to the former Chapter 29 (§ 55-528 et seq.) (Common Interest Community Management Information Fund) to further clarify the definition of common interest communities; and
  • Revising former Sections 55-169, 55-175, 55-310, and 55-324.

While these new substantive provisions will certainly be of note to some practitioners, the reorganization of Title 55 will likely have the most routine and repeated impact.  Many will ask, “How do I find the new citation?” The Report contains three recodification tables that help answer this question.  Appendix A compares each new provision of Title 55.1 to its Title 55 analog. Appendix B does the inverse, providing the new Code provision for each former provision of Title 55. Finally, Appendix C shows where former provisions of Title 55 have been relocated elsewhere in the Code, or when they have been repealed without replacement.  Each table is available below:

For example, assume you have a credit line deed of trust that makes reference to Virginia Code § 55-58.2. After October 1, 2019, this statutory reference will require updating. One way to easily find the new provision is to search the old code section – § 55-58.2 – in Appendix B, which will show that the recodified section is Virginia Code § 55.1-318.

Of course, a systemic change like the recodification of Title 55 will have many impacts.  Some, like the above, can be easily resolved, while others may be unforeseen or more challenging to address.

If you have any questions or want to discuss any of the implications of recodification further, I would be happy to speak with you or connect you with one of the other members of our Commercial Real Estate or Community Associations practice groups.