Realtors and Resident Managers Obtaining Default Judgments; Preparing and Filing Unlawful Detainers or Warrants in Debt.

I am writing in response to your letter of January 14, 1993 requesting an Unauthorized Practice of Law advisory opinion dealing with the extent to which Virginia Code Section 55-246.1 abrogates the unauthorized practice of law rules.

You have indicated that the statute provides that realtors and their resident managers may ìobtainî default judgments for possession and for rent or damages in General District Court. You have inquired as to whether or not this language authorizes these persons to file the unlawful detainer or warrant in debt.

The Committee considered your inquiry at its February 11 and March 5, 1993 meetings and has directed me to transmit its conclusions to you.

Although the Committee is not empowered to interpret statutory provisions, the members reviewed the language of the section you cite and believe that the pertinent language permitting a non-lawyer to obtain a default judgment in the circumstances described is not synonymous with the activities enumerated in §1.1-88.03, which permits those same individuals to prepare and file such documents in General District Court on behalf of an employer. [emphasis added] See UPL Opinions 144 and 154. Thus, it appears to the Committee that §55-246.1 does not permit an agent to prepare and file such documents although such activities would not be improper if carried out by an individual who meets the requirements of §1.1-88.03. The Committee respectfully suggests that any further definition of the use of the word “obtain??? in the statute would appropriately be an inquiry made of the Attorney General.

Thus, the Committee believes that there is no contradiction between the two statutory provisions and, further, no abrogation of the unauthorized practice rules [UPRs] by activities authorized under those statutory provisions. In addition, the Committee is of the opinion that the plain language of the introductory clause of §55-246.1 [ìNotwithstanding any rule of court to the contraryî] similarly recognizes the statutory authorization of the non-lawyer to carry out those activities irrespective of any general prohibitions contained in the UPRs.

Committee Opinion
March 5, 1993


Updated: Aug 14, 2006