The following is a partial list of laws recently signed, in the state of California, that take effect as of January 1, 2016. These laws can be found on the state government site at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml
SB 328, Hueso. Landlords: notice of pesticide use.
(a) Existing law requires licensed pest control operators to provide to tenants written notification that includes the pest to be targeted, the pesticide to be used, the frequency of its use, and a health and safety statement prior to a pesticide application.
(b) Landlords or authorized agents may apply pesticides without using the services of a licensed pest control operator. There is no requirement for landlords or authorized agents to notify tenants when pesticides are applied to their units or common areas.
(c) It is therefore the intent of this bill to ensure that when pesticides are about to be applied to rental property by the landlord or an authorized agent, rather than by a licensed pest control operator, potentially affected tenants are provided with substantially the same written notification that they would have received under existing law had the pesticides been applied by a pest control operator.
SB 761, Hall. Advertising: Internet private residence rental listings: notice.
This bill requires a hosting platform, as defined, to provide a specific notice to an occupant listing a residence for short-term rental on a hosting platform that states, among other things, that, if the occupant is a tenant, listing the room, home, condominium, or apartment may violate the lease or contract and could result in legal action by the landlord, including possible eviction.
This bill requires the notice to be in a particular font size and be provided immediately before the occupant lists each real property on the hosting platform’s Internet Web site in a manner that requires the occupant to interact with the hosting platform’s Internet Web site to affirmatively acknowledge he or she has read the notice.
SB 655, Mitchell. Housing standards: mold.
This bill provides that a lessor is not obligated to repair a dilapidation relating to mold, as specified, until he or she has notice of it or if the tenant is in violation of specified affirmative obligations. The bill authorizes a landlord to enter a dwelling to repair a dilapidation relating to mold, under specified conditions.
This bill specifies that visible mold growth, excepting mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their proper and intended use, is a type of inadequate sanitation and therefore a substandard condition. The bill defines mold as microscopic organisms or fungi that can grow in damp conditions in the interior of a building. By expanding the definition of a crime, this bill imposes state-mandated local programs.
AB 418, Chiu. Tenancy: termination: victims of violent crime.
Existing law, until January 1, 2016, authorizes a tenant to notify the landlord in writing that he or she or a household member, as defined, was a victim of an act of domestic violence or sexual assault and that the tenant intends to terminate the tenancy. Existing law requires that the tenant attach to the notice to terminate a tenancy a copy of a temporary restraining order or protective order that protects the tenant or household member from further domestic violence or sexual assault or to attach a report by a peace officer stating that the tenant or household member has filed a report alleging he or she or the household member is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Existing law authorizes the use of a tenant’s security deposit to compensate a landlord for a tenant’s default in the payment of rent. Existing law provides that existing law governing security deposits applies to these terminations.
This bill extends these provisions indefinitely and reduces the time limit for a tenant to give a notice of intent to vacate to the landlord under these provisions from 30 days to 14 days.
SB 600, Pan. Discrimination: citizenship: language: immigration status.
Existing law finds and declares that all protections, rights, and remedies available under state law, except any reinstatement remedy prohibited by federal law, are available to all individuals regardless of immigration status who have applied for employment, or who are or who have been employed, in this state. Existing law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, provides that all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are entitled to full and equal accommodations in all business establishments regardless of their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation.
This bill extends the protections of the Unruh Civil Rights Act to persons regardless of citizenship, primary language, or immigration status. The bill would specify that those protections do not require the provision of services or documents in a language other than English, beyond that which is otherwise required by law.
AB 1448, Lopez. Personal energy conservation: real property restrictions.
This bill requires a landlord to permit a tenant to utilize a clothesline or drying rack, as defined, approved by the landlord in the tenant’s private area, as defined, if certain conditions are met, including, among others, that the clothesline or drying rack will not interfere with the maintenance of the rental property and the use of the clothesline or drying rack does not violate reasonable time or location restrictions imposed by the landlord.
Laws from 2014-2015
SB 196 – Landlords Required to Provide Specific Utility Rate Schedules
Existing law requires the owner of a master-metered mobile home park or apartment building to post in a conspicuous place the prevailing residential utilities rate schedule as published by the utility service provider. SB 196 amends Section 798.40 of the Civil Code so that beginning January 1, 2014, owners of master-metered mobilehome parks, apartment buildings or similar residential complexes must post in a conspicuous place the applicable specific current residential gas or electrical rate schedule published by the utility service provider only if the owner or manager separately bills the residents for gas or electricity. Alternatively, the landlord (or management) may post the Internet Website address of the specific current residential utility rate schedule. If the landlord or management chooses to post the Internet Website address, they are also required to: (1) provide a copy of the specific current residential utility rate schedule, upon request, at no cost; and (2) state in the posting that a homeowner may request a copy of the rate schedule from management.
Furthermore, SB 196 amends Section 739.5 of the Public Utilities Code so that landlords who provide gas or electric service, (or both) in a master-metered apartment building shall charge each tenant of the service the same rate that would be charged if the tenant were receiving gas or electricity directly from the gas or electrical corporation. Long standing law prohibits landlords from “marking-up” the utility rates, but may charge the tenant a reasonable service fee.
SB 488 – Code Enforcement Officers May Now Determine Substandard Housing
As of January 1, 2014, infestations of insects, vermin, or rodents and inadequate garbage storage and removal facilities may now be determined by a local code enforcement officer where the city does not have an agreement or the resources to contract for county health services. In other words, local code enforcement officers will now be authorized to conduct pest and garbage inspections. Previously, only county health inspectors were allowed to conduct health related inspections.
Property owners will not be cited by both local and county enforcement agencies for the same violation regarding infestations or inadequate garbage storage or removal.
SB 612 – Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking
Currently, Civil Code 1946.7 permits a tenant to terminate their tenancy upon 30 days’ notice where they notify the landlord, in writing, that he or she (or a household member) is a victim of an act of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or elder abuse. This revision expands the categories of individuals who may terminate their tenancy under the code by adding “victims of human trafficking” as a newly protected class. Additionally, it expands the type of documentation a tenant may use to establish their claim of abuse.
While the current law requires victims to present the landlord with either a court order (restraining Order) or a police report, this revision expands the category of acceptable evidence to to include health practitioner (physician, surgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist, registered nurse, licensed clinical social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist or licensed profession clinical counselor) or a “qualified third party” based on information received by that third party while acting in his or her professional capacity to indicate that the tenant or household member is seeking assistance for physical or mental injuries or abuse resulting from an act of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, elder abuse, or dependent adult abuse”.
Of course, that begs the question as to who or what, exactly, constitutes a “qualified third person”. SB 612 defines a “qualified third person” as one “…who meets the requirements for a sexual assault counselor, domestic violence counselor, or a human trafficking caseworker (as defined in state law)only if the documentation displays the letterhead of the office, hospital, institution, center, or organization, as appropriate, that engages or employs, whether financially compensated or not, this counselor or caseworker.”
The law also prohibits a landlord from terminating a tenancy, or failing to renew a tenancy of a victim if: 1) documented by a police report or protective court order; and, 2) the wrongdoer is not a tenant of the same dwelling unit. The landlord, however, may terminate the tenancy if, after invoking protection under this law, the tenant allows the wrongdoer named in the police report or protective order to visit the property, or the landlord reasonably believes that the wrongdoer poses a physical threat to other tenants or to the tenants’ right to quiet possession.
Finally, SB 612 also prohibits landlords from disclosing any information provided by a tenant to a third party unless the disclosure is consented to in writing or is required by law or an order of the court.
While the addition of the category “victims of human trafficking” has no expiration date, the additional “qualified third party” documentation protection is set to expire December 31, 2015. My experience leads me to believe that it will still be with us after that date.
SB 745 – Smoke Detectors Specifications Changed
A couple months ago, I wrote an article about this law which generated a bit of confusion among landlords due to the fact that my article was written prior to, but published after changes were made to the law after it was initially passed.
The way the law was originally passed, beginning on January 1, 2014, the State Fire Marshal would not approve a smoke alarm unless it was capable of doing all of the following: (1) displays the date of manufacture on the device; (2) provides a place on the device to display the date of installation; and (3) incorporate a hush feature; incorporate an end-of-life feature that provides notice that the device needs to be replaced. However, the law was amended to reflect that and these features will not be required until July 1, 2015 and, in fact, the “end-of-life” feature has been eliminated entirely.
However, as of July 1, 2014, the State Fire Marshall will not approve a battery-operated smoke alarm unless it contains a non-replaceable, non-removable 10 year battery. An exception to this rule applies to smoke alarms ordered by, or in the inventory of, an owner, managing agent, contractor, wholesaler, or retailer on or before July 1, 2014. However, the exception only lasts until July 1, 2015, at which time all devices used in the rental units will be required to meet the standards set forth above.