California landlords should be aware of the new real estate and rental housing laws for 2013. Below is a list compiled by the California Apartment Association.
Security Deposits ‐ AB 1679 (Bonilla)
This CAA sponsored law, allows landlords to deposit – with the tenant’s agreement‐ any remaining portion of a tenant’s security deposit directly to a bank account designated by the tenant. The law also allows landlords to provide a copy of the itemized security deposit statement along with the supporting documents and receipts to an e‐mail account if provided and authorized by the tenant. Note: Landlord and Tenant cannot agree to electronic deposit or emailed itemized statement until after either party has served a notice of termination.
Abandoned Personal Property– AB 2521 (Blumenfield)
The law increases from $300 to $700 the value of a departing tenant’s abandoned personal property that triggers the requirement to hold a public sale before disposing of the personal property. Once the statutory notice period has passed, if the value of the property is less than $700, the landlord may dispose of the property in any manner or retain it for his/her own use.
- The tenant now has a two day grace period to retrieve the property without storage charges if the property is stored on the premises.
- Specific notice language must be included in 30/60/90 day notices and certain other forms.
Animals – SB 1229 (Pavley)
This law prohibits a landlord who allows a tenant to have an animal on the premises, from advertising or establishing rental policies that require a tenant or a potential tenant with an animal to have that animal declawed or devocalized as a condition of occupancy.
Rental Payments: Cash and Electronic Funds – SB 1055 (Lieu)
This law prohibits a landlord from requiring tenants to utilize electronic funds transfer (EFT) or cash as the only options for the payment of rent or a security deposit. Other options for payments must be offered.
Note: Owner can still require cash payment for three months after a check has been returned for insufficient funds or stop payment.
Failure to Disclose New Owner – AB 1953 (Ammiano)
The law prohibits a property owner from proceeding with an eviction for non‐payment of rent during the time that the owner is out of compliance with the legal notice provisions. Under existing law, Owner/agent must provide the tenant with the owner/agent’s name and the location where rent is to be paid (within 15 days of taking ownership). AB 1953 does not relieve the tenant from the duty to pay rent based on the new owner/agent’s failure to provide timely notice.
Smoke Detectors – SB 1394 (Lowenthal)
The law requires that on or before January 1, 2016, an owner must ensure that smoke alarms are located in each residential rental bedroom. Those smoke alarms may be battery operated.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors – SB 183 (Lowenthal)
California’s Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 requires that all residential property be equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm when the property has a “fossil fuel” burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage. The law provides that,
- All single‐family detached homes (owner or tenant occupied) must be equipped with an alarm on or before July 1, 2011.
- All other residential units must be equipped with an alarm on or before January 1, 2013.
Domestic Violence – SB 1403 (Yee)
California law gives a tenant a number of protections and options when he/she is a victim of domestic violence.
- Protection against termination if perpetrator is not a tenant in the same dwelling unit as the victim;
- Right to have locks changed;
- Right to terminate a lease if specific documentation is provided to the landlord;
- SB 1403 extends these protections to abused seniors and dependent adults. It also adds permanent restraining orders to the types of documentation that can be used to establish the victim’s rights.
Foreclosures – SB 1191 (Simitian) & AB 2610 (Skinner)
These laws provide protections for tenants in the unit at the time of foreclosure.
- 90‐day notices for month‐to‐month tenancies.
- Long‐term lease continues until end of term, with exceptions such as new owner will be moving in; rent is substantially below market; the lease was created between family members, or the lease was not the result of an “arms‐length transaction.” In these cases, a 90‐day notice is required to terminate.
A property owner who has received a Notice of Default from the bank must disclose this fact to any new tenants.
Disability Access – SB 1186 (Steinberg & Dutton)
Among other things, this law prohibits an attorney or any person from issuing a pre-litigation demand for money to a building owner and reduces potential damages for owners who are bringing the property into compliance with ADA requirements and meet certain other conditions.
By Debra Carlton, CAA Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Heidi Palutke, CAA Research Counsel
For more info, visit www.caanet.org