2019 Laws Affecting Real Estate

New Response Time to Eviction Lawsuits / 3 Day Notices: Effective September 1, 2019, when counting the 3 day period for notices to pay rent or quit, or the 3 day period for notices to perform covenant or quit, or the 5-day deadline to respond to an Unlawful Detainer (eviction) lawsuit, exclude weekends and holidays.

Landlord Required to Accept Rent from Third Parties: Landlords must allow a tenant to pay rent through a third party providing the third party signs an acknowledgment that he/she is not currently a tenant of the premises and that acceptance of the rent payment does not create a new tenancy with the third party.

Inspection of Decks, Balconies, Stairways, and Walkways: Decks, balconies, stairways, and walkways (in buildings with 3 or more dwelling units) must be inspected by a properly licensed professional by 2025; subsequent inspections are required every 6 years; and the owner must perform any necessary repairs.

Commercial Property Abandonment: A commercial landlord may serve, by overnight courier, a Notice of Belief of Abandonment after the rent is unpaid for three days (or more, depending on the lease).

Commercial Property – Disposal of Tenant’s Personal Property: This new law increases the threshold calculation (to determine whether a public sale of a tenant’s personal property is required) of the estimated value of items left behind after a commercial tenant vacates to the greater of $2,500 or one month’s rent.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: This new law eliminates the rent control exemption to the requirement that a landlord permit (subject to the landlord’s procedural approval process) installation of an Electric Vehicle Charging Station (EVCS) at a parking space allotted for the tenant.

Law Enforcement and Emergency Assistance: This new law expands protections for victims of domestic violence, and other types of abuse, against eviction, fines, or penalties for contacting law enforcement or seeking 9-1-1 emergency assistance to respond to incidents of domestic violence or abuse.

Price Gouging and Eviction During a Declared Emergency: This new law retains the 10% maximum rent increase during declared state of emergencies (such as major fires), and makes it illegal to evict a tenant during a declared state of emergency or any extension (except for specific just causes), and bars a landlord from offering to rent to another person at a higher price.

HOAs: Financial Review on a Monthly Basis and Anti-Fraud Precautions: This new law requires HOA Boards to review on a monthly basis the Association’s accounts and reserves; requires maintenance of fidelity bond coverage for directors, officers, and employees equal to three months’ reserves; and requires a manager to obtain written Board approval before transferring Association funds of $10,000 or more.

New Real Estate Agency Terminology: Real estate agency terminology will be simplified: (1) The “Listing Agent” will be called “Seller’s Agent,” and (2) the “Selling Agent” will be called “Buyer’s Agent.”

2016 Laws Affecting Real Estate

Mold/Habitatility Standards: A building will be deemed legally substandard for infestation of mold (microscopic organism and fungi that grow in damp conditions) if visible mold growth (as determined by a health/code enforcement officer) endangers the property occupants’ health. A landlord will not be obligated to repair mold dilapidation if he/she does not have notice of it or if the tenant is in substantial violation of the duty to keep the property clean and sanitary thereby substantially contributing to the mold.

“Hosting Platforms” (such as Airbnb) Must Provide Written Warning: A “hosting platform” (such as Airbnb) must provide a specific written warning to a tenant that subletting the tenant’s residence may violate his/her lease and could result in eviction of the tenant for illegal subletting of the rental unit.

Victim’s Right to Terminate Tenancy on 14 Days Notice: A tenant may terminate a tenancy if he/she is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse, or human trafficking by a house-mate. The victim’s termination notice period may be as short as 14 days.

Clotheslines or Drying Racks: A landlord must permit a tenant to utilize a clothesline or drying rack approved by the landlord in the tenant’s private area, so long as the clothesline or drying rack does not interfere with the maintenance of the rental property, create a health hazard, block driveways, or interfere with walkways or utility service equipment. The tenant must seek the landlord’s consent before affixing a clothesline to a building. “Private area” can include an outdoor area or an area in the tenant’s premises enclosed by a wall or fence with access from a door of the premises.

Notice of Pesticide Use: A landlord must post a statutory notice of pesticide use on the premises if the landlord or landlord’s agent applies any pesticide to the property without a licenses pest control operator. A similar notice must also be posted at least 24 hours prior to application of any pesticide to a common area without a licensed pest control operator, unless the pest poses an immediate threat to health/safety, in which case the notice must be posted as soon as practicable, but not later than one hour after the pesticide is applied.

Rent Control in Richmond: Richmond, CA now has a Rent Control and Just-Cause-for-Eviction ordinance.

Water Use: New laws: (a) make void and unenforceable common interest development prohibitions against use of artificial grass (b) make void and unenforceable common interest development requirement that an owner remove or reverse water-efficient landscaping measures installed in response to a declaration of a state of emergency (c) prohibit cities/sounties from enacting or enforcing any law that prohibits the installation of drought tolerant landscaping or artificial grass on residential property (d) prohibit a city or county from imposing a fine for a failure to water a lawn or having a brown lawn during a declared drought emergency.

Discrimination Based upon Citizenship, Primary Language, or Immigration Status: The protections of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (applicable to property owners offering commercial or residential units for rent, sellers in the business of selling properties, and real estate licenses) are extended to encompass discrimination based upon citizenship, primary language, and immigration status.

New Laws for 2015 Affecting Real Estate

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Short Term Vacation Rentals (San Francisco Only):

Legislation allowing short-term rentals (through Airbnb and the like) was approved by the Board of Supervisors and will become effective in February 2015. The new law allows tenants or owners to rent their “primary residence” on a limited basis for a period of less than 30 days to overnight guests, but such providers must (amongst other things) register with the City


Tenacy Buy-Outs (San Francisco Only):

Under this new legislation, a landlord must, before commencing buyout negotiations, disclose to the tenant that the tenant (1) has a right tonot enter into a buyout agreement (2) may consult an attorney or the San Francisco Rent Board, and (3) may rescind a buyout agreement for up to 45 days. Landlords must also file with the Rent Board copies of all signed buyout agreements, which then become public record. Tenancy buyouts may also bar a building from being converted into the future into condominiums (under certains circumstances).


Security Deposits:

Under this new law, landlords and tenants can agree to use electronic communications for some notices (including Notice of Right to Inspection Prior to Termination of Tenancy), discussions, and agreements reached regarding security deposits. However, notice and itemization of the security deposit’s disposition must still be made to the tenant by either personal delivery or first class mail.


Agency Disclosure Expanded:

Under this new law, disclosure obligations regarding real estate agency relationships are extended to the sale or lease, for more than one year, of commercial real property (including vacant land and industrial property) and residential property containing over four units. Such obligations currently exist only for sales of 1-4 unit residential properties and residential leases exceeding one year.


Mortgage Debt Forgiveness:

Under this new law, California’s exclusion of taxation of mortgage debt forgiveness for qualified principal residence indebtedness is extended (retroactively) until the end of 2013, in partial conformity with the federal Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007.


Document Bundling; HOA fees:

Under this new law. “document bundling” in the sale of units in a common interest development (for example, condos) is prohibited. (“Document bundling” means requiring the purchase of a package of documents together with the legally mandated disclosures.) A seller will also be required to provide a prospective purchaser with all mandated documents, free of charge to the publisher.


Property Tax Exclusion for Adding Solar Energy System:

This new law extends a solar tax exemption for new solar energy systems until 2025, precluding a property tax increase for adding a solar energy system.


HOA’s and Landlords Must Permit Personal Agriculture:

Under this new law, landlords must permit tenants to engage in personal agriculture in landlord-approved portable containers in the tenant’s private rental area if certain conditions are met. The new law invalidates any provision of an HOA governing document that directly or indirectly prohibits or unreasonably restricts the use of a homeowner’s backyard for personal agriculture.


Brokers No Record Retention Requirement for Text Messages and Tweets:

Under this new law, a Real Estate Broker’s 3-year record retention requirement generally excludes texts, instant messages and tweets.