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.