Effective January 1, 2002, SB 985 amended the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act to “close the loophole” allowing owners of apartment buildings to obtain a final public map for subdivision of an apartment building, never actually sell any units as condominiums. This would permit them to avoid local rent control ordinances that would otherwise apply to the apartment units, on the theory that the building now contained separately alienable units exempted under Costa-Hawkins. SB 985 amended Costa-Hawkins to require that condominiums be sold separately to bona fide purchasers for value. It is analyzed extensively in the case City of West Hollywood v. 1112 Investments Co..
The Sacramento Bee reports that Assembly Member Bloom has changed AB 1506 to a two-year bill. Bloom cited the fact that “rent-control policies can be complicated” and expressed a desire for more time “to construct a policy that is responsible and addresses our specific needs today and not of decades past”.
Assembly Members Chiu, Bonta, Gonzalez Fletcher and Karla have introduced AB 291 – a bill aimed at creating heightened protections for tenants relating to their immigration status. Specifically, a landlord is prohibited from harassing, intimidating or retaliating against a tenant on this basis, including by reporting their status (or the status of someone associated with them) to an enforcement agency. Landlords are also prohibited from even performing certain investigations relating to immigration status after the commencement of a tenancy, where violations create rebuttable presumptions in favor of a substantive defense to an eviction lawsuit.
The text of AB 291 as it currently exists is available here.
Assembly Member Bonta has introduced AB 423 – an effort to amend the Ellis Act to prohibit the withdrawing of SRO (single room occupancy) buildings in Oakland. The Ellis Act already contains such a prohibition as to any city with at least a million residents and any city that is also a county. This latter restriction is perhaps a deft reference to the City and County of San Francisco – the only such city in the state of California. The amendment would specifically reference Oakland, which has a population under half a million.
The Petris Act (Cal. Civ., §§1947.7,1947.8), adopted in 1986, requires administrative certification of rent levels by rent control agencies that require the registration of rent.
SB 775 amends Section 1947.8 to exclude tenancies exempted from rent registration by Costa-Hawkins, adopted in 1996 and phased in by 1999. The California Legislature was concerned about savvy and unscrupulous landlords/tenants applying for certification of incorrect rent levels and creating a state-sanctioned rental rate estoppel certificate. By limiting the exclusion to post-1999 tenancies, the amendments serve as a compromise between vacancy decontrol and the rights conferred by the Petris Act.
California AB 2312 is an effort to add a “rent payment bond” requirement for maintaining a defense to evictions based on failure to pay rent. The bill, authored by Assemblymen Gatto, is still under consideration, and has been criticized for conditioning a tenant’s right to counsel upon payment of rent. (The funds must be deposited into their attorney’s trust account, and the requirement wouldn’t apply if the tenant was not represented.) On the other hand, a common defense to non-payment unlawful detainer cases is a claim of habitability violations. And, if a tenant were to prevail – sometimes by even a small amount – the rent demand would exceed what the landlord was ultimately entitled to, and the landlord would lose and have to start again. A requirement like this would at least help ensure that these defenses were not pretextual.
SB 655, effective January 1, 2016, will place a stronger emphasis on the existence of mold in regulating standards for habitability in residential rental property. Existing law already required landlords to ensure that property was habitable when initially leased to a tenant and to “repair all subsequent dilapidations thereof”. It also allowed tenants to “repair and deduct” from their rent if landlords were not timely addressing these problems.
Out of a concern for the detrimental health consequences of mold in the home, the California legislature added California Civil Code §1941.7, which explicitly adds mold to the list of habitability concerns that implicate these rights and obligations.
Section 1941.7 works a compromise for landlords, however, where obligations do not arise where either the landlord has no notice or the tenant has failed to keep the unit clean and sanitary. The statute also adds mold to the list of reasons a landlord can notice entry into a rental unit for inspection.
California Civil Code §1947.6 goes into effect this week. For residential leases entered, extended or renewed as of July 1st, landlords will have to make certain accommodations to tenants with electric vehicles, to allow them to charge on-site. This section was added to the Civil Code by A.B. 2565 last year, which also added a companion statute – section 1952.7 – that prohibits unreasonable limitations on electric car charging ports for commercial tenancies as of January 1st.
The full text of the new statutes is below:
Continue reading New State Law on Installation of Electric Car Charging Port for Renters