In 2009, the Second District issued the opinion Palmer/Sixth Street Properties, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 1396, which vindicated a Los Angeles developer’s challenge to the city’s development plan requiring “vacancy control” for new rental units built in a development project that would remove 60 units of low income housing. The developer contended that the ordinance was preempted by Costa-Hawkins and, that even though Costa-Hawkins did create a carve out where a city provides density bonuses, the developer was not even building to authorized density. The Palmer court noted that, “the issue is whether requiring Palmer’s involuntary compliance with section 11.C’s affordable housing requirements is hostile or inimical to Palmer’s right under the Costa–Hawkins Act to establish the initial rental rates for the project’s dwelling units. We conclude that it is”.
Effective January 1, 2018, AB 1505, referred to as the “Palmer fix”, now authorizes cities to adopt ordinances that require, as a condition of development, that the development include a certain percentage of below-market rate rental units (or alternatives for in-lieu fees or off-site units).
San Francisco has had density bonus “accessory dwelling unit” ordinances, that provide property owners to exceed density limits in adding additional units, on the condition that they record agreements to subject the units to the Rent Ordinance. In response to AB 1505, the Board of Supervisors is also working on implementing the Palmer fix at the local level, with several changes to the Planning Code to amend the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.
Today, AB 1506 – the Assembly Bill aiming to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, failed to obtain the necessary votes to get out of the Housing and Community Development Committee. Costa-Hawkins prevents cities from imposing “strict” vacancy control (i.e., maintaining rental rates even after all tenants vacate) and it exempts certain kinds of property (like single family homes, condominiums and “new construction”) from price controls.
AB 1506 would simply have repealed Sections 1954.50, et seq. of the Civil Code, eliminating the preemptive state law, but it fell one vote short of the necessary four. Another repeal effort, styled as The Affordable Housing Act, may be headed to voters this November, if it obtains the necessary signatures by a June 28, 2018 deadline.
AB 291 now imposes broad restrictions against threats by landlords (and attorneys) relating to immigration status. In addition to now making it lawful to “Threaten to disclose information regarding or relating to the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant, occupant, or other person known to the landlord to be associated with a tenant or occupant”, the new law also provides for defenses to unlawful detainer actions where the tenant can establish that the landlord filed the action because of the tenants immigration status.
In fact, a tenant may establish this by showing that the action is based on any of the following:
(A) The failure at any time of a previously approved tenant or occupant to provide a valid social security number.
(B) The failure at any time of a previously approved tenant or occupant to provide information required to obtain a consumer credit report under Section 1785.11 of the Civil Code.
(C) The failure at any time of a previously approved tenant or occupant to provide a form of identification deemed acceptable by the landlord.
As some of these may innocuously relate to the landlord’s ability to verify the creditworthiness of their renters, both property managers and practitioners will want to be cautious in crafting three day notices as unlawful detainer complaints.
The full text of AB 291 is available here.
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.