Category Archives: CA Legislative Update

California Legislative Update (2017) – AB 291 Prohibits Landlord Threats and Actions Based on Immigration Status

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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.

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SB 985 – Closing the “Loophole” in Costa-Hawkins

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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..

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Assembly Members Chiu, Bonta, Gonzalez Fletcher and Kalra Introduce AB 291 – A Bill Amending Landlord-Tenant Law for Heightened Protections Relating to Immigration Status

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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.

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Assembly Member Bonta Introduces AB 423 – Amendment to Prohibit Use of Ellis Act on SRO Units in Oakland

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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.

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California Legislative Update (2016): Amendment to Petris Act with Respect to Costa-Hawkins Exempt Tenancies

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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.

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Payment of Rent To Maintain Defense to Unlawful Detainers

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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.

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California Legislative Update (2016): SB 655 Creates Heightened Standards for Dealing with Mold in Residential Rental Units

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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.

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New State Law on Installation of Electric Car Charging Port for Renters

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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

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