New laws for rental property owners in 2019

There’s a lot to fall in love with the New Year. A clean slate and a fresh start, the feeling that everything is possible, and of course, the best parties.

Yet California wouldn’t be ringing the New Year in properly without a new set of laws for rental property owners to obey and we touch on some of them here.

Retiring water-wasting plumbing fixtures

The water-conservation requirements of Senate Bill 407 have been rolled out in stages and the last hurrah goes into effect January 1, 2019. Effective this New Year, owners of pre-1994 multifamily properties must bring any water-wasting toilets, showerheads or faucets up to specs. To avoid getting a knock on the door from the toilet police, make sure your plumbing fixtures are in compliance. 

Price gouging bans in natural disasters

In the wake of the tragic fires, now is a time for Californians to come together and help those in need, many of whom are in desperate need of housing. There have been a few bad apples, however, who have taken advantage of vulnerable people and that is why the Governor used executive powers to extend price gouging bans when further disasters ensued.

A great deal of confusion remained among studious landlords on how and when California’s price gouging protections would be applied. Although the attorney general attempted to provide guidance, it was the onus of the legislative branch to codify the disfavor of price gouging into law, and they rose to the occasion.

Assembly Bill 1919 criminalizes rent increases north of 10% after a state emergency is declared. It also makes it illegal for landlords to evict a tenant after the proclamation of a state emergency and then rent the newly vacant unit at a higher rental price than the tenant could be charged.

Battery backup is required with automatic garage doors

The fire season also exposed several vulnerabilities and underscored the need to be proactive in adopting policies that save lives. This was the inspiration behind SB 969, a law that prohibits landlords and other property owners from installing automatic garage doors unless they have a battery backup function designated to operate during electrical outages.

Landlord culpability in cannabis growing

We have predicted that after the people spoke by legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, there would be a lot of wrinkles to be ironed out in city halls and in the courts, but the concerns of landlords have been taken into consideration.

Thanks to new revisions to Bill 2164, unsuspecting owners will not be held liable and will not face immediate fines for the illegal cultivation of marijuana by their tenants when the landlord has prohibited the illegal activity and had no knowledge that the tenant was cultivating cannabis. This has been a recurring issue for landlords who house tenants who violate local laws and avoid fines by simply picking up and moving their operations elsewhere.

Tenants are given more time to respond to resolve unlawful detainer actions.

Beginning in September 2019, tenants facing eviction will be extended deadlines to pay past due rent or defend against an unlawful detainer action. When a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit or 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit are given, Assembly Bill 2343 allows tenants three court days to comply, rather than just three calendar days. In effect, weekends and holidays will not be counted towards the statutory limits. Moreover, the bill affords tenants five court days to file a response to an eviction lawsuit, versus the previous window of just five calendar days.

Rent collection

There are a variety of third parties who may pay rent behalf of the tenant, such as family members or caretakers, social service agencies, or programs created by local jurisdictions or nonprofits. Many landlords have been reluctant to accept these payments for fear that a third party would claim a right to possession of the unit. Assembly Bill 2219 aims to assuage these concerns by allowing landlords to require a third party sign a document certifying that the transaction does not make them a tenant.

Ensuring balconies are safe

Do you have a deck, balcony, or elevated walkway of more than 6 feet above ground level in a property with 3 or more multifamily units? If the answer is in the affirmative, Senate Bill 721 mandates that a licensed inspector stop by to ensure the structures are up to par so that these valuable open spaces do not create injury or death when a tenant enjoys a respite from cramped apartment life.

Right to call police

“People should be able to call for help without fear of losing their home,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, the chief sponsor of Assembly Bill 2413, which prohibits local agencies from penalizes property owners or residents if they call law enforcement. The law also makes it illegal for landlords to evict tenants simply because they call authorities for help.

Start 2019 on the right footing

The above laws are not exhaustive and there is sure to be more rules in the offing for investment property owners, but MT Evictions is committed to helping you stay in the know. Even as we keep an eye on the big picture, we are able to manage the more mundane issues that landlords encounter. Contact us today.