Here’s a simple list of the most significant landlord-tenant law changes that will affect the East Bay, at least from the state level, in 2016. Remember, city and municipal regulations may affect some of these rulings, too.
1) AirBnB Warnings– This one really affects AirBnB and users of AirBnB and similar online rental services, themselves, rather than the landlords or management companies, but it’s worth pointing out. As of January 1st, AIRBnB and similar service will be required to warn tenants of possible violations for subletting and short term rental restrictions. It’s a good time for you to review your own contracts. Many HOAs outrightly forbid short-term rentals, but if you’re not part of one, now is a good time to review your contracts and the policies your tenants are receiving.
2) Discrimination Based on Citizenship, Primary Language or Immigration Status– This is another pretty sweeping addition to the Unruh Civil Rights Law. In addition to sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation, landlords need to ignore citizenship, immigration status and primary language. Like always, it doesn’t require the provision of any services or documents in a language other than English unless required by law.
3) Clotheslines and Drying Racks– These are going to make a comeback one way or another. Landlords must permit clotheslines or drying racks in a tenant’s private enclosed areas, gardens or patios. These shouldn’t interfere with maintenance or cause any health or safety hazard, or interfere with walkways, but so long as tenants get consent before attaching them to a building they do need to be approved. Balconies, railings, awnings, and other structural parts of the building won’t cut it either.
4) Mold Notice– In short, if your tenants don’t tell you about it, they’re probably responsible. But with proper notice, you may be obligated to enter a dwelling to address a serious mold situation. Most of the obligation to prevent a mold outbreak is still with the tenant who need to maintain the cleanliness and habitability of any unit.
5) Notice of Pesticide Use– Landlords will be required to post notices when using foggers or aerosol sprays without a licensed pest control operator, unless the pest presents an imminent danger to inhabitants in which case the notice would need to be posted immediately. You also may need to notify tenants in adjoining units (above, beside or below).
6) Emergency Price Gouging– Essentially a response to situations that arose in areas affected by wildfires, this was intended to cap price hikes at hotels at no more than ten percent higher than prices. The law also applies to “housing” more generally. Though it’s not likely to affect in the Bay Area, it does apply to any declared emergency situation and applies for 30 days after the declared emergency.
7) Victims’ Right to Tenancy Termination– Tenants who are victims of, or who have family members who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse or human trafficking may terminate tenancy, with notice, in 14 days (the law reduces that notice period from 30 days). The tenant will need to attach a copy of a temporary restraining order or protective order to any notice of intent to vacate, but they would then be responsible only for that 14 day period.
Of course, there are other changes, especially at the local level. The City of Richmond, for example, has adopted a rent control and just-cause-for-eviction ordinance. That one is sure to ring some alarm bells for property managers and landlords – even across the north of the Bay Area. And it’s not going to be a simple compliance issue.
But also worth noting are a number of regulatory changes that affect common use developments, in regards to use of recycled water, landscape irrigation and artificial grass especially. Most of these changes are primarily of concern to development and property managers, as well as to HOA managers. We’re working now to communicate with our property managers in the event that changes or notifications are necessary leading up to January 1st when most of these changes go into effect.
We don’t offer legal advice. Butour property management teamworks with a legal team so that all of our people are communicating the right information about compliance changes, recommendations and requirements. If you’re concerned about bringing your East Bay rental properties up to code, or about better managing them in general, we’d be happy to hear from you.