California’s 2014 Laws – Part I

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Rental Property Owners’ Guide to California’s 2014 Laws and Regulations


Part I

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part article. Part II will appear in next month’s Apartment Journal.

In 2014, the Association’s lobbying team and California Political Consulting Group (CalPCG) identified and tracked over 130 rental property-related legislative bills that were introduced by various members of the California Legislature. The tracked bills comprised roughly seven percent of all the bills that were introduced in the Legislature in 2014.

Of the 130 bills tracked, 73 were considered “Tier One” top priority bills because of their potential to seriously hurt the interests of rental property owners.

These Tier One bills included bills like the “Ellis Act” bills, which sought to limit the right of rental property owners to go out of business; and AB 2561, the “Food Crop” bill by Assembly Member Bradford, which would have given tenants unprecedented rights to grow potted food plants without regard to damage to the property.

Bills other than Tier One are considered “Tier Two” because they bear on the interests of rental property owners, but do not grossly change the rights or interests of rental property owners. Although Tier Two bills have a lower priority, they must be vigilantly tracked because of the potential for the author of the bill to introduce an amendment that can hurt the interests of property owners. Such was the case, for example, of SB 411 (Wolk).

We held an “opposed” or “opposed unless amended position” on 31 bills in 2014. Each of these bills either died or were amended in such a way as to remove our opposition. We also supported 11 bills. For all other tracked bills, we held a “watch” position, which simply means that we kept an eye on them.

Overall, despite another year of legislative attacks on the rights of rental property owners, our lobbying team successfully killed the most horrendous bills, while getting significant amendments on all other bills of importance. As such, 2014 marks the second year in a row in which no harmful rental property legislation was signed into law.

2014 Legislative Bills Signed Into Law

AB 319 (Campos) Eviction of Abuse Victims: Prohibits local agencies from forcing rental property owners to evict tenants who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, and elder or dependent adult abuse, or based upon the number of calls made by a person to an emergency response center.

AACSC’s Position: Watch. / Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

What to Know: The prior practice of some local governments was to force property owners to evict tenants even when they were victims of abuse. This legislation puts a stop to that practice. Nothing in this legislation, however, prevents a rental property owner from choosing to evict tenants for any lawful reason.

AB 513 (Fox) The “Squatters” Bill: The purpose of this bill is to provide an alternative eviction and trespass process when “squatters” are found living in vacant homes. This three-year pilot project allows owners of residential property or their agents in the cities of Palmdale, Lancaster, and Ukiah to register vacant real property with the local law enforcement agency and to execute, under penalty of perjury, a Declaration of Ownership of Residential Real Property. Once registered, police officers can order unauthorized persons living in the home to vacate within 48 hours and/or arrest and charge them with trespassing.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015. Impact of Lobbying Efforts:We wanted to assure that unlawful detainer complaints were not adversely affected.

How to Comply: The bill only applies to properties in Palmdale, Lancaster and Ukiah over the next three years. Property owners of vacant properties in those areas will be allowed to register qualified properties with local law enforcement. Once registered, police will be authorized to remove anyone to vacate the property within 48 hours’ notice. If there is a failure to vacate, the police may arrest the occupants and charge them with trespass. Another bill may be introduced next year to permit other cities to offer a similar program.

AB 1522 (Gonzalez) Employee Paid Sick Days: Employees who work in California for 30 or more days within a year are entitled to paid sick days, accrued at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. An employee would be entitled to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment. “Employee” does not include those covered by a qualifying collective bar gaining agreement, providers of in-home supportive services, and qualifying air carrier employees.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: July 1, 2015.

How to Comply: Unless a qualifying collective bargaining agreement exists, the bill applies to residential rental property owners and their employees. Because there are other important details to the bill not reflected herein, rental property owners should read the entire bill and familiarize themselves with all of the provisions. Ensure that your employees are provided with sick time consistent with the rules of the bill. Speak to an employment law attorney for advice.

AB 1657 (Gomez) Free Court Interpreters in All Civil Actions: The bill authorizes courts to provide a court interpreter in any civil action or proceeding at no cost to the parties, regardless of income of the parties.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

What to Know: The policy behind this law is to ensure court interpreter services are provided without barriers.

AB 1660 (Alejo) Non-Discrimination; Driver’s License: Current law allows undocumented persons to be issued a California driver’s license. This bill protects persons on the basis of having such a license from employment discrimination under the California Fair Housing and Employment Act.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

What to Know: The bill only applies to employment discrimination. It does not apply to housing discrimination or create a new protected class with respect to renting a dwelling unit. With that said, expect to see a bill addressing housing discrimination on the basis of an undocumented person’s driver’s license some time in the near future. For now, ensure that you or your business is not discriminating against any employee on the basis of his or her driver’s license status.

AB 1685 (Williams) Pest Control Notice by Email: Pest control operators are required to provide notice to property owners and tenants when pest control work is to be performed; for example, when chemicals are sprayed. This bill allows notice to be given via email if an email is provided.

AACSC’s Position: Watch. / Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

How to Comply: If owners and tenants want to be notified electronically about when pest control work is going to be performed, they may provide their email address to the pest control operator. It is not mandatory to provide your email.

AB 1690 (Gordon) New Rental Housing Land-Use Densities: Any city or county that does not identify adequate sites in its housing element must adopt a rezoning program to accommodate all of its very low and low-income housing needs on sites designated for mixed uses only if those sites allow for 100 percent residential use and require at least 50 percent residential floor area of a mixed use project.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

How to Comply: Members should get involved in local government housing element review process to assure that there are adequate sites for very low and low-income households. Involvement should include active participation with local government staff, stakeholders and city councils and board of include punitive or overly restrictive real estate ordinances.

AB 1710 (Dickenson) Data Breach: Current law requires a person or business that owns or licenses computerized data that includes personal information to notify any person whose personal information may have been compromised due to a breach of the security of the system. Under this bill, if the person or business providing the notification was the source of the breach, that person or business must offer to provide appropriate identity theft prevention and mitigation services, if any, to the affected person at no cost for not less than 12 months if the breach exposed or may have exposed certain kinds of personal information. The bill also bars any person or entity from selling an individual’s social security number, unless otherwise allowed under state and federal law.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

What to Know: This is a consumer protection bill that takes a small step toward helping people deal with security breaches involving their personal information, and protecting people’s social security number.

AB 1804 (Perea) Insurance; Notice of Lapse: Prohibits an insurance policy from lapsing or being terminated for nonpayment of a premium unless the insurer, at least ten days prior to the effective date of the lapse, termination, expiration, non-renewal or cancellation, gives notice to the policyholder.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

What to Know: Sometimes people are unaware that they have not paid their monthly insurance premium because, for example, their debit card on file with the insurance company expired. Whatever the reason, this reasonable consumer protection bill requires insurance companies to provide ten days’ notice prior to cancelling a policy, so as to prevent shock and surprise of an unexpected cancellation.

AB 1826 (Chesbro) Organic Waste Removal: Requires businesses, including multifamily residential dwellings (five units or more) that generate a certain amount of organic waste per week to arrange for recycling services for that organic waste. Organic waste is defined as food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste. Multifamily dwelling owners, however, are not required to arrange for organic waste recycling services for food waste generated by their tenants.

AACSC’s Position: Watch. Effective Date: (1) On and after April 1, 2016, a busi ness that generates eight cubic yards or more of organic waste per week shall  arrange for recycling services specifically for organic waste. (2) On and after Jan. 1, 2017, a business that generates four cubic yards or more of organic waste per week shall arrange for recycling services specifically for organic waste. The State holds discretion to require those generating two cubic yards of organic waste to arrange for recycling services by Jan. 1, 2020, if disposal of organic waste has not been reduced to 50 percent of the disposal level of 2014.

How to Comply: Multifamily residential dwelling owners subject to this law have essentially three options for dealing with their organic waste: (1) sort separate organic waste from other waste and subscribe to a basic level of organic waste recycling service that includes collection and recycling of organic waste; (2) recycle organic waste onsite or self-haul its own organic waste for recycling; or (3) subscribe to an organic waste recycling service that may include mixed waste processing that specifically recycles organic waste.

AB 1918 (Williams) Heating and Cooling Equipment Tracking Sales and Installation: Requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to develop and implement a system for tracking the sales and installation of central heating and air cooling equipment to ensure units are properly permitted and installed. The purpose of the bill is to combat the growing “Craigslist” problem of cheaply hired Internet con tractors who perform unpermitted and often improper installs of heating and air units. The shoddy work often results in inefficient energy use, unfair competition for contractors who follow permitting rules, and an inability of the local government to collect important permitting fees. The bill also directs the commission to establish an incentive program for contractors and local governments to improve verification of building code compliance and permitting rules following installation.

AACSC’s Position: Watch. Effective Date: Development of the sales and installation tracking system begins Jan. 1, 2015. There appears to be no timeline for the completion and implementation of the tracking system. The incentive program begins Jan. 1, 2016.

How to Comply: As a result of the bill, local governments will be better equipped and able to enforce building permit rules and regulations. By tracking the sales of air conditioning and heating units, they can follow up with the contractor or individual who purchased the unit and check to ensure that a building permit was applied and paid for. In other words, those who may be thinking of bypassing the permitting processes when installing a new heating or cooling unit should think twice.

AB 2119 (Stone) Transactions and Use Taxes: Authorizes the board of supervisors of a county to levy, increase or extend a transactions and use tax throughout the entire county or within the unincorporated area of the county, if approved by the qualified voters.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

What to Know: In many counties throughout the State, more than half of their territory is in unincorporated areas, making those counties responsible for financing a large amount of infrastructure. This bill allows counties to introduce a sales tax measure that will be applied to unincorporated areas, spent on the infrastructure of those unincorporated areas, and voted on by the qualified voters of those areas.

AB 2256 (Garcia) Service of Process: Eliminates the requirement of persons performing lawful service of process or service of subpoenas to identify to the guard of a gated community the person or persons to be served. Process servers must still display a current driver’s license or other identification and evidence of current registration as a process server.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

What to Know: The bill makes it easier for process servers to surprise the recipient of the service or process or subpoena.

AB 2282 (Gatto) Recycled Water Infrastructure: Requires the California Building Standards Commission to adopt mandatory building standards for the installation of recycled water infrastructure in newly constructed residential, commercial and public buildings during its tri  ennial update for the 2019 Building Code for both outdoor and indoor uses. This is a water conservation measure that in the long run will help California save its precious water resources by creating a system for reusing water for non-drinking purposes.

AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Year 2019.

What to Know: The new standards will apply to single and multifamily housing in areas where there is, or will be, access to water recycling facilities.

AB 2310 (Ridley-Thomas) & AB 2485 (Dickenson) Local Government Forced Tenant Evictions: These related bills reauthorize a lapsed pilot program allowing city attorneys or city prosecutors to require rental property owners to evict tenants who are involved in specified unlawful activities. AB 2310 applies to the counties of Alameda, Los Angeles and Sacramento for illegal weapons or ammunition activities. AB 2485 applies to the cities of Oakland and Los Angeles and the county of Sacramento for illegal activities relating to drug sales. Under the bills, property owners have the option of paying the city $600 to handle the eviction proceedings.

Lobbying Efforts: Under the original pilot program, if a property owner elected to pay the city to handle the eviction proceeding, there was no actual requirement that the city take any legal steps to evict the tenant; nor was there any mechanism for a property owner to receive a refund of the $600 fee if a city failed to take action against a tenant. That meant that a city could take a property owner’s money, decide to not pursue an eviction, and then refuse to give the property owner’s money back. This bill attempted to reintroduce that same unfair policy. We vigorously argued that the bill was unfair and needed amending. The authors later agreed to take our amendment which now requires the city to actually file an unlawful detainer prior to accepting any fees from a rental property owner.

AACSC’s Position: Originally we were Opposed Unless Amended. After the amendments were taken, we moved to a Neutral position.

Effective Date: The bills went into effect as soon as they were signed by the Governor and chaptered by the Secretary of State. The bills were signed and chaptered on September 15, 2014.

How to Comply: If you are a residential rental property owner in one of the cities or counties in which the bill applies, then you must take appropriate action against a tenant if requested by the city attorney or city prosecutor. If requested, landlords must attempt to evict the targeted tenant or assign the right to evict over to the prosecuting attorney. Once the prosecuting attorney files an unlawful detainer, property owners will be required to pay a $600 fee. The new law helps property owners evict problem tenants who may be breaking the law.

AB 2451 (Daly) Water Submeters: Installing and Landlord Liability: The new law makes a number of changes to the way inspections, testing and certification of water submeters are done.

AACSC’s Position: Initially we adopted an Oppose Unless Amended position because the bill proposed to allow a district attorney to prosecute a rental property owner if a water submeter did not operate properly. As a result of successful discussions and amendments with the County Sealers Association, we changed our position to a Watch position. The final amendments assured that we would not be exposed to criminal prosecution.

Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.

How to Comply: The measure only applies to properties that have water submeters. Under the bill, submeters may be inspected and sealed by any county sealer not just one county sealer under the former rule. Also, rental property owners will be protected from civil and criminal litigation so long as the water submeter is deemed “sealed” by a county sealer. The rule applies regardless of whether the submeter was actually tested.

Moreover, property owners are protected from liability so long as the water submeter has been maintained properly or deemed by the sealer to show no signs of intentional tampering, damage or alteration.

AB 2494 (Cooley) Penalties for Frivolous Lawsuits: The bill extends a court’s power to order a party, the party’s attorney, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by another party as a result of bad faith actions or tactics that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay. “Actions or tactics” include, but are not limited to, the making or opposing of motions or the filing and service of a complaint, cross-complaint, answer, or other responsive pleading. “Frivolous” means totally and completely without merit or for the sole purpose of harassing an opposing party.
AACSC’s Position: Watch./Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2015.
What to Know: This is a common sense law that penalizes attorneys and parties to lawsuits who file frivolous claims or employ abusive litigation tactics. This law applies to landlords and tenants in unlawful detainer proceedings or any other court proceeding.

Part II of Ron Kingston’s “Rental Property Owners Guide” will appear in the December issue of the Apartment Journal.

FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE, READERS SHOULD CONSULT IN ATTORNEY.

Ron Kingston can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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