California’s 2014 Laws – Part II


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

Part II

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part article. Part I was published in the November Apartment Journal.

AB 2561 (Bradford) Residential Rental Property—Growing Edible Foods: The bill requires rental property owners to permit their tenants in a single family or duplex rental properties to participate in personal agriculture in portable containers so long as certain rules are followed. The potted plants must be in a rented space outside in the backyard area on the ground level. Moreover, property owners reserve the right to establish the precise boundaries within which tenants may grow their plants.

Lobbying Efforts: The original few versions of the bill applied to any residential rental property, and allowed tenants to grow potted food plants inside or outside the property, including the front stairs, back stairs, front lawn, back lawn, patio or deck, and the entire backyard. As a result of this proposed new right, properties would have suffered immense physical damage. As many property owners are aware, overgrown crops can damage anything made of wood including the exterior of the dwelling, balconies and stairs. Water and soil damage can occur and lead to mold and health hazards. Roots and vines can seep into pipes and electrical wiring. Outside appliances such AC condensers can also be damaged due to improper placement and over growth. Property owners would have lost all control over the appearance of the property, property values would have suffered and owners would have been required to assume more liability if a tenant failed to properly place, maintain, or manage plant growth. Our lobbying team opposed the measure and heavily lobbied the author and other members of the legislature to change the bill. The resulting bill removed the provisions allowing tenants to grow food anywhere, and gave power back to the property owner to restrict the agriculture as the owner sees fit. The bill also allows owners to select the type of pots the plants may be grown in.

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

Effective Date:
Jan. 1, 2015.

How to Comply: Owners of single-family duplex residential rental properties may not deny a tenant’s request to grow food plants in potted plants; however, he or she may establish the location including the parameters within which potted food plants may be placed and grown and may restrict the plants to the backyard of a single-family residential rental unit. The law does not permit a tenant to grow any unlawful crop including marijuana.

AB 2565 (Muratsuchi) Electric Vehicle

Charging Stations: Installing, Costs and Maintenance: This bill requires residential rental property owners to approve a written request of a tenant to install an electric vehicle charging station at the tenant’s designated parking space if certain conditions are met and in compliance with the property owner’s approval process for modification, which may involve rules for installation, use, maintenance, removal of the charging station, and installation of the infrastructure for the charging station. Tenants must maintain a $1,000,000 general liability insurance policy. The bill does not apply to residential rental properties that have fewer than five parking spaces and any property in a rent control jurisdiction.

Lobbying Efforts:
The original version of the bill was but a skeleton of the final version that was signed into law. At introduction, the bill was seriously flawed. No consideration was given to the feasibility of installing an electric charging station with respect to construction, amperage, load capacity, electric billing, tax on improvements, rent control jurisdiction rules, lease terms, and property owner control over the modification of his or her property. Our lobbying team, however, spearheaded an effort to educate the author on the infeasibility of the bill in its original form, and proposed many changes to make the bill workable. After many meetings and debate, almost all recommended changes offered by our team were adopted. The resulting bill is one which protects property owners while allowing tenants under appropriate conditions to install charging stations.

AACSC’s Position: Originally we were Opposed Unless Amended.

After the amendments were taken, we moved to a Neutral position.

Effective Date: July 1, 2015.

How to Comply: First and foremost, rental property owners and managers should adopt policies and procedures for receiving a tenant’s application to install and then maintain an electric charging vehicle station. If an existing tenant requests to pay for an electric charging vehicle station, a laundry list of items must be followed. The property owner is to review the real property improvements, which the tenant must pay for up front. Proper insurance must be maintained by the tenant at all times. The tenant will also be required to pay for any additional electrical usage and damage. Improvements paid by the tenant may include changing the electrical main panel.

AB 2747 (Weickowski) Electronic Transactions

Between Owners and Tenants: The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act generally allows parties to agree to contract and conduct trans actions by electronic means. Up to now, however, electronic transactions relating to residential rental security deposit agreements have not been allowed. AB 2747 removes this barrier to allow residential rental property owners and their tenants and prospective tenants to agree to transact electronically with respect to security deposits. Allowing the use of electronic transactions for security deposits helps brings owner-tenant relationships into the 21st Century. Contracts, agreements and payments can now be smoothly facilitated through electronic means.

How to Comply: If you want security deposit transactions to be conducted electronically, including delivery of the itemization of the deposit (Move-In/Move-Out form), sign an agreement with your tenant to that end. You may not, however, force your tenant to transact electronically.

SB 1167 (Hueso) Pest Eradication:
Previously if an enforcement officer found a pest infestation at a residential rental property, the common practice was for the officer to cite the owner and tell him or her to get rid of the pests. Owners usually complied by getting a pest control operator to spray pesticides around the property or lay traps. Under the new rules of this bill, enforcement officers are now required to order owners to get rid of the pests and any conditions that the enforcement officers believes may be causing the pest infestation.

That simply means that owners must try to solve the root cause of the pest problem. Spraying and laying traps does not always get to the underlying cause of the problem. For example, a leaky pipe may be attracting pests. Under that scenario, the owner would have to fix the leaky pipe.

Lobbying Efforts: Our lobbying team was involved in helping the author draft the proper language for the bill. Originally the bill would have required owners to correct any conditions that “contributed” to the infestation. The term “contributed” was too expansive and vague, and may have led to enforcement officers going on what many call “fishing expeditions” in which officers attempt to find all conditions wrong with a property and order that they all be fixed, even if the conditions didn’t directly cause the pest infestation. After numerous meetings with the author, it was agreed that a more limited authority to require abatement of conditions that caused the infestation was more appropriate. Ultimately, property owners should deal with their pests, especially when they become infestations.

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

How to Comply: Under the new law, property owners may be required to do more than hire a pest control operator to get rid of pests. If the cause of a pest infestation cannot be addressed through spraying, enforcement officers can require owners to take additional steps to address the cause of the problem.

New and Proposed State Regulations

Water Conservation

On July 15th the State Water Resources Board adopted an emergency regulation restricting water use for outside areas. Those regulations prohibit the use of outside potable water in a manner that results in runoff water on sidewalks, driveways, roadways and adjacent property. It also prohibits runoff from washing vehicles with a hose unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, watering driveways and sidewalks, and using water in decorative fountains unless it has a recirculation feature. Violation of the regulations constitutes an infraction and may result in a fine up to $500 for each day the violation occurs.

Property owners and managers are advised to review rental and lease agreements to assure tenants, guests and invitees: (1) comply with the State regulation and; (2) are solely liable to pay all fees and fines associated with violation of the regulations.

Proposed Proposition 65 Reform Efforts

Since 2013, the State has been trying to change the Proposition 65 (Prop. 65) hazardous chemical warning sign requirements. Last year, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) attempted to make sweeping changes both in regulation and law. The business community impacted by the new changes formed a coalition to oppose the measures, and successfully defeated them. Our lobbying team was part of that coalition. Earlier this year, OEHHA renewed its attempt to make changes. Again, there was near unanimous opposition by the business community to the changes. Since then, the business coalition, led by the California Chamber of Commerce, has been in talks with OEHHA on how to improve Prop. 65 without unnecessary burden and expense to businesses. Discussions are ongoing. Our lobbying team has been a vocal and active participant in the coalition and throughout the process.

Proposed New Pool Safety Regulations

New swimming pool safety and maintenance regulations will be going into effect soon (likely in 2015). The regulations apply to public pools, including those in apartments, condominiums and homeowner associations. Exempted are private pools, defined as pools intended for use by occupants of not more than three residential units. Our lobbying team has been opposing the new regulations since they were first proposed last year.

Although some favorable changes were made to the original proposal, the new regulations slated for approval are numerous and likely to be burdensome for some.

New requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Daily testing of disinfectant residual and pH, when pool is open for use.

• Daily testing of water temperature in heated pools.

• If cyanuric acid is used, concentration levels must be tested once per month.

• Must test the combined chlorine at a frequency required to maintain maximum combined chlorine concentrations below 0.4 ppm.

• Properly calibrated automatic chemical monitoring and control systems may be used.

• Maintain written daily record of all test results, equipment readings, calibrations and corrective action taken.

• Maintain written record of routine maintenance and repairs.

• Record any incidents involving the following: fecal, vomit, blood contamination, near-drowning or drowning.

• Keep all records at the pool site for at least two years.

• Maintain a test kit for measuring disinfectant residual, pH, and I used, cyanuric acid concentration.

• Maintain clean pool water while in use, free of dirt, oils, scum, algae, floating debris, scum, sputum, trash, leaves or visible organic and inorganic materials (i.e., bugs, lawn furniture and towels) that would pollute the water.

• Ensure water levels are maintained and operated to remove debris continuously through a pool skimming system.

• Pool employees and patrons having a communicable disease (such as cryptosporidium, giardia, Legionnaires’ disease and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) while in an infectious state, or those having symptoms such as a cough, cold, nasal or ear discharge, or those wearing bandages may not enter the pool.

• New reporting requirements when two or more patrons or lifeguards within five days reports that they have diarrhea.

There are many more new pool regulations that must be followed, including those relating to chemical levels, lifeguards, safety and first aid equipment, cleaning ancillary facilities, and pool closures. We recommend you read and follow all new pool regulations. For an advanced look at the proposed new regulations see: (click “Methodology to Indicate Changes to Proposed Regulations and Regulation Text”).

New Pesticide Regulation Restricts the Use of Certain Rodenticides.

Most residential rental property owners hire pest control operators to manage their pest problems. Some, however, take measures into their own hands by purchasing certain effective over the counter pesticides. For those “self-helpers,” a new regulation went into effect this past July, 2014, which restricts the use of Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs), a popular and effective pesticide.

SGARs are used to address rodent problems. They are strategically placed around a property, and later eaten by rodents. SGARs deliver a delayed lethal dose to the target rodent with the first feeding that does not kill the rodent immediately. When the rodent does eventually die, the SGAR poison remains in the rodent’s body. Non-target wildlife, like birds or other land animals, then come into contact with this infected rodent by touching it or eating it. These animals eventually also die.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) conducted an assessment of SGARS to evaluate the potential and actual risk of SGARs on California’s wildlife. They concluded that the current use of SGARs presents a hazard related to persistent residues in target animals resulting in impacts to nontarget wildlife. For these reasons, DPR has decided to re strict the use of SGARs permanantly. Effective, July 1, 2014, SGARs can only be sold by licensed dealers and purchased by certified applicators. Restricting the sale of SGARs to certified applicators is expected to significantly mitigate exposure to, and protect, California’s non-target wildlife.

Retrofit Reminder

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are to be installed in each bedroom on or before Jan. 1, 2016. When installing the detectors before this date, the landlord or manager should:

(a) Determine if each rental unit has smoke detectors in each bedroom and the type of detectors (AC vs. battery powered). Where devices exist, note its existence, the manufacturer and the location of each detector in the rental unit file. For units without detectors in each bedroom, decide when compliance with the new law will be undertaken (must be before Jan. 1, 2016), and note it in the rental unit file.

(b) Install the detectors on a specified schedule and note that schedule in the file of each rental unit. In the file, also note the date the detector was installed, location in the dwelling and the serial number.

(c) All existing devices must be operable and located in compliance with the new State law at the time of a new hiring and when installing new devices.

(d) New smoke alarms purchased must comply with the new law and be approved by the State Fire Marshal in order for the alarms to be sold in the State. The new devices must be tamper proof and contain both a hush button feature and a ten-year battery life (AC powered smoke detectors and operable battery devices are not required to be replaced).

Keep in mind the following: (1) Smoke alarms connected to a panel or connected to a wireless communication signal are exempt from the new law; (2) the law does not apply to installing or replacing smoke detectors in common stairwells; and (3) because certain cities have adopted more restrictive smoke detector ordinances, landlords and managers are advised to comply the new requirements and local laws and regulations to the extent possible.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors (CO Device)

Every owner of a “dwelling unit intended for human occupancy” must install an approved CO device in each existing dwelling unit having a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage. Qualifying units must have at least one CO device per floor and if there are bedrooms on the floor, the CO device must be placed adjacent to the bedrooms. Also, you may follow the manufacturer’s instructions that come with each device. Single-family dwelling units were required to be in compliance on or before July 1, 2011. All other existing dwelling units were required to be in compliance on or before Jan. 1, 2013.

Plumbing Fixture Mandate

On or before Jan. 1, 2017, all non-compliant plumbing fixtures in any single-family residential real property built prior to 1994 must be replaced with water-conserving plumbing fixtures. For multifamily residential real property built prior to 1994, all non-compliant plumbing fixtures must be replaced with water-conserving plumbing fixtures on or before Jan. 1, 2019. Water-conserving plumbing fixtures include 1.28-gallon toilets and 2.2-gallon-per-minute faucets and shower heads. Installation may be more difficult than expected. Replacing a faucet may involve replacing water supply lines and angle stops. Replacing a toilet may include replacing flooring because the toilet footprint may not match the old footprint. When purchasing a new faucet, ensure that the faucet matches the cover and openings in the sink.


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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