New Year, New Landlord Laws

As always, the new year brings new laws that landlords must follow.

This year brings laws that make it easier for developers to modify exisiting properties, build on commerical sites, and build denser housing. For those laws, please visit the California Association of Realtors’ site.

Some laws that specifically affect landlords are summarized below:

Assembly Bill 2559 Effective January 1, 2023 if a landlord acccepts a reusable tenant screening report (i.e. credit and background check) the landlord may not charge a fee for the landlord to access the report or an application screening fee. This law is to help prospective tenants who apply for multiple rental properties during their search for a new home to avoid paying multiple application fees. However, the landlord’s use of a reusable report is voluntary. Lingsch Realty plans to examine such reports on a case-by-case basis to see if they meet our review criteria and to verify the report comes from a verifiable source and cannot be fabricated by the tenant.

Senate Bill 1017 imposes a statutory damage of $100 and up to $5,000 (in addition to actual damages) if a landlord or agent ignores a tenant’s right to terminate a tenancy based on acts of domestic violence.

Additionally, prior law prohibited a landlord from evicting a tenant who was a domestic violence victim, based on acts taken against the victim. However, if the perpetrator was in residence in the same dwelling unit as the victim, then the law offered no protections. The new law requires a partial eviction order only against the perpetrator of abuse where the perpetrator is in residence in the same dwelling unit as the victim.

This law protects victims of domestic violence in the context of a tenancy. “Domestic violence” includes, among other things, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, and elder abuse. The protections extend not only to a tenant but also to a tenant’s immediate family member or a tenant’s household member where the landlord has received documentation evidencing abuse or violence against these persons.

Under the prior and current law, a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence, or a tenant’s immediate family member, or a tenant’s household member can inform the landlord that they intend to terminate tenancy. The liability of that tenant for rent is limited to no more than 14 calendar days after having provided notice and must be released without penalty from any further rent or other payment obligation to the landlord under the lease or rental agreement. If the premises are relet to another party prior to the end of the obligation to pay rent, the rent owed must be prorated.

A landlord cannot, due to the termination, require forfeiture of any security deposit money or advance rent paid. A tenant who terminates a rental agreement pursuant to this law cannot be considered for any purpose, by reason of the termination, to have breached the lease or rental agreement. In all other respects, the law governing the security deposit shall apply.

Senate Bill 1076 This law requires a “firm” and at least one person onsite and employed by a firm doing renovation, repair, or painting work for compensation in a residential or public building to have a certificate for training in lead-safe work practices. Substantial civil or criminal penalties are now imposed for violating this rule. This law harmonizes federal and state training and certification requirements for lead safe work practices. Effective January 1, 2024.

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