We go through this every year, new laws to keep up with! I’ve gathered a few of the more important new California rental laws for 2024 that you (landlord or property manager) should be aware of. In no particular order.
Table of Contents
- Assembly Bill 1620
- Assembly Bill 1764
- Senate Bill 267
- Senate Bill 712
- Assembly Bill 1418
- Assembly Bill 12
- Senate Bill 567
- Senate Bill 71
- Assembly Bill 537
Assembly Bill 1620 (AB1620)
Assembly Bill 1620 represents a significant step toward ensuring the rights and accessibility of individuals with permanent physical disabilities residing in locally rent-controlled properties. Effective as of January 1, 2024, this legislation empowers jurisdictions with local rent control to mandate property owners to facilitate the relocation of tenants with permanent physical disabilities to available, comparable, or smaller units on accessible floors within the same property while maintaining their existing rental rate.
The key element of AB 1620 lies in establishing a clear and defined statutory process. This process enables localities with existing rent control ordinances or charters to implement unit swaps under specific circumstances, particularly when a tenant with a permanent physical disability resides in a rent-controlled unit. The paramount objective is to facilitate the seamless relocation of such individuals to units that are more conducive to their mobility needs, all while ensuring that their current rental rate remains unchanged.
The eligibility criteria for tenants seeking to avail themselves of this statutory process are well-defined. To qualify, tenants must have permanent physical mobility-related disabilities, currently reside in units lacking an operational elevator, and not be facing eviction for nonpayment. Additionally, the availability of this process is contingent upon the jurisdiction opting into the provisions outlined in AB 1620.
By implementing AB 1620, lawmakers aim to address the unique challenges faced by disabled tenants in multi-story, rent-controlled buildings without elevator access. This legislative initiative aligns with broader efforts to promote inclusivity, equal opportunity, and accommodation for individuals with disabilities. It reflects a proactive approach to ensuring that the housing needs of disabled individuals are met, recognizing the importance of accessible living spaces and acknowledging the financial constraints associated with rent-controlled units.
In essence, AB 1620 serves as a protective measure that balances the rights of property owners with the imperative of providing reasonable accommodation for tenants with permanent physical disabilities. It represents a legislative commitment to fostering a more inclusive and accessible housing environment, recognizing the diverse needs of the population and upholding the principles of fairness and social responsibility within the realm of rent-controlled properties.
Assembly Bill 1764 (AB1764)
Assembly Bill 1764, effective January 1, 2024, introduces a significant reform in the procedures related to tenant screening fees, offering greater flexibility for both landlords and tenants. The bill allows landlords to opt for the electronic delivery of receipts for tenant screening fees, provided that both the landlord (or their agent) and the applicant mutually agree to this method beforehand.
Prior to the enactment of AB 1764, landlords were obligated to furnish receipts for screening fees either in person or by traditional mail. These receipts were required to itemize the specific out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the landlord or their agent during the process of obtaining and processing information about the applicant. The meticulous breakdown of these expenses was essential for transparency and accountability in the landlord-tenant relationship.
With the advent of AB 1764, there is now a provision allowing landlords and applicants to modernize this aspect of the transaction. The bill permits the landlord or their designated agent to send a copy of the receipt for the screening fee directly to an email account specified by the applicant. This electronic option streamlines the process and aligns with contemporary communication practices, offering a more convenient and efficient means of providing documentation to the involved parties.
The voluntary nature of this arrangement underscores the importance of mutual consent between the landlord and the tenant. Both parties must agree to the electronic delivery of receipts before this method can be implemented. This approach ensures that the interests and preferences of both landlords and tenants are taken into consideration, promoting a collaborative and flexible framework for handling transactional details.
Assembly Bill 1764, codified as Civil Code § 1950.5, not only modernizes the process but also recognizes the evolving landscape of communication technologies. By embracing electronic receipt options, the legislation reflects a commitment to adapting housing-related practices to contemporary standards while maintaining the necessary safeguards to protect the rights and interests of both landlords and tenants. Overall, the bill contributes to the ongoing efforts to make interactions within the rental market more efficient, transparent, and user-friendly for all parties involved.
Senate Bill 267 (SB267)
Senate Bill 267, effective January 1, 2024, marks a significant shift in the assessment criteria for prospective tenants receiving government rent subsidies, particularly those holding Section 8 rental vouchers. Under this legislation, landlords are required to offer an alternative method of evaluating a tenant’s rental application, focusing on the individual’s “ability to pay” rather than relying solely on credit history and reports.
In cases where a tenant is utilizing a government rent subsidy, such as a Section 8 voucher, SB 267 expressly prohibits landlords from incorporating credit history as a mandatory component of the rental application process. Instead, landlords must provide the applicant with the option, at their discretion, to submit lawful and verifiable alternative evidence demonstrating a reasonable ability to pay the portion of rent the tenant is responsible for. This alternative evidence can include various forms of documentation, such as government benefit payments, pay records, and bank statements.
Should the applicant choose to exercise this option, the landlord is obligated to grant the applicant a reasonable amount of time to present the alternative evidence. Moreover, the landlord is required to fairly consider this evidence in lieu of the applicant’s credit history when making the determination of whether to offer the rental accommodation.
Importantly, SB 267 does not eliminate the landlord’s ability to gather certain information essential for the rental process. Landlords are still permitted to request documentation to verify employment, seek landlord references, and confirm the identity of the prospective tenant. However, the legislation places a specific emphasis on offering tenants receiving government rent subsidies a fair and reasonable opportunity to present alternative evidence of their ability to meet their financial obligations.
By implementing SB 267, the legislature aims to promote a more inclusive and equitable rental application process for individuals relying on government rent subsidies. The focus on the “ability to pay” as an alternative metric recognizes the diversity of financial situations among tenants, mitigates potential biases associated with credit history, and ensures that individuals utilizing government assistance programs are not unduly disadvantaged in their pursuit of housing opportunities. Overall, SB 267 represents a step towards creating a fairer and more accessible rental market for all.
Senate Bill 712 (SB712)
Senate Bill 712, effective January 1, 2024, introduces significant protections and permissions for tenants in California regarding the ownership, storage, and charging of personal micromobility devices within their dwelling units. Under this legislation, landlords are prohibited from preventing tenants from owning micromobility devices, such as bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, hoverboards, skateboards, and their electric counterparts. Additionally, landlords cannot disallow the storage and recharging of up to one personal micromobility device per person occupying the unit, with certain conditions and exceptions.
The bill delineates specific criteria for compliance with these provisions. Personal micromobility devices are subject to the following conditions:
- They are not powered by an electric motor
- They comply with specified safety standards for e-bikes and e-scooters, or
- In the absence of safety standards compliance, the tenant has insurance covering the storage of the device within the unit.
To meet safety standards, batteries for e-bikes must comply with either the UL 2849 standard, recognized by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, or the EN 15194 European Standard for electrically powered assisted cycles. E-scooters must align with the UL 2272 standard from the U.S. or the EN 17128 European Standard for personal light-electric vehicles.
Landlords, however, have the option to provide tenants with secure, long-term storage outside the dwelling unit for their micromobility devices. If landlords offer such external storage without charge, they are permitted to prohibit in-unit storage of these devices.
The legislation recognizes certain limitations on tenant modifications to rental dwelling units for the purpose of storing micromobility devices. Landlords are not required to modify or approve requests for modifications for this purpose. Additionally, landlords may restrict repair or maintenance on batteries and motors of personal micromobility devices within dwelling units, and they can enforce compliance with applicable fire codes in the storage of these devices.
Senate Bill 712 aims to strike a balance between the rights of tenants to own and store personal micromobility devices in their dwelling units and the concerns of landlords regarding safety, potential modifications, and adherence to fire codes. It reflects a recognition of the evolving landscape of transportation and the need for legislation to adapt to the increasing prevalence of micromobility devices in residential settings.
Assembly Bill 1418 (AB1418)
AB 1418, effective January 1, 2024, is a significant legislative measure aimed at curbing the implementation of certain local government practices related to criminal background checks within the realm of housing. This law takes a stance against what are commonly known as “crime-free” housing programs and ordinances at the local level. Here’s an expanded understanding of the key provisions of AB 1418:
Limitations on Criminal Background Checks
The law restricts cities and counties from enforcing policies that compel landlords to conduct criminal background checks on tenants.
It specifically prohibits the use of alleged criminal behavior, without a felony conviction, as a basis for evicting a tenant.
Household Evictions Based on Felony Convictions
Local ordinances are prohibited from mandating landlords to evict an entire household solely because one member of the household has been convicted of a felony.
Narrowing the Definition of Nuisance Behavior
The law refines the definition of nuisance behavior to align with the existing state definition. This prevents the inclusion of police contacts, service calls, or other incidents beyond the scope of the state definition as grounds for eviction.
Lease Provisions and Eviction Basis
Local governments are forbidden from compelling landlords to include lease provisions that go beyond the grounds for eviction outlined in state law.
This provision ensures that local regulations do not conflict with or exceed the legal eviction grounds at the state or federal level.
Prohibition of Penalties Based on Law Enforcement Contact
The law explicitly prohibits local governments from imposing penalties solely based on an individual’s contact with law enforcement agencies. This includes penalties against residents, owners, tenants, landlords, or any other person.
Protection Against Tenant Discrimination
Landlords are prevented from evicting or penalizing a tenant due to their association with another tenant or household member who has had contact with law enforcement or has a criminal conviction.
Tenants are also protected from eviction based on alleged unlawful conduct or arrest.
Prohibition of Unlawful Lease Provisions
Local ordinances are barred from requiring landlords to include lease provisions that conflict with state or federal law.
Criminal background checks on tenants or prospective tenants are also explicitly prohibited.
Nuisance Definition and Tenant Certificate of Occupancy
The law specifies that contact with law enforcement, requests for emergency assistance, or actions not constituting a nuisance under California law cannot be used as grounds for eviction.
Tenants are not required to obtain a certificate of occupancy as a condition of tenancy.
Tenant Registry Restrictions
Local governments are forbidden from establishing, maintaining, or promoting registries of tenants with the intent of discouraging landlords from renting to individuals on the registry or excluding them from rental housing within the local jurisdiction.
In summary, AB 1418 serves to standardize and protect tenants’ rights by prohibiting local ordinances that overreach into the realms of criminal background checks, eviction criteria, and tenant discrimination, ensuring alignment with existing state and federal laws.
Assembly Bill 12 (AB12)
AB 12, set to take effect on July 1, 2024, is a legislative measure aimed at regulating and limiting the amount of security deposits that landlords can demand from tenants in residential rental agreements. The key provisions of AB 12 are as follows:
Limitation on Security Deposits
Landlords are restricted from demanding or receiving security deposits for residential rental agreements in an amount exceeding one month’s rent, regardless of whether the rental property is furnished or unfurnished.
This limitation applies in addition to any rent for the first month, and it is intended to prevent excessive financial burdens on tenants during the initial stages of occupancy.
Exception for Small Landlords
An important exception to the one-month limit exists for small landlords, defined as either a natural person or a limited liability corporation (LLC) meeting specific criteria.
Small landlords, who own no more than two residential rental properties and have a total of no more than four units offered for rent, are allowed to demand or receive a security deposit in an amount not exceeding two months’ rent.
Criteria for Small Landlords
To qualify for the exception, small landlords must meet specific criteria:
- The landlord must be a natural person or a limited liability corporation (LLC) where all members are natural persons.
- Ownership is limited to no more than two residential rental properties.
- The total number of dwelling units across all owned properties should not exceed four.
Inclusion of Family Trusts
The exception for small landlords extends to family trusts, ensuring that these entities are also eligible for the two-month security deposit limit.
Exception Exclusion for Service Members
Notably, the exception for small landlords does not apply if the prospective tenant is a service member. This provision is likely in place to provide additional protections for military personnel against potentially higher financial burdens.
Grandfather Clause for Existing Security Deposits
Landlords who currently hold security deposits or have demanded or collected deposits in excess of one month’s rent before July 1, 2024, are allowed to retain these deposits even if they exceed the new one-month limit.
In summary, AB 12 seeks to create a standardized and more equitable approach to security deposits in residential rental agreements. While the general rule is that landlords can only demand or receive a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent, an exception is provided for small landlords meeting specific criteria. The legislation aims to strike a balance between protecting tenants from excessive financial demands and recognizing the circumstances of smaller property owners.
Senate Bill 567 (SB 567)
Senate Bill 567 represents a crucial change in protections for low-income renters in California, addressing shortcomings in existing legislation, and fortifying measures to prevent unjust evictions and exorbitant rent increases. This legislative initiative builds upon the foundation laid by the Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482, Chiu, Chapter 597, Statutes of 2019), recognizing that while the prior law provided essential safeguards for certain renters, there remained significant gaps leaving a substantial number of tenants vulnerable to displacement and eviction.
Key Provisions of SB 567
SB 567 takes steps to close existing loopholes that have enabled the widespread use of “no-fault” just causes for eviction. This ensures no one cannot exploit ambiguities in the law to unjustly remove tenants from their homes.
Expanding Tenant Protections
The bill seeks to expand the population of protected tenants, recognizing that a broader scope of individuals requires safeguarding. By doing so, SB 567 aims to provide increased housing stability for a more extensive range of renter households.
Limiting Allowable Rent Increases
Recognizing the need for a more reasonable and equitable approach, SB 567 proposes limitations on allowable rent increases. This measure aims to curb exorbitant hikes that strain the financial capacity of renters and contribute to the risk of homelessness.
Mechanisms for Accountability and Enforcement
SB 567 introduces mechanisms to ensure accountability and enforcement of these new provisions. This includes measures to monitor compliance with the stipulated rent increase limits and eviction regulations, fostering a more robust framework for tenant protection.
In essence, SB 567 responds to the evolving challenges faced by millions of California renters, providing a legislative framework that closes existing loopholes, expands protections, limits rent increases, and establishes mechanisms for accountability. By addressing these critical issues, the bill seeks to enhance housing stability and mitigate the risk of homelessness for vulnerable renters across the state.
Assembly Bill 1317 (AB 1317)
Assembly Bill 1317 introduces a significant shift in the dynamics of landlord-tenant relationships, specifically focusing on parking spaces within 16-unit apartments in designated counties. This legislation, effective for properties with a certificate of occupancy issued on or after January 1, 2025, mandates the unbundling of parking from the overall rent cost for the property’s lifetime. Unbundled parking refers to the distinct practice of selling or leasing parking spaces independently of the residential property lease.
Key features of Assembly Bill 1317 include:
Separation of Parking Costs
Landlords are compelled to unbundle parking costs from the rental price, ensuring that the agreement to lease a parking spot is not integrated into the primary rental agreement or any accompanying addendum.
Tenant Rights to Parking
Tenants are granted the right of first refusal for parking spaces specifically constructed for their respective properties. In instances where no parking spaces are initially available for new tenants, they gain the right of first refusal once a space becomes vacant.
Flexible Parking Leasing
Non leased parking spaces are permitted to be rented to other on-site users or off-site residential users on a month-to-month basis, providing a degree of flexibility for both landlords and tenants.
Non-Payment of Parking Fee
Importantly, a tenant’s failure to pay the parking fee, as outlined in a separately leased parking agreement, is not considered grounds for an unlawful detainer action (UD). However, property owners have the authority to revoke a tenant’s right to lease a parking spot if payment is not received by the 45th day following the due date.
The law is applicable to properties meeting specific criteria:
- A certificate of occupancy issued on or after January 1, 2025.
- The property must have a minimum of 16 residential units.
- The property is located in designated counties, including but not limited to Alameda, Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, Santa Clara, and Ventura.
Certain exemptions exist, such as for residential properties where individual garages are deemed “functionally a part of the property.” Additionally, exemptions are extended to various types of deed-restricted affordable housing and housing developed with specific tax credits.
Assembly Bill 1317 strives to create a more transparent and tenant-friendly approach to parking arrangements, aligning with the evolving dynamics of the rental landscape. By unbundling parking costs, providing tenant rights, and allowing flexible leasing options, the legislation aims to strike a balance that enhances the rental experience for both landlords and tenants, with due consideration for specified exemptions and circumstances.
Senate Bill 71 (SB71)
Senate Bill 71 marks a significant reform in the jurisdictional limits of small claims courts, aiming to enhance accessibility and efficiency in resolving disputes. Effective January 1, 2024, the legislation introduces several key adjustments to the existing limits, with a particular focus on natural persons and non-natural entities.
Small Claims Limit Increases
Presently, the small claims court limit for natural persons is $10,000, provided they file no more than two claims in a calendar year. SB 71 elevates this limit to $12,500, expanding the scope for individuals seeking resolutions through small claims courts.
For non-natural persons, the current limit stands at $5,000 for no more than two claims in one calendar year. With SB 71 in effect, this threshold is increased to $6,250, recognizing the potential for higher value disputes involving entities.
Threshold Limits for Other Case Types
SB 71 doesn’t solely focus on small claims but extends its impact to various other types of cases. Threshold limits across different categories are raised, reflecting an adjustment to the economic landscape and the value of disputes that individuals and entities may encounter.
Limits for Multiple Claims in a Calendar Year
It’s essential to note that if an individual, whether a natural person or an entity, brings more than two claims in a calendar year, the threshold limit remains consistent at $2,500. This provision is in place to balance accessibility with the need to prevent potential abuse of the system.
In essence, SB 71 responds to the evolving nature of legal disputes and economic realities, aligning the jurisdictional limits of small claims courts with the changing financial landscape. By raising the limits for both natural persons and non-natural entities, the legislation seeks to accommodate a wider array of cases within the small claims system. These adjustments are anticipated to streamline the resolution process, making it more efficient and accessible for individuals and entities seeking redress through the small claims court system.
Assembly Bill 537 (AB537)
Assembly Bill 537 ushers in a new era of transparency and consumer protection in the realm of vacation rentals. Effective from July 1, 2024, this legislation sets stringent guidelines for the advertising and promotion of short-term lodgings, focusing on the comprehensive disclosure of mandatory fees to potential renters.
Key Provisions of AB 537:
Complete Fee Disclosure
AB 537 mandates that places of short-term lodging must be transparent in their advertising and promotional activities. Specifically, room rates must encompass all fees and charges required for a stay, excluding only government-imposed taxes and fees. This provision ensures that the total cost of the lodging experience is clearly communicated to consumers at the outset.
Scope of Application
The law defines the term “place of short-term lodging” and applies its restrictions to the advertisement, display, or offer of room rates. This encompasses various accommodations falling under the short-term lodging category, emphasizing the need for uniformity in fee disclosure practices.
Civil Penalties for Violations
Violations of AB 537’s disclosure requirements carry significant consequences. Offenders may be subject to civil penalties, with the maximum amount set at $10,000. This penalty is designed to deter non-compliance and incentivize adherence to the law.
The legislation enables the enforcement of its provisions through legal action brought by specific authorities. City attorneys, district attorneys, county counsels, or the Attorney General are empowered to initiate actions to enforce the disclosure requirements outlined in AB 537. This reinforces the commitment to accountability and ensures that entities failing to comply can be held responsible.
Implications of AB 537
Assembly Bill 537 fundamentally transforms the landscape of vacation rentals by prioritizing transparency. By obligating short-term lodging providers to fully disclose all mandatory fees in their advertised room rates, the legislation empowers consumers to make informed decisions about their accommodations. The imposition of civil penalties for violations underscores the importance of compliance and underscores the commitment to protecting renters from misleading or opaque pricing practices.
In essence, AB 537 serves as a robust legislative tool to safeguard the interests of consumers in the vacation rental market, fostering a fair and transparent environment for both providers and those seeking short-term lodging. The legislation sets a clear standard for the industry, reinforcing the importance of openness and honesty in the presentation of pricing information.
If you have any questions regarding any of these new laws, remember premium members, I’m just an email, text or phone call away for any help. Thanks for reading and make sure you’re up to date on all current laws!