Updated: September 28, 2020

The California State Legislature passed several new laws in 2019 of which homeowners, property owners and property managers should be aware. We have compiled a select list of laws to help you plan accordingly and to stay apprised of your legal rights and obligations. While most laws went into effect on January 1, 2020, some laws became active in 2019.

Brief overviews of these laws are given to provide you a quick understanding of the underlying topics and issues. However, we have also provided links to additional information sources, if you need to research further. We strongly recommend consulting a qualified legal expert if you think any of these new laws may have serious implications regarding plans for your home, relationships with HOAs, or property that you own or manage.

New California Laws Pertaining to Homeownership and Residential Real Estate for 2020

AB 3088 Mortgage Forebearance: COVID-19
Approved by Governor August 31, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State August 31, 2020.
Requires a mortgage servicer that denies a borrower’s request for forbearance on mortgage payments for a property consisting of no more than four residential units to provide the borrower with a written explanation of the denial. Requires a mortgage servicer to review a borrower of a non-federally backed loan for at least one post-forbearance option consistent with specified federal agencies’ guidance.

AB 2013: Property Taxation: New Construction: Damaged or Destroyed Property
Approved by Governor September 24, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State September 24, 2020.
Authorizes the owner of property substantially damaged or destroyed by a disaster, as declared by the Governor, to apply the base year value of that property to replacement property reconstructed on the same site of the damaged or destroyed property within 5 years after the disaster, if the reconstructed property is comparable to the substantially damaged or destroyed property. Amendment helps victims who suffered the loss of homes or businesses due to fire, mudslide, flood or other calamity to be treated fairly under California’s property tax laws.

For disaster victims who choose to purchase a replacement dwelling or build within the county where the calamity occurred, previous law provided for the transfer of property tax liability if the size, function and value of the replacement is comparable up to 120%. With amended law, the same standard of 120% now exists for those property owners who wish to rebuild on their original site. Without this safe harbor, disaster victims risked triggering a reassessment and were discouraged from rebuilding their homes and businesses with energy efficiency upgrades and fire hardened materials. Any improvement over 120% of value of the destroyed improvements will be assessable as new construction. Applies to real property damaged or destroyed by misfortune or calamity on or after January 1, 2017.

AB 1885: Debtor Exemptions: Homestead Exemption
Approved by Governor September 18, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State September 18, 2020.
Previous law provided that a specified portion of equity in a homestead, as defined, is exempt from execution to satisfy a judgment debt and prescribed that the amount of the homestead exemption was either $75,000, $100,000, or $175,000, depending on certain characteristics of the homestead’s residents. This amendment instead makes the homestead exemption the greater of $300,000 or the countywide median sale price of a single-family home in the calendar year prior to the calendar year in which the judgment debtor claims the exemption, not to exceed $600,000. These amounts will adjust annually for inflation.

AB 652: Religious Displays
Provides more protections to display religious items like menorahs or crosses outside one’s home. The law prohibits landlords and Homeowner Associations (HOAs) from banning the display of religious items on entry doors or door frames. The items cannot be larger than 26 by 12 inches.

AB 1018: Appraisers and Home Inspectors
Prohibits home inspectors from giving an opinion of valuation on a property. Except as required to comply with standards set forth in law or regulation, a real estate appraiser performing a real estate appraisal, shall not engage in the activity of a home inspector performing a home inspection.

AB 670: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
(in combination with SB 13 / AB 68 / AB 881)
Reduces obstacles and restrictions related to building Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in California, from a package of new bills. Subject to exceptions, these bills invalidate local ADU ordinances across the state and replace them with state-mandated rules. Any provision in a CC&R (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) that prohibits or unreasonably restricts the construction, use or rental of an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit on a lot zoned for single-family residential use is void and unenforceable. In particular, cities must approve ADU applications, cannot require the owner to live on the property, cannot charge impact fees, and cannot prevent the concurrent development of an ADU at the same time as the primary unit. Explicitly prevents Home Owners Associations (HOA’s) from preventing or disallowing the construction of ADUs within the Association.

SB 330: Housing Permitting and Approval Process
Establishes the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, which will accelerate housing production in California by streamlining the permitting and approval processes, ensuring no net loss in zoning capacity (“down zoning”) and limiting fees after projects are approved.

SB 178: Declaration of State of Emergency: Building Standards for Solar
Mandates that solar is required in the construction of new homes. Allows for an exemption to the solar mandate until January 1, 2023 in areas where the Governor has declared a state of emergency. This exemption allows low-income homeowners to rebuild their homes with the requirement that was in effect at the time their home was originally constructed.

AB 1816: Insurance: 75-Day Notice of Nonrenewal
Requires insurers to provide at least a 75-day notice of a nonrenewal of a homeowner’s policy (currently 45 days) and raises the limit on a homeowner insurance claim covered by the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) to $1 million. This law also allows insurer who voluntarily writes policies for property in high fire hazard severity zone in the state responsibility area and very high fire hazard severity zone in local responsibility areas to be proportionately relieved of their responsibility to participate in the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan.

SB 234: Family Daycare Homes
Requires large family daycare homes with up to 14 children to be treated as a residential use for purposes of all local ordinances. Clarifies that apartments may be used as family daycare homes. Clarifies that a family daycare home includes a detached single-family dwelling, a townhouse, a dwelling unit within a dwelling, or a dwelling unit within a covered multifamily dwelling. Thus, family daycare homes may operate in multi-family dwellings such as apartments.

New California Laws Pertaining to Landlords and Tenants for 2020

AB 3088 Tenancy: Rental Payment Default: COVID-19
Approved by Governor August 31, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State August 31, 2020.
Gives renters financially impacted by COVID-19 a reprieve from eviction until February 2021. In order to avoid being evicted in February, renters will have to come up with 25% of the rent they owe from September through January. Landlords can collect all missed rent payments — including the remaining 75% — in small claims court starting March 2021. Requires landlords to provide all tenants with a notice informing them of their rights under this bill within a specified time.

AB 240 Veterans’ Homes: Lease of Property
Approved by Governor September 11, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State September 11, 2020.
Amends existing law to prohibit a lease or let from exceeding 5 years, unless the lessee is a local government or a nonprofit organization that provides services exclusively for veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States and their families, or the contract for the lease was executed before January 1, 2021. Requires each use, other than an easement, of real property held by the department for a home by a person or entity, other than the home or a resident of the home, to be in writing and meet certain criteria, including that it provide substantial and direct benefits to the home and its members and be appropriate and compatible with the nature of the home.

AB 2782: Mobilehome Parks: Change of Use: Rent Control
Approved by Governor August 31, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State August 31, 2020.
Amended law requires the management to give mobilehome residents at least 60 days’ written notice that the management will be appearing before a local governmental board, commission, or body to obtain local approval for the intended change of use of the mobilehome park. Previous period was a minimum of 15 days written notice. In tandem, amendment requires that the management change impact report be given to residents at least 60-days prior to the hearing. Requires the person or entity proposing the change in use to pay to a displaced resident unable to obtain adequate housing in another mobilehome park the in-place market value of the displaced resident’s mobilehome.

AB 1482: Rent Control
Communities without their own rent control laws will now be covered by statewide rent control protections. The law limits rent increases to 5% each year plus inflation, but never above 10% total. The law does not apply to housing built in the 15 years prior. The limit is a rolling number so the date that housing is excluded changes every year.

SB 222: Housing Discrimination
Expands existing law to protect veterans and military personnel against housing discrimination.

SB 1188: Tenant is Allowed Occupancy of Property to Person at Risk of Homelessness
Creates a legal framework allowing a tenant, with the written approval of the owner/landlord, to take in a “person at risk of homelessness”. It includes protections for both the landlord and tenant, including the ability for the tenant to remove the person at risk of homelessness on short notice with the assistance of the police.

SB 644: Reduced Security Deposit for Service Members
Landlord may only collect one month security for unfurnished unit, or two months for furnished units, from a service member who resides on the property.

SB 329: Discrimination on the Basis of Source of Income
“Discrimination” on the basis of “source of income” has been expanded to include a refusal to rent to a tenant based on the tenant’s receipt of federal, state or local housing subsidies including “Section 8”.

AB 1110: Rent Increases above 10% Requires a 90-day Notice
Defines the notice period for increasing rent above 10% in any 12-month period as 90 days. Previously, it was 60 days. Increases that result from recertification are not held to the new notice period requirement. When the proposed rent increase for a tenant is caused by a change in a tenant’s income or family composition as determined by a recertification required by statute or regulation, the notice shall be delivered at least 30 days before the effective date of the increase, regardless of the percentage increase.

SB 18:  Extends Indefinitely Protections to Tenants in Foreclosed-Upon Property
Specifically, extends indefinitely the requirement that a landlord of a foreclosed property provide a month-to-month tenant with a 90-day notice of termination and that existing leases must generally be honored.

New California Laws Pertaining to Public Safety & Health for 2020

SB 1383: Unlawful Employment Practice: California Family Rights Act
Approved by Governor September 17, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State September 17, 2020.
Expands the California Family Rights Act to make it an unlawful employment practice for any employer with 5 or more employees to refuse to grant a request by an employee to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period to bond with a new child of the employee or to care for themselves or a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner, as specified. Requires an employer who employs both parents of a child to grant leave to each employee.

Also makes it an unlawful employment practice for any employer to refuse to grant a request by an employee to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period due to a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States. Defines employee for these purposes as an individual who has at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, unless otherwise provided.

AB 685: COVID-19: Imminent Hazard to Employees: Exposure: Notification: Serious Violations
Approved by Governor September 17, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State September 17, 2020.
Requires employers to notify their employees of potential COVID-19 exposures in the workplace. It also requires that they alert their local health department of outbreaks, defined as three or more positive cases within 14 days. Also strengthens the power of Cal/OSHA, the state agency charged with regulating workplace safety, to enforce these rules and even to shut down any worksite deemed to be an “imminent hazard” to employees because of COVID risk.

AB2210 Contractors: Violations: Disciplinary Actions: Tree Trimming
Approved by Governor September 24, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State September 24, 2020.
Adds additional violations pertaining to Tree Safety Orders, that constitute a cause for disciplinary action without regard to whether death or serious injury to an employee resulted from the violation. Extends from 180 days to 18 months the time that CSLB (California State License Board) has to bring disciplinary action against a contractor, for a contractor’s willful or deliberate violation. Changes to the law will help prevent accidents, as the CSLB can now act on non-injurious violations like failing to provide proper training and equipment.

SB 167: Public Safety Power Shutoffs
Requires utility companies like PG&E to devise plans on reducing the negative impact of planned power shutoffs to first responders and people with disabilities.

AB 247: Tree Trimming
Gives the California Public Utilities Commission more oversight over tree trimming efforts by utility companies. Power companies now have to submit timely reports on their brush and tree trimming work.

SB 209: Wildfire Warning Center
Establishes a wildfire warning center to broaden the state’s ability to predict and prepare for wildfire. The center would rely on a statewide network of automated weather stations and fire detection cameras.

California Legislative Resource Links for Homeowners, Property Owners & Property Managers:

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