Action Center: Pacific Region
The action center is where information about legislative actions around the country are gathered and posted for the benefit of all members. If you have any information to add here to the Pacific Region (California, Nevada, Hawaii), e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retaliatory Eviction Bill Defeated in California Assembly Committee
A proposed bill, AB 969, would have extended the provisions of California's retaliatory eviction statute to include tenants who are not current on rent. The current statute allows tenants who have been issued a notice of termination of month-to-month tenancy to claim retaliatory tenancy and if successful retain possessoin for at least 180 more days. To make such a claim, however, the tenant must be current on rent; the proposed bill would have removed that requirement. Fortunately, the bill was defeated in committee. The text of the bill is available here.
Washington Passes Safe Keys Bill
Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently signed legislation amending the state's landlord tenant law which adds a provision requiring landlords to "maintain and safeguard with reasonable care any master key or duplicate keys to the dwelling unit." The change comes after a woman was attacked in her apartment by a maintenance worker who gained entry using a key from the manager's office. While "reasonable care" is not defined in the statute, landlords and property managers should review their internal controls to ensure they are providing adequate protection. Click here for the full story or see a summary of the bill.
Court Closures in California
Due to the state budget crisis, several California courts are consolidating their case loads in a cost saving measure. This will impact which court has jurisdiction in unlawful detainer, eviction process, and other landlord tenant disputes. For more information including a list of jurisdiction changes, see the update issued by Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP.
Legislation Considered by Hawaii State Legislature
Several bills currently before the Hawaii State Legislature have property managment implications. HB19 has passed the legislature and will become effective July 1; it removes the requirement for landlords to advertise in the newspaper before disposing of abandoned property. Other legislation still pending includes SB328 which expands the allowable treatment of security deposits and pets and SB805/HB676 which would prevent discrimination based on the source of income, such as Section 8 or other state funded programs.
California Legislative Session Ends
The California State Legislature ended its legislative session and passed several bills that affect landlords and property managers. AB1679 allows owners and tenants to agree to the electronic return of security deposits and emailing of itemized statements and receipts rather than doing so my first class mail. AB2521 raises the threshold of abandoned property which can be disposed of by a property owner to $700 from $300. AB1953 requires landlords to properly disclose where and to whom tenants should pay rent and prohibits eviction if that disclosure is not made. SB1055 prohibits landlords from requiring electronic fund transfers as the only form of payment from tenants for rent or security deposits. AB2610 and SB1191 makes California law consistent with the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act and requires disclosure to prospective tenants when a property owner has received a Notice of Default. AB1925 overrides a local law in the City of San Francisco and limits the amount owed to tenants when they need to be temporarily relocated. SB1394 requires all rental unit bedrooms to have smoke detectors by 2016. SB1403 adds elder abuse to the crimes for which victims are entitled to additional protections under the Domestic Violence law.
California License Suspension
DRE Can Suspend Licensee for Acting Against Public Interest or Committing an Offense Involving Dishonesty: Commencing January 1, 2009, the DRE can suspend a license up to 36 months: (1) if suspension is in the public interest and the licensee knew or should have known that violating a DRE rule would cause material damage to the public; or (2) for committing any offense involving dishonesty, fraud, or deceit, or an offense reasonably related to the qualifications of a licensee, whether such offense was adjudicated by a criminal conviction, plea of nolo contendere, final judgment in a civil action, or administrative agency judgment. A person suspended under this law is prohibited from engaging in any business activity related to real estate in a real estate office or certain related fields. Senate Bill 1737.
English as a Second Language in California
California has enacted legislation to help people with English as a second language. The code is found below. CA Civil Code 1632b
1632. (a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the following:
- (1) This section was enacted in 1976 to increase consumer information and protections for the state's sizeable and growing Spanish-speaking population.
- (2) Since 1976, the state's population has become increasingly diverse and the number of Californians who speak languages other than English as their primary language at home has increased dramatically.
(b) Any person engaged in a trade or business who negotiates primarily in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, orally or in writing, in the course of entering into any of the following, shall deliver to the other party to the contract or agreement and
prior to the execution thereof, a translation of the contract or agreement in the language in which the contract or agreement was negotiated, which includes a translation of every term and condition in that contract or agreement:
- (1) A contract or agreement subject to the provisions of Title 2 (commencing with Section 1801) of, and Chapter 2b (commencing with Section 2981) and Chapter 2d (commencing with Section 2985.7) of Title 14 of, Part 4 of Division 3.
- (2) A loan or extension of credit secured other than by real property, or unsecured, for use primarily for personal, family or household purposes.
- (3) A lease, sublease, rental contract or agreement, or other term of tenancy contract or agreement, for a period of longer than one month, covering a dwelling, an apartment, or mobilehome, or other dwelling unit normally occupied as a residence.
California May Insist on Landlord Participation in Section 8 Program
On June 9, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Glenmont Hills Assoc vs. Montgomery County, Maryland, a case that addressed whether state and local governments have the authority to mandate participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher even though it is voluntary under federal law.
As a result, the lower court ruling will stand. The findings in that case concluded that Montgomery County's ordinance was not preempted by federal law and that the landlord had violated the ordinance by refusing to participate in the Section 8 program. The California Apartment Association has filed a motion to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case.
So what does this mean for California? Currently, California state law does not specifically mandate rental property owners' participation in the Section 8 program. California's definition of "source of income" contains language that is intended to exclude Section 8 vouchers, so that the program remains voluntary for landlords. The law provides:
"Source of income" is defined as "lawful, verifiable income paid directly to a tenant or paid to a representative of a tenant. For purposes of this section, a landlord is not considered a representative of a tenant." (Government Code Section 12955 (p)(1))
California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing agrees that the Section 8 program's rent subsidies are not included in California's definition of source of income. According to the Department, "Source of income is defined in the law as 'lawful verifiable income paid directly to a tenant or a representative of a tenant.' Section 8 is a federal program providing rental subsidies for individuals who meet certain financial criteria paid directly to a landlord and, as such, it is not included in the definition of source of income."
Alternatively, some cities in California do prohibit owners from discriminating against individuals who hold Section 8 vouchers. None of these local laws, however, have been tested as to their conflict with California state law.