New Property Laws: Which Could Catch You Out? Part II

By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief

There have been a flurry of new state laws affecting houses, and those who live, build, rent or sell them. These include Law AB 551, which takes on bed bugs, AB 2406, which eases “granny flat” regulations and AB 1793, which gives contractors a bit more wiggle room when their licenses expire. And here are a few more we did not publish last month, with thanks to the law offices of Peter J. Brewer, which made them sound almost reasonable.

AB 2819
Under existing law, court records about an eviction are sealed for 60 days and then forever if the tenant wins the case. But budget cuts mean that many cases are not heard within 60 days, records are unsealed and tenants can end up on a blacklist even if they win in the end. So it’s been flipped: Records are sealed permanently unless the landlord wins within 60 days.

SB 7
Nearly half of Californians live in multi-housing households, where the total water bill goes to the landlord. But under SB 7, every tenant in a new build gets their own water meter to encourage conservation. But the landlords still have to read the meters.

SB 814
On a similar drought-prompted issue, water agencies must be prepared to turn off the tap on consumers using “excessive” amounts of water. What is excessive? Maybe, say law supporters, the Californian who used 12 million gallons in one year.

SB 657
Mortgage underwriters and processors can now get a license under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act. They were excluded two years ago, but some wanted to ensure they can prove to clients they are fiscally responsible.

SB 918
Members within Home Owner Associations must supply their organization with contact details, including a secondary address and contact information for a lawyer. The HOA executives are now legally obligated to collect these every year.

SB 1196
Real estate agents can have their licenses suspended if they plead guilty to crimes and offenses related to the job.

SB 1150
California passed the Homeowner Bill of Rights to slow down foreclosures during the last economic downturn. SB 1150 closes a loophole by protecting widows or widowers who are not named on a loan and are thus vulnerable to eviction. Loan services can now only foreclose after a “successor in interest” has had an opportunity to assume the mortgage or made other arrangements, such as selling off the property.