Real estate laws are continually changing in California and the new year brought some important changes. Here are 3 new California laws that directly affect landlords in 2018.
1. AB-291: Tenant Immigration Status
This law is another step in fighting discrimination. If a landlord becomes knowledgeable that a tenant does not have legal immigration status after they have occupied the dwelling, they cannot use that information to threaten the tenant in order to influence them to vacate the property. This means that if you as a landlord do not do your due diligence in screening your potential tenants and do not verify their citizenship status prior to signing a lease with them, you cannot threaten to report them to immigration authorities in an attempt to get them to move out if you find out later on during the lease period.
2. AB-64: Legal Marijuana
Marijuana is now legal for recreational use inside of a private residence, which has many California residents excited. However, this does not mean that you have to allow your tenants to smoke it in your rental property. If you have a standard C.A.R. lease agreement, then included in the lease is a statement prohibiting using, storing or manufacturing "illicit" or "illegal" drugs. Marijuana may be legal in California, but it is still a Schedule I drug as far as the Federal Government is concerned and is still Federally illegal. Many lease agreements also have a "smoke free" clause that marijuana smoke falls under. If you don't want your tenants using marijuana on your property, make sure your lease is up to date and contains the necessary verbiage to prevent this.
3. AB-646: Flood Hazard Disclosures
After July 1, 2018, residential lease agreements must disclose to the tenant that the property is in a special flood hazard area or if the the potential for flooding exists in the area. The owner must have "actual knowledge" about the flood hazard, which is defined by a bunch of legal terms in the law itself. Basically, if you have been notified by a public agency that your property is in a flood hazard zone or if you hold flood insurance for the property, you need to inform your tenants. Your insurance is not required to cover loss of the tenant's personal possessions but merely informs them of the hazard so that they can obtain their own flood insurance protection.
Managing rental properties is a tough business, especially in light of the continually changing California legal landscape. A professional property management company can be a huge asset in helping you navigate the tricky legal grounds of real estate and give you the peace of mind that your property is being managed in accordance with all federal and state requirements.