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5 New California Laws that Apartment Owners and Property Managers Should Be Aware Of

We here at CRE Radio have not given justice to those CRE professionals in the muti-family sector.  That’s because most of my litigation experience is in retail, office and industrial and I always stayed as far away from litigation involving apartment leases as I could. That is all about to change here.  With that in mind, I thought a good place from me to start is to mention some new laws in California that relate to residential landlords and property managers.

  1. KIDDE900-0136-003_1Commencing July 1, 2014, the only battery powered smoke alarms that are allowed to be installed in a residential rental unit are the type that have a 10 year battery life with batteries that are non-replaceable.  Existing smoke alarms must be replaced by July 1, 2015. So this explains why I have been hearing advertisements hawking smoke alarms that last 10 years.  If I knew that such alarms existed 2 months ago, I would have replaced some of our existing smoke alarms in my home with these longer lasting ones.  Don’t you hate it when a low battery smoke alarm goes off at 2:00 am and you spend an hour hunting down which one needs to have the battery replaced.
  2. Tenant Victims of Human Trafficking.  I have to admit, I never gave this much thought.  Human trafficking is repulsive to me, but I never considered that a law was necessary to allow a tenant, who is a victim of human trafficking, terminate their lease by submitting evidence from a qualified health professional.
  3. Credit reporting agencies cannot prohibit creditors, including landlords, from giving a credit report to a person who was denied credit or a rental agreement based upon the report.
  4. In California, threatening to report a person’s immigration status to gain some leverage over that person, (tenant in this context) is considered extortion and a crime. I suppose there are some landlords out there who will threaten to report a tenant’s immigration status to extort higher rents or other favors.  No matter how you feel about immigration, extortion of this type is pretty despicable.
  5. Real estate licensees are required to maintain real estate records for, at least three years.  Now this is an interesting requirement.  I have been told by a number of real estate agents that they were instructed by their brokers to destroy their records as soon as the transaction was completed, to avoid possible lawsuits.  In another instance, I was advised in a corporate directors training course, not to keep any records of directors meetings at all, not even notes, again to avoid lawsuits. Destroying records, unless it is after a reasonable or statutorily prescribed time, whichever is longer, is a very short sighted strategy. Please give me an opponent in litigation who destroys their records too quickly.

This post was inspired by an article written by Neil Kalin, Assistant General Counsel for the California Association of REALTORS©

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