Over the past year, the California Apartment Association weighed in on hundreds of rental housing related bills at the state Capitol. These efforts prevented many of the most-problematic proposals from reaching the governor’s desk, while also helping push some positive bills across the finish line. In the paragraphs that follow, we review some of the bills signed into law with the highest potential to affect your rental operations in the year to come. Each of the laws described below takes effect in 2024.
Screening Fee Receipts – Under this law, landlords and applicants for tenancy can agree to use email to deliver a screening fee receipt, sending it to an email account provided by the applicant. Previously, property owners were required to hand-deliver or mail the receipt. AB 1765 was initiated by the Assembly Housing Committee.
Trespass Letters – This law prolongs the validity of trespass letters, also known as 602 letters, from 30 days to 12 months. With trespass letters, a property owner can alert local law enforcement that a property is uninhabited. This allows law enforcement to clear the property of any trespasser who attempts to take up residence and who claims they are a legal occupant. If a 602 letter is on file with local law enforcement, landlords need not go to court to evict an individual who claims to be a legal tenant. SB 602 was authored by Sen. Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera).
Security Deposits – This law caps security deposits at one month’s rent, regardless of whether a unit is furnished or unfurnished. Owners of no more than two rental properties, comprising no more than four units, can request up to two months’ rent. The law takes effect July 1, 2024. AB 12 was authored by Assemblyman Haney (D-San Francisco).
Tenancy: Micromobility Devices – This law allows a tenant’s micromobility devices, such as e-bikes and e-scooters, to be stored in the rental unit — so long as the batteries are approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the European Product Standards. If they do not meet these standards, the landlord can require the tenant to have insurance for the device and can prohibit the tenant from plugging it in inside the rental unit. If the landlord provides the tenant secure, long-term storage outside the unit, they can mandate that the device be stored outside the unit. SB 712 was authored by Sen. Portantino (D-Burbank).
Just Cause Eviction – This amendment to the state’s Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482) changes some of its just-cause for eviction rules. These changes apply in cases where the owner terminates the tenancy because the owner or the owner’s family wishes to move into the unit or in those cases where the owner needs to perform substantial rehab to the unit. The law requires specific notices from the landlord to the tenant in those cases. It also imposes penalties against rental property owners who fail to follow the law. SB 567 was authored by Sen. Durazo (D-Los Angeles).
Costa-Hawkins: Permanent Disabilities – This law allows local jurisdictions that have enacted rent control ordinances to permit a tenant to maintain the same rent if they make a request to the landlord to move to a comparable or smaller unit in the same building due to a permanent disability related to mobility. The law provides that the move is allowed if all of the following apply:
- The tenant’s move is determined to be necessary to accommodate the tenant’s physical disability related to mobility-related disability;
- There is no operational elevator that serves the floor of the tenant’s current unit;
- The new unit is in the same building or on the same parcel with at least four other units and shares the same owner;
- The new dwelling or unit does not require renovation to comply with applicable requirements of the Health and Safety Code;
- The applicable rent control board or authority determines that the owner will continue to receive a fair rate of return or offers an administrative procedure ensuring a fair rate of return for the new unit;
The tenant must be current on their rent. Any security deposit paid by the tenant in connection with their rental of the dwelling or unit being vacated shall be handled in accordance with existing security deposit law upon the tenant’s move. AB 1620 was authored by Assemblyman Zbur (D-Los Angeles)
Credit History – Governmental Rental Subsidy – This law prohibits rental property owners from using a person’s credit history as part of the application process – if they have a government rental subsidy, such as Section 8 — without offering the applicant the option to provide alternative evidence of a verifiable legal means to pay their portion of the rent. SB 267 was authored by Sen. Eggman (D-Stockton).