Tip of the Month

TIP OF THE MONTH

 

 NOVEMBER 2019

What You Need to Know About California Fence Laws

Good Neighbor Fence Act

housewithfencepublicdomainvectorsIf you have a fence that’s on a boundary line with a neighbor, then you should know about the “Good Neighbor Fence Act.”

The “Good Neighbor Fence Act” of 2013 states: “Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties and, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties in a written agreement, shall be presumed to be equally responsible for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence.”

This means if you (or your neighbor) plan on getting a new fence that’s on the boundary line, you’ll most likely be sharing the costs. There are a few scenarios where a court can overrule the presumption. For example, if it’s proved that the cost would be too much for one owner and a few other reasons that are listed in the law. You can read more at

To comply with the law, be sure to send your neighbor a notice of your intent to install a fence on a boundary line at least 30 days before you start.


OCTOBER 2019

TENANTS RIGHTS THAT CANNOT BE SIGNED AWAY IN A LEASES

Can a landlord enter a tenant’s unit to merely “inspect” it?

No.  Tenants should note that a general inspection of the unit, even if only done annually, is not a permissible reason for entry under California law.  Random non-specific inspections are not legal, regardless of whether the tenant was provided proper notice or not.  When the landlord states the purpose for entry is to generally “inspect” the unit, the tenant should have the landlord clarify what specifically they are planning to inspect and have them put it in their written notice to the tenant.  The request for inspection may be a lawful one, or the landlord may be attempting to enter the unit with an ulterior motive.  In that case, when the landlord refuses to specify a legitimate purpose behind the inspection, the tenant may be able to reasonably refuse to allow the landlord access.

Because the landlord is responsible for keeping the property in a habitable condition, they may need to enter to make periodic inspections (likely deemed “necessary services” under section 1954) for specific reasons such as to inspect the plumbing, electrical wiring, and smoke detectors to make sure they are operating in accordance with industry standards.  Such inspections still necessitate that the tenant be provided with a twenty-four hour written notice before the landlord enters.  If, however, the tenant believes that the notice is not in good faith and that the landlord’s real intent is to invade the tenant’s privacy with a general inspection entry, which is prohibited, they should consult with an attorney.


SEPTEMBER 2019

DAY CARE – WHAT TO KNOW AS A LANDLORD

Prepared By: Melissa C. Marsh, Los Angeles Employment Attorney
Written: March 2009 – Last Updated: May 2016

Under California law, ALL single family residences, including rental apartments and condominiums, can be used as a day care facility because such is NOT considered a “business use of the property.” California Health & Safety Code § Section 1597.43(a). This right cannot be restricted by a condominium HOA or a landlord. In fact, any lease provision prohibiting the operation of a day care facility is void as against public policy, but that does not mean the landlord doesn’t have any rights.

A residential landlord who learns that a tenant is operating a family day care facility in their rental unit is permitted to require the tenant to pay an increased security deposit, but the requested security deposit still cannot exceed the maximum permitted by existing law (2 month’s rent).

The landlord may also request proof that the operation is properly licensed. To operate a family day care facility out of a rental unit the tenant must inform the landlord of his or her intent to do so and acquire a license from the California Department of Social Services, who as a condition of issuing the permit will inspect the premises for code compliance and require the day care operator to receive 15 hours of training. Once approved, the operator will be permitted to provide day care for up to 6 children under age 10, and if the owner consents an additional 2 school aged children.

A day care facility operator must also either: (1) carry general liability insurance of $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 aggregate; or (2) inform and have each parent acknowledge in writing that the day care facility is not insured, and that any liability insurance held by the landlord may not cover any claims or losses relating to the operation of the family day care facility. However, if the landlord otherwise requires each of its residents to carry renter’s insurance, that requirement will still apply to the rental unit within which a family day care services are provided.

A family day care service provider operating out of a rental unit should also be aware that a landlord and the adjacent residents are not required to tolerate excessive noise that disrupts the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of the other tenants, or other conduct that causes excessive damage to the property. Day care service providers should inform parents to be respectful of the neighbors when dropping off and picking up their children and should plan relatively quiet activities that respect the needs of the other tenants (coloring, painting, home work help, etc.). Landlords, on the other hand, should exercise caution before sending a written warning and/or notice of eviction as such may be deemed to be a discriminatory act. Landlords would be wise to inform their other tenants to document the disturbance and send a written complaint letter so the landlord will have evidence to substantiate his actions.

If you need further assistance, please schedule a low cost telephone consultation by completing our Telephone Consultation Request Form and Melissa Marsh will call you back at the time you select.

© 2009 – 2016 Melissa C. Marsh. All Rights Reserved.


 AUGUST 2019

California landlords must make a number of disclosures to tenants.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/california-required-landlord-disclosures.html

Flooding:

In leases or rental agreements signed after July 1, 2018, landlord must disclose, in at least eight-point type, that the property is in a special flood hazard area or an area of potential flooding if the landlord has actual knowledge of this fact. Actual knowledge includes receipt from a public agency so identifying the property; the fact that the owner carries flood insurance; or that the property is in an area in which the owner’s mortgage holder requires the owner to carry flood insurance. Disclosure must advise tenant that additional information can be found at the Office of Emergency Services’ website, and must include the Internet address for the MYHazards tool maintained by the Office. Disclosure must advise tenant that owner’s insurance will not cover loss to tenant’s property, and must recommend that tenant consider purchasing renter’s insurance that will cover loss due to fire, flood, or other risk of loss. Disclosure must note that the owner is not required to provide additional information. (Cal. Govt. Code § 8589.45.)

Bed bug information:

Before signing a lease or rental agreement, landlords must give potential tenants information about bed bugs, including information about their behavior and biology, the importance of cooperation for prevention and treatment, and the importance of prompt written reporting of suspected infestations to the landlord. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1954.603.)


 

JUNE 2019

California Adopts Change to Landlord-Tenant Notice Periods

judge 1WRITTEN BY POSTED ON THURSDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2018

“What a difference a day makes.” That difference can mean a lot to tenants according to supporters of California Assembly Bill 2343. The bill, which was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 5 of this year, will not take effect until September 1, 2019. It modifies the way in which days are counted in the matter of certain notices that landlords are required to provide to tenants.

Specifically, those notices are the ones known as (i) a three-day notice to pay or quit, (ii) a three-day notice to perform a covenant (duty) under the lease, and (iii) a five-day notice to file an answer to an unlawful detainer (eviction) suit. Crucial to such notices, as is the case with performance clauses in contracts, is defining how days are to be counted.

Under current California law, for the notices in question, the days to be counted begin with the first day after the notice is served. However, if the last day for performance is a weekend or holiday, it is excluded from the counting. (California Code of Procedure §12).

Some examples:

1. If, on Monday, I am given a three-day notice to pay, then I must pay within the days Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

2. If I received the three-day notice on Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday are counted, but Saturday and Sunday are excluded from being performance days. The final day for performance would be Monday, provided it is not a holiday.

3. If I receive the notice on Friday, and Monday is a holiday, then my last day for performance would be Tuesday. Friday and Saturday, as well as the Monday holiday, are included in the counting, they just can’t be required as a performance day.

AB 2343 changes current law with respect to which days can be counted when a tenant is given notice. Now, not only are weekends and holidays not days when performance can be required, but also, they are not days to be included in the counting. The only days to be counted are so-called court days, i.e. Monday through Friday, provided that none is a holiday.

When the new law becomes effective, if I am served with a three-day notice on Friday, counting will not begin until Monday. My last day for performance, presuming no holidays are involved, would be Wednesday.

Does this make a big difference? It probably would if you only had Monday to deal with paperwork, perhaps secure a loan, or any of a number of easily-imagined scenarios. Proponents of the bill had stated “Legal services programs throughout the state report that they are visited by frustrated tenants every day who are able to resolve the situations leading to their eviction, but not within the extremely narrow time provided by California law.” This was a particular concern with the five-day notice to respond to an eviction filing.

As it is, the original version of AB 2343 sought considerably more than what survived through the amendment process. The original version had proposed that the three-day notice periods be extended to ten days, and that the five-day notice period be extended to fourteen.

The bill was co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the California Rural Legal Foundation. It also had the support of a variety of tenants’-rights groups. The bill was opposed by, among others, the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtors® (CAR). After the amendments, CAR withdrew its opposition.


JULY 2019   REVAMPED RENTERS BILL CLEARS SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Despite strong opposition from the California Apartment Association, the California Chamber of Commerce and others, a statewide rent control bill on Wednesday night passed off the state Assembly floor.CAA remains steadfastly opposed to the bill, AB 1482 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco. The legislation now awaits committee hearings in the Senate.Early Wednesday evening, AB 1482 appeared to be defeated for the year, being 7-8 votes short of the 41 votes needed for passage. Chiu, however, agreed to several amendments to his proposal, which led the California Association of Realtors to lift its opposition and take a neutral position to the legislation.Chiu was then able to secure the needed votes to advance his proposal, which passed with 43 yes votes, 31 no votes and six abstentions.

Assemlyman David Chiu

In recent weeks, CAA has spearheaded a grassroots campaign to stop AB 1482. Those efforts culminated Wednesday during the association’s Legislative Conference in Sacramento, during which more than 400 rental housing owners and managers walked to the Capitol to ask lawmakers to reject the rent control proposal. CAA has also mobilized members to call Assembly members in their districts and urge no votes on the bill.

Some highlights of the  amendments that Chiu has agreed to take relative to AB 1482:

  • Increasing the annual cap on rent increases from CPI plus 5% to CPI plus 7%, the same cap adopted by Oregon earlier this year.
  • Exempting owners with 10 or fewer single-family homes.
  • Sunsetting the bill in three years, but with the option to renew – a foregone conclusion.

These changes do not remove CAA’s objections to the legislation.
Despite requests by CAA, Chiu has refused to provide any assurances that future Legislatures won’t lower the annual cap on rent increases. The Legislature could conceivably lower the law from CPI plus 7 to CPI plus 1 next year. This creates instability in the marketplace.

Additionally, including all buildings that are 10 years of age or older in the rent cap would result in a significant reduction, if not elimination, of new rental housing development projects. It is anticipated that with only a 10-year horizon, investors and lenders will opt to place capital in other ventures.

Moreover, the bill still does not address the crux of California’s housing crisis, which is a housing shortfall. California needs to build more housing as quickly as possible, and a statewide rent cap creates a disincentive for investors to build new housing or to renovate existing housing.

AB 1482 does not include means testing, so the state’s wealthiest residents will be eligible for a price ceiling on rentals, while renters most in need will get no assurances of assistance.

“It defies logic that the state Legislature continues to advance rent cap legislation, which will worsen California’s housing shortage, while rejecting legislation that would actually promote new homes, like SB 50, which would prohibit bans on apartment construction near jobs centers and public transportation,” said Tom Bannon, CAA’s chief executive officer. “This push for statewide rent control also comes just months after voters resoundingly rejected Proposition 10, the statewide rent control measure on November’s ballot.

“It’s time we work together to advance policies that will add housing that working families can afford instead of blanket policies that don’t address the real problem — a lack of supply



 

JULY 2019 REVAMPED RENTERS BILL CLEARS SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE