Affordable Housing Fund Document Recording Fee

With keen awareness of California’s shortage of affordable housing, the legislature passed more than 20 bills related to housing in this year’s session. Chief among these laws is Senate Bill 2

This law provides a permanent source of funding for affordable housing by imposing a flat $75 per document recording fee on every real estate instrument that is NOT part of a sales transaction. In this way, SB 2 is written to ensure that the fee will not burden home purchase transactions. The fee will be capped at $225 per transaction and coordinated with other revenue sources. C.A.R. supported SB 2 which dedicates 20% of the funds generated to affordable workforce housing and 70% of revenues to local governments for housing.

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Landlord/Tenant – New Flood Disclosure Starting July 1, 2018

For every residential lease or rental agreement entered into on or after July 1, 2018, Assembly Bill 646 requires a landlord or agent to disclose in writing information regarding flood hazards,  including the landlord’s “actual knowledge.” Specifically, the law requires disclosure of
1) Pre-printed language concerning floods, emergency services, and renter’s insurance, and
2) The owner’s actual knowledge of whether the property is located in a flood zone.

The flood zones that must be disclosed include both the special hazard area in which flood insurance is required and also flood inundation areas at risk because of dams. The owner or agent will be deemed to have actual knowledge of these flood areas if the owner has or is required to carry flood insurance or if the owner has received written notice from a public agency stating that the property is in one of these zones.

Landlord/Tenant – Protection of Immigrants in Residential Rental Housing

This new law (Assembly Bills 291 and 299) was part of a suite of 11 new laws aimed at protecting immigrants. In the context of residential rental housing, it prohibits any threat to disclose information relating to immigration status with the intent of harassing, intimidating or retaliating, or influencing a tenant to vacate.

Currently, a landlord is prohibited from inquiring into the immigration status of a prospective or actual tenant or discriminating generally against a person on the basis of immigration status, citizenship, or primary language. Nonetheless, a landlord under existing law may still request information or documentation necessary to determine or verify the financial qualifications of a prospective tenant or determine or verify the identity of a prospective tenant or occupant. The new law explicitly adds that the landlord may disclose information when complying with any legal obligation under federal law such as any federal government program that provides for rent limitations or rental assistance to a qualified tenant, or a subpoena, warrant, or other order issued by a court. 

Three aspects of the new law stand out. First, there are significant penalties and damages for its violation. A statutory penalty of between 6 and 12 times the monthly rent can be imposed for a violation. This is in addition to all other damages. Second, under this law, a new affirmative defense is created in an Unlawful Detainer against discriminatory action based upon immigration or citizenship status. And third, the definition of immigration or citizenship status is expanded so that anyone who is perceived to have a particular immigration or citizenship status, whether they have one or not, falls under its protections, as well as any person being associated with a person within the protected class.

PACE Liens – Two New Laws Reinforce Consumer Protections

It’s no secret that the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) lien programs have exploited consumers through less than forthright and sometimes unscrupulous sales and lending practices. Two separate laws were passed this year, both of which double down on consumer protections regarding PACE liens and renewable energy systems. These laws follow last year’s passage of a PACE lien disclosure law, complete with a three-day cancellation right.

The first law, Assembly Bill 1070, seeks to address specific consumer complaints related to false or misleading advertising regarding “solar energy systems.” It requires the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), in collaboration with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), to develop and make available a “solar energy system disclosure document” for solar energy customers which must be attached to the front of every solar energy contract. It also requires the PUC to develop a standardized calculation of utility bill savings. Finally, starting July 1, 2019 the CSLB will be required to compile reports documenting consumer complaints relating to solar contractors.

The second law, Senate Bill 242, was actually a renewable-energy industry effort (in recognition of the consumer issues that plague their business model).  It adopts various consumer protections and best practices recommended by the federal Department of Energy in regard to PACE lien financing and improvements by, among other things, requiring a program administrator (such as HERO) to make oral confirmation of contractual terms and various consumer rights before a property owner executes an assessment contract.

2018 Advertising Rules: Revised Q&A and New Quick Guide – One More Time

The Hotline continues to receive many calls from agents and brokers about the 2018 Advertising Rules and the new rules are also a hot topic at Legal Outreaches. Keeping in mind that we often have to hear things a few times before they really sink in, this is a reminder that C.A.R. has two tools that can help you be in compliance in 2018. The recently revised Q&A, Advertising Your Services: Required Name and License Information, has the information you need to know. Another tool is the Quick Guide: The 2018 Advertising RulesThe Quick Guide is part of the new C.A.R. Legal Tools that provide easy to use videos, slide decks, flyers, and quick summaries of important topics for REALTORS®.  In addition to the links above, you can access other Q&As, and Legal Tools through the Legal Hotline App.  You can also use the Hotline App to contact the Hotline if you have additional legal questions.