The times – so the song goes – they are a-changin’. And nowhere is that more evident in 2018 than inside the state of California. As others settle into a fresh calendar year, anyone connected with the local real estate industry is running to catch up with a flurry of new laws.

If you’re a landlord, run a property management company, or plan to do one or the other, your livelihood could be affected by any of a host of new regulations.

Many of the bills being legislated are in response to California’s severe housing affordability crisis. While you may not experience their effects directly as a property manager, they’re sure to influence the real estate market.

Here are a few of the initiatives that are currently underway in California to help fund and enhance more affordable housing:

  • Recording fees are being introduced on many real estate transactions (Senate Bill 2)
  • Measures are being taken to streamline approval and zoning processes for new housing and development projects (Senate Bill 35)
  • Policies are being permitted that will require a certain percentage of new housing developments to be dedicated to low and moderate-income residents (Assembly Bill 1505)
  • New laws will make it much more difficult for local government to disapprove affordable housing projects (Senate Bill 167)

As an overview of what’s in the works specifically for landlords, we’ve also summarized a few of the new laws that are most likely to impact your property-related business. The list is by no means complete, however. So whether you’re buying or selling, managing or renting, the time to get knowledgeable is now.

New Laws for Landlords

Assembly Bill 646 says that if you lease or rent a residential property located in either a special flood hazard area – or an area of potential flooding – on or after July 1 this year, you’re obligated to disclose that information to your tenants.

Senate Bill 442 is making drowning prevention its mission in 2018. It’s now mandatory for residential swimming pools and spas built or remodeled this year and onwards to comply with a minimum of two out of seven approved safety standards – rather than just one as before. Additional inspections will also be necessary any time a pool-inclusive property is sold.

Controversial Senate Bill 54 is taking steps to turn California into a “sanctuary state.” Among other policies aimed at helping immigrants, associated Assembly Bill 291 has been specifically designed to prohibit landlords from:

  • disclosing a renter’s immigration status,
  • evicting – or threatening to evict – renters based on that status, and
  • reporting undocumented tenants to immigration authorities

But top prize for what’s probably the most pivotal of 2018’s new real estate laws goes to the pending Protect California Taxpayers Act. Thanks to recent Federal tax reforms that will cap state income and property tax deductions, highly-taxed California has proposed an Act that, if passed, will bypass the cap by “re-classifying” tax payments as “charitable contributions”!

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