Sacramento passed a number of state laws impacting buyers, sellers and homeowners that take effect this year. They include disclosures rules, tenant-landord issues, immigration questions, and health and safety regulations, as well as measures designed to address the state’s lack of affordable housing.
Here are some of the most impactful new laws, according to the California Association of Realtors:
• HOA Documents. A new law modifies the form used to identify the charges for requesting copies of homeowner association documents.
The law also requires prospective managers of HOAs to disclose any conflicts of interest to the board when presenting a bid for services.
• Disclosures Private Transfer Fees. Sellers are now required to inform potential buyers that any Private Transfer Fees may impact their ability to obtain financing.
• Home Inspectors Swimming Pool Safety. Home inspections for private single-family homes with pools or spas must now include noninvasive physical examinations to determine if the pool or spa has been constructed with at least two defined drowning prevention safety features.
• Mobile Home Parks. Managers of mobile home parks are now required to disclose the name, business address and business telephone number of the park owner within 10 days of a written request from the homeowner.
• HOA Solar Energy Systems. Homeowner associations may not establish a general policy prohibiting the installation or use of a rooftop solar energy system for household purposes on the roof of the building in which the owner resides, or a garage or carport adjacent to the building that has been assigned to the owner for exclusive use.
• Solar Energy Consumer Protections. This new law requires the Contractors’ State License Board, in collaboration with the Public Utilities Commission, to develop a “solar energy system” disclosure document that provides a consumer with accurate, clear, and concise information regarding the installation of a solar energy system by July 1. The law also requires the PUC to develop standards for the calculation and presentation of electric utility bill savings that can be expected by using a solar energy system and to post them on its Web site by July 1, 2019.
• Pace Liens Consumer Protections. This law adopts various consumer protections and best practices recommended by the federal Department of Energy in regard to PACE lien financing for solar units.
• Fire Prevention Fees Suspended. The fire prevention fee is suspended beginning with the fiscal year that runs July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. This suspension runs through the end of 2030.
• Counties May Exempt Certain Property Taxes. This new law authorizes the board of supervisors of a county to provide that a tax on real or personal property is not a lien against the property assessed if the amount of the tax assessed against that property or the person is less than $200, excluding any interest, penalties, or other fees.
• Storm Water Assessments. Storm water management assessments may be made or increased by a simple majority as opposed to a two-thirds.
• Voluntary Replacement of Older Wood-Burning Stoves. A new program will provide incentives for homeowners to replace their older wood-burning stoves.
• Landlord/ Tenant Disclosure of Flood Hazard. Landlord or agents are now required to provide written information regarding flood hazards including if the landlord has “actual knowledge” that the property is or is not located in a special flood area or area of potential flooding.
• Landlord/ Tenant Immigration Status. A new law expands protections against discrimination based on immigration status and makes it illegal to disclose information related to that status in the context of residential housing.
• Tenants Allowed to Have Pets. For new housing developments financed through certain Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) programs, residents must be allowed to have one or more household pets.
• Land Use Groundwater Sustainability Agencies. The new law authorizes any local agency or combination of local agencies overlying a groundwater basin to decide to become a groundwater sustainability agency for that basin.
• Manufactured Homes. Owners may no longer be held liable for certain taxes and fees that accrue after the home is sold if the owner follows proper procedures to notify the Department of Housing and Community Development of the sale or transfer.
State and local programs designed to facilitate home ownership or residence must now include manufactured housing, to the extent feasible.
• Streamlined Affordable Housing Production. This law creates a streamlined "by-right" approval process for infill projects with two or more residential units or Accessory Dwelling Units in certain localities.
• Enforcement of California Housing Laws. The law enhances the authority of the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to determine if a city or county is in compliance with its general plans for housing development.
• Alternative Zoning and Environmental Approval Process. This law provides local governments the option of creating "Housing Sustainability Districts" to streamline the residential development process in areas with existing infrastructure and transit.
• Housing Projects. Ensures that local agencies cannot disapprove housing projects without strong evidence that the project adversely impacts public health or safety.
• State Housing Crisis. Existing law requires local government to address and, where appropriate and legally possible, remove governmental constraints to housing. This law would require nongovernmental constraints also be addressed.
• Workforce Housing. Authorizes local governments to establish Workforce Housing Opportunity Zones.
• Housing Recording Tax. Recording fees to be increased to between $75 and $225 per transaction. Sales transactions and transfers to owner-occupied are exempted. The fees will help fund affordabi
• Housing Accessory Dwelling Units. A new law expands on the 2016 changes to state law designed to ease certain local barriers to the development of accessory dwelling units, also known as “in-law units” or “granny flats.”
• Student Housing. Prohibits a city, county, or city and county from limiting the number of efficiency units in certain locations near public transit or university campuses.
• Affordable Housing Authorities. New law allows for a city or county to create an affordable housing authority which encompasses the entire city or county.
• Additional Housing Bills.
SB 3 authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for affordable housing programs and a veteran's home ownership program, if approved by voters in November.
SB 166 ensures that cities maintain an ongoing supply of housing construction sites for residents of various income levels
AB 571 eases qualifications for the Farmworker Housing Tax Credit.
AB 1397 increases the number of sites where new multifamily housing can be built.
AB 1505 authorizes cities and counties to adopt an inclusionary ordinance in order to create affordable housing.
AB 1515 grants housing projects the protections of the Housing Accountability Act if the project is consistent with local planning rules despite local opposition.
AB 1521 gives experienced housing organizations a first right to purchase affordable housing developments.
For more information about real estate, contact your local Realtor today.
Cher Wollard is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties in Livermore.