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Section 8 Cannot Be Excluded in California Effective January 1, 2020

San Diego passed a law that excluded discrimination based on Section 8 as a source of income. California has now passed the same law. If you search SB 329 you will find all the details. Be careful not to list your property as “no Section 8” or you will have a good chance of having troubles.

San Diego City Landlords: Section 8 Warning

As of August 1, landlords with properties in the city of San Diego are now required to consider Section 8, a federally subsidized rental assistance program, as a source of income. Prior to that date, landlords did not have to agree to participate in the program.

Beginning August 1st, an attorney in San Diego began filing law suits against landlords and/or management companies listing their property for rent but indicating that they do not accept Section 8.

Text of the Ordinance can be found at Chapter 9, Article 8, of the San Diego Municipal Code.

If you need further information, contact an attorney handling landlord/tenant law, or contact Bill Ausen at American Heritage Properties.

3 Day Notice Changes Response Time Extended

Three day notices are served on a tenant for not paying rent, or violating a term of the lease. For example, if the tenant has not paid rent then the “3-day” notice demands that the tenant pay the rent or move out within three days. If the tenant has violated the lease, such has having an unauthorized occupant, then the notice demands that they correct the violation or move out within three days.

In the past the days that the tenant has to perform has included weekends and holidays. Effective September 1, 2019, AB 2343 changes the existing law to exclude weekends and holidays, adding additional time for the tenant to pay the rent or correct the violation.

Knowledge of this change is important should it become necessary to serve a 3 day notice to your tenant. If you were to proceed to eviction without complying with the new law then you would likely lose your case. The courts are typically not forgiving of errors made by landlords.

Ready for Section 8 in San Diego?

On July 30, 2018, the San Diego City Council passed an ordinance that will require landlords to participate in the Section 8 Housing Program as of August 1, 2019.

If you have a rental property in the city of San Diego then you will be required to accept this government administered program.

At American Heritage Properties, we have experimented with the program several times over the years without success. We are confident that improvements in the system over the years will allow for a smooth transition into the program for landlords.

For more information on the program go to:
https://www.sdhc.org/doing-business-with-us/landlords/

At American Heritage, we will be orienting ourselves on the program over the next years so we are ready for the August 1 start date.

Service/Support Animals–Can a landlord just say no or charge an extra high deposit?

Landlords do not have the right to say no to a tenant who submits the legally required documents in order to establish an animal as a service/support animal.  There are federal and state laws that regulate service and support animals.

In most cases, the landlord may require that the tenant provide a written statement from a health care professional indicating that the person is disabled and is being prescribed the animal in order to allow them to enjoy the home the same way that a non-disabled person would.  A perfect example of this would be a service animal for a person who has impaired sight.   Be aware that a “health care professional” does not mean only a doctor.

When a tenant meets the legal requirements to have an animal as a service/support animal then the landlord cannot charge an extra deposit.  The best way to consider a service/support animal is to treat it like a wheelchair.  You wouldn’t charge an extra deposit to a tenant for their wheelchair, so the same applies to the service/support animal.

If you encounter a tenant/applicant with a support/service animal and do not know how to proceed, it is best to seek legal advice from an attorney who handles landlord/tenant law and is experienced with disability accommodations.

Statewide Rent Control In California Defeated

AB 1506, which would have repealed the “Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995”, was defeated. The bill to repeal never made it to the General Assembly after it failed to receive the required number of votes from the Housing and Community Development Committee.

This is considered a victory for small property owners since they would have had the government regulating and controlling rental rates.

If the rental rates continue to increase at the rate that they have been, then it is likely that we will see more attempts at rent control in the future.

Who pays for lost food when the frig breaks?

If the refrigerator breaks and the tenant’s food spoils is the landlord responsible for reimbursing the tenant for the cost of their spoiled food?

In most cases, the answer is no. Landlords are not insurers of their tenant’s property. If the tenant has renter’s insurance then that would likely cover the loss.

However, if the tenant can prove that the landlord was negligent in maintaining the refrigerator, then they might be able to hold the landlord responsible for the cost. An example of negligence would be repeated requests by the tenant to repair a failing refrigerator that are ignored by the landlord, resulting in the complete failure.

Landlords can protect themselves by promptly and effectively maintaining their property. Tenants can protect themselves by obtaining appropriate insurance coverage for their property.

Can I Limit the Number of Occupants in My Home?

Landlords must be reasonable when they set occupancy limits in order to prevent discrimination against any class of person.  For instance, if you have a three bedroom home and you set the limit at two people then that would likely be considered discriminatory on the basis of family status.  In other words, it would appear that you are trying to prevent families (adults with children) from renting your home since a family would often consist of more than two people.

There has been a long standing guideline accepted in the industry as a occupancy standard–that guideline is call the “two plus one” rule.  The idea is that two people per bedroom, plus one additional for the entire unit would be a reasonable standard that would be safe to use from a fair housing perspective.  This would mean five people for a two bedroom condo–two per each of the two bedrooms, plus one additional for the unit.  Many people feel that five people in a two bedroom home is too much, but that is the guideline that is typically considered safe to use.

There are many factors that can be taken into consideration aside from the “two plus one” guideline.  For instance, occupancy standards based on objective criteria such as square footage are more likely to be considered reasonable as long as the limits set are set appropriately.  In setting occupancy standards, I strongly recommend speaking to an attorney that specializes in fair housing.

As housing prices increase, we are likely to see more occupants per unit as tenants combine households.  I believe the issue of occupancy standards will become more public in the upcoming years.

 

Can I Require my Tenant to get Renter’s Insurance?

There was a case that was recently decided by the California Court of Appeals. The results of the case were an indication that even if your lease requires renter’s insurance, a tenant’s failure to maintain that policy is not a material breech and therefore likely to leave no option for enforcement.

Here is some brief information about the case:

Boston, LLC v. Juarez:  Juarez’s residential lease required him to maintain liability insurance and provided that any breach of the lease allowed the landlord to forfeit and terminate the lease. This decision holds that despite the lease’s broader wording only a material breach of the lease can permit lease termination at the landlord’s option, both because the clause is otherwise unconscionable and because it would violate the public policy embodied in Los Angeles’ Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Furthermore, the renter’s insurance that Juarez was supposed to maintain benefited the tenant, primarily, not the landlord, and the landlord made no showing it was prejudiced by Juarez’s failure to maintain that insurance. Accordingly, failure to maintain renter’s insurance was not a material breach of the lease, did not permit lease termination. Hence, the unlawful detainer judgment in the landlord’s favor had to be reversed.

In my opinion, everyone (landlord/tenant/management company/neighbors/guests) is better off when a tenant maintains a renter’s insurance policy.  There are so many benefits to the tenant.  A perfect example if this is if a unit were to have a flood–without renter’s insurance there is no coverage for their personal property, and if they cannot stay in the unit then they will likely only receive the pro rated daily rate of rent which is typically considerably less than a hotel or replacement housing.  Renter’s insurance usually provides great coverage for this type of loss and without the renter’s policy then the tenants are usually out of luck.  This is just one example of the many benefits.

The court was wrong in their decision but I don’t think that judges really care much about business owners and property owners in California.

I’m not an attorney, so the information I provide is not legal advice–just my impressions.  If you have any questions contact me, Bill Ausen, at American Heritage Properties renthomes.com.

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