2017 Multifamily Housing Legislative Changes

From new laws that will affect California’s tenant screening services to Seattle, Washington’s “first come, first served” renter law, 2017 has brought an onslaught of new multifamily housing legislation. Here are some passed and pending bills you should look out for this year.


PENDING: HUD’s Smoke-Free Public Housing (view rule)

The department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has proposed a rule that requires each public housing authority (PHA) to implement a smoke-free policy. This smoke-free policy applies to all public housing living units, indoor common areas, PHA administrative buildings, and in outdoor areas extending up to 25 feet from both the public housing and office buildings. This rule is currently up for comment until January 19th, 2017. Once this rule is published with the Federal Register and the effective date is established, all PHAs must implement the smoke-free policy within 18 months.

The National Consumer Assistance Plan (read our full article)

Announced in September of 2016, the three major credit bureaus will be enacting the National Consumer Assistance Plan to new and existing public record data on July 1, 2017. Experian® anticipates that the new standards will likely affect about 96% of civil judgment data, thus making it imperative that property managers order eviction reports as part of their screening.



Landlord/Tenant Unlawful Detainer Proceedings (AB 2819)

There will be no public access to unlawful detainer (eviction) records, unless the plaintiff/landlord prevails within 60 days of filing. The previous law had the defendant/tenant required to prevail within 60 days to bar public access. This goes into effect, January 1, 2017.

Pesticide Application in Common Interest Developments (AB 2362)

Homeowner associations in common interest developments must now provide tenants advance written notice when over-the-counter pesticides are applied to separate interest dwellings or common areas. Notice must be provided at least 48 hours before application, however, if the pests pose a high and immediate threat, notification can be posted one hour before pesticides are applied.

Landlord/Tenant Bedbugs Disclosure (AB 551)

This amendment requires landlords to give information about bed bugs (as specified) to new tenants starting July 1, 2017 and for existing tenants starting January 1, 2018. Notice must also be given to tenants of units inspected by a pest control operator and provide the findings within 2 business days. This bill also prohibits landlords from showing, renting, or leasing a vacancy that the landlord knows has a bed bug infestation. By law, tenants must cooperate with bed bug inspections, permitting entry into the unit by the pest control operator.

Landlord/Tenant Commercial Leasing Disclosure (AB 2093)

Requires property owner(s) or lessor to state on every lease form on or after January 1, 2017 whether or not the premises have been inspected by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp). The landlord must provide tenants with a current disability access inspection certificate or report, or a copy of the CASp inspection report if the report indicates that they meet applicable disability standards. If the property does not have a disability access inspection certificate, then the lease form or rental agreement must state that, on the request of the tenant, a CASp inspection may be performed (as specified). Landlords are responsible for making repairs or modifications to correct violations of construction-related accessibility standards.

Amendments on Accessory (Second) Dwellings (AB 2299 and SB 1069)

Effective as of January 1, 2017, these two bills revise the zoning restrictions on second dwellings, allowing the creation of 2nd units in single-family and multifamily residential zones (with specified provisions regarding where the 2nd unit may be located, standards, etc.).  In addition to changing the term from “second unit” to “accessory dwelling units”, AB 2299, in particular, revises parking requirements for accessory dwellings. The previous law requires second units to not exceed one parking space per unit or bedroom, with additional authorization for more than one parking space. The amendment removes the need for additional authorization for accessory dwelling parking.

Junior Accessory Dwellings (AB 2406)

Local governments can now establish laws for the creation of junior accessory dwellings in single-family residential zones. Local governments are prohibited from requiring additional parking as a condition of granting a permit.

Removes Certain Disclosures for Transfer of Residential Property (AB 73)

This bill revises the requirements of certain disclosures that are to be made when transferring residential property. Now, the property owner, their agent, or the agent of the transferee of the property are no longer required to disclose the occurrence or manner of death of an occupant (as specified). The bill also no longer requires the disclosure that an occupant of the property was living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or died from AIDS related complications.

Development Bonuses for Commercial and Affordable Housing (AB 1934)

AB 1934 would provide a “development bonus” to commercial developers who partner with affordable housing developers. Until January 1, 2022, joint projects or two separate projects with affordable housing could include a 20% increase in maximum allowable intensity, a 20% increase in maximum allowable floor ratio, up to a 20% increase in maximum height or parking requirements, or an exception to a zoning ordinance.

Additional Density Bonuses (AB 2442)

Density bonuses will now be provided to developers who agree to construct housing that includes at least 10% of the total units for transitional foster youth, disabled veterans, or homeless persons (as defined). Units will be subject to a recorded affordability restriction of 55 years and must be provided at the same affordability level as low income units. Density bonus is at 20% of the number of these units.

Water Meter Requirements on New Developments (SB 7)

Water submeters are to be installed in new multifamily construction or mixed use commercial properties by January 1, 2018.

Landscape Irrigation Equipment (AB 1928)

This bill requires new performance standards and labeling requirements for landscape irrigation equipment and would postpone the date by which the commission is to adopt the performance standards and labeling requirements to January 1, 2019, and would prohibit the sale or the offer for sale of that equipment manufactured on or after the effective date.

 Water Conservation in Landscaping Act (AB 2515)

On or before January 1, 2020, and every 3 years thereafter, the Department of Water Resources are required to update the model water-efficient landscaping ordinance or find another means to improve water efficiency. This means landscaping requirements might change in the future, and continue to change every 3 years.



PENDING: Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016* (B21-0706)

Although this bill, modeled after “ban the box” legislation, has not yet been passed and is currently under council review, it could prohibit landlords from asking about an applicant’s prior criminal convictions until after they’ve extended a conditional offer of tenancy. After a conditional offer has been extended, property owners can only consider denying applicants based on specified types of convictions, and only if they’ve occurred in the past 7 years. Considerable crimes include: murder, assault, arson, sex abuse, robbery and fraud. If the rental offer is withdrawn, based on nondiscriminatory factors, the applicant can then request the reason in writing without charge. Property owners who fail to comply will be fined $1,000-5,000, depending on the amount of rental units owned.

*Los Angeles; San Francisco; Dane County, Wisconsin; Champaign, Illinois; New York city; and the state of Texas are either considering or have already passed similar “Ban the Box” initiatives.



“First-Come, First-Served” Renters Law (CB 118755)

Effective January 1, 2017, Seattle landlords will be required to rent their vacant housing units to qualified applicants on a “first-come, first-served” basis, reviewing applications one at a time. Landlords will also be required to provide applicants with information on their minimum screening criteria, before accepting a prospective renter’s application materials and keep records of the date and time an application has been received. This ordinance will prohibit landlords from offering special discounts to renters who work for particular companies.



Carbon Monoxide Safety Act (Legislative Bill 34)

This new legislation requires all new and existing homes and apartments to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarm devices. CO alarms must be installed in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association Standard 720. This bill goes into effect January 1, 2017.



PENDING: Just Cause Eviction Home Rule Petition (see petition)

While this petition, proposed by Boston’s Mayor Martin Walsh, is in the early stages, this bill would prohibit virtually all no-fault evictions in favor for specified “just cause” evictions. These “just cause” reasons are: non-payment of rent, damage by the tenant, disorderly conduct, illegal activity, and the failure to provide access. This law would also require landlords to file an additional Notice of Termination with the Office of Housing Stability before filing an eviction.


Are some of these laws going to affect you? How do you feel about this year’s legislation changes? Let us know your opinion in the comment section.

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