2016 Multifamily Housing Legislative Changes

With 2016 already here, new legislation has accompanied the New Year. Keep up to date with the new changes taking effect in California, and some potential legislation from across the nation that could impact your state in the New Year.


New Protected Classes (SB 600)

This legislation adds citizenship, primary language, and immigration status to the list of protected classes from discrimination. However, this bill does not require the provision of services or documents to be in any other language than English.

Pest Control Notice Requirements (SB 328)

Under the new law, landlords must now notify a tenant 24 hours prior to applying any pesticide inside a tenant’s dwelling, including over-the-counter pesticides. Written notice must include the pests to be controlled, the brand and product, date and time, frequency of application, and the phone numbers for the state poison control agency, local county health department, and the state pesticide agency. Neighboring tenants that might be affected must also be given notice. If a tenant requests immediate action towards pest problem, the tenant must agree to immediate notice before applying the pesticides.

Abuse Victim’s Lease Termination Rights (AB 418)

Previously domestic violence victims had to give 30 days notice when abruptly terminating their lease. Under the new law, abuse victims have the right to terminate their lease permanently with only 14 days’ notice. If multiple tenants rent a unit and one tenant terminates their lease based on the law, you are not responsible for reimbursing the security deposit or rent paid. Joint liability and several liability principles apply.

Building and Safety Code Violation Fines (AB 514)

Property owners are subject to hefty fines ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 for certain egregious building and safety code violations. If the violation is intentional and considered to be a significant threat to public safety, fines will be above the typical $100 – $1,000 infraction mark, reaching into the thousands.

Data Security Breach Notification (AB 964 and SB 570)

Any person or business that owns or licenses computerized data with personal information must disclose that a breach of the security system or data to any California resident whose unencrypted data was, or was believed to be, acquired by another person. Stolen encrypted data is not required to be reported to affected residents.

Property Insurance Discrimination (AB 447)

This law addresses discrimination by property insurance providers, making it illegal to discriminate by charging a higher premium or insurance rate based on a person’s class or characteristic. Examples include (among others) sex, race, color, religion, disability, medical condition, and marital status. This bill adds source of income and receipt of government or public assistance to the categories that may not be discriminated against, protecting landlords from getting higher premiums based on the characteristics of their tenants.

Unemployment Discrimination (AB 676)

This bill prohibits requiring current employment as a condition for employment. Asking about relevant work history is accepted, however you may not ask about current employment status until after you have determined that the candidate is qualified for the position. This also applies when posting job listings online.

Salary History Discrimination (AB 1017)

Employers are prohibited from seeking salary history information about an applicant for employment.

Certified Disability Access Specialist (CASp) Bill (AB 1342)

CASp inspectors, certified professionals that are hired to analyze if a property owner’s property is compliant with disability access laws, are now required to notify the State Architect of their service location so that the information may be accessible online. Because of this, the bill also requires commercial property owners to provide its tenants with a current disability access inspection certificate and the inspection report (or a copy of a CASp report) on or after January 1, 2016.

Disability Access Liability Protection for Small Businesses (SB 251)

This new law gives business owners 90 days from the date of the CASp inspection to fix the violations before being subject to a liability. Small businesses that correct the violations within 15 days of receiving notice of the potential violation are also protected from liability for technical violations.

The Clothesline Law (AB 1448)

Tenants must seek the consent of the landlord in writing to use an outdoor clothesline.

Mold is now a Substandard Housing Condition (SB 655)

The presence of visible mold in a dwelling may be considered a substandard housing condition and a citation may be issued against a property owner for not addressing the mold problem.


Georgia Modified Fair Credit Report Acts (HB328)

Any business that is primarily conducted in the state of Georgia requires that the CRA performing the background check adheres to additional provisions within the FCRA. Namely, anytime public information is reported the consumer must be notified immediately of whom such information is being reported to.

New York’s Rent Act of 2015

In addition to extending New York’s rent regulation laws for four more years, restrictions on vacancy allowances for “preferential rents” and the amount of rent charged for major capital improvements will be enforced this year. There will be an increase in vacancy and high-income decontrol thresholds, as well as an increase in penalties for landlord harassment cases.

North Carolina (HB607) Consumer Security Freeze on Credit Report

This new bill allows parents and guardians to create a credit report for their children (under 16 years old) and immediately freeze it. This makes it more difficult for criminals to steal a child’s information, which is unlikely to be checked for more than a decade.

Oregon’s New Rental Laws

After updating the Oregon Landlord Tenant Act, ORS 90.302 now enables landlords to charge noncompliance fees to tenants who do not clean up the waste of a service or companion animal. Alongside the addition of non-compliant pet fees, ORS 90.412 has been amended to clarify the failure to pay for damages process. Oregon’s landlords must now also provide a reasonable written summary of the exceptions for insurance requirements, which typically affects low income tenants or subsidized housing. ORS 90.220(9)(a) has also been amended to list the application order for tenant payments with “outstanding rents from previous periods” taking priority. With the revision of the Oregon Landlord Tenant Act many other provisions have been created and amended, and this summary should be treated as such, a summary.


Ban the Box

While the Ban the Box movement currently applies to employment, there is a chance that the movement might cross over to housing as AB396 attempted to do. The Ban the Box movement arose to help the large number of U.S. job seekers with some form of criminal record.

As of December 2015, more than 100 U.S. cities and counties have passed Ban the Box legislation. In addition, 18 states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia – have Ban the Box restrictions in place.

Real ID

Also, though not directly related to tenant or employment screening, the “Real ID” law may become more heavily enforced in 2016 and may change the looks and forms of identification deemed acceptable by landlords, employers and government. Though enacted in 2005, the law has been largely ignored by most. But now Department of Homeland Security officials say enforcement is imminent. The “Real ID” law requires states to implement certain security features before they issue IDs and verify the legal residency of anyone to whom they issue an ID card. It has yet to be seen how this may affect states like California who began issuing state identification regardless of legal status following AB60 in 2015. There are numerous articles on this, both saying it is imminent and saying it will be years, but all seem to be in agreement that “Real ID” is going to gain enforcement soon.

Potential Legislation Coming Soon:

New Jersey Limits on Charging Application Fees (AB 4596)

Is passed, the new bill would prohibit property managers from charging an application fee for a credit and background check unless the vacancy is available within 30 days.

Rhode Island, Iowa, Idaho – Restrictions on Date of Birth

While it is already common place that a social security number is not associated with criminal records, a few states are pushing to limit the use of a date of birth. Iowa has already made the decision to no longer provide the full DOB on public records, considering it sensitive information, while Idaho and Rhode Island are in the process of pushing to have the change made.

How do you plan to adapt to these changes within your business? Do you feel all of these new laws are justified, or will they end up causing problems for your business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, and be sure to subscribe for other helpful tips throughout the year!

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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