A wooden house next to a gavel
Several new housing laws are taking effect this year. Image courtesy of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

With the new year comes a new set of laws in the housing space that we all need to be aware of as renters, housing providers or homeowners.

Several new laws affect both renters and housing providers. Assembly Bill 12 prohibits housing providers from collecting a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent. At move-in, a housing provider can collect the first month’s rent, as well as a security deposit that does not exceed one month’s rent. However, there is an exception for the smallest housing providers who own no more than two residential properties, with no more than a total of four units combined. AB 12 is codified as Civil Code 1950.5 and goes into effect on July 1.

Assembly Bill 1620 allows a jurisdiction with local rent control to require that a housing provider make a more accessible unit available for a permanently physically disabled tenant at the same rental rate. It is codified as Civil Code 1954.52 and went into effect on Jan. 1. Assembly Bill 1418 would prohibit cities and counties from enacting local policies such as “crime-free housing zones,” that discourage local housing providers from renting to tenants with criminal histories. The bill is codified as Government Code 53165.1 and took effect on Jan. 1.

Homeowners also have a few new laws to be aware of, as well. Assembly Bill 1033 authorizes local agencies by ordinance or ministerial approval to permit accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to be sold separately from the primary unit/house as a condominium. AB 1033 is codified as Government Codes 75852.2 and 75852.25. It went into effect on Jan. 1.

Homeowners wishing to sell their property in a fire-risk area need to be aware of Assembly Bill 1280, which expands the disclosure required by the Natural Hazard Disclosure statement to include new categories of “high” and “very high” fire hazard severity zones. It is codified as Civil Code 1103.2 and went into effect on Jan. 1.

Sellers of recently purchased homes also need to be aware of Assembly Bill 968 which, in part, requires homeowners who resell their properties of one to four units within 18 months to disclose all recent repairs and renovations to the property, in addition to all other existing disclosures. AB 968 is enacted as California Civil Code 1102.6 effective July 1.

The last law I want to make you aware of has to do with balcony inspections. While the balcony inspections do not need to be completed until Jan. 1, 2025, this requirement is having a profound effect on the market, already affecting the ability of buyers to get financing and insurance when purchasing a condo.

The balcony inspection requirements stem from two different laws: Senate Bill 721, which was passed in 2018 and only applies to apartment buildings, and Senate Bill 326, which was passed a year later and applies to condo associations. Balconies, elevated walkways and staircases that are built or supported with wood are covered by this requirement and must be inspected by Jan. 1 2025.

San José Spotlight columnist Neil Collins is CEO of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, a trade association representing more than 6,000 real estate professionals in Santa Clara County and surrounding areas. Contact Neil at [email protected] or follow @neilvcollins on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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