July 05, 2018

Practical Pointers from Practitioners: Changes to Rental Property Disclosures in California

Recent legislative action has resulted in several updates to the California Codes relating to rental property disclosures.

Flood Hazard Areas

Effective July 1, 2018, the California Government Code § 8589.45 added a section that stipulates residential rental and lease agreements will be required to disclose to a tenant, in no smaller than eight-point font the following: when the landlord has actual knowledge the rental property is located in a flood hazard zone or area of potential flooding; that the tenant may obtain information about hazards from the web site of the Office of Emergency Services; that the tenant needs to consider insuring her possessions, as the landlord’s insurance does not cover loss of her possessions; and that the landlord is not required to provide additional information about flood hazards. A landlord is presumed to have actual knowledge its property is in a flood hazard zone or area of potential flooding when a public agency has notified the landlord in writing that the property is located in a flood hazard zone, the landlord’s mortgage holder requires the landlord to have flood insurance, or the landlord currently has flood insurance. These disclosures are required to be translated into the language used to negotiate the lease if the language used was Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean.

Bed Bug Infestations

Effective July 1, 2017, California Civil Code §§ 1954.601, 1954.602, 1954.603, 1954.604, 1954.605 were added and amended requiring a landlord to provide a written bed bug notice to a prospective tenant before entering into a lease or rental agreement. Beginning January 1, 2018, the notice is required to be provided to both existing and prospective tenants. The notice must be in at least ten-point font and include information about the following: bed bug identification, behavior, and biology; the importance of cooperating in bed bug prevention and treatment; the importance of prompt written reporting of bed bug infestations to the landlord; and the procedure for reporting suspected bed bug infestations to the landlord. A landlord may inspect or have a pest control operator inspect a property for bed bugs after giving reasonable written notice of its intent to enter the rented unit. Tenants are required to provide any requested information necessary to help detect and treat bed bugs. Within two business days of receiving a bed bug inspection report from a pest control operator, the landlord is to notify tenants of inspected units of the pest control operator’s findings. If a bed bug infestation exists in a common area, the landlord must provide notice of the infestation to all tenants.

Environmental Hazards

Effective July 1, 2017, California Civil Code § 2079.13 was amended to clarify that environmental hazard disclosure delivery rules apply to both sales and leases of one- to four-unit residential property, when the lease term is more than one year. The clarification did not impose any additional duties.