New Real Estate Laws for 2020

Most of the laws are aimed at easing the statewide housing crisis that especially affects the East Bay.


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Photo by ayzek/iStock

More than two dozen new laws affecting homeowners, renters, and property owners are going into effect in the East Bay and the state in 2020.

Most of the laws are aimed at easing the statewide housing crisis that especially affects the East Bay, where rising rents are pushing out longtime residents and home prices, though moderating, remain unreachably high for many. Some of the laws protect tenants, while others aim to streamline new home construction.

State Bill 330, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, puts a five-year moratorium on local governmental policies that make it harder to build in cities without enough housing. It stops local governments from limiting the number of permits for new homes, among other things.

The bill is in effect until 2025, and it requires cities and counties to slash the time it takes to process permits for housing that meets the local government’s existing rules, Skinner’s office said. The bill also prevents local governments from imposing or enforcing a moratorium on housing development.

Adding an in-law unit in the home or backyard will likely become easier in 2020. Five new laws intended to smooth the path for approving and building the units, also known as accessory dwelling units, are now in place. One of the laws, Senate Bill 13, exempts ADUs from most of the fees charged by cities to offset the costs of providing services to them.

Assembly Bill 68 allows homeowners to build up to two ADUs on their property, leading the bill’s sponsor, California YIMBY, to proclaim somewhat extravagantly on Twitter, “#AB68 effectively ends single family zoning in California.”

Other new laws aim to protect tenants, and Ernest Brown, a spokesman for Oakland’s East Bay for Everyone, characterized Assembly Bill 1482 as the most important.

The bill, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in October along with 24 other housing bills, restricts landlords’ ability to raise the rent or evict certain tenants. It’s California’s first-ever statewide rent cap, prohibiting landlords from raising rents by more than 5 percent a year plus regional inflation annually.

While Berkeley and Oakland tenant protection laws already cap most rent increases at a lower rate, these caps do not affect buildings constructed since 1981, said Brown, who is himself a renter in Oakland.

Senate Bill 329 is another new tenant protection law. It prohibits landlords from discriminating against renters who use Section 8 or other government subsidies to pay all or part of their rent.

While the California Association of Realtors urged a “no” vote on the bill, housing advocates characterized it as critically important.

Summing up, East Bay Real Estate agent Todd Andrew said, “The legislature has eliminated some barriers to housing production. And on the other side of the equation, where (rental) housing hasn’t addressed low-income peoples’ needs, they are trying to make sure the market doesn’t leave as many people behind.”

 

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