There are new laws governing real estate — from emotional support animals to rating discrimination — that came into effect earlier this month that could make a big difference for renters and housing in general.
Many of the new 2022 rules focus on landlord-tenant relationships and efforts to build more housing across the state. Governor Hutchinson, assistant general counsel for the California Association of Realtors, broke the new laws Thursday at an event in La Jolla for local realtors.
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Hutchinson appeared on the video screen because he said the group of statewide realtors had a policy against travel during the COVID-19 surge. He spoke with approximately 250 members of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors at the event at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines.
Evaluation Discrimination (AB 948)
When an appraiser comes into a home to determine its value, there are a lot of things to consider – but skin color isn’t supposed to be one of them.
This new law aims to end discrimination based on race, or prejudice, among evaluators. One high profile case in the San Francisco Bay Area, a black family is suing an appraiser after they believe they received a lower appraisal value. Their evidence? They asked a white friend to pretend to be the owner for a second appraisal and saw the value of their house increase by more than $500,000.
In addition to this case in Marin City, there have been many academic pushes to shed light on the biases in real estate. A recent book by Brookings Senior Fellow Andre Perry, “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities,” argues that the undervaluation of black communities for decades has resulted in far-reaching negative economic and social effects for those communities.
“We all have biases that we’re not aware of,” Hutchinson said.
The new law takes a small step by giving landlords the ability to easily file a complaint if they feel the rating was low due to some type of bias – such as race, religion, gender, national origin – which will be reviewed by the Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers.
Homeowners Association Emails (SB 392)
If it seems like you’re getting a lot of mail from your homeowners association, you’re probably not alone.
This state senate bill requires an HOA to send documents by email if preferred by an individual member. They can still get everything by snail mail if they want, and if you don’t tell your HOA, the default will still be snail mail.
Emotional Support Animals (AB 468)
It’s pretty easy to get around a no-pets policy if you’re renting in San Diego: just say the dog, cat, duck or anything that is an emotional support animal. Next thing you know, that furry friend is snuggled up next to you on the couch.
This Assembly Bill aims to make that a little harder to do, but doesn’t ban the practice – perhaps making it harder to fill out an online form the night before you move in somewhere.
AB 468 states that an applicant must obtain a pet emotional support designation from a medical professional who has a valid license and has seen the patient for at least 30 days before signing it.
The law was co-sponsored by Guide Dogs for the Blind and Canine Companions, who believed that housing for service animals should be reserved for people who really need it.
There are still a multitude of rules aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 and reducing its financial impact, which affect landlords, agents and tenants.
Hutchinson reminded officers that statewide rules state that everyone must wear a mask in indoor public spaces through Feb. 15. This means open days will require the agent and people visiting the property to be masked.
Tenants struggling with payments have until March to avoid eviction, due to federal ban recently extended by the Biden administration. Hutchinson noted that landlords looking to evict after that should pay close attention to local eviction laws that might pop up in its place.
Arguably the biggest real estate law of the year was Senate Bill 9, which allows a homeowner to split a single-family property in half and build three additional homes.
The cost for an individual homeowner to do so — along with the requirement that they live on the property for three years — has some experts studying housing highly doubting the state Senate bill will have an impact. as important as people think. UC Berkeley’s Terner Center said it would only be possible for 54,500 lots to be spread across San Diego County.
Hutchinson said concern over the law had already meant some communities were writing laws to circumvent SB 9 by creating strict design standards for lot splits, but he suspected they would be challenged in court. Additionally, he has seen proposals from communities to expand historic neighborhoods – which are exempt from the law.
For example, all of South Park has been declared a historic district by San Diego, theoretically rendering this law ineffective there. However, Hutchinson said cities can declare under SB 9 that they want it to apply to historic districts. So a San Diego community rushing to have the community declared historic might not do much.
It is an optional framework for California communities to streamline housing developments with up to 10 units in areas close to public transportation on lots that were once single-family homes.
The gist of the effort is that it would allow developers to circumvent California’s Environmental Quality Act to stop environmental reviews that could set projects back for years.
A big difference between this law and SB 9 is that SB 10 is optional for cities to adopt — not a state mandate.
San Diego is one of the few cities to have publicly stated that it will adhere to the law. Mayor Todd Gloria announced during his State of the City address Wednesday that the law is needed for more housing.
“(Senate Bill 10) will make it much easier to build apartments near public transportation,” he said.