New Real Estate Laws in California for 2020

by Roy Warfield & Amanda Hermesman 09/06/2020

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Over the last year, Governor Newsom has signed in well over a thousand laws and many of them went into effect on January 1, 2020. Let's take a closer look at how the new laws that deal directly with real estate may affect you.

New Laws That Effect Property Owner Landlords

Many of California's new real estate laws are designed to protect renter's rights. This means that for landlords, there are some new regulations. 

  • Statewide Rent Control: One of the major regulations landlords face is a statewide rent control law that places limitations on rent increases. Parts of the law are retroactive to March of 2019, so it's important to consult a specialist to be certain that current rents are in line with rent control caps that the law enacted.
  • Strengthened Housing Anti-Discrimination Laws: This law aims to limit housing discrimination based on the source of income, so that people who are otherwise qualified, but receive housing assistance (such as Section 8) won't be penalized for that. It's important to make certain that rental policies comply with the law, be sure to work with a real estate agent who is up-to-date on the latest in California real estate.

New Laws Specific to Homeowners

While many of the laws most directly affect renters and landlords, there are also several laws that are aimed at homeowners, including one that is very much in favor of homeowners. 

  • Temporary Rentals Subject to Anti-Discrimination Laws: Property owners who don't consider themselves landlords must now make sure that they follow California's statewide housing anti-discrimination if they rent their home or apartment through sites like VRBO or Airbnb.
  • Battery Back-Up for Garage Doors: This law went into effect in July and requires all automatic garage doors to have a battery back-up that will make the door operational during a power outage. This back-up must be installed either with a new door or at the replacement of the garage door opener, so it's an important consideration for new homebuyers, or those looking to invest some money into a home improvement that will pay off during a sale. 
  • Accessory Dwelling Units: Often called 'granny flats' or triplexes, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are additional living facilities besides the primary residence on a property. The new law, AB 68, 670, and 881 remove a great deal of restrictions on a homeowner's ability to build an ADU on their property, including limiting the ability of an HOA to refuse plans for ADUs, and allowing some garage conversions. While written to ease California's housing shortage, the law is a boon to homeowners looking to invest in major improvements designed to maximize an increase in home value.