Three New California Laws Effecting Rental Property

whoa There are about 15 new California laws that are now in force as of January 1, 2013 that effect rental property . Three of these laws, of perhaps every day interest, relate to: handling of security deposits; disposing of abandoned personal property; and restricting a Landlord’s demand for form of payment.

Allowing Electronic Handling of Security Deposit after Tenancy Termination *
After either the landlord or tenant provides notice to terminate tenancy, the parties can mutually agree as follows: (1) for the landlord to deposit any remaining unused portion of the security deposit electronically to a bank account designated by the tenant; and (2) for the landlord to provide a copy of the itemized statement and any required copies to an email account provided by the tenant.
Assembly Bill 1679 (codified as Cal. Civil Code § 1950.5) (effective January 1, 2013).

Disposing Abandoned Personal Property Less Than $700 *
The total resale value of personal property left behind by a tenant after termination of a tenancy that a landlord must sell at a public auction, rather than merely retain for his or her own use or dispose of in any manner, has been increased from $300 to $700, if certain procedures are followed. This law, however, also prohibits a landlord from assessing any storage cost if the tenant reclaims personal property within 2 days of vacating the premises. The statutory notices of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Property have been revised to reflect these changes. In addition to sending this notice to a former tenant by first class mail as specified, a landlord may also send the notice by email if the former tenant provided the landlord with the tenant’s email address. Finally, a landlord’s notices of termination of tenancy and pre-move out inspection must contain specified language that former tenants may reclaim abandoned personal property left on the premises, subject to certain conditions.
Assembly Bills 2521 and 2303 (codified as Cal. Civil Code § 1946.1, 1950.5, and 1983 et seq.) (effective January 1, 2013).

Restricting Landlord’s Demand for Form of Payment *
A landlord or landlord’s agent must generally allow a tenant to pay rent and a security deposit by at least one form of payment other than cash or electronic funds transfer. The previous law did not address an electronic funds transfer which generally means a transfer of funds initiated electronically to debit or credit an account. A landlord can, however, demand cash payments exclusively for three months after a tenant attempts to pay with an NSF or stop payment check. A demand for payment in cash must be made by giving the tenant a written notice as prescribed with the dishonored check attached. A waiver of these requirements is void as against public policy.
Senate Bill 1055 (codified as Cal. Civil Code § 1947.3) (effective January 1, 2013).


(* Information summary provided by the California Association of Realtors®)

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