SB 7 (Wolk) – Water Submeters – The bill, among other things, requires the installation of water submeters in new apartment units on or after Jan. 1, 2017. It specifically authorizes the imposition of an administrative fee by property owners or third-party billing companies when they read and bill tenants for their water use. It authorizes fees on tenants who pay their bills late and allows for additional enforcement for unpaid bills. It specifically leaves in place ratio utility billing systems (RUBS) used by owners at existing properties and exempts cities where they have a local water submetering ordinance, such as San Diego, something that SDCAA strongly encouraged. After months of negotiations on this bill, we thought we had reached agreement with all parties involved. However, when the bill was heard in Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, last minute amendments were accepted by the author, requiring installation and maintenance of submeters shall be provided by licensed plumbing contractors using workers who have graduated from a state approved apprenticeship program. Considering this would, in SDCAA’s opinion, slow the installation of submeters due to lack of installers and the fact that this may disallow current certified installers to install submeters, SDCAA is opposed the bill.
SB 655 (Mitchell) – Mold – As initially introduced, SB 655 would have added mold to the conditions that make housing substandard. As amended, this bill makes housing substandard if, in the judgment of a code enforcement officer, there is any visible or otherwise demonstrable mold growth, excluding the presence of mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their properly functioning and intended use.
SDCAA informed the author and Legislature that we support proven and scientifically sound approaches to help ensure safe housing while encouraging property owners, managers and occupants to follow best practices for controlling excess moisture and mold in buildings. SB 655 does not meet this standard in several ways:
· It goes overboard in defining any amount of any mold as a substandard housing condition.
· It does not exclude moisture and mold problems caused by occupants. It does not distinguish between mold conditions that endanger health from those that do not.
· It relies on code enforcement officers who are not trained or qualified to be mold inspectors to decide when there is mold.
· It does not provide a workable standard for determining when a violation is cured.
· It would criminalize violations of these provisions, meaning that property owners and managers who strive to comply with the law would be exposed to prosecution and punishment for failing to meet unachievable standards.
· Mold as a substandard housing condition will lead to abusive litigation practices because SB 655 does not distinguish between harmful molds or harmful levels of molds.
Other states have enacted laws for the licensing of mold contractors in order to ensure the proper assessment and remediation of mold. Provisions have also been adopted providing liability protection for property owners and managers who use licensed contractors to correct mold problems. SDCAA encourages the study of proven alternative approaches used in other states to ensure the proper assessment and remediation of mold in residences. SDCAA remains opposed to the bill and will voice our concerns in Assembly Appropriates when it is heard on Wednesday, August 19.
AB 551 (Nazarian) – Bed Bugs – This bill seeks to create standards of practice for dealing with bed bug infestations. While SDCAA would welcome a state-wide standard for disclosures and for addressing infestations, this bill’s additional requirement that a landlord purchase a bed management plan from a licensed pest control operator is cause for concern, especially for small owners and operators. SDCAA continues to work with proponents of the bill and the author’s office to amend the bill. We believe that a compromise in which an owner could have in place or obtain a management plan based on existing best practices, at little or no cost, would be a step in the right direction. We continue to oppose the bill but are hopeful we can reach a compromise.
Position: Oppose unless Amended
AB 723 (Rendon) – Plumbing Fixtures: Lease Disclosures – This bill requires multifamily rental agreements entered into, renewed or amended after July 1, 2016, to be accompanied by a written disclosure stating it is the property owner’s responsibility to replace plumbing fixtures with water-conserving fixtures, which are required to be installed by Jan. 1, 2019. The author also proposed to include language to allow tenants to withhold a portion of the rent if the plumbing fixtures are not installed by the deadline. This was a gut and amend prior to the legislature going on summer break. When it was heard in committee, SDCAA was there to oppose. Considering the bill would not move up the dates to install, we were at a loss as to why SDCAA members and others would have to disclose this information in their leases; information about a law that doesn’t take effect until 2019. While the bill passed out of policy committee, it has been pulled from the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing agenda for August 17, 2015. If it is rescheduled, SDCAA will continue opposing the bill.
AB 1448 (Lopez) – Clotheslines – As initially introduced, AB 1448 would have prohibited lease provisions that restrict the use of clotheslines by tenants at a property. The bill was later amended as a result of SDCAA opposing the bill along with other apartment associations. The sponsors and the author knew the bill was volatile as written and approached us regarding amendments that would remove our opposition. We told them that landlord approval prior to using a clothesline was a requirement for SDCAA to remove its opposition. They submitted language to us that met our demands and SDCAA, and others, removed opposition and the bill sailed through the Assembly.
To our dismay, in the Senate Judiciary Committee the author agreed to amendments removing the requirement that “a tenant obtain permission from a landlord prior to using a clothesline on the exterior of a building” undoing the agreement they reached with us in the Assembly. SDCAA immediately sent a letter of opposition and asked that our agreement be honored. We continue to work with the author in hopes we can again remove our opposition.
SB 328 (Hueso) – Pesticide Notice - This bill would require an owner or operator not using a licensed pest control operator to provide certain warnings and disclosures when using pesticides. We worked with the author to amend the bill to make it workable for owners and managers who need to comply. Significant progress was made and we removed our opposition. SDCAA will provide a white paper on the bill should it become law.