Question 1: What rights do tenants have to demand an owner or an HOA to provide an electric car charging station?Answer 1: Starting July 15, 2015, tenants will have the right – in certain tenancies and with significant exceptions and restrictions – to install an electric vehicle charging station in the lessor’s parking area. On September 21, 2014, Assembly Bill 2565 (by Assembly member Al Muratsuchi) was signed by Governor Brown and added to the Civil Code as Section 1947.6 for residential tenancies and 1952.7 for commercial tenancies. Both provisions will give tenants the right to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at their home or business if the tenant is willing to pay for the installation and complies with the lease provisions regarding alterations.
The tenant would also be required to have at least $1,000,000.00 in insurance. There are various exceptions to the law, including an exemption for rent controlled housing, and parking areas under six spaces. The law applies to commercial and residential rental properties where off-street parking is provided in the lease, with more than five parking spaces, and where EV outlets number less than 10% of the parking spaces. A copy of the new law is set forth below (for residential tenancies):
Civil Code Section 1947.6.
(a) For any lease executed, extended, or renewed on and after July 1, 2015, a lessor of a dwelling shall approve a written request of a lessee to install an electric vehicle charging station at a parking space allotted for the lessee that meets the requirements of this section and complies with the lessor’s procedural approval process for modification to the property.
(b) This section does not apply to residential rental properties where:
(1) Electric vehicle charging stations already exist for lessees in a ratio that is
equal to or greater than 10 percent of the designated parking spaces.
(2) Parking is not provided as part of the lease agreement.
(3) A property where there are less than five parking spaces.
(4) A dwelling that is subject to the residential rent control ordinance of a public
(c) For purposes of this section, “electric vehicle charging station” or “charging station” means any level of electric vehicle supply equipment station that is designed and built in compliance with Article 625 of the California Electrical Code, as it reads on the effective date of this section, and delivers electricity from a source outside an electric vehicle into a plug-in electric vehicle.
(d) A lessor shall not be obligated to provide an additional parking space to a lessee in order to accommodate an electric vehicle charging station.
(e) If the electric vehicle charging station has the effect of providing the lessee with a reserved parking space, the lessor may charge a monthly rental amount for that parking space.
(f) An electric vehicle charging station and all modifications and improvements to the property shall comply with federal, state, and local law, and all applicable zoning requirements, land use requirements, and covenants, conditions, and restrictions.
(g) A lessee’s written request to make a modification to the property in order to install and use an electric vehicle charging station shall include, but is not limited to, his or her consent to enter into a written agreement that includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Compliance with the lessor’s requirements for the installation, use,
maintenance, and removal of the charging station and installation, use, and
maintenance of the infrastructure for the charging station.
(2) Compliance with the lessor’s requirements for the lessee to provide a complete
financial analysis and scope of work regarding the installation of the charging
station and its infrastructure.
(3) A written description of how, when, and where the modifications and
improvements to the property are proposed to be made consistent with those
items specified in the “Permitting Checklist” of the “Zero-Emission Vehicles
in California: Community Readiness Guidebook” published by the Office of
Planning and Research.
(4) Obligation of the lessee to pay the lessor all costs associated with the lessor’s
installation of the charging station and its infrastructure prior to any modification
or improvement being made to the leased property. The costs associated with
modifications and improvements shall include, but are not limited to, the cost of
permits, supervision, construction, and, solely if required by the contractor,
consistent with its past performance of work for the lessor, performance bonds.
(5) Obligation of the lessee to pay as part of rent for the costs associated with the
electrical usage of the charging station, and cost for damage, maintenance, repair,
removal, and replacement of the charging station, and modifications or
improvements made to the property associated with the charging station.
(h) The lessee shall maintain in full force and effect a lessee’s general liability
insurance policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) and shall name
the lessor as a named additional insured under the policy commencing with the
date of approval of construction until the lessee forfeits possession of the dwelling
to the lessor.
Question 2: There was a physical altercation between two guests at a tenant’s unit. The tenant was not present at the unit. What should I do? I have given them a notice. How would I remedy this guest situation?
Answer 2: The tenant is responsible for the conduct of his or her guests in the unit, and if those guests conduct themselves in a manner constituting a nuisance, the tenant can be held responsible, by eviction if necessary. Whether a physical altercation sufficient to justify terminating the tenancy occurred depends on the nature of the altercation and any damage to the property or disruption to other tenants. You could have served a formal three day notice to cease committing the nuisance, or send an informal notice as a ‘heads up.’ (Note: in Oakland, tenants are generally entitled to a pre-3 Day Notice warning notice).
Finally, you ask how to remedy the guest situation. That issue involves the concept of guests staying in violation of the lease, which is a separate lease issue, and which would require a separate notice. However, in general, it is likely covered by the subletting provision of your lease, and you should review that section for further guidance.
Question 3: I have an unmarried couple that wants to rent an apartment from me. Would I need each person to sign a separate lease, or only one lease with both tenants? Also, I have an 8 unit building with three guest parking spots in front of the building. The prospective tenants have two vehicles, I told them I do not rent to people with two cars. He said he would find off street parking, but I am afraid he will be parking in the guest parking area at night. There is only one assigned parking space for each unit. Is this a legal reason to refuse to rent to them (because they have two cars)?
Answer 3: As for the lease issue, most landlords would put both tenants on one lease, and I can’t think of any reason to not do so. As for the parking, you can make it clear in the lease that the tenants are allowed one parking space and any use of the guest parking spot will be considered a lease breach with three such violations cause for lease termination. That should get their attention and likely insure their compliance. And if not, then you have a remedy (termination of the lease). As for whether it is legal to refuse to rent to an applicant because the applicants have two cars, car ownership is not a ‘protected category,’ and so rejecting an applicant on that basis would not be an act of illegal discrimination.
Question 4: What is the next step after giving a tenant a 3 day notice to pay or move out? Should I proceed with the eviction process if they have not paid the rent or moved out?Answer 4: If the tenant does not vacate or pay the demanded amount of rent within the three day period, you would be legally entitled to file the unlawful detainer action to evict the tenant on the day after the notice expires. If the notice is properly prepared and served, the unlawful detainer complaint is your next step to recover possession of the property and a judgment for the unpaid rent.
Question 5: My tenant violated our rental contract by subletting his room without notifying the building owner, or obtaining prior written approval, as required. Because he violated our written contract, I consider it to be null and void. I want to send him a 3-day notice to quit the property and return all keys. Am I within my rights to send my tenant a 3-day notice to move out because he violated specific terms of our contract governing subletting?
Answer 5: If your rental agreement prohibits subletting without your prior approval, and the tenant violated that provision, CCP Section 1161(4) allows you to serve a three day notice to terminate without providing the tenant an opportunity to cure the lease breach (as is required in most other lease violations). If the tenant does not vacate within the three day period, you would be legally entitled to file the unlawful detainer action to evict the tenant. But note that most rent control ordinances require that the tenant be given an opportunity to ‘cure’ the violation, even if the lease provides otherwise.
Question 6: We have a situation where a man is ready to move in now, but his fiancée will move in with him later. We normally do a credit check for all people who apply for the apartment; for example if a couple wants to live there, they both must have a credit check and meet the financial income requirements. We are afraid that if one tenant leaves (the one with the solid income), we will be stuck with a tenant who can’t afford it, etc.Should we require the fiancée to apply right now as well, or at a later date? Not sure how to handle this situation in case she doesn’t qualify at a later date?
Answer 6: If the fiancée is certain to move in, it would seem reasonable to complete the application now. However, there are statutes which provide that if the total household income meets the landlord’s reasonable income standards, then it is discriminatory to require that all applicants individually qualify.
According to Govt. Code Section 12955 (copied below in pertinent part), a landlord cannot require each occupant to financially qualify individually.
12955. It shall be unlawful:
(n) To use a financial or income standard in the rental of housing that fails to account for the aggregate income of persons residing together or proposing to reside together on the same basis as the aggregate income of married persons residing together or proposing toreside together.
Question 7: I’m confused when reading the AOA magazine on prospective tenants that are rejected. If their credit is not good then I fill out the AOA form tenant rejection notice. But what if there was no problem with their credit, criminal history, employment etc. and another applicant just had a better overall score on credit, length of employment, income etc. So do you still have to send them a rejection letter since it wasn’t based on credit at all?
Answer 7: You are only obligated to notify the tenant of the reason for their rejection if the rejection was based on their credit application or report. Otherwise, it is solely up to you, as a courtesy, if you want to let any unsuccessful applicant know why they were not chosen.
Richard Beckman, of Beckman Blair, LLP has been practicing landlord-tenant law for over 19 years, primarily in rent-controlled jurisdictions such as San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. He represents clients in a broad range of real estate-related disputes, including partition of co-ownership interests, purchase contract disputes, insurance coverage analysis and land use. Mr. Beckman also specializes in all aspects of landlord-tenant issues, representing landlords and tenants in residential and commercial matters. He can be reached at 415-871-0070; email firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the website www.beckmanblairllp.com