New laws for 2011 affecting Realtors or your clients

From CAR Government Affairs

The recent end of the 2009-10 legislative session has brought the end of short sale deficiency judgments for first loans, and other new laws affecting REALTORS® and their clients.  To view the full text of the following bills, go to www.leginfo.ca.gov.

No Short Sale Deficiencies: Starting January 1, 2011, a seller’s first trust deed lender cannot obtain a deficiency judgment against the seller after a short sale.  Providing written consent to a short sale shall obligate the first trust deed lender to accept the sales proceeds as full payment and discharge of the remaining amount owed on the loan.  This law applies to first trust deeds secured by one-to-four residential units, but does not limit the lender from seeking damages for fraud or waste by the borrower.  Senate Bill 931.  Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 1178, our sponsored bill, which would have extended California’s anti-deficiency protection to refinance loans.

Energy Audit in Home Inspection Report:
Beginning January 1, 2011, a home inspection and inspection report may, upon a client’s request, include an audit of the energy efficiency of a home, according to the standards of the Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS).  REALTORS® are also strongly encouraged to give the newly released HERS booklet to residential buyers, because doing so provides a valuable shield from liability.  Delivery of the booklet will be deemed to be adequate to inform the buyer about the statewide HERS program.  Assembly Bill 1809 and California Civil Code section 2079.10.

Restriction on Adverse Possession Claim: Effective January 1, 2011, a claim for adverse possession requires, among other things, certified records of the county tax collector showing that all state, county, or municipal taxes have been timely paid for the five-year period the property has been occupied and claimed.  Existing law merely requires proof that taxes have been paid for the five-year period, not certified proof of timely payments.  Assembly Bill 1684.

Enforcement of MLO Requirements: Effective January 1, 2011, anyone acting as a mortgage loan originator (MLO) without an MLO license endorsement will be guilty of a crime punishable by six months imprisonment, plus a $20,000 fine.  Furthermore, a broker cannot employ or compensate a real estate licensee for MLO activities unless that licensee has a license endorsement.  This law has also given the Department of Real Estate (DRE) the authority to deny or revoke a MLO license endorsement or take other action.  This law also amends the MLO requirements for finance lenders and residential mortgage lenders under the Department of Corporation.  Senate Bill 1137.

Post-Foreclosure Protection for Tenants: Commencing January 1, 2011, a notice to terminate a residential tenant who remains after a foreclosure sale must generally include a statutory notice of the tenant’s rights.  This requirement, which sunsets on January 1, 2013, applies to an immediate successor-in-interest for one year after a foreclosure sale.  The tenant’s rights must be on a separate cover sheet or, for a 90-day termination, incorporated into the notice to terminate.  Another provision of this bill protects a residential tenant’s credit by generally prohibiting the court clerk from revealing unlawful detainer court records unless the plaintiff prevails at trial.  Senate Bill 1149.

Tenant Protection for Domestic Violence Victims: Starting January 1, 2011, a residential landlord cannot terminate or fail to renew a tenancy based on domestic violence against the tenant or tenant’s household members as specified.  This law applies if the person restrained from contact with the tenant by court order or named in a police report is not also a tenant of the same dwelling unit.  If the protected tenant subsequently allows the person restrained to visit the property, or the landlord reasonably believes the person restrained poses a physical threat to others or to quiet possession by other tenants, the landlord may serve a three-day notice to correct or quit.  To further ensure safe housing for domestic violence victims, this law also requires that, for leases entered into after January 1, 2011, a landlord changes the exterior locks of a protected tenant’s dwelling unit within 24 hours after the tenant provides a written request and supporting court or police documentation as specified.  Senate Bill 782.

Protections Against Real Estate Fraud: Effective January 1, 2011, new laws protecting consumers from real estate fraud include, without limitation, the following: (1) Expanding the foreclosure consultant law to include someone who performs a forensic audit of a residential mortgage loan (Assembly Bill 2325); (2) Requiring any mailed solicitation that offers to provide a copy of an owner’s grant deed or other title records for a fee to include a prominent statutory disclosure that the copy service is not associated with any governmental agency and that the homeowner can obtain such records from the county recorder (Assembly Bill 1373); and (3) Increasing the criminal punishment for renting out a residential dwelling without the owner’s consent from six months imprisonment plus a $1,000 fine, to one year imprisonment, plus a $2,500 fine (Assembly Bill 1800).

Other Laws: Some of the other laws that may interest REALTORS® include, but are not limited to, revisions to the mechanics’ lien law (Senate Bill 189); clarification that the prohibition against discrimination of tenants based on source of income pertains to lawful and verifiable income (Senate Bill 1252); extension of the CalVet Home Loan program to include 2-to-4 residential units (Assembly Bill 2087); and lien enforcement by a municipal utility district for a tenant’s delinquent charges (Senate Bill 1035).

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