Unpacking Assembly Bill 1482: How CA’s Rent Control Law Would Work

Within the next few weeks, the governor is expected to enact rent control in California by signing Assembly Bill 1482.

That means the state would begin to regulate how much your rent can increase every year, limiting it to 5 percent, plus the local rate of inflation. Once signed, the measure would take effect January 1 and expire in 2030 (unless lawmakers vote to extend it).

“AB 1482 puts teeth in tenant protections without taking an unreasonable bite from property owners,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said in a statement earlier this month, when the Legislature approved AB 1482. “This moves us forward in battling escalating housing costs.”

The deadline for the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature is October 13. He has said he will sign it.

The legislation is called a “rent cap” bill—not a rent control bill. Its author, Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), has said the legislation is only designed to prevent the steepest rent hikes as California wrestles with high housing costs and a homeless crisis.

But it effectively is rent control. One reason Chiu and the bill’s supporters might not use that term is because rent control is not broadly popular, including among many economists, who say it can make problems worse for renters in the long run by discouraging landlords to get out of the rental business.

As researchers at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation cautioned in a July report, “guarding against excessive rent increases alone is not enough to address California’s housing crisis.” They ultimately concluded that AB 1482 could help protect tenants from extreme rent increases, but they also encouraged lawmakers to come up with policies that would preserve affordable housing—and encourage builders to produce more of it.

In the end, they say the positive impacts of AB 1482 will hinge on public awareness of the new rules and effective enforcement. To that end, a breakdown of how the law would work is below.

Would my apartment be rent-controlled?

That depends on where you live. If you reside in a city that does not already have a local rent control law and your rental is at least 15 years old, the answer is most likely “yes.”

The state law would exempt buildings constructed in the last 15 years. That’s a rolling date, meaning units built in 2006 would be covered in 2021, units built in 2007 would be covered in 2022, and so on.

What types of buildings would be impacted?

Rent control would be applied mostly to apartments and other multi-families buildings—with some exceptions—along with some single-family homes.

Condos and single-family homes would be exempt, unless owned by a corporation or real estate investment trust. Duplexes where the owner lives in one of the units would also be exempt.

How much would my rent go up?

If you live in a city that does not already have a local rent control law, rent increases would be limited to 5 percent, plus local inflation, but could never exceed a total of 10 percent.

For example, if you’re renting in Redondo Beach, which does not have its own local rent control law, and you pay $1,550 per month for rent, and Los Angeles County metropolitan area’s inflation rate is 3.8 percent, your landlord could raise your rent as much as 8.8 percent, a monthly increase of $136.40.

To help tenants whose landlords might have gone on a rent hiking binge in anticipation of AB 1482 passing, the law would be retroactive to March 15, 2019. Whatever amount you paid as of that date is that amount by which the increase would be based.

How much is inflation?

The rate of inflation will be tied to the Consumer Price Index in each metropolitan area. In Los Angeles County, it averaged 2.5 percent from 2001 to 2018.

Which communities have local rent control laws?

In Los Angeles County, the cities of Santa MonicaWest HollywoodBeverly HillsCulver CityInglewood, the city of Los Angeles, and unincorporated neighborhoods of Los Angeles County have local rent control laws.

What if I live in a city that already has rent control?

For the most part, the rules would not change. AB 1482 would not override local rent control laws. However, it would cover units that are not already covered by local rent control laws.

For example, in the city of Los Angeles, the local rent control law only applies to buildings constructed before 1978. Several hundred thousand newer units that opened in the nearly three decades from 1978 to 2005 would be covered under AB 1482.

So, in the city of Los Angeles, if you live in a building that opened before 1978, your rent would be capped under the provisions of the city’s law (it’s 4 percent this year.) If you live in a building that opened after 1978 and is at least 15 years old, your rent would be capped at 5 percent, plus inflation.

What else is in the bill?

Equally as important as the rent cap, renter advocates say, is a provision that would require landlords to show “just cause”—such as failure to pay rent—when evicting tenants. That would end the ability that landlords have now, in most parts of the state, according to CalMatters, to evict tenants without giving an explicit reason.

For tenants who have lived at the property for at least one year, landlords would have to give the renter the opportunity to “cure” the violation. Other examples of just cause include violating the terms of a lease and committing a crime on the property.

If a landlord wants to convert the rentals to condos or “substantially” remodel the property, they would have to pay relocation fees equal to one month of rent.

These rules would not apply to cities with their own local just cause laws, including Santa Monica and Glendale.

Posted on September 26, 2019 at 11:12 am
Dietric Williams | Category: Education, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video Doorbells and Privacy: Maintaining a Balance

Advancing technology has played a large part in improving home security in recent years. This is due, in part, to the rising popularity of the Internet of Things, or IoT; these “Things” are devices that connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other wireless networks to perform various functions without the need to be hard-wired or attached to a computer. Security-focused IoT devices include things like window monitors, smart door locks and video doorbells – even security lighting.

While these devices provide a number of benefits, including remote monitoring and automation features, some have their drawbacks, as well. Video doorbells, in particular, are being called out over potential privacy concerns. If you’ve been thinking of getting a video doorbell, here are a few things that you should consider, to ensure a good balance between your home security and your neighbors’ privacy.

How to Video Doorbells Work?

Video doorbells use motion detectors to sense when there is someone around the area where the doorbell is installed. This activates the camera, even before the doorbell itself is rung. The process is automatic; many mistakenly believe that the video feed from the devices have to be activated through interaction with the doorbell, but that isn’t the case. Depending on the model and how it’s being used, the visitor who activated the doorbell is either recorded or the video stream is sent live to an associated app. In some cases, video is both streamed and recorded for later review.

What Privacy Concerns Exist?

One of the big privacy concerns comes from what some users are doing with the video recorded by their doorbells. While the recordings are intended for security purposes, some owners choose to upload the videos (or still images from those videos) to websites where others can see exactly who has been visiting their house. Typically, this is done with the purpose of mocking the visitors without their knowledge or consent. In some cases, they may not even realize that they’re being recorded.

Even without sharing the videos, some video doorbells record a large enough area that they also record portions of neighbors’ properties when activated. This creates a similar concern to the installation of standard security cameras that might target a neighbor’s property. This could cause significant privacy problems if too much of the neighbor’s property is visible and may even open the owner up to action based on the claim that they are recording what the neighbor is doing.

On top of this, some video doorbell owners are also becoming increasingly nervous about their devices as the video doorbell manufacturer Ring has partnered with law enforcement agencies in some areas. While the police do not have unrestricted access to video feeds, they can send out messages requesting images or footage from doorbell owners in the area where a crime was committed. Though the request is voluntary, it has still led to unease among users who don’t want their devices used for neighborhood surveillance purposes.

Privacy-Related Restrictions

As a result of these concerns, some homeowners’ associations and local ordinances have targeted video doorbells. In some cases, they aren’t allowed at all, while in others, only certain brands can be installed, which are known to have a narrow focus. A failure to abide by these restrictions can lead to tickets, action by the homeowners’ association and in some cases, even legal action or eviction.

Finding a Balance

Finding a balance between home security and the privacy rights of your neighbors isn’t always easy. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for compromise, however. There are professionals who can help you find the right video doorbell to meet your needs without sacrificing your neighbor’s rights to stay private. If you need assistance to help guide you, contact me so that I can match you with a security-minded pro who can help you find the perfect device to achieve that privacy/security balance.

Posted on September 26, 2019 at 10:55 am
Dietric Williams | Category: Education, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Is The R22 Phase Out?

The HVAC industry is bracing for the planned phase out of Freon (R22) for commercial HVAC units. Many customers are still unaware of the phase out or are unclear about how it will affect them. The more you know about what is going to happen with R22, the better you will be able to prepare for what needs to happen with your aging R22-dependent systems.

R22 Phase Out Timeline

R22 is being phased out worldwide because of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set January 1, 2020 as the date when R22 becomes illegal in the United States.

After that date, R22 cannot be manufactured in the U.S. and it cannot be imported. R22 still in use in commercial HVAC systems will not be affected.

What Does the R22 Phase Out Mean for Maintenance and Repairs?

The R22 phase out date means that after January 1, 2020, HVAC systems that use R22 will be obsolete. If the repair requires adding R22 refrigerant to the system, the only options will be reclaimed and previously-produced R22 refrigerant.

While some simple electrical repairs do not require recharging the refrigerant, most service calls do require a refrigerant recharge.

HVAC system owners that have leaky systems and that have been periodically injecting new R22 into the system will be forced to replace their system.

In the lead up to 2020, R22 can still be used in repairs and maintenance. But, the supplies of R22 are already shrinking. The closer it gets to 2020, the smaller the global supply of R22 will be available. This will lead to the costs of the refrigerant to soar—making certain once routine repairs cost prohibitive.

Advising R22 System Owners

Obviously, it is not wise to install a system now that uses R22. But, what about customers who already own R22-dependent systems?

These customers can continue to use their systems after January 1, 2020 and get as much useful life as possible out of their systems, until they need a repair. But, this course of action means they may be forced to make an emergency HVAC system replacement which will be much more expensive than a well-planned HVAC system update. For most HVAC owners, this is indeed a gamble.

Some R22 units may be able to be converted to use a different refrigerant. However, many conversions may only buy the customers a few more years of useful life. The numbers for many system owners will not favor retrofitting.

The best option, but the one most customers dread, is replacing their system before 2020. This gives them the most reliability and cost predictability.

The Advantages of Converting to Evaporative Cooling

One way to make the installation of a new HVAC system more palatable is use an evaporative cooling system. These systems are often more cost effective to purchase and install, and they are much more cost-efficient to operate. Additionally, evaporative coolers are better for internal air quality and can help building owners show their dedication to using environmentally friendly technologies.

The 2020 R22 phase out deadline is fast approaching. Now is the time to start working with your customers to make sure they are educated and fully prepared to make a decision on the future of their HVAC system.

Posted on September 26, 2019 at 10:45 am
Dietric Williams | Category: Education, Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,

Info On The Go Ep 19: 5 Homebuying Myths

Posted on September 10, 2019 at 10:12 am
Dietric Williams | Category: Education, Info On The Go, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

LA County To Vote On Permanent Rent Control

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to vote Tuesday on whether to make temporary rent control restrictions in the county’s unincorporated neighborhoods permanent.

The ordinance would put a ceiling on how much rent in buildings that opened prior to 1995 (except single-family homes) could be increased each year, with a limit of 8 percent.

The amount would change from year to year, based on the Consumer Price Index. Under temporary ordinance that’s in effect now and set to expire in December, landlords are barred from hiking rents more than 3 percent.

Evictions without “just cause” would continue to be prohibited in all rentals, meaning that, for the most part, tenants could not be evicted unless they broke the terms of their lease or failed to pay their rent.

The permanent ordinance would expand on protections offered by the temporary version, including requiring landlords to provide relocation assistance when tenants take buy-outs (also known as “cash for keys”) or are evicted without fault.

The regulations would apply to rental units in unincorporated areas of the county, including East LA, Altadena, Montrose, and Universal City. The permanent rules would protect 100,000 renters across the more than 120 unincorporated communities in LA County, according to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

A number of the proposed rules are similar to those in effect in the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood.

Supervisors are also set to vote on a proposal to set up the first phase of an “eviction defense and prevention program” that would include “full-scope legal representation for eligible tenants.” It would establish “eviction assistance centers” in courthouses and provide workshops and events to help educate tenants on their rights and the resources available to them.

If the board votes to move forward Tuesday with the permanent rent cap and the other regulations, the ordinance would be written up by November 12 and would come back to the board for final approval.

To find out if an apartment is in unincorporated LA County, select the “district map look up by address” option from the dropdown menu on the county’s precinct mapping site.

Posted on September 10, 2019 at 9:39 am
Dietric Williams | Category: Education, Real Estate | Tagged ,

Is a Rental Property a Good Investment?

The price of real estate has skyrocketed over the past several years causing many first-time buyers to consider purchasing real estate in more affordable parts of the country. While this won’t be your primary residence now, it could be someday. If that’s important try to imagine where you’d want to live and the type of home you’d want t live in. 

What To Know About Buying Rental Property?

Real estate markets can shift so buying property in a suburb today might be a better investment than buying something in-town…even if you don’t see yourself living there one day. Try to separate out the investment from your dream home. If it works out, great! If not, and you’ve focused on finding a solid investment, you can always sell that property and use the proceeds to buy the home you want in the future.

You should also consider what type of property might interest you. Do you want to buy a property that might house one to four families. If you’re looking for a property with more than one unit, do you want a duplex, triplex or quadruplex?  Typically anything more than four units is considered commercial property and that may impact the type of financing you get.  In some situations, buying smaller properties might give you more options vs buying a building with 10 apartments. You’ll need to educate yourself in this area to understand how the type and size of the building can affect the financing available to you. 

Managing and Maintaining Your Rental Property

Once you’ve chosen the type of property, you need to focus on the location and how you will manage that property. 

Long distance or out-of-state investors will need some local help (a family member or a professional management company) in order to manage the rental property. The reason is that, they won’t have the ability to quickly get to the property to handle problems or rental issues. If you’re going to rely on friends and family, you’ll need to have the property be in close proximity to them. If the property is too far, they’re less likely to help. 

The duties your property manager should undertake may include 1) scheduling maintenance or repairs, 2) helping find new tenants, 3) collecting rent, or 4) simply driving by to make sure the home is well-cared for. If you hire a professional management company remember to factor that cost into your budget and do some hard due diligence online before signing any type of contractual agreement.   

Keeping the property rented is particularly important. Sure, there will be times when the property is vacant – and you’ll need to cover those times financially – but vacant property carries its own risks (make sure your insurance covers those vacancies). 

Financing Your Rental Property and Tax Implications

Investment properties typically command a higher interest rate for the loan, have higher loan fees and require a higher down payment (usually 20% of the purchase price). You’ll also want the person(s) who prepare your taxes to walk you through the state and federal income tax implications. (Filing in the state in which the property is located may be another expense).

You may want to hire a real estate attorney to guide you in the purchase (even if one isn’t typically used for a residential deal in that part of the country) and be sure to get input on the lease you’ll be using for your future tenants.

There are loads of resources about how to be a successful real estate investor. I am more than happy to talk to you about how to value rental property, the ins-and-outs of being a landlord as well as the mechanics of renting vs buying a property you intend to live in. If you decide you don’t mind being a landlord check out Bigger Pockets an online community for real estate investors. 

Should you decide to purchase out of state, I have a vast array of resources and connections to help you find a real estate agent who can work with to help you make this investment.

That’s a quick summary of some of the biggest issues you’ll face, but there are many others: insurance, repairs and 1031 tax-free exchanges. As always, feel free to contact me should you need professional advise on how to proceed.

 

Posted on September 10, 2019 at 9:28 am
Dietric Williams | Category: Education, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , ,

Info On The Go Episode 18 2019 Mid Year Forecast

Posted on August 13, 2019 at 5:39 pm
Dietric Williams | Category: Education, Info On The Go, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Ways to Invest in Real Estate for Retirement

Let’s face it, investing of any kind can be complicated at any point in your life. However, investing in or near retirement can be especially arduous. At retirement you need your assets to be relatively free of risk while keeping pace with inflation. In many cases, you need your assets to provide income. Or, you want to minimize taxes and costs. It is definitely something you cannot afford to get wrong. Most of us need the money we have accumulated over our lifetimes to fund our golden years.So, is real estate a good investment at this stage in your life? It all depends. What are your interests? What kind of money do you have to invest? What are your financial goals? What kind of lifestyle considerations might come into play?

The Key Benefit of Real Estate for Retirement

Real estate is an asset class with high returns. It also usually offers a hedge against inflation. Since real estate has historically been inversely correlated with conventional assets, it can be a good way to diversify your investments away from the stock market.

Let’s take a look at eight ways to invest in real estate for retirement:

1. Own Your Own Home

For most people, their home is their most valuable asset — worth more than their savings.

However, this asset is not always thought of as a way to help fund retirement.

There are so many different ways to utilize your home equity to generate retirement income or hedge against unknown risks — from downsizing to leveraging equity to fund a long term care need and more.

2. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is an investment in a collection of properties or other real estate assets. They are kind of like a mutual fund but instead of a collection of company stocks, it is a collection of properties. REITs have a special tax status that requires them to pay out at least 90% of their income as dividends. There are many types of REITs — some have very high risks (mortgage REITs — investments in mortgages) but most are quite stable (equity REITs — investments in actual properties).

3. Buy, Improve and Flip

“Flip or Flop,” “Love It or List It” and “Fixer Upper” are just a few of the many popular TV shows that showcase the ins and outs of buying, fixing and reselling houses for a profit.

Flipping, also called wholesale real estate investing, is when you purchase a property not to use, but with the intention of selling it for a financial gain.

The art of flipping can certainly be a profitable venture. It can also be a very good way to lose money, especially if you don’t have the right assets, skills and know how. You need real estate knowledge, home improvement skills, access to cash, some financial expertise and maybe a bit of luck to successfully flip properties.

4. Purchase Residential Property and Rent it Out to Long Term Renters

This is what most people think of when they think of real estate investing — buying a property and renting it out.

The trick is that you need to consistently have tenants who are willing to pay enough for you to cover any mortgage you have on the property plus: insurance, taxes and maintenance.

5. Purchase Commercial Property and Rent it Out

Experts suggest that owning commercial property can be more profitable than residential real estate. However, it can also have more risk, be more complicated (juggling multiple tenants) and require a bigger cash outlay.

6. Purchase Commercial Property and Run Your Own Business

Who has dreamed of retiring to an island and running a little grass shack bar in the sand? (It’s not really just me is it?)

Whether you have ideas about a beachside rum shack, a bed and breakfast in Ireland, a fishing shop in Belize, a bookstore in your home town or some other retirement business, the real value of your venture can often be in the real estate itself.

The biggest expense of most brick and mortar businesses is the real estate. So, owning the property could increase your long term wealth and monthly income.

7. Buy a Vacation Home and Rent it Out Part Time

Owning a vacation property as an investment usually means that you rent it out to tenants for shorter time periods. If you have the right house in a desirable location, you might be able to make as much money from a few vacation renters as you could from a year round tenant elsewhere.

And, maybe you can enjoy some time there yourself!

8. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a relatively new way to raise money for a business venture. The idea is that many people invest a small amount into a particular project. The crowdfunding concept is becoming an increasingly popular and low cost way to invest in real estate.

Let’s say that you want to invest in residential rentals and think the ideal property is a 10 unit building but you have nowhere near the assets to make that kind of investment. Crowdfunding allows you participate in that type of venture — without the huge capital outlay nor the hassle of buying and maintaining the property yourself.

Matt Rodak, CEO of Fund That Flip explains crowdfunding like this: “Real estate crowdfunding provides investors the ability to individually select each property they wish to invest in. This allows investors to be more selective on a project-by-project basis and build a custom portfolio aligned to their specific investment objectives.”

Source: New Retirement

Posted on August 13, 2019 at 5:27 pm
Dietric Williams | Category: Money & Finance, Real Estate, Retirement | Tagged , , , ,

Housing Construction Surging in Los Angeles

Builders in Los Angeles County are on track to complete nearly 10,000 new homes before the end of the year, according to a new report from real estate company Marcus and Millichap.

The 9,400 units of housing on the way in the second half of 2019 is higher than the number of units constructed in all of 2018—or 2017.

Most economists agree that building new housing is a key part of addressing steep rental prices and home costs throughout the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged last year to oversee construction of 3.5 million new homes by 2025. If distributed according to population, that would leave LA County responsible for contributing nearly 900,000 residences to that total.

Projects have been wrapping up at a relatively high rate over the last year, though not high enough to meet the pace proposed by Newsom. From June 2018 to June 2019, 10,680 units opened. That was double the roughly 5,300 completed in the 12 months prior.

New U.S. Census data also suggests this miniature boom won’t last.

In the first six months of 2019, developers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area (Los Angeles and Orange counties) received permits to build 13,015 homes. If that pace keeps up, the region will permit nearly 3,500 fewer homes in 2019 than during the prior year—a drop of 12 percent.

The local dip in new permits is part of a statewide decline in new housing development brought on partly by rising construction costs.

Still, at the end of June, nearly 28,000 new units were under construction in Los Angeles County, with most expected to wrap up by the end of 2021.

That’s a lot of new homes on the way to an area suffering from the effects of a profound shortage of affordable housing. But the authors of the Marcus and Millichap report argue that the region’s extremely low vacancy rate could prevent those new units from making a significant impact on the local cost of housing.

With just 3.6 percent of rental homes sitting empty (and thus ready for a tenant), there’s room in the market for new options; the report’s authors write that an “influx” of newly built apartments is unlikely to create “oversupply concerns” for investors.

That means that even a small surge in local development may not move the needle much for those struggling to afford rent.

According to a report released earlier this year by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, the gap between wages and rents in Los Angeles is the third-widest of any metropolitan area in the country.

Source: Curbed LA

Posted on August 13, 2019 at 4:24 pm
Dietric Williams | Category: Real Estate | Tagged , ,