Escrow Trust Advisors | New Laws to Affect California Real Estate Agents and Brokers in 2012: Part One
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New Laws to Affect California Real Estate Agents and Brokers in 2012: Part One

New Laws to Affect California Real Estate Agents and Brokers in 2012: Part One

As 2011 comes to a close, it is no surprise that there are over a dozen new laws that will affect both real estate agents and brokers. To assist you in understanding these new regulations and laws, we will be posting them over the next few weeks in a three part series.

1. Sellers Disclosing Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures: C.A.R. successfully sponsored a new law, effective January 1, 2012, revising the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) to include a checkbox in Section A for the seller to disclose whether the property has water-conserving plumbing fixtures.  The revised TDS also clarifies at the end of Section B that, by January 1, 2017, a single-family residence built on or before January 1, 1994 must generally be equipped with water-conserving plumbing fixtures.  If, however, that single-family home is altered or improved on or after January 1, 2014, the water-conserving plumbing fixtures must be a condition of final permit approval.  Water-conserving plumbing fixtures are low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets under section 1101.3 of the California Civil Code.  C.A.R. intends to release a revised TDS form in November 2011 to comply with this law. Senate Bill 837. Read Full Text

2. NHD Companies Disclosing Mining Operations: Starting January 1, 2012, a company preparing a natural hazard disclosure (NHD) statement for a prospective buyer, as required for certain transactions, must also disclose whether the property is located within one mile of a mining operation, according to map coordinate data from the Office of Mine Reclamation.  If a property is within one mile, the NHD company must give a specified notice that such mining operations may cause inconveniences.  Senate Bill 110. Read Full Text 

3. No Fee Bundling for HOA Disclosures: Beginning January 1, 2012, another C.A.R.-sponsored bill requires a homeowner’s association (HOA) to, upon written request, give an estimate of the fee for providing a prospective buyer with the governing documents of the common interest development and other required HOA disclosures.  The fee must be reasonable based upon the HOA’s actual cost for procuring, preparing, reproducing, and delivering the HOA documents.  If the fee is paid, the HOA cannot withhold the required HOA disclosures for any reason.  Moreover, the HOA cannot bundle the fee for providing required HOA disclosures with any other fees, fines, or assessments.  This law will prevent an HOA’s third-party document preparation company from bundling together both mandatory and non-mandatory HOA documents, and charging a higher fee for providing all the documents.  The HOA is also prohibited from charging any additional fees for electronic delivery of HOA documents, which must be available to a requesting party if the HOA maintains the documents electronically.  Additionally, at a buyer’s request, the HOA must provide 12 months of approved minutes of the association’s board of directors meetings (excluding executive sessions).  Delivery of the required HOA documents must be accompanied by a cover sheet itemizing the documents required by law and those provided.  In November 2011, we intend to release a revised C.A.R. standard form Homeowner Association Information Request that complies with this requirement.  Assembly Bill 771. Read Full Text

4. Brokers Designating Managers: Under another law that C.A.R. sponsored, effective July 1, 2012, an employing broker may appoint a licensee as a manager to supervise the licensed activities, clerical staff, and day-to-day operations of a branch office or division.  An appointed manager who fails to properly supervise licensed activities will be subject to disciplinary action by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).  Appointing a manager, however, does not limit the employing broker’s supervisory responsibilities.  The appointment of a manager must be in a written agreement in which the manager accepts the delegated responsibility.  The employing broker must notify the DRE when a manager has been appointed or terminated.  A licensee cannot be an appointed manager if the licensee holds a restricted license, is or has been subject to a debarment order, or is a salesperson with less than two years of full-time real estate experience within the last five years.  Senate Bill 510. Read Full Text 

5. Strengthening DRE Enforcement: Effective January 1, 2012, the DRE will have greater disciplinary authority to achieve its highest priority of protecting the public.  A licensee will be required to report to the DRE within 30 days of any of the following: (1) disciplinary action taken by another licensing entity in California or another state, or by a federal governmental agency; (2) an indictment or information charging a felony against the licensee; or (3) a conviction of a felony or misdemeanor, including a plea of guilty or no contest.  Failure to comply with this reporting requirement will be cause for discipline.  The DRE’s broader disciplinary authority will also include, among other things, the ability to automatically suspend the license of anyone incarcerated after a felony conviction.  For disciplinary actions, the DRE can conclusively presume without a hearing that a licensee’s conviction of murder, rape, lewd and lascivious acts, or a violation of dangerous drugs or controlled substances laws is substantially related to the licensee’s qualifications, functions, or duties.  The DRE will also be able to enter into a pre-prosecution settlement with a licensee or applicant instead of issuing an accusation or statement of issues, but the settlement shall be considered discipline.  Additionally, the DRE can request that a disciplinary order requires the disciplined licensee to pay reasonable investigation and prosecution costs.  Failure to pay can result in non-renewal of license.  The DRE can also require that a restricted licensee pays the costs for monitoring the licensee and monetary restitution to any person who sustained damages caused by the licensee’s misconduct.  Again, failure to pay can result in non-renewal of license.  Senate Bill 706. Read Full Text

*Information provided by the California Association of REALTORS.  The full text of the bills can be found at www.leginfo.ca.gov