Addressing Substandard Buildings
AB 548: State Housing Law: inspection
Due to California’s rising costs for housing, multiple media reports across California discuss how some landlords are renting substandard buildings for low rent in Silicon Valley and other larger urban areas of California. In response to these unfortunate circumstances, the legislature officially passed a policy for local governments to develop policies and procedures to inspect multiple units that have grotesque building code violations. In CALBO’s first installment of the 2024 Guide to Changes in State Law, we first cover AB 548 which was signed into law this fall. AB 548 by Assemblymember Boerner requires all local enforcement agencies by January 1, 2025, to develop a policy and procedure to inspect buildings with multiple units if an inspector or code enforcement officer has determined that a unit is substandard.
AB 548 specifies that the policy and procedure should include the following requirements: criteria that inspectors or code enforcement officers should use to determine if the substandard condition could reasonably affect other units. It additionally requires inspectors or code enforcement officers to reasonably attempt to inspect additional units at the property including units adjacent, above, and below the unit in which the defect or violation was found. Finally, the policy developed must require a local enforcement agency to provide the property owner with a notice or order to repair or abate the violation within a reasonable time after the inspection is completed.
AB 548 builds off State Housing Law which was passed to protect residents from substandard living conditions. The new law requires local agencies to go a step further through the development of a policy and procedure that allows the local jurisdiction to better enforce code regulations for other units that may be impacted by the building code violation such as mold, rodents, or other health and safety concerns throughout the building. Although CALBO believed state law already allowed local governments to do this, it will now be required for all jurisdictions to have some kind of policy or procedure established to inspect multiple units if needed. CALBO’s read of the bill is to have some kind of process set up to report substandard living conditions, enforce building code regulations locally, and provide property owners with ample time to review and improve the violation.
CALBO believes that most of our jurisdictions have this already but does believe the new requirements in law will have a firm deadline of when these policies or procedures must be established if it is already not available at the local level. We encourage our building departments to work with their code enforcement teams, local city council, and local attorneys to better comply and improve these kinds of policies to further enforce state housing law in your jurisdiction.