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Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 Laws for Landlords and Tenants

Well, we have about a week left in 2011, time that maybe you as a landlord or tenant can use to get acquainted with what is coming in 2012.

Tenants Smoking Ban: Beginning January 1, 2012, a residential landlord can prohibit the smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco products on the property, including any dwelling unit, building, other interior or exterior area, or the premises on which the property is located.  For new tenants on or after January 1, 2012, the areas where smoking is prohibited must be stated in the lease or rental agreement.  For preexisting tenants before 2012, a new provision prohibiting smoking is a change in the terms of tenancy that requires adequate written notice, depending on whether the tenancy is month-to-month or for a fixed term. 

Tenants Displaying Political Signs: Effective January 1, 2012, a residential tenant can generally display political signs related to elections, legislative votes, initiatives, and other political matters as specified, but the landlord can make reasonable restrictions as to location, size, and duration of display.  In a single-family dwelling, a tenant’s political signs can be displayed from the yard, window, door, balcony, or outside wall of the leased premises.  In a multifamily dwelling, a tenant’s political signs can be posted in the window or door of the leased premises.  A landlord can restrict the size of a political sign to six square feet.  A landlord can also prohibit a tenant from displaying political signs that violate local, state or federal law, or a lawful provision in an HOA’s governing documents.  A tenant must remove political signs in compliance with time limits set by local ordinance, or absent such time limits, the landlord can reasonably restrict the posting of a sign to 90 days before an election or vote, and its removal within 15 days after the election or vote. 

Tenants Recycling Rights: Commencing July 1, 2012, a multifamily residential dwelling of five or more units (or a multifamily residential dwelling or business that generates more than four cubic yards per week of commercial solid waste as defined) must arrange for recycling services.  The intent of this law is to address the challenges local governments are facing in reducing solid waste disposal in multifamily properties.  The required recycling services are to be consistent with state or local laws, to the extent that these services are offered and reasonably available from a local service provider.  The property owner of a multifamily residential dwelling may require tenants to source separate their recyclable materials to aid in compliance with this law. 

So, landlords start issuing notices of a ban on smoking now. Tenants, find somewhere else to smoke. Is it a coincidence that the law on tenants displaying political signs goes into effect in an election year? Interesting. Well, I guess we will be seeing a lot of Obama campaign signs and….Romney…Gingrich…who knows – signs. As for recycling services, it shouldn’t be too hard to comply with this law. Most residences have that blue and green garbage can designated for recyclables. Landlords can call their local city sanitation unit to get more bins.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy New Year!