California is litigious…notes on a few of the 2,700 bills

December 17, 2011

It’s no surprise that California is a litigious state, this year there are some 2,700 new bills on the books. Keeping your eye on all of them is sure to make your head spin, so here are a few that we’ve been following.

AB 261 (Dickinson)

Legal Brief: For properties sold at tax sale, addresses the matter of prescriptive easements to provide that those easements remain a burden on a servient tenement sold at tax sale; also clarifies the process by which a rescission of a tax sale may be sought. ENACTED

Laymen Terms: Let’s say you happily acquire a property at a tax sale and this property had a prescriptive easement (a neighbor has a driveway on your property). AB 261 clarifies that your new property is still bears the burden of the prescriptive easement (meaning you can’t stop the neighbor from using the driveway that is on your property just because you bought a tax sale property). The fact that you acquired the property at a tax sale does NOT erase or change the previous easement and the burden.

AB 697 (Perez)

Legal Brief: Allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans by providing refinance rather than purchase-only loans under the Cal Vet contract of sale program. ENACTED

Laymen Terms: You don’t want have to sell your home and buy another one just to “refinance” your mortgage. AB 697 helps streamline the Cal Vet contract of sale program. This can be hugely helpful to a number of vets in this circumstance, if you have questions please be sure to call me and I can go over the details with you.

AB 1305 (Huber)

Legal Brief: For transfers of small estates without probate, increases the limitation of property value from $20,000 to $50,000 and increases the limitation on estate value from $100,000 to $150,000, subject to recorded affidavit or court order to determine succession to real property, as indicated. ENACTED

Laymen Terms: This one is pretty self explanatory, but I will point out that many people in this situation will not be using an attorney, so it is very important that they are aware of these changes. Most of our clients are very organized and briefed prior to meeting with us, because they have probate attorneys handling the majority of the details before we see any paperwork. Nonetheless, it is always good to know the new rules and regulations so you don’t make a mistake.

SB 53 (Calderon) (Perhaps I’m an escrow nerd but this one is my Favorite)

Legal Brief: Gives “cite and fine” authority to the Department of Real Estate by which licensees may be cited and fined for minor infractions rather than opening a further enforcement action. Also requires real estate brokers handling escrow transactions to report that they are handling those transactions. On and after July 1, 2012, real estate brokers exempt from the Escrow Law who engage in escrow activities for five or more transactions in a calendar year or whose escrow activities equal or exceed $1,000,000 in a calendar year must file a specified report with the department within sixty days following the completion of the calendar year. (MORE HERE)

Laymen Terms: Consumers are very unaware of how fully independent escrow companies (like Design Escrow) are different than a real estate brokerage’s handing of an escrow. Limits are put in place for a reason…

To me it seems completely common sense that you would want a fully independent escrow company to handle your escrow, after all, what’s the point of an escrow if it isn’t independent. More details on this can be found on a YouTube video posted here on our site.