Senate Bill No. 969 Automatic Garage Door Openers And Battery Backup
As many people can attest, a garage door that will not open due to a loss of electrical power can be a nuisance. However, while not being able to get a vehicle in or out of the area can be frustrating, it can also create a safety hazard if an emergency occurs. Because of this possibility, state legislators in California have been pushing to have regulations surrounding garage door openers changed, and the result is the recently passed SB-969, which now requires that an automatic garage door opener which is manufactured for sale, is sold, offered for sale, or installed in a residence have a battery backup which will automatically operate should there be an electrical outage.
Slated to take effect July 1, 2019, this bill could have a number of ramifications for owners of rental property. Because of this, here are some of the most important details of the bill, including penalties for noncompliance, that California property owners and landlords should keep in mind.
Under the existing law, automatic garage door openers installed in residences are required to have specified safety requirements, such as an automatic reverse safety device. However, this new bill goes a step further, requiring a battery backup function that can work during a loss of electrical power. In addition, once this bill becomes law on July 1, 2019, property owners and landlords will be prohibited from installing a replacement residential garage door that is connected to existing door openers not meeting these requirements.
While some property owners and landlords may not feel as if this new law is terribly important, the fact is a failure to comply can result in fines that can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. Under SB-969, failure to comply with these regulations can make a landlord or property owner subject to a civil penalty of $1,000. But remember, this is $1,000 per each opener that is installed. Therefore, if numerous properties are found to be in violation, the fines can quickly mount up. So while it may be an inconvenience in terms of time and money used in making the necessary changes, failure to do so will likely add up costing property owners far more overall.
When tenants move into a new residence, they expect the property owner or landlord to provide them with a reasonable level of safety where they live. Thus, if an incident occurs and it is later determined the property owner failed to obey existing laws, they could open themselves up to substantial lawsuits. Rather than find themselves entangled in lawsuits involving tenant-landlord law, as well as facing possible personal injury lawsuits or even criminal charges in extreme cases, landlords will find it much easier and protective of their interests to make the necessary changes to various garage doors located on their properties.
Health and Safety Code
Since the new regulations in this bill apply to the California Health and Safety Code, property owners and landlords should pay particular attention to it to ensure they are not left facing code violations. Because there are various sections of this code, penalties can vary. For example, if violations are found to subdivisions A, B, or C of sections 19890 or 19892 regarding an opener installed, manufactured, sold, or offered for sale, a civil penalty of $1,000 can be enacted per opener. However, if violations apply to subdivisions D and H of the code, the civil penalty can be only $500 per opener installed or operational.
In cases where it is found a property owner or landlord is in violation of this law, court proceedings can be initiated by different sources. These can include local agencies whose building departments have jurisdiction over the enforcement of building standards, a district attorney’s office, or even by an affected consumer, such as a tenant in a rental property. In these cases, the payment of any civil penalties imposed upon a property owner or landlord shall be paid in various ways. For example, if a local agency or district attorney’s office initiates the proceedings, penalties are payable to the agency itself to help offset court costs. However, if a consumer initiates the proceedings, any civil penalties ordered to be paid shall be paid directly to the consumer. Thus, if a tenant initiates these proceedings and is found to be correct in their assessment of the situation, a property owner will be paying their fines to their tenant.
Battery Backups With regards to battery backups, Section 19892 of the Health and Safety Code states that no person, entity, or corporation can manufacture, sell, offer for sale either retail or wholesale, or install a residential automatic garage door opener that does not contain a battery backup function. And in addition, no replacement garage doors installed in a residential property can be done so in a manner that connects to an existing door opener not meeting the requirements of SB-969.
While some property owners and landlords may argue these changes are an example of regulations gone awry, most agree the measure should allow for greater safety measures to be in place for tenants living in a rental property. Thus, while it may mean extra expenses in a property owner’s maintenance budget to make the necessary replacements, doing so will not only result in greater safety for tenants but also eliminate the possibility of fines or other civil penalties.
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