2022 Legislative Update - Week 8

Posted By: Stephen Davis 2022 Legislative Updates ,

Landlord Tenant Legislation

 

Apportionment of Damages (HB 961)                                          
Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula

Adopted by the House on Mar-1
In August 2021, the Georgia Supreme Court upended Georgia’s longstanding apportionment statute.  In the opinion, the court ruled that only named defendants could be apportioned fault.  This increases exposure and liability for “deep pocket” defendants.  HB 961 restores the statute by allowing apportionment of damages in single-defendant lawsuits.  The law would become effective for all cases filed after the signature of the Governor.
 
Right to Cure (HB 408)                                                                      
Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta

Pending in the House Judiciary Cmte
HB 408 makes changes to the procedures required to initiate a dispossession, including a demand by the owner and a tenant’s opportunity to cure.  There has been a spate of activity on the issue this week.  The Association has met with several legislators with influence on the bill’s future and will continue to engage as the crossover deadline looms.

 

Other Property Management Legislation

 

Childhood Lead Exposure Control Act (HB 1355)                           
Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome

Adopted by the House on Mar-3
Based on recommendations made by a 2021 House Study Committee, HB 1355 addresses lead exposure and remediation, particularly in children.  It updates the state’s definition of “confirmed lead poisoning” to comport with nationally recognized guidelines; this lower threshold is likely to result in more properties requiring lead hazard abatement.  The House is reportedly providing additional funding to the Department of Public Health in anticipation of increased utilization as a result of the legislation.
 
Further, it expends the property owner’s responsibility to outdoor areas.  It increases, from 14 to 30 days, the time an owner or managing agent must submit an abatement plan.  In lieu of abatement, it allows the owner to attest that the property will be not used as a dwelling in the future. The National Apartment Association has reviewed the bill for concerns, indicating that this version is largely consistent with federal law.
 
Criminal Case Data Exchange Board (SB 441)                           
Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Clarkesville)

Favorably reported from the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-1
SB 441 reestablishes the Criminal Case Data Exchange Board, acknowledging that the state’s current system for sharing criminal case data is inadequate in providing interested parties – including housing providers – with criminal case data.  It has been co-signed by all 56 members of the Senate.
 
Exempt Evictions from Tolling Provisions (HB 1393)         
Rep. Josh Bonner, R-Peachtree City

Heard in House Judiciary Cmte on Feb-28
HB 1393 exempts dispossessory proceedings from tolling provisions in the event of a judicial emergency.  There would be no tolling of appeal times or other deadlines.  During the Feb-28 hearing, members questioned why evictions should be the only matter exempt from judicial emergencies.  The bill was referred to a subcommittee for further consideration, where it will likely die.

 

Property Taxation & Valuation Legislation

 

Appeals of Property Tax Assessments (SB 511)                      
Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown

Adopted by the Senate on Mar-1
SB 511 reduces the time a county board of equalization must notify the taxpayer of corrections or changes to the assessment after reviewing the appeal.  Current law allows 180 days after receipt of the appeal notice; SB 511 allows 90.  Current law gives the board 15 days to set a hearing date; SB 511 requires the hearing to take place within 90 days.  If the hearing fails to take place within 180 days from the date of appeal, the taxpayer’s asserted value stands.  Similar changes are made to the timeline specific to appeals to hearing officers.
 
Values in Disaster Areas (HR 594)                                                        
Rep. Lynn Smith, R-Newnan

Lost in the House on Mar-3
HB 978 allows the county board of tax assessors to provide temporary property tax relief to properties located in a declared federal disaster area.  The sponsor is from Newnan, which is still recovering from a March 2021 tornado.  According to her, this will allow tax relief for the balance of the taxable year of the natural disaster.  Without this change, property owners would be responsible for paying taxes on the property as it was valued January 1 despite subsequent damage or destruction.  The measure was the victim of an interparty squabble on Mar-3 and failed to reach the two-thirds majority necessary for constitutional amendments.  On Mar-4, the House “reconsidered” their vote the previous day, sending it back to the Rules Committee.

 

Land Use & Development Legislation

 

Utility Facility Protection Act (HB 1372)                              
Rep. Vance Smith, R-Pine Mountain

Favorably reported from the House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Cmte on Mar-1
HB 1372 makes changes to the Georgia Utility Protection Act; reportedly the statute has not been updated since 1990.  An effort to update the Act failed last year over concerns about how underground traffic signal facilities are treated.  Specific to development, it adds a new obligation that requires emergency services be contacted if an excavator damages a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline.  Similar legislation (HB 1307) is also active.
 
Multifamily Zoning (HB 1406)                                                       
Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta

Favorably reported from the House Governmental Affairs Cmte Mar-2
HB 1406 requires additional notices and hearing provisions for changes to zoning ordinances that revise single-family residential to multifamily residential.  This does not apply when the rezoning is initiated by the owner or authorized agent of the owner of the property.
 
Zoning Procedures Law (HB 1405)                                         
Rep. Shea Roberts, D-Sandy Springs

Favorably reported from the House Governmental Affairs Cmte Mar-2
HB 1405 revises provisions related to the judicial review of zoning decisions.
 
Restrictions on Residential Dwellings (SB 494)                          
Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega

Hearing only in the Senate State and Local Governmental Affairs Cmte on Mar-1
SB 494 prohibits local governments from enacting or enforcing any restrictions on land or dwellings that will be subject to a long-term residential rental agreement.  The legislation comes at the request of build-to-rent developers.  Similar legislation (HB 1093) is also pending in the House.
 
Annexation Dispute Resolution (HB 1461)                               
Rep. Victor Anderson, R-Cornelia

Assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Cmte on Feb-28
HB 1461 allows school systems to participate in the dispute resolution process.  It extends the period of a zoning freeze following an arbitration and revises notices municipalities must provide counties regarding annexation applications.  It requires arbitration findings be sent to the Department of Community Affairs.  A substitute version has removed language that would grant school systems standing in such disputes and is expected to receive a committee vote next week.
 
Board of Education Impact Fees (HR 666 / HB 1130)             
Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson

Pending in the House Government Affairs Cmte
HR 666 asks voters to amend the constitution to allow for development impact fees for education in “high growth” school systems.  The Association testified in opposition to the measure.  HB 1130 is a companion bill to HR 666 and would only become effective if voters amend the constitution. 
 
Eminent Domain for Blighted Properties (SB 531)                  
Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah

Pending in the Senate Judiciary Cmte
SB 531 provides an alternative process for a county, municipality, or consolidated government to identify and subsequently condemn certain blighted properties.  It is identical to a measure (SB 444) filed in 2020.
 
C-PACER Program (HB 1413)                                                         
Rep. Trey Rhodes, R-Greensboro

Pending in the House Governmental Affairs Cmte
HB 1413 authorizes local governments to establish and adopt commercial property assessed clean energy and storm resiliency (C-PACER) programs.  There are concerns related to lien priority status and the bill may be amended.
 
Municipal Incorporations.  There are several active bills to incorporate new cities.  On February 14 the Governor signed HB 841 to incorporate the City of East Cobb into law.  Measures to create the City of Lost Mountain (HB 826) and the City of Vinings (HB 840) are also eligible for the Governor’s signature.  In the House, HB 839 to incorporate the City of Mableton is eligible for consideration by the full chamber.  The bills do not create new cities automatically but rather allow voters to make that decision later this year.

 

Other Legislation of Interest 

 

Property Owners in Dispossessory Proceedings (SB 439).  Allows agent representation in dispossessory proceedings before a magistrate court when the property is owned by an individual.
 
Eviction Records Restriction Act (HB 1149).  Seals eviction records (a) from nonpayment during a public health emergency, and (b) when the plaintiff does not prevail, when the parties reach a settlement, or when three years have lapsed since dispossession caused by nonpayment.
 
Revise Applicability of Stalking (SB 197).  Allows a person to seek a temporary proactive order against someone they share a primary residence with.
 
Reducing Street Homelessness Act (SB 535). SB 535 provides state funding for projects to address homelessness, including "individual unit shelters" defined as shelters that can house 1-3 individuals, provide sleeping accommodations, access to electricity, provide shower and bathroom facilities, and are limited to no more than 6 months per person.
 
Source of Income (HB 1458).  Adds “source of income” to the classes protected by the state’s fair housing laws.  This would obligate landlords to accept voucher payments.
 
“LEAF” Act (HB 1301).  Prohibits local governments from banning gasoline-powered leaf blowers or other landscape maintenance equipment.
 
Credit Repair Services Organization (SB 371).  Allows for-profit credit repair services.
 
Criminal Gang Activity (HB 1134).  Provides the attorney general with concurrent jurisdiction with prosecutors for certain criminal gang-related crimes across the state.  The attorney general may also employ peace officers for investigative purposes.
 
Crime and Safety Notices to Tenants (HB 965).  Requires the landlord with more than 50 units to provide tenants and prospective tenants a summary every six months of certain crimes that occurred on or in the property.  Failure to comply is a violation of the Fair Business Practice Act.
 
Evictions During the Pandemic (HB 894).  Prohibits a prospective tenant from being refused a rental agreement based upon a previous eviction during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
 
Crime Information Center (SB 257).  Provides for criminal history record information restrictions for persons cited with or convicted of certain criminal offenses.
 
Duty of Owner Specific to Firearms (HB 1091).  Revises the duty of an owner or occupier of land to an invitee when the owner or occupier prohibits the carrying or possession of weapons.
 
Elevator Inspections (HB 994).  Increases the civil penalty for failure to inspect elevators from $500 to $2,500 per elevator, dumbwaiter, escalator, manlift, or moving walk not inspected.  Fine increase again, up to $5,000 per unit, if inspections are further delayed.
 
Low Income Housing Tax Credits (HR 756).  Proposes an amendment to the Constitution to provide that qualified low-income building projects may be classified as a separate class of property for ad valorem tax purposes, and different rates, methods, and assessments dates may be provided for such building projects. Legislation likely stalled for the year.
 
Income Tax Deduction for Rental Charges (HB 1305).  Creates a state income tax deduction of 20% of primary resident rental charges.  This is similar to HB 979, which creates a tax credit for low-income individuals who lease certain dwellings.
 
Local Regulatory Fees (HB 302).  Requires local governments to approximate the actual cost of regulatory services they provide.  The measure then mandates the local government use those fees exclusively for that regulatory activity and not general operations.
 
Annexation and Residential Tenants (SB 354).  Requires all residential tenants occupying the to-be-annexed property to be notified of impending annexation.  The notification requirement is the responsibility of the property owner and must be sent via certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.  The owner must retain proof of notification.
 
Annexation Reform (HB 924).  Makes several changes to the annexation process, including allowing local school systems, counties, and municipal governing authorities to become parties to bond validation hearings.
 
Prohibit Deannexation (SB 348).  Prohibits the deannexation of territory from an existing municipal corporation to a newly incorporated municipality.