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Real Estate in the Napa Valley

Burt Polson's Real Estate in the Napa Valley: New 2021 laws you should know about

  • Updated

Several commented on my previous column regarding Proposition 19. Californians can keep their property tax base, with the effects it has on estate planning.

I have clients looking to preempt the law by gifting their real estate to their children with the fast-approaching February 16 deadline.

Your heirs could save thousands of dollars in property tax through strategic planning, but you are almost out of time.

Each new year brings us new laws; below are highlights of several laws affecting the property owner and investor for 2021.

Common Interest Developments to allow rentalsAn owner of a home within a common interest development governed by a Homeowners’ Association (HOA) are now allowed to lease or rent out their units.

Regardless of whether the HOA has formally amended its governing documents, 25% of homeowners may now have tenants.

Right of senior citizens to cancel contractsThe law extends from three to five days for a person 65 years of age or older to cancel a contract.

The right extends for a home improvement contract, service repair contract, home solicitation contract, seminar sales contract, and a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) contract.

Point-of-sale disclosure for defensible wildfire spaceThis law requires a statutory disclosure for homes built before 2010 in designated high fire areas by the seller stating the property complies with local or state laws about defensible spaces or local vegetation management laws.

Creation of an ember- resistant zone within five feet of a structureCurrent law requires a person who owns, leases, controls, operates, or maintains an occupied dwelling or structure to maintain a defensible space of 100 feet from each side of the structure.

This law will require a more intense fuel reduction to create an ember-resistant zone within five to 30 feet around a structure.

Tenant’s and others, right of first refusal to purchase a foreclosureEstablishes the right for a tenant, a prospective owner-occupant, non-profit, and other entities the right of first refusal to purchase a property through foreclosure within 45 days of the auction. The offer must exceed the highest bid.

Extension of the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights (HBOR) to small landlordsHBOR provides protections and rights to homeowners facing foreclosure requiring mortgage servicers to work with borrowers for foreclosure prevention alternatives.

This law offers HBOR protections to landlords who own three or fewer residential properties of one to four units.

Increase in the homestead exemptionThe new law provides a homeowner the greater of $300,000 or the countywide median sales price of a single-family home not-to-exceed $600,000 from judgment debtor claims.

Prevention of foreclosure ba

sed on consumer debt judgmentRestricts the court-ordered sale of a debtor’s principal residence to satisfy a judgment lien of consumer debt unless the debtor’s home secured the debt.

COVID-19 Tenant Protection Act of 2020 expiresThe time for the rent moratorium, collection of rental debt, unlawful detainer action moratorium, and just cause eviction rules appear to expire as of February 1.

It is advisable for those tenants with rent owed or landlords looking for payment to consult with local authorities, property management companies, or their attorney for remedy.

The laws are ever-changing, and it is prudent to stay informed as this could save you money and protect your rights and property. Be sure to do your research and have a team of professionals to call.

Watch now: Check out Napa’s old Family Drug store. It’s about to become an art gallery

Artist Rhonda Chadwick will open a gallery and working studio at Napa's former Family Drug store on Old Sonoma Road. It's part of her healing process from losing everything she owned in the 2020 Hennessey Fire.

Burt M. Polson is the CEO of, a commercial real estate brokerage company and CEO of, a private equity real estate fund. Call him at (707) 254-8000 or email and burt@stonemarker

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