Under Proposition 65, California requires businesses with at least ten employees to provide both their employees and the public with “clear and reasonable” warnings regarding potential exposure to chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Some of these chemicals are common in residential buildings such as car exhaust, building materials, fireplaces, tobacco smoke, vinyl miniblinds made before 1997. However, there are many more, which can all be found in the list on The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s website, https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list. As of May 2019, there were a few changes to this proposition which could affect residential landlords, and if not followed, violators may be fined up to $2,700 per day per violation, so it’s important for landlords to pay close attention to these new updates.
Effective July 1st, 2019, Proposition 65 warnings are now required to be given to new tenants and other adult occupants, and again every year during their tenancy. These warnings must be given in a specific format and delivered in specific ways. They may be delivered in hardcopy or electronic format, including in a letter or email addressed to each adult occupant or other tenant, or in the lease or rental agreement.
The content must include a warning symbol containing an exclamation mark within a yellow triangle, the word WARNING in all capital letters and bold print, and the following format: “[Name of one or more exposure sources] on this property can expose you to [name of one or more chemicals] which is/are known to the State of California to cause [“cancer”, “birth defects or other reproductive harm”, or “cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm”]. Talk to your landlord or the building owner about how and when you could be exposed to this chemical in your building. For additional information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/apartments”. For more information on the specific format and wording required of these notices, see https://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/crnr/regtext030119.pdf.
Another change to this proposition became effective on August 30, 2018, stating that new warning signs were required to be posted in enclosed parking facilities and designated smoking areas. Residential landlords in California should also have gotten rid of signage and/or lease language they used before this update and instead followed the safe harbor warning specified in the safe harbor warnings guidelines found above.
These safe harbor warnings also allow for any other warning that provides a “clear and reasonable warning” that’s done before exposing an individual to certain chemicals in California. However, since there are so many specific guidelines required for rental properties, general warnings may not be enough to keep landlords from violating these regulations. If there are further questions about these changes or the proposition in general, any of the links listed above may be helpful in providing more insight.