2019 – A Year in Review

As 2019 comes to a close, we take time to reflect on the changes of 2019. It was a remarkable year, full of many changes that will have impacts in the immediate and distant future. How these changes affect the legal landscape will take time to sort out. It was certainly a fun and exciting year. Thank you to all of you for allowing BPE to be part of your journey.

As always, if you have any questions about your real estate, business, estate planning, or any other legal issue, please let us know by e-mailing managing shareholder Keith Dunnagan at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com.

Also, remember that we do legal presentations for business and community organizations. If your group would like to schedule a presentation, please contact me to setup a date and time.

2019 – A Year in Review
By: D. Keith Dunnagan, Esq.

2019 was a year of change. I think we say that every year. But in California, it was definitely a change. Gov. Newsom took the reigns as the 40th Governor of California. Immediately, he spoke about the housing shortage as a priority issue of his office. It remains to be seen what will be done, but lofty goals have been set. Next, we will see if corresponding legislative changes will be made to effectuate the construction goals set forth by the Governor’s office.

Cannabis remained a significant topic as local agencies ramped up enforcement and administrative penalties against tenants and landlords where the cannabis laws had been violated. This led to the adoption of AB 2164 which gave innocent landlords some protection when tenants violate cannabis laws provided the landlord complied with the safe harbor statute. Significantly, Sacramento Superior Court overruled a large administrative penalty based upon a lack of knowledge. Cannabis will remain a hot topic in 2020 as the State continues to shape its cannabis regulatory scheme.

PG&E facing significant liability related to property damage in multiple fires, including but not limited to, the Camp Fire, the Tubbs Fire and multiple other fires over the last several years, filed for bankruptcy protection. It remains to be seen what will happen to one of the largest consolidated utilities. There have calls for breaking up the conglomerate or Gov. Newsom went so far as to threaten to have the State take over the company. 2020 should begin to shed some light on the direction PG&E will be going.

In March of 2019, Moehrl v. NAR was filed in Federal Court in Chicago to challenge the way commissions have been paid for years in the industry. The case has drawn national attention as a potential test case to challenge the commission structures in the real estate industry from coast to coast. Naturally, NAR and the major have fought back made several challenges to the pleadings from the outset. This case will be continued to be monitored as it develops over the next potentially few years. If there is an unfavorable ruling for the real estate profession it could significantly alter the compensation structures of the industry.

The legislature followed the Supreme Court’s lead and codified much of the ruling in the 2018 Dynamex case. This case significantly changed the classification between employee and independent contractor and signaled a policy direction that in general favored the employee relationship. We have already seen some brokerages move away from the independent contractor model and towards the employee model. The question is, will this trend gain steam or not as we head into 2020.

The Supreme Court in the Black Sky decision made a significant step away from 40 years of merger jurisprudence as it related to anti-deficiency protection for borrowers. This new case potentially opens the door to more borrower liability post-foreclosure when junior loans are wiped out by foreclosure. Even when the junior loan is held by the foreclosing lender.

Rent Control was a major theme of the second half of the year. First, the City of Sacramento implemented a rent control capping rent increases to 6% plus COLA not to exceed 10% and adding a just cause eviction clause. Not, to be outdone, the State followed suit and adopted statewide rent control legislation, which the Governor signed into law in October 2019.

All in all, 2019 was an exciting year and we look forward to seeing you next year. To all, thank you for making this a great year. We are incredibly humbled that you choose to trust us with your legal needs and concerns and we look forward to continuing to work with you.

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!


The attorneys of BPE Law Group, PC. have been advising our clients on real estate, business and estate planning issues for over 20 years and have assisted numerous clients in business and real estate matters and have represented and advised brokers on their professional obligations as well as consumers on their rights. If you have questions concerning legal matters, give us a call at (916) 966-2260 or e-mail Keith at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com. Our flat fee consult for new clients may get you the answers you need for the questions you have.

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options.