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Fighting Back

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The residential rental housing industry is under assault. Politically. Economically. Morally. Socially. The wide-spread negative narrative juxtaposed with California's "housing crisis" has put residential rental property owners in the cross-hairs of complaint akin to the Robber Barons of the Old West. From city council chambers to the legislative halls of the Capitol the chorus of claimed avarice and greed follow in the wake of anecdotal examples of a few outlier's excessive rent increases. The aberrant actions of a few have unnecessarily tainted the entire rental housing community. It brings to mind a favorite Pogoism: "We have met the enemy and they are us."

A number of very significant legislative proposals have surfaced in the wake of this industry criticism. We will report on these from time to time as the session heats up with committee hearings and floor votes. And we will look to you for grass roots support through active response to appropriate Red Alerts. While important in and of themselves, they pale in comparison with the most significant challenge facing the industry in the last 20 years: a proposed ballot initiative coined the "Affordable Housing Act" that would gut the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, thereby paving the way for local enactment of strict forms of rent and price control on all rental properties.

The proponents organized under the banner "Coali­tion for Affordable Housing" have amassed over $1 million and collected the 25 percent signature threshold as of the end of February. It is expected that they will spend whatever it takes to get the ballot initiative qualified for the November 2018 statewide ballot. They have until June 25 to collect the 365,880 signatures needed to qualify for the November General Election.

It is past time for individual rental property owners to be complacent about the events and circum­stances surrounding this industry. Our Association is certainly not taking the important issues of the day lying down. We have and will continue to develop and implement a comprehensive action plan to actively oppose this proposed initiative. Every day we will be initiating or participating in worthwhile activities to inform our members and the public the actual and practical impact of the ballot initiative:

  • On single-family homeowners that could face rent and price control mandates including the neces­sity to argue before rent boards for fair return.
  • On renters who unquestionably will find it extremely difficult to find replacement housing.
  • On property owners and renters when 58 coun­ties and over 482 cities can define and implement a confusing array of rent control ordinances, charter provisions or regulations.
  • On businesses, including the financial markets, and government.

Notice to owners: Get involved. Support your Asso­ciation's political activities and educate yourself about the major issues of the day. Join MCSC's grass roots campaign against the proposed initiative. Talk to your friends and neighbors and local political representatives. Most importantly, talk to your residents. Let them know you are a faithful steward of your property and their well being. Look at their circumstances from their viewpoint. Many, if not most, tenants are there by choice, not circumstance. Also, but not last, contribute financially to MCSC's efforts to derail or defeat the proposed initiative.
Yes, the issue is one of the biggest we have faced in some time. Are you ready to step in with both feet and help us?

April 2018

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Unless you live under a rock, and I highly doubt you could not have heard it there too, we have all heard about the Rent Control ordinance that is being circulated around Long Beach AND the Statewide Rent Control issue that continues to threaten the repeal of Costa­Hawkins. I want to thank all of you who have called to ask questions. Neither of these issues are good for our industry-this includes our tenants. As such, I encourage you to take time to get informed and educate yourself on what could be in store if this passes. NOW is the time to get involved. If you have not renewed or joined AACSC, I encourage you to do so TODAY.

Nevertheless, we want you to know that AACSC is fully engaged at all levels. We are working with Realtors, CAA, PacWest and SPOA and will continue to do so on your behalf. Your voices will be heard and AACSC is involved.

There is no more time to sit on the sidelines-the time in NOW and AACSC is the right Association that has the only local, statewide and national connec­tions as we fight to protect your property rights.

Now, let's move on to the 12th Annual AACSC Golf Tournament. If you have not already secured your spot, I would highly recommend that you contact us today. We are looking forward to another sell out and a great day on the links. Of course I want to thank our sponsors for their continuing support of this great event. This is a terrific way to thank your best customers, talk with potential new customers or use it as a way to thank your business partners, staff or just have a great day on the links. I am waiting for your call.
Finally, last year we held an Apartment Repair & Maintenance Series of classes that was extremely well-received and we are having another one this year (see page 40). You don't want to miss this series of four classes and the best part about it is that it is a "hands on" course. So if you have crew who like to hammer, bang, build or fix stuff-this is the series of classes for them and we guarantee they will all walk away with information they can use on your properties. Besides, it is a great way to relieve stress. The classes can also be taken individually.

Finally, April is time to talk about all the NEW laws that are being considered for 2018 so we look forward to making sure that you stay informed. To that end, we will be updating you each month as we find out more information. For now, we are encou­raging you to contribute to the PAC so that we can effectively fight the rent control ordinance here in Long Beach. Don't forget to read our weekly e­newsletter, The Beacon, to learn about all the educational classes we have scheduled and see you this month at Sea Cliff Country Club for a day of golf. Even if you don't golf, you can attend to bid on all the great auction items and end the day with a great din­ner with friends. Either way, we want you there!

Spring Cleaning

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Spring Cleaning, Maintenance, and Organizational Tips Ahh! The wonderful smells and sights of Spring popping up are the things I really look forward to each March—well, here in Southern California anyway where we typically get better seasons all year ’round. We all know this is the precursor to Summer being here, which is what we can’t wait for — long days, late sunsets, kickbacks and campfires, more sun, and more fun. But, of course, we cannot relax for too long otherwise the metaphorical weeds of life will certainly take over and choke out the good in life we’ve been nurturing. The same is true for your properties... and landscaping, of course.

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your storage rooms and garages. My friend and CEO of Sky Properties, Kari Negri, brought to us not long ago a nicely detailed monthly “laundry list” and I am happy to revisit some of that here this month.

Hopefully you’ve already renewed business licenses and rent registrations for the City of L.A. and elsewhere as needed, and don’t forget to make sure PRHIP Registrations are up to date as well for Long Beach. Most of us are on top of the fact that this is an excellent time to make sure our lawns are reseeded and maybe a touch of some new flowers are added to our landscaping, but did we also make sure to get laundry providers or the maintenance team to get behind those dryers and clean? What about getting an approved vendor up on the roof to clear gutters and debris? Check out our 2018 Vendor Sourcebook for help with anything, and don’t get up on the roof yourself unless you are trained and qualified.

I know one of your favorite things to do is to make sure your business tax returns are filed by March 15th… or is it? Either way — that’s when they are due, so we need to hustle if we aren’t ready now. March is also a good time to get decks resealed (provided they are dry) as well as schedule annual Smoke and C/O Detector inspections. And, since we are not the only ones with Spring Cleaning to do, it would also be wise to check properties for fall/trip hazards in walkways; and to also make sure, if you still have timers on your exterior lights, that they are updated accordingly. We went to photo cells at all our properties and the benefits have been fantastic - the cost was inexpensive, nobody has to go back to or charge the property unnecessary fees to make the simple timer change, and then there are no complaints because the lights are always on and off when they should be. Win/win… and we have vendors for that, too!

Some other things to organize within your businesses are getting your Team’s vacation times in order for the summer as well as to make sure everyone is on track for any benefit open enrollments that need to happen.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone about Legislation (“Leg.”) Day in Sacramento. This is such a great experience and if you haven’t done it before, you need to add it to your bucket list. Just going through the halls of the Capitol Building with all the rich California history is one thing—and we have certainly come a long way from when the first Legislature convened in a two-story adobe hotel in San Jose—but getting to see the process, being a lobbyist for the day, and participating in real democracy within our Republic just gives you a healthy boost of pride in our State and Country. Please join the AACSC for this trip to NorCal; make your voice be heard directly by the ears of our great legislators and come and experience this impressive event on April 10th and 11th, 2018. Contact us right away for details and I cannot wait to see you there!

It Was A Jungle Out There, But The Industry Heard Us Roar

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With over 100 vendor booths and exhibits and educational seminars through out the day, the 49th Annual Trade Show provided a roaring good time for all in attendance! The show was once again held at the Long Beach Convention Center, but in a new location. AACSC was excited to be in the Arena/Pacific Ballroom!

Thank you to the following companies that were so generous in sponsoring the day. King of theJungle Sponsor, Optimum Seismic; Tote BagSponsor, California Safety Agency; Parking Sponsor, V&S Carpet and Flooring Services;Rainforest Refresher Sponsor, Jim’s Floor Covering; Music Sponsor, Royal Roofing; Monkey Maze Bingo Card Sponsor, CBRE, Dan Blackwell; and finally our Sign Sponsor, Perfect Circle Design. Perfect Circle Design provides all signage used by AACSC from the trade show, Golf Classic, meetings, lunches and all special events. They are an AACSC Affinity Partner as well. Thank you again to all of our sponsors for your continued support of AACSC! Remember to support AACSC’s vendor members when you have a service need.

We look forward to 2018 when we will be celebrating our 50th Annual Trade Show! Watch for details coming soon! AACSC’s trade show will still be “Nifty at 50!!”

Tax Reform

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Tax reform is front and center on the congressional agenda, and there is a real chance it will become law this year. The last comprehensive tax reform legislation was the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA 1986) signed into law 30 years ago by President Ronald Reagan. We all remember how that bill devastated the industry for years, so it is imperative that we engage with policymakers to ensure a more positive outcome.

In the years since TRA 1986, legislation has changed the tax code—mainly at the margins—focusing on rate changes and other targeted pro visions while comprehensive reform has eluded policymakers.

The election of Donald Trump and continued Republican control of the Congress has changed the outlook for tax reform. One-party rule where reform is a priority for all of the key players has increased the odds that broad-based legis lation can become law.

At this stage of the process, House Republicans are taking the lead on reform. While President Trump made a number of proposals during the 2016 campaign, it is House Republicans who have put forward the most detailed plan. Entitled “A Better Way Forward for Tax Reform,” the House GOP released a “blueprint” for reform last summer, which is the starting point for their internal discussions. The blueprint would:

• Reduce the top tax rate on LLCs, partnerships, S Corporations and other pass-thru entities to 25 percent from 39.6 percent;
• Tax capital gains, dividends, and interest at a maximum rate of 16.5 percent;
• Replace depreciation with immediate expensing of all investment except for land;
• Eliminate the deduction for business interest;
• Eliminate like-kind exchanges;
• Eliminate the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; and
• Repeal the estate tax while retaining stepped-up basis for inherited assets.

It is important to note that while the Blueprint appears to eliminate the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), there are good indications it may be put back into the House GOP proposal.

As the most developed tax reform product in circulation at the moment, the Blueprint is the centerpiece of conversation around tax reform. However, it is not yet legislation, and there could be significant changes made before an actual bill is introduced.

Moreover, the White House and Senate still need to flesh out their own proposals. There is much time to go before a reform agree ment is reached, if at all, and we can expect the details of any agreement to change several times along the way.

For our part, the apartment housing industry’s primary objective in reform is to support legislation that promotes economic growth and investment in rental housing without unfairly burdening apartment owners and renters relative to other asset classes. To this end, we are pushing lawmakers to ensure the following priorities are reflected in any bill that moves forward.

Tax reform must protect “flow-through entities” (e.g., LLCs, partnerships, S Corporations, etc.), which are the dominant business structure in our industry.

Under this model, a firm’s earnings are passed through to the partners who pay taxes on their individual tax returns. Accordingly, Congress must not reduce corporate tax rates financed by forcing flow through entities to pay higher taxes by subjecting them to a corporate-level tax or by denying credits and deductions.

It is also a priority for the apartment housing industry to maintain “like-kind exchanges” where property owners can defer tax on the gain on sale of an asset if, instead of selling their property, they exchange it for another comparable prop erty. These rules encourage property owners to remain invested in the real estate market. Such an important tool for investment must be maintained in a reformed tax code. Notably, with the exception of land, the expensing proposal in the House Republican Blueprint provides for de facto like-kind exchanges.

Tax reform should also take care to preserve investment incentives. Borrowing is a central part of how apartment housing is financed (a typical development project could be financed with 1/3 capital and 2/3 debt and the tax code has long provided a full deduction for interest). Indeed, without business interest deductibility, the cost of debt financing would increase and shift many real estate business models. This would inhibit devel opment activity at a time when we face significant affordability challenges.

Policymakers should also take care when making changes to cost recovery rules like depreciation so they do not harm real estate investment. Apartment buildings are currently depreciated on a 27.5-year schedule. While House Republicans are proposing to allow buildings to be immediately expensed, others have suggested extending the current law depreciation period. This would surely lead to reduced development and invest ment and ultimately undermine real estate values and stifle job creation.

Finally, protecting the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is a priority for the apartment housing industry. The LIHTC is the central vehicle producing housing for moderate- and low-income families. We are in a period of crisis in housing affordability and need stronger incentives like the LIHTC to effectively respond. This program must remain a vital part of the strategy to address our nation’s housing needs.

You will notice some overlap between what is being proposed, at least in the House GOP Blue print, and the apartment housing industry’s priorities. It is important to remember that policy makers are truly looking to reshape how taxes are levied in this country and that perhaps what they propose could effectively replace what is in the tax code now and keep the apartment housing industry whole. We remain open minded on this point as we continue to press for our top priorities and evaluate in detail what tax reform proposals mean for our business.

Every member of the apartment housing industry must be engaged in the advocacy campaign on tax reform. That means contacting your members of Congress and communicating our message.

Changes to the tax code will impact all of us, and it is our responsibility to ensure whatever reform is passed does not harm our ability to provide housing to one-third of the nation. To learn more about how you can get involved in shaping the debate, contact Peter Fromknecht at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and take our Advocacy Interview at http://re.spon.se/OTmUtG to see who you might know on Capitol Hill! Your relationships with lawmakers and your willingness to act on those relationships will make the difference between success and failure on tax reform.

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333 W. Broadway St., Suite 101
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 426-8341

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