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Capitol Conference Advocacy Hits Critical Apartment Concerns

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On March 8 and 9 NAA will host its annual Capitol Conference and bring before Congress some of our most important issues. I say some because there are of course many, many concerns about which we would love to bend a Representative or Senator’s ear. To really be effective, however, we have to hone in on a couple of topics. This year those issues are reform of the Section 8 program, enabling a right-to-cure period for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and reform and reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Here is how we arrived at this particular list and why you should care.

Selecting issues for Lobby Day is complicated. First, you must identify topics that are of actual concern to the industry. Second, it’s preferable for the issues to come with a specific “ask” or request to take action. “You should support apartment housing” is great but “You should support apartment housing by sponsoring this legislation” is better. It gives Members of Congress a specific action and allows us to track whether or not they agreed to our request. Finally, speaking to issues that are moving in Congress makes us timely and more likely to be on the radar.

All three of the 2016 Capitol Conference issues hit close to home for a significant portion of NAA members. For example, many members interact with the Section 8 program in some way, either by choice or by local mandate. The program, while critical to affordable housing, can be extremely burdensome for owners and reform is something on which the apartment industry has been working for over a decade. There is bipartisan legislation on the table that mitigates some of these burdens. The House of Representatives has already passed the bill with NAA’s support. We need to thank them and prod the Senate to take action. This benefits owners who participate in Section 8 now and in the future.

Compliance with the ADA is a central part of every apartment owner’s regulatory life. As our members strive to create and maintain accessible communities, they encounter complex even conflicting guidance. As well, there are differing opinions on compliant design and construction standards as well as the role of proven alternative methods of achieving accessibility goals. This results in lots of litigation. A growing trend is litigation initiated purely for financial gain and not to increase accessibility. Our view is that the focus ought to be on curing design or construction defects not generating settlement fees. To that end, we support bipartisan legislation to allow for up to 120 days to cure an alleged ADA violation before litigation can be initiated.

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, flooding causes more damage and takes more lives than any other kind of severe weather-related event. Losses average $5 billion per year. Multifamily structures face significant, unique challenges when it comes to mitigating for flood damage. And, while most multifamily mortgages require flood insurance coverage, there is a lack of affordable, private coverage in the marketplace. As a result, the NFIP is critical to managing risk and protecting multifamily investments. The program expires in September of 2017 and is in need of reform to ensure its long-term financial viability, increase its effectiveness for multifamily owners and reduce exposure for the taxpayer.

Though expiration of the NFIP is 18 months off, the Congressional calendar between now and then is not our friend. Being an election year, we essentially lose the latter half of 2016 for any real legislating. Likewise, next year a new Congress and Administration will be getting settled which also will cost at least the first few months of the year. There is bipartisan, bicameral legislation on the table right now that we need to support to keep the ball rolling on NFIP reform and reauthorization.

Greg can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

 

July 2017

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Happy 4th of July. Summer has certainly arrived and I hope everyone has their sunscreen, hat and a good book to read. This month I want to give out some well-deserved acknowledgements to our members. I also want to report to you just a little of what we do here on your behalf each month. The one thing we do not ever do is, as the old saying goes “Let sleeping dogs lie.” We are always vigilant and here are just a few ways and a few people who are very active on all of our behalf.

People who participate:

  • Edward Arnold – Attends almost every event I am at and more. Ed is a longtime member and owns Arnold & Associates where Tracy, his assistant has been working with him for more than 20 years. Ed is a tireless supporter of the AACSC and the apartment industry. Whatever you want to know – ASK Ed!
  • Evelyn Arnold – She is the chairperson for our AACSC PAC Trustees Committee and also a longtime owner and REALTOR with both CAR (Calif. Assoc. of REALTORS) and NAR (National Assn. of REALTORS). Evelyn helped us craft and organize our PAC Trustee Committee that supports elected officials on a local and state level who support our industry and private property rights.
  • Keith Kennedy – A property owner and insurance professional Keith’s perspective is specifically industry oriented. He has a laser focus and insight as to what is the right thing to do and follows a very balanced approach when making a decision.


I especially appreciate his willingness and openness to listen to both sides before he makes his decision. Besides, if you want to learn from a great networker, just follow Keith around a room sometime – WOW!

These are just a few that I will mention this month because believe me there are so many more, but I will save them for future articles.

Next, I want to fill you in on what we have been involved with, in and around our territory:

  • Attended Annual Sacramento AACSC & CalRHA Legislative Days –
  • We Visited with almost every elected Assemblyperson and/or Chief of Staff in the Capitol. W Held our annual Legislative Reception where more than 20 elected officials attended. This was an increase from last year—now wait until next year!
  • Held our third annual National Apartment Housing Day event – Thank you to KB Construction for sponsoring this event. This is a great day to celebrate everything owner/landlord and man age ment company related.
  • We regularly attend neighborhood meetings around the Long Beach area so we can get to know our neighbors.
  • Attended the new South Bay Commercial Real Estate Networking Group – Look for info in The Beacon for the next meeting.
  • We have met with our Vice-Mayor Rex Richardson; Councilmembers District One (D1) Lena Gonzalez, D3 Suzie Price, D4 Daryl Supernaw, D5 Stacy Mungo, D8 Al Austin, D6 Dee Andrews, D7 Roberto Uranga and D2 Jeannine Pearce to voice our concerns regarding rent control, just cause eviction and to reinforce the value that our members of rental property bring to this community.
  • AACSC created a Power Point presentation about passing the PRHIP inspection. We have three scheduled presentations that you will find in this month’s magazine.


Once again, this is just a small sample of what we have been up to. Every day AACSC is working on your behalf, whether it is attending a morning meeting with City leaders, an afternoon with legislators, or an evening reception where we can talk with numerous stakeholders. We are working hard for you.

Finally, I want to thank those of you who have responded to and written checks to our AACSC PAC. This is a direct approach that provides us with the opportunity to connect with our elected officials and continue to educate and inform the value of your great industry.

So, once again, if you know an owner who is not a member of AACSC please remember that we are the only association that extends its outreach on local, state and national levels. Lobbying and support from all levels impacts everyone – join us in continuing the fight for your property rights. Have a safe and Happy July 4th and see you around the City.

Take Action

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TAKE ACTION!! Those are the words on the button you select on our new Voter Voice Email system to help us harness the power of landlords to defend against unwise proposed anti-housing and anti-landlord state legislation.

A quick recap: AACSC has joined with ten (10) other local apartment associations to form California Rental Housing Association (CalRHA). Through CalRHA, we have developed a very effective tool to voice our opinions on proposed legislation to our elected representatives called Voter Voice Email.

Here's how it works: You register on the CalRHA website. Once registered, you will begin receiving periodic Red Alerts that will make you aware of proposed legislation, give you detailed analysis on the issue and the ramifications of passage, and finally, direct you on how to voice your opinion by hitting the "Take Action" button.

Take Action gets you to the page that shows the intended recipients of your email and prepares a measured, well thought out response. If you agree, then send the message. This is a tool that landlords have needed for a long time. It's fast and easy to use, gets your opinion out there, and with enough of us using it, we will do a much better job of helping to protect our businesses and the nice living spaces we offer to our tenants.

I mentioned this last month, but I need to bring this up again: we have to become better educated landlords to earn a living in this business today. My goal is to never hear of a single instance where one of our landlords lost a case in court or lost money because they weren't knowledgeable about a specific issue that they should have been able to manage with the proper education. There are plenty of books you can read or you can attend a variety of AACSC classes for a nominal fee.

Why not be proactive? Attend a $59 class taught through AACSC or pay a $2,500 judgement for not following the law. You choose. AACSC land lords are going to be the best educated landlords in the business and will have the best run apartments out there. Tenants are going to understand the difference and will rent from you first.

On a lighter note, we're in the middle of a great summer. Weather is perfect as usual. Our Summer Social is July 27th at the fabulous Hotel Maya. Come and have some fun with us and meet your fellow landlords. Don't worry you might not know anyone there—we're all landlords. You'll have a lot in common and plenty to talk about!

Guide to California's New Laws

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Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part article. Part 1 will appeared in the November issue of the Apartment Journal.

The bills described in this Rental Property Owners’ and Managers’ Guide are rental housing-related bills that were signed into law in 2016. Some of the bills we supported, on some we remained neutral, and some we opposed initially but moved to a neutral position after the author took significant amendments.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all bills discussed herein become effective on January 1, 2017.

2016 Legislative Bills Signed into Law


AB 2476 (Daly) Notice of Parcel Tax to Non-Resident Property Owners.
The new law requires local agencies, including cities, counties, special districts and school districts, to provide a specified notice of a new parcel tax to non-resident owners within 30 days following a legislative body’s vote to place the proposed tax on the ballot.

AB 2501 (Bloom) Density Bonus Application Time:
Requires local government to adopt procedures and timelines to streamline the density bonus process.

The new procedures include providing a list of all documents and information required to be submitted with the density bonus application, and notifying the applicant for a density bonus whether the application is complete. The bill also prohibits a local government from conditioning the submission, review, or approval of an application on the preparation of an additional report or study that is not otherwise described.

AB 2515 (Weber) Water Efficient Landscaping:
The bill ensures that regulations regarding water-efficient landscaping are current and updated every three years. Specifically, it requires the Department of Water Resources to update the model water-efficient landscaping ordinance every three years, or make a finding that an update to the model ordinance is not a useful or effective means to improve landscape water use efficiency. This could have a profound impact on property owners who repair, remodel or improve exterior landscaping.

AB 2819 (Chiu) Hiding Unlawful Detainer Records from Public View:
Previously, unlawful detainers (UD) court filings were masked, or hidden from public view for 60 days following the initial court filing, and then were automatically unmasked and made public on credit reports unless the defendant prevails within the 60-day period. Under the new law, all UD filings will be permanently masked unless the rental property owner prevails at trial or a default judgment is obtained, because few UDs go to trial, and property owners rarely go back to court to obtain a default judgment, most UD filing records will remain hidden from public view. The permanent masking of this information will hinder rental property owners’ ability to assess a prospective tenant’s history of making or not making timely rent payments. Without an accurate record of UD filings, owners will have to consider new ways to assess the creditworthiness of an applicant’s rental payment history, including asking for bank statements and returned checks. Owners may also want to consider as an industry whether to adopt new reporting processes, in which owners report to the credit bureaus every time a tenant is late paying his or her rent. Individualized reporting would help fill a void created by this new masking law. A Q&A will be written on the new law and will be available within the next 30 days.

AB 2820 (Chiu) Price Gouging:
The bill revises the definition of state of emergency and local emergencies for the purpose of criminal price gouging increasing prices, including residential rental rates and towing services by more than 10 percent. The bill initially defined a “state of emergency” in such broad terms it could have included housing shortages and economic reces sions resulting from policy decisions and regulation  Our amendments sharply limited the ability of a local government to declare a state of emergency and restrict rental increases. If that version of the bill passed, the State could have declared our recent recession as a state of emergency, and placed strict rent control on all residential rentals statewide. San Francisco would have been able to declare an emergency because of its housing shortage. State of emergency is not restricted and only applies to mean a natural or manmade emergency resulting from an earthquake, flood, fire, riot, storm, drought, plant or animal infestation or disease, or other natural or manmade disaster.

Our lobbyists worked with the author to amend the bill to ensure that “emergencies” for the purpose of rent freezing, relates to natural and manmade disasters like earthquakes, floods, fires, riots, storms, droughts, and plant or animal infestation or disease.

AB 2873 (Thurmond) All Building Inspectors to Become CASp Inspectors by 2020: Under the bill, starting January 1, 2020, all city and county building inspectors employed or retained by a local agency who conduct permitting and plan check services to review for compliance with state construction related accessibility standards by a place of public accommodation with respect to new construction or renovation, including, but not limited to, projects relating to tenant improvements that may impact access, must be by certified access specialists.

Requiring all city building inspectors to become CASp inspectors will help make the inspection and permitting process more efficient. Because all buildings need to be disability-access compliant, it makes sense that building inspectors be trained to ensure that the buildings they inspect are access compliant. To pay for the new mandate, the bill increases the fee from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2019 for an application for a local business license from $1 to $4, however, in no case will the fee be less than $1 per business license on an indefinite basis.

SB 7 (Wolk) Submetering and Residential Utility Billing Service Requirements.

On January 1, 2018, water submeters are to be installed in new multifamily construction or mixed use commercial properties. In addition, tenants that are to be billed for actual water use through submeters are to receive a specified notice at point of rent concerning the billing and are to receive notice about water usage on each water bill. Owners will be permitted to charge up to $4.75 per bill for administrative processing. Repair and replacement of water-related drips and leaks are to be completed within 21 days. Remedies for non-payment are restricted. Billing for excessive water use is defined. Deductions from a tenant’s security deposit will be permitted if the tenant fails to pay his or her water bill. Grace periods to pay water bills are defined. Limitations on late payment fees are specified. The bill only applies to owners that have submeters.

SB 269 (Roth) Technical Violations of Disability


Access Laws: The bill allows qualifying small businesses to avoid liability for minor “technical violations” of disability access laws if they correct the violations within 15 days. “Technical violations” include certain interior signs (other than directional signs or signs that identify the location of accessible “elements, facilities, or features”), lack of certain exterior signs (other than parking signs and directional signs that indicate accessible pathways or entrance and exit doors), and the order in which parking signs are placed, the color of parking signs, the color of parking lot striping, faded or damaged paint on otherwise compliant parking spaces, and others. The new law states that the above presumption of limited immunity affects the plaintiff’s burden of proof and is rebuttable by a preponderance of the evidence showing that the plaintiff did experience difficulty, discomfort, or embarrassment on the particular occasion as a result of one or more of the technical violations. The bill also protects certain businesses in certain conditions from paying minimum statutory damages for construction-related accessibility claims made during the 120-day period after a CASp has inspected the business.

SB 814 (Hill) Water Conservation:
The bill prohibits excessive water use during periods of drought emergencies by metered residential customers in single-family homes and multifamily properties where each unit is individually metered or submetered “by the urban retail water supplier.”

Our amendments assure that penalties will not apply to multifamily properties where each unit is not separately metered or where each unit is submetered and the owner bills water to the tenant. It also requires water suppliers to implement ways to discourage excessive water use, including rate hikes, block tiers, water budgets, and rate surcharges.

Proposed State Regulations

Although no new housing regulations were adopted in 2016, there are some significant housing regulations that are being proposed.

Support Animals: The State’s housing agency, Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), is proposing broad new regulations requiring rental property owners to allow tenants to have “emotional support animals” (ESA) of all breeds and types to live with them in their units. An ESA is an animal that provides emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support. Although federal regulations already proscribe rules requiring owners to make reasonable accommodations to allow tenants to have ESAs living with them, DFEH’s proposal is concerning because of how broad the right to have an ESA is under the proposal, and the limited to nonexistent authority owners have to deny a support animal request when the animal poses a threat to health and safety of other tenants, and to the property. Our lobbying team has been involved with the ongoing discussions on the state level, and will keep the Association updated on its progress.

Occupancy Limits: DFEH is also proposing new occupancy limits and standards. Occupancy limits the maximum number of tenants per unit an owner can establish. Currently, the occupancy limits are based on what is “reasonable.” Unofficially, reasonable occupancy limits in California is two persons per bedroom plus one additional tenant. The proposed new occupancy standards, however, would require owners to allow up to 15 people in a threebedroom apartment. Apartments and neighborhoods are simply not built to withstand the impact of allowing 15 people per apartment unit. Our lobbyists have and will continue to be involved at the State level to find reasonable solutions to address the State’s occupancy concerns.

Criminal Background Screening:
New regulations are being adopted with respect to employment criminal background screening procedures and rules. The rules include delaying background checks at least until after the first level of screening has been completed. Although no current regulations are being proposed with respect to screening tenants for residential units, we are likely to see movement in that area in the next few years.

The information provided herein is intended to provide general guidance and awareness on recently passed State laws and regulations and shall not be construed in any way as a substitute for individual legal advice. Those that require specific advice should consult an attorney.

The information provided herein is intended to provide general guidance and awareness on recently passed State laws and regulations and shall not be construed in any way as a substitute for individual legal advice. Those that require specific advice should consult an attorney.

Ron may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Long Beach 2015 Smoke Free Apartment Results

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In August 2015, the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services Tobacco Education Program completed a telephone survey to determine the number of smoke free apartments in the City. This survey was a follow up to the 2008 Smoke Free Apartment survey.

 

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(562) 426-8341

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