Governmental Affairs Update
- SB 243 passed. This allows victims of domestic assault, sexual assault, and stalking to exit a lease early with the payment of a reasonable termination fee.
The passage of this bill allowed us to work closely with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence as well as Senator, Lauren Arthur. This advanced our credibility within State Government. It also allowed us to make sure the bill contains adequate safeguards against abuse. We saw this early on as a chance to portray SLAA has a group of responsible landlords. Mission accomplished!
A work in Progress:
- HB 107/SB 107 (emotional support animals) did not pass. It was reported that this issue ran out of steam with the sheer number of bills on file. We will put our efforts into finding a more energetic Senate sponsor for the 2019-2020 session.
- On June 10th, we met with St. Louis County Councilwoman, Lisa Clancy, regarding her proposal to extend “source of income” laws for the Housing Choice Voucher program. This meeting was very productive in that we were able to explain the “apartment side” of this issue and suggest some education components to the program. Webster Groves and Clayton are also set push similar changes within their municipalities.
- On July 23rd, we met with St. Louis County Councilman, Mark Harder, regarding his position against the proposed changes to “source of income” laws for the Housing Choice Voucher program.
- On July 30th, we met with the Ascend STL Inc. Ascend STL Inc. offers social services and affordable housing partnerships in the St. Louis region. This organization works with large housing authorities to make federal housing programs work better for the families who rely on rental assistance to live in safe, inclusive, and thriving communities.
It is proactive meetings such as these, that serve as a positive promotion for the work that SLAA seeks to accomplish for the multi-family housing community and allows the opportunity to connect with those in government and other organizations that affect our industry.
- The Democrat majority in the House poses a significant problem for passage of legislation like H.R. 620, which passed in the last Congress, and would provide a “notice and cure” component under the ADA. That bill, while bi partisan, was only narrowly passed and it is unlikely the current House leadership will allow similar legislation to the House floor. However, there are on-going discussions with Democratic Senators to try and find legislation that would be supported by both industry and the disability community.
- NAA has reached out to its members to gauge the extent of legal and other issues with design and construction matters under the FHA and is continuing to talk to member companies about the extent and nature of lawsuits brought about in this area. In addition, staff is looking into operational issues which could be addressed, along with possible legislative or regulatory relief.
- 1828 the Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2019 was reintroduced on June 13th by Sens. Scott (R-SC) and Manchin (D-WV). Sens. Jones (D-AL), Cotton (R-AR), Tester (D-MT), Rounds (R-SD), and King (I-ME) are all co-sponsors. The Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2019 would allow landlords, telecom companies, and utility providers to report on-time payment data to the credit bureaus for use in calculating a consumer’s credit score.
NMHC Lead Issues:
- Opportunity Zones: NMHC and NAA submitted comments to the Internal Revenue Service on May 31 on the second round of Opportunity Zone regulations that were released in April.
- Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act: Senator Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. DelBene (D-WA) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand and improve the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
- Energy Tax Incentive Comment Letters: We submitted two comment letters regarding expired energy efficiency tax incentives to Senate Finance Committee task forces convened to recommend how Congress should approach renewing tax extenders.
Housing Finance Reform
- The FHFA Director Mark Calabria is working with Treasury and HUD Administration officials to develop the housing reform proposal which could be released as early as this summer. Administration officials maintain that Congress has a role to play in this effort. However, if Congress is unable to act, Director Calabria has broad authority to enact administrative changes that could not only remove the agencies from conservatorship, but also significantly shrink their footprint.
A national issue we all have in common, a note from NAA:
“Inspections and Corrections: RIPs Cause Headaches for Owners and Operators”
It is inspection day. Your property’s floors, supporting walls, stairwells, and ceilings are in safe and sound condition. The stoves have knobs and the water heater has a working temperature and pressure relief valve. Miraculously, you have been able to confirm every smoke detectors’ functionality in the building. There is no material risk to the physical safety or health of the building’s residents. For all intents and purposes, your property is up to code.
As your city’s inspector tours the property, they check windows for cracks, ensure exit signs are visible, and confirm that the halls are free of trash. No problems; you are in the home stretch. Suddenly, something on the ground catches the eye of the inspector: a tear in the carpet of one of the sample units they are reviewing. According to the inspection schedule, that tear represents a trip hazard due to deterioration, damage or structural defect. Congratulations, you have been dinged with a violation, a follow up inspection that could cost $50, and almost no opportunity to cure.
Across the United States, municipalities are establishing punitive rental housing registration and inspections programs (RIPs) that treat property owners more like ATMs than potential threats to public health and safety. RIPs are designed to identify and cure blighted neighborhoods, but the very nature of these one-size-fits-all programs ensnare code compliant properties into shelling out for expensive licenses and unnecessary inspections. RIPs are also a significant financial commitment for municipalities, often improperly staffed to meet the number of properties requiring inspection, and thus encourage harsher than usual examinations to generate revenue. In the end, responsible property owners are left paying the price.