The HotSheet - June/July 2013

 

In This Issue

 
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Landlord/Tenant

NAA California Affiliates Defeat “Court Fee
|| Building Codes and Life Safety

Local Mississippi Ordinance Requires Sprinkler and Safety Upgrades

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Energy Efficiency and Green Buildings

Chicago Considering Benchmarking Ordinance

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Fair Housing

Oregon Makes Section 8 Voucher Holders a Protected Class

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Inspections and Registration

Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., Repeals Rental Inspection Program

Wisconsin Legislation Would End Rental Registration Programs

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 Property Operations

 

Portland, Maine, Considers Legalizing Marijuana, Property Owners Exempt


 

 

 

 

NAA Government Affairs Staff

703/518-6141

Gregory Brown Ext. 106

Kathleen Gamble Ext. 123

Fred Tayco Ext. 120

Carole Roper Ext. 119

Alison Berry Ext. 127

Katelin McCrory Ext. 136

Carly Simpson Ext. 117

Nicole Upano Ext. 646

 

 
 

July 19, 2013

As a benefit to NAA affiliate members, NAA Government Affairs will alert your members to mobilize on pressing state legislation. You provide the content, and NAA will send out the emails to your members to contact their elected state officials. To learn how to utilize this benefit, contact Katelin McCrory.

 

Landlord/Tenant

NAA California Affiliates Defeat “Court Fee”
The Golden State Housing Providers and a diverse coalition successfully removed a new fee to search public records, also known as a “court fee,” from the 2013-2014 California state budget. As proposed, the fee would have required municipal courts throughout California to charge a $10 per case, per court fee to access criminal and civil records.

Opponents argued that the fee would have negatively affected any industry that relies on publicly accessible court information to make business decisions. The coalition of opponents includes media associations, freedom of information advocates, open government advocates, employers and property owners who screen the background of prospective employees and residents.

The proposed fee would have made these searches cost prohibitive for many property owners. Exacerbating the problem is the $42 cap on charges to a prospective resident for screening mandated by the state. For those who could not afford to pass on the cost of the fee, the alternative would have been to abandon resident screening -- which would have been disastrous to California’s rental housing industry. (Golden State Housing Providers, National Apartment Association)

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Building Codes and Life Safety

Local Mississippi Ordinance Requires Sprinkler and Safety Upgrades
The City of Pearl, Miss., recently enacted an ordinance that requires property owners to upgrade their properties to protect against fires and tornadoes. The ordinance requires existing rental properties to have sprinklers in case of fires. The ordinance also requires property owners to add storm shelters capable of withstanding an EF-2 tornado, warning sirens and a telephone or text emergency warning system that would notify residents in emergencies.

Property owners met with Pearl Mayor Brad Rogers to express their concerns about this ordinance and its costs. One property owner estimated it would cost him about $1.5 million to make the renovations to meet the new requirements for his three properties. The ordinance goes into effect Aug. 6. (WAPT News, The Clarion Ledger)

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Energy Efficiency and Green Buildings

Chicago Considering Benchmarking Ordinance
The Chicago City Council is considering a benchmarking ordinance for commercial buildings. Proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), the ordinance would make Chicago the next major city to require energy benchmarking and reporting.

Under the proposed ordinance, the approximately 3,500 commercial, residential and municipal buildings over 50,000 square feet would be required to track and verify energy consumption using Portfolio Manager, a free web-based tool administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Covered buildings would report energy use data annually to the city through an automated process and be required to have their data verified by a licensed architect, engineer or other professional recognized by the city every three years.

The city would publish an annual report on energy efficiency. The ordinance would also allow Chicago to publicly disclose individual building energy performance, starting in June 2015. However, the reporting requirement would be phased in with buildings being grouped into two batches. Commercial and municipal buildings over 250,000 square feet would start reporting in June 2014 and those between 50,000 and 250,000 square feet would start in June 2015. Residential developments within each group would have an extra year to comply, so the largest share would report in June 2015 and the remainder in 2016.

This proposal is part of Mayor Emanuel’s Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda, which outlines 24 goals to improve the city’s environmental performance. Other efforts under the Sustainable Chicago umbrella include Retrofit Chicago, a voluntary program that promotes building energy efficiency. Other major cities that require energy usage benchmarking and disclosure include New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Austin and Seattle. (City of Chicago, Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Buildings Magazine)

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Fair Housing

Oregon Makes Section 8 Voucher Holders a Protected Class
On July 8, H.B. 2639 passed the Oregon State Legislature and will be delivered to Governor John Kitzhaber (D), who is expected to sign the bill. H.B. 2639 prohibits discrimination based on an individual's status as a Section 8 voucher holder and adds Section 8 voucher holders to the list of protected classes at the state level (Section 8 was previously excluded from the definition of "Source of Income" in current law). If signed, the bill will take effect July 1. In anticipation, NAA's local affiliate, Multifamily NW, plans to offer a series of workshops to educate members on compliance with the measure.

NAA continues to monitor the issue as several states consider adding source of income as a protected class, including Delaware, New York and Virginia in 2013. NAA also has a report of source of income statutes nationwide. (Multifamily NW, National Apartment Association)

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Inspections and Registration

Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., Repeals Rental Inspections Programs
After a group of apartment complexes sued the city of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., in federal court, city commissioners have decided to repeal the city’s new rental housing inspection program. Under the inspection program, city inspectors would have gone into each rental unit to check plumbing and electrical wiring, looking for illegal or hazardous conditions. The annual inspection program would have cost as much as $150 per unit.

This program would have been similar to one implemented in Lauderhill, Fla. The City of Lauderdale Lakes had contracted with Lauderhill to perform the inspections for the city. Of the $150 fee, $100 would have gone to the City of Lauderhill to perform the inspection, and $50 would have gone to Lauderdale Lakes for administrative costs.

The lawsuit brought by the apartment complexes claimed that the rental inspection program was unconstitutional and amounted to warrantless searches. Under state law, cities are preempted from regulating rental units. (Sun-Sentinel)

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Wisconsin Legislation Would End Rental Registration Programs
A bill that would eliminate rental registration and inspection programs is now in the Wisconsin Senate after passing the Assembly in June by a vote of 57-37. The bill, A.B. 183, which would prohibit Wisconsin municipalities from requiring these programs, also addresses other landlord-tenant provisions including evictions, security deposits, and code violations.

The bill sponsor, Representative Duey Stroebel (R) said that A.B. 183 is an “equitable clarification and improvement upon current law. This bill better protects private property rights and clearly outlines the rights of tenants. These necessary changes help to streamline the existing law and standardize the responsibilities of landlords and tenants statewide.” The bill awaits consideration in the Senate Insurance and Housing Committee. (LaCrosse Tribune, Office of State Representative Duey Stroebel).

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Property Operations

Portland, Maine, Considers Legalizing Marijuana, Property Owners Exempt
On July 15, the Portland, Maine, City Council held a public hearing to address a Citizen Initiative Ordinance that makes marijuana possession legal for adults 21 years and older within the city limits. Proponents of the initiative collected 2,508 signatures on a petition to put this question on the November ballot.

By local law, the City Council may either enact the proposed Citizen Initiative Ordinance or send the ordinance to the voters for their approval. By a 5 to 1 vote, the City Council voted down the changes proposed by the petition, a procedural move that effectively moves the measure to the Nov. 5 ballot.

The proposed ordinance contains several exemptions, prohibiting marijuana in public spaces, school grounds and public transportation and containing an exemption for rental housing providers. Sec. 17-109(4) states that “Landlords and property owners may restrict the smoking of marijuana on their property by posting ‘no smoking signs,’ that apply to marijuana and tobacco, near the entrances.” (WMTW News 8, Maine Sun Journal)

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