News & Research Listing

News, Industry Insider
Preventive Maintenance for the Holidays

We are getting close to the holidays, which means guests, cooking and possible emergency calls to you from residents on Thanksgiving Day about a clogged sink or non-working oven and an apartment full of guests waiting for dinner.

Dear Apartment Owners:

We are getting close to the holidays, which means guests, cooking and possible emergency calls to you from residents on Thanksgiving Day about a clogged sink or non-working oven and an apartment full of guests waiting for dinner. This scenario can ruin both yours and your residents’ holiday. The answer? Preventive maintenance.

Before the holiday season begins, check each stove and oven for proper operation. Many residents only turn on their ovens at this time of year, and the problem may be as simple as a pilot light being out. Also, check the oven’s temperature calibration with an oven thermometer. Because of heavier-than-normal use of the plumbing, it may be a good idea to snake out your main plumbing lines.

Sending a note to all residents on the proper use of the garbage disposal will be useful, too. Explain what they should and should not put down the disposal unit. A few items to include on this “No-No” list are: banana peels, potato skins, coffee grounds and any stringy food. Also make sure that they turn on the water before using the disposer and put down small amounts of food at a time. Tell them not use the disposer as a trash can and then turn it on when full; it will clog.

On Halloween and other holidays more people than usual walking on your property. Is your property safe? What are some of the liabilities to worry about? Check trip and fall hazards. Sprinkler heads sticking up above the grass or landscape near sidewalks. Use pop-up heads to solve this problem. Look for sidewalks that have been pushed up by tree roots. This can be solved with a concrete grinder or replacement of the section and removal of the tree root. Cut any low hanging tree branches and look for branches that may break in heavy winter wind or rain. Check your decking for cracks or damage and inspect the exterior stairways for wear and tear. Inspect all your garage door springs, winter wind and rain may make them heavy causing the door to close or fall unexpectedly. As a precaution, always replace both garage springs at the same time and throw away any used springs. Never install used garage springs. Check all property lighting and timers.

Remember: Preventive maintenance is cheaper than emergency maintenance!

 

November 2, 2020
A maintenance person with a clipboard checking an apartment unit, with tools in the foreground
News, Industry Insider
Converting Your Pool to a Salt System

A salt water system or “salt water chlorine generator” is used to replace liquid or pellet chlorine with chlorine produced from salt in the water.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have a pool at my apartment building, and my pool man is suggesting I convert to a salt system for sanitizing the water. Will the salt damage my pool or its equipment? How does a salt system work? Will swimming in the pool feel like an ocean swim?

Rick

Dear Rick:

We are big fans of salt systems for swimming pools. They feel great to swim in and you don’t have that chlorine smell on you when you get out. A salt water system or “salt water chlorine generator” is used to replace liquid or pellet chlorine with chlorine produced from salt in the water. The salt dissolves in the water, separating into sodium and chloride. By passing a low- voltage electrical current between special metal plates and the water, the salt cell will convert the chloride into chlorine in a process called electrolysis. The salt system will create the chlorine to sanitize the water, but without the chlorine smell, taste or feel. Not to mention, you will not need to handle or store a dangerous chemical.

Swimming in a salt pool is not like swimming in the ocean. A salt pool contains 3,000 to 4,000 PPM of salt, while the ocean is approximately 35,000 PPM. A better example is: a salt pool is like one tablespoon of salt in a gallon of water and the ocean is like nine or 10 tablespoons of salt in the same gallon of water. The salt pool is closer to the salinity of your eye’s natural levels. A typical human eye’s salinity level is about 9,000 PPM.

While switching to a salt system pool has many advantages, there are a few downsides.

If the pool if very old, using a salt system may further corrode the pool’s metal skimmer and return pipes faster. Older pool heaters may also be adversely affected. Calcium may build up on the tile work. Newer pools use plastic pipes and pumps; the salt will not cause any damage to these items.

October 26, 2020
pool
News, Industry Insider
When to Replace a Faucet

Dear Maintenance Men

Dear Maintenance Men: I have owned and operated my apartment building since the early ’70s and have always performed my own repairs, and general maintenance on my properties. Lately, I have been struggling with kitchen and bathroom faucet repair. I am handy, so I am not referring to the actual physical aspect of repair, but the decision to repair or replace a faucet. Over the many years of ownership, I have replaced my older stem and rubber washer (compression) type to the newer washerless and single-handle types. The problem is, I now have a difficult time finding parts or the cost of repair is awfully close to buying a new fixture. Am I alone in this struggle? I used to hate having to replace the seats and washers but now I miss it.

Bill

Dear Bill: You are not alone in this struggle. Today, a typical repair of any medium-quality faucet can cost 30% more than replacing the same faucet. The difference and deciding factor will be the quality of the faucet you are repairing. For instance, the cost of repairing extremely “cheap” or off-brand fixtures is not worth the time or effort, as they will continue to fail in a short amount of time. Most brand-name fixtures will last you 10 years or so, depending on the following factors: use and abuse, maintenance, installation, finish, water quality and model of fixture.

The number-one reason you should consider replacing your old faucet is to conserve water. Older faucets can waste 3 to 5 gallons per minute. Newer faucets use less than 2.5 gallons per minute.

When it comes to purchasing faucets and all other plumbing fixtures for your investment property, it is best to be value-driven and not cost-driven in your decision-making process. Consider a consistent brand, style and type of fixture you will use. There are many “better” quality fixtures at affordable prices you can choose from with a look for any style of bathroom, or kitchen. For longer-lasting, commercial-quality fixtures, which will have replacement parts far into the future, look to purchase from a plumbing supply store instead of the big box stores.

Why? Most fixtures are made specifically for each big box store and are for residential use. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to find replacement parts if the store you originally purchased a part from does not stock the replacement part you need. That said, most fixtures come with a “Lifetime Warranty” (for residential use), but waiting the considerable amount of time it takes to receive your replacement part may not be practical when you have to fix it right there and then.

The benefits of installing new fixtures are that the many new technologies help to extend the actual lifespan of the fixtures and reduce the water consumption. Looks do matter! Nothing dates your apartments like old, worn and style-challenged fixtures.

There are four major types of fixtures that are prevalent in our industry: compression, ball, disk and cartridge faucets. Only the compression faucets use the stem, seat washer and valve seat technology we were all accustomed to, and probably still have collecting dust in our storage rooms. The good news is ball, disk and cartridge faucets use O-rings and seals as the primary technology for faucet function.

To reduce the expense of repairing or replacing your faucets, consider purchasing a kit with a variety of faucet specific O-rings and seals. There are many universal kits on the market that can help you reduce the need to purchase the actual cartridge (most times, it is not necessary to replace the cartridge.)

October 19, 2020
News, Industry Insider, Marketing Buzz
Hines Launches Property Management Firm

Willowick Residential will work in partnership with the firm’s rapidly growing multifamily portfolio of 63 projects across 38 U.S. cities.

Hines announced the launch of Willowick Residential, a multifamily property management firm. Willowick Residential will work in partnership with the firm’s rapidly growing multifamily portfolio of 63 projects across 38 U.S. cities, including luxury towers, urban mid-rises and traditional garden-style apartments.

Named after founder Gerald D. Hines’ first multifamily residential building in Houston’s River Oaks area, Willowick Residential builds on the firm’s legacy of excellence and attention to detail. In the early days of his firm, Hines managed The Willowick himself, believing that an owner had greater insight and desire to manage a building properly.

“Rooted in the expertise of our regional offices, our growing and successful multifamily division has expanded for-rent apartment development activity throughout the United States,” said Jeff Hines, president and CEO of Hines in a news release. “Willowick Residential seeks to deliver a superior level of resident service, above-industry retention rates, cost-effective building management and superior engineering and maintenance of the physical asset.”

Launched earlier this year, Willowick Residential is currently managing nine properties and counting throughout the United States. The venture’s competencies include acquisition services, advisory services, engineering and maintenance, team member recruiting and development, lease-up and transition services, marketing and communications, reputation management, market analysis and research, vendor compliance and information technology.

Hines has managed properties since its inception in 1957. With 35 team members so far with decades of experience, the venture’s competencies include unparalleled service, asset management, energy efficiency and the reduction of real estate investment risk. The Willowick Residential property teams are highly experienced, thoughtfully trained, and will bring Hines’ standards and experience to all properties to deliver superior service, cost-effective building management and above-industry retention.

October 12, 2020
apartment buildings
News, Industry Insider
When is it Time to Replace a Roof?

How to know if you need a new roof or if repairs will do the trick.

Dear Maintenance Men:

How do I determine if it is time to replace a roof or just have some maintenance or minor repairs done?

Dear Ed:

Determining if a roof actually needs replacement or should be repaired is sometimes more of an art than a science. An old roof in good condition that has roof leaks may be as simple to solve as an inspection of the roof flashing system. The roof flashing is where the roof meets a different material or changes course. For example, roof flashing is found around the chimney, in valleys, where the roof transitions to vertical a wall or around vent pipes. Any roof transition area is a potential roof leak. Keeping the roof flashings in good order is the first line of defense. However, should your roof be experiencing leaks in several different areas, missing granules (bald spots) and pooling; might be an indication of a roof past its prime and ready for replacement. In the case of a shingle roof, the telltale signs are more obvious. For example, a shingle roof may exhibit curling edges, loss of granules and material brittleness. This roof may be beyond repairs and should be replaced. Tile roofs may present different issues as they may look great on the outside, but have hidden damage under the tiles, such as a rotted felt membrane or disintegrating roofing paper. These are much more difficult to solve and often times the repairs are more expensive than replacement.

 

When requesting a bid from a roofing contractor, always ask for a cost to repair the existing roof and a cost to replace the roof. When having multiple bids, always use the same scope of work for each roofer. A deviation in scope will make it harder to determine the correct course of action.

 

October 2, 2020
worker working on the roof
News, Industry Insider
HUD Issues Final Revised Disparate Impact Rule

On September 24, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published its final rule, HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act's Disparate Impact Standard, effective October 26. It amends the agency’s 2013 rule and refines its interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s (FHA) disparate impact standard to better reflect the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) 2015 ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. (also known as “Inclusive Communities”). Thank you to the thousands of National Apartment Association (NAA) members who participated in the association’s calls to action and made the industry’s voice heard. The revised rule is a direct result of this advocacy.

For years, NAA, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and their members have urged HUD to amend the Obama-era rule to bring it more in line with SCOTUS’ landmark decision in Inclusive Communities and to provide guidance that ensures housing providers may continue to execute necessary business practices without running afoul of fair housing requirements. Under disparate impact theory, a rental housing provider can be sued if the owner or operator implements a policy that is neutral on its face but nonetheless has an unintended, discriminatory effect on members of a protected class under the FHA.

While the rental housing industry remains committed to providing equal opportunity for all renters, housing providers voiced concern about their broad liability for disparate impact claims in light of HUD’s 2013 rule and subsequent guidance. Seemingly neutral and common business policies, such as occupancy limitations, criminal screening criteria and eviction screening policies could trigger discrimination claims under the disparate impact standard. Denial of Section 8 voucher holders also have been scrutinized under disparate impact theory as plaintiffs argue this practice disproportionately affects people of color, persons with disabilities, and families with children.

NAA is working on updated industry guidance and will update its affiliates and members shortly with its plans.

To learn more about disparate impact, contact Nicole Upano, NAA’s Director of Public Policy or visit the Disparate Impact page on the NAA website.

 

September 28, 2020
apartments
News, Industry Insider, Apartment Advocate, COVID-19
Preliminary Guidance on CDC Eviction Moratorium

On September 1, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) filed an order in the Federal Register to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The order was formally published on Friday, September 4, 2020 and bars evictions of renters in residential housing until December 31, 2020. 

The order:

  • Applies to virtually all rental housing providers and prohibits any eviction action to remove a renter from their housing during the covered period, so long as the renter provides the required declaration to their housing provider;
  • Does not prevent evictions based on the lawful reasons articulated in the order, other than nonpayment of rent;
  • Does NOT eliminate the resident’s obligations under the lease, and housing providers may charge late fees or other penalties for nonpayment of rent; and
  • States that any person or organization that violates the order may be subject to up to $500,000 in fines per violation and/or jail time. Enhanced penalties apply if the violation resulted in death, at the discretion of the U.S. Department of Justice. 

For renters to be eligible for the order’s protections, they must provide a declaration under penalty of perjury to their housing provider indicating the following:

  • The individual has used best efforts to obtain rental assistance;
  • The individual expects to earn no more than $99,000 (no more than $198,000 when filing jointly); was not required to report income in 2019 to the IRS; or received a stimulus check pursuant to the CARES Act;
  • The individual is unable to pay their full rent due to a number of factors that remain unconnected to COVID-19;
  • The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments; and
  • Eviction would likely render the individual homeless or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting because the individual has no other available housing options.

An example of the declaration can be found in the order, and the CDC has provided the document on the website here. Please note that this form will immediately halt any eviction proceedings, and housing providers are not required to distribute the form to residents.

Jurisdictions that have an eviction moratorium providing the same or greater level of public-health protection than the CDC order are exempt from its requirements.

To help housing providers better understand their rights and responsibilities under the order, NAA, in partnership with the Texas Apartment Association (TAA), has prepared preliminary guidance and FAQs. This guidance is not intended to be state specific and should be used in conjunction with advice from local legal counsel to interpret these requirements in light of existing federal, state and local eviction laws.

NAA and TAA are also sponsoring a free 75-minute webinar, "Understanding the CDC Eviction Moratorium," on Thursday, September 10 at 2 p.m. CDT. The webinar features NAA Senior Vice President, Government Affairs Greg Brown, NAA Vice President, Legal Affairs and Counsel Scot Haislip, NAA Senior Staff Attorney Ayiesha Beverly, NAA Director of Public Policy Nicole Upano, TAA General Counsel Sandy Hoy and Hoover Slovacek Equity Partner Howard Bookstaff, who will provide the latest updates on the CDC Order. Reserve your space now

There still remain a number of unanswered questions about the Order and how it will be implemented; this is an evolving situation and NAA will provide for updated information as it becomes available. If you have any questions about the CDC order, or COVID-19 in general, please reach out to NAA staff at [email protected].

 

September 8, 2020
eviction notice

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