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2015 = Success

Apartment Industry Success

Few disagree, in Washington and throughout the country, that there’s something special about the New Year and its unlimited potential. President Obama took to the airwaves to detail a wide-ranging agenda in his final State of the Union Address on Jan. 12. NAA and NMHC issued a related media statement focused on teeing up our own agenda for the Administration, HUD and Congress by outlining the Apartment Industry’s Top 2016 Policy Priorities.

Yet, it’s also important to look back at all that we accomplished together with you, our members, in 2015. There’s a lot to be proud of because our hard work resulted in critical changes that will benefit our $1.3 trillion industry, and the 38 million residents that call an apartment home, for years to come.

From securing the extension of key expired tax provisions, to successfully advocating for vital Section 8 Housing Voucher Program reforms, to helping ensure beneficial changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) – ultimately, these and other significant accomplishments helped reduce your costs, improve your productivity and save you time.

Let’s take a look at closer look at how our 2015 advocacy helped make a lasting difference.

Key 2015 NAA and NMHC Accomplishments

Below is just a handful of the key advocacy successes that we worked closely with NAA and NMHC leadership, and our members, to accomplish last year:

Tax Policy

  • Secured the permanent or long-term extension of expired tax provisions that will significantly benefit the apartment housing industry, including bonus depreciation, small business expensing and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit
  • Removed barriers to foreign investment by advocating successfully for the permanent increase from 5 to 10 percent of the ownership stake that a foreign investor can take in a U.S. publicly traded REIT without triggering FIRPTA, and helped secure the removal of the tax penalty that FIRPTA imposes on pension funds investing in U.S. real estate
  • Ensured renewal of the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction and Energy Efficient New Homes Tax Credit through 2016
  • Shaped key changes to legislation overhauling  partnership audits to ensure multifamily capital flows are not disrupted
  • Simplified the IRS’s application of so-called repair regulations that address how expenses in connection with acquiring, maintaining and improving tangible property should be treated for tax purposes
  • Commissioned ground-breaking research on like-kind exchanges and commercial building depreciation to educate policymakers on the key role these provisions play in multifamily housing development

Finance & Capital Markets

  • Helped ensure the reauthorization of the EB-5 “Jobs for U.S. Visa” Immigrant Investor Program through September 2016, which is a vital source for multifamily project investment
  • Worked with FHFA to boost 2015 multifamily loan purchases to more than $40 billion  from the initial $30 billion multifamily loan caps imposed on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • Delayed implementation of a damaging margining proposed rule that would increase the industry’s financial and operational costs by providing overview to federal financial regulators
  • Requested modifications to Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act provisions that impact commercial mortgage-backed securities holding multifamily debt

Affordable Housing

  • Obtained increased funding for numerous HUD affordable housing programs, including the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher and affordability-focused preservation programs
  • Secured expansion of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) to 185,000 units, which is designed to reverse the trend of lost affordable units by accessing private capital to make up for funding shortfalls
  • Simplified the income verification process for the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program and reduced administrative burdens by enabling recertification of rent and income calculations every three years versus annually for residents on fixed incomes

Fair Housing

  • Submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that disparate impact liability could trigger discrimination claims for legitimate business practices, despite no intention of singling out a particular group protected by the Fair Housing Act
  • Requested regulatory clarifications and other guidance from HUD on specific disparate impact operations practices to address apartment industry concerns related to unintentional discrimination

Business & Property Operations

  • Secured enactment of a long-term reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) to ensure that apartment owners have access to affordable terrorism insurance. 
  • Attained enactment of bipartisan cybersecurity legislation that establishes voluntary cyber threat information sharing between the public and private sectors and includes strong liability and anti-trust protections for participating apartment firms and other businesses
  • Secured the passage of bipartisan patent reform legislation by the House and Senate judiciary committees, which would help curb unsupported patent infringement claims that are a costly drain for the multifamily industry

Military Housing

  • Achieved enactment of legislation to limit the basic allowance for housing reduction to 1 percent in 2015 and eliminated other changes to military housing benefits 

Energy & Environment

  • Advocated for science-based definition for waters subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act to limit runaway regulatory costs
  • Opposed the Energy Department’s one-size-fits all gas furnace efficiency rule that would result in expensive and technically infeasible ventilation requirements for many multifamily properties.
  • Secured enactment of a key provision in the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 establishing a new, voluntary program to identify spaces in commercial buildings that have achieved certain levels of energy efficiency as part of the Tenant Star program.
  • Advocated for common-sense lead regulations by streamlining the training requirements for the recertification of workers who disturb lead and provided detailed comments on lead in the public and commercial rule

Construction & Development

  • Advocated for building codes and standards that are technologically feasible, cost-effective and reflect the unique characteristics of the multifamily industry
  • Blocked unnecessary changes to the ICC codes
  • Identified proposals to address concerns raised about apartment fires. 

Research & Analysis

  • Secured critical funding for the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey that helps the multifamily industry in estimating the economic impact of apartment homes and ensured that the mandatory nature remained intact despite continued attempts to allow voluntary responses

Provided by NMHC as part of the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Program