The new year has only just begun and already there are multiple, critical updates on housing affordability measures occurring throughout the country of which National Apartment Association (NAA) members should be aware:
- In Atlanta, City Councilman Antonio Brown (District 3) introduced a resolution encouraging the state of Georgia to allow local jurisdictions to implement rent control. Currently, Georgia law preempts localities from regulating how much a rental housing provider can charge for rent. While the resolution does not have the force of law, it is meant to signal support for state action. Atlanta has sought a waiver from the state’s preemption as far back as 2016. No bills to remove the state’s preemption have been pre-filed at this point. The Atlanta Apartment Association is actively engaged on this issue and other local concerns affecting the industry, including a projected 300 percent increase to the development impact fee that is projected to be a $5,000 cost per door.
- When the state legislature convenes in Utah later this month, Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost (D-Salt Lake City) plans to introduce a bill to remove the state’s preemption on rent control. Provost says rent control can be used to address homelessness in the state and contends that localities should have the power to decide what types of legislation fit the needs of the communities they represent. In response, the Utah Apartment Association (UAA) released a statement saying what the industry knows to be true: “Rent control hurts all property owners in Utah by capping property incomes and values across the board.” UAA pointed to reducing barriers to development and zoning for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as viable alternatives. This bill is one of 20 renters’ rights proposals that they are actively monitoring.
- The Pennsylvania Apartment Association will be introducing a rent control preemption bill in the upcoming session. The introduction of the bill itself is a win for the industry. If passed, localities in the state will be prohibited from regulating rental prices. This is important given that the Philadelphia City Council will be considering a rent control ordinance in the coming months.
- The Massachusetts State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing will be holding a hearing on January 14 to consider H.3924, legislation that would enable municipal governments to adopt restrictions on rents, evictions, and condominium conversions, as well as establish real estate transfer taxes. The Massachusetts Apartment Association, formerly known as the Rental Housing Association of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, has already submitted comments to the committee and has prepared testimony. NAA and the National Multifamily Housing Council also will be submitting comments jointly to the committee.
- In Nashville, last August’s city council elections produced the highest number of socialist councilmembers in the city’s history. There is a concerted push to eliminate incentives for development, address homelessness and create “one Nashville for all,” where neighborhoods are prioritized over so-called “big business.” The council is evaluating several policy recommendations:
The Greater Nashville Apartment Association is diligently working to educate the City Council Chairman and other councilmembers about the rental housing industry and the unintended consequences of these policies.
- Extending just-cause eviction requirements;
- Mandating advance notice of intent to sell, which would require owners of low-rent, market-rate housing to provide 90-day advance notice to residents and local government prior to the sale;
- Requiring a 120-day advance notice of rent increases;
- Placing limitations on resident screening; and
- Mandating that rental housing providers accept Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as “source of income” fair housing protections.
As housing affordability challenges continue to drive bad policy at all levels of government, it is as important as ever for the members of the apartment industry to be a part of these conversations to provide their expertise in how to effectively build more housing, address complex challenges and shape housing policy that will affect the industry for years to come. NAA will continue to work with the affiliate network to ensure that public policy does not impede but rather enhances the ability of rental housing providers to run their businesses and provide housing to one-third of Americans. 2020 surely will be a busy year on the legislative front.
- In California, State Senator Scott Wiener (District 11) has reintroduced Senate Bill 50, the “More Homes Act.” SB 50 would require local governments to meet certain housing and transportation goals or risk losing authority over zoning standards, increasing transit-oriented development in the Golden State. Efforts to pass the bill in the state legislature last year were unsuccessful despite California’s dire need to reduce barriers to new housing construction. The bill allows for increased multifamily housing in single-family zoned areas and has undergone revisions in attempt to increase support of the effort. The new iteration of SB 50 would allot two additional years for local governments to develop their plans. California cities may account for local conditions so long as they adhere to the state’s goals of adding more housing units while decreasing emissions. SB 50 represents the type of sustainable, thoughtful legislation that is needed in communities across the United States to address the nation’s housing affordability challenges.
Additionally, NAA offers a variety of tools, expert insight, research and resources to assist in making your conversations with residents, media and policymakers all the more effective (including an entire library of resources dedicated to policy issues):
The industry needs everyone involved. NAA's Key Contact program locates, develops and leverages relationships our members have with policymakers at all levels of government to communicate the apartment industry's perspective on issues that affect us.
Utilize NAA’s resources in your conversations to educate policymakers and mobilize activists on issues affecting their businesses and the industry. Sign-up for the Apartment Advocate e-newsletter. Register for Advocate, the nation’s largest rental housing advocacy event. Forward this mail to all of your colleagues in the industry. The future of your job, your company and the industry depend on it.
Please stay tuned to www.naahq.org for further updates.