President's Message

Take Action

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TAKE ACTION!! Those are the words on the button you select on our new Voter Voice Email system to help us harness the power of landlords to defend against unwise proposed anti-housing and anti-landlord state legislation.

A quick recap: AACSC has joined with ten (10) other local apartment associations to form California Rental Housing Association (CalRHA). Through CalRHA, we have developed a very effective tool to voice our opinions on proposed legislation to our elected representatives called Voter Voice Email.

Here's how it works: You register on the CalRHA website. Once registered, you will begin receiving periodic Red Alerts that will make you aware of proposed legislation, give you detailed analysis on the issue and the ramifications of passage, and finally, direct you on how to voice your opinion by hitting the "Take Action" button.

Take Action gets you to the page that shows the intended recipients of your email and prepares a measured, well thought out response. If you agree, then send the message. This is a tool that landlords have needed for a long time. It's fast and easy to use, gets your opinion out there, and with enough of us using it, we will do a much better job of helping to protect our businesses and the nice living spaces we offer to our tenants.

I mentioned this last month, but I need to bring this up again: we have to become better educated landlords to earn a living in this business today. My goal is to never hear of a single instance where one of our landlords lost a case in court or lost money because they weren't knowledgeable about a specific issue that they should have been able to manage with the proper education. There are plenty of books you can read or you can attend a variety of AACSC classes for a nominal fee.

Why not be proactive? Attend a $59 class taught through AACSC or pay a $2,500 judgement for not following the law. You choose. AACSC land lords are going to be the best educated landlords in the business and will have the best run apartments out there. Tenants are going to understand the difference and will rent from you first.

On a lighter note, we're in the middle of a great summer. Weather is perfect as usual. Our Summer Social is July 27th at the fabulous Hotel Maya. Come and have some fun with us and meet your fellow landlords. Don't worry you might not know anyone there—we're all landlords. You'll have a lot in common and plenty to talk about!

Educational Importance

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At a meeting I recently attended with Long Beach Mayor Garcia, he discussed the City’s study and recommendations for the production of affordable and workforce housing. Based on what he shared at that meeting, I am confident that the Mayor is on the right track; his study was filled with fantastic ideas that will go a long way toward solving some challenging housing issues if enacted. Some highlights include: dedicating City resources to support the production of affordable and workforce housing; providing regulatory relief and more rapid entitlement procedures; offering first-time home buyer programs; allowing and incentivizing the use of shipping container construction for housing; approving the use of micro units; supporting the development of accessory dwelling units; and reducing parking requirements for affordable housing projects near transit. Noticeably absent from this report was any language related to negative concepts like rent control or REAP.

While the Mayor cannot speak for every member of the City Council, I can assure you he understands that ideas like rent control and REAP don’t work and have never worked—anywhere. I urge you to be supportive of these recommendations. They will benefit everyone.

I am planning to step up the efforts by AACSC to promote education as a key benefit of membership. We as landlords are missing opportunities and losing a substantial amount of income simply because we are not as knowledgeable about our business as we should be.

Have you ever watched an episode of Judge Judy where she is hearing a landlord/tenant case? I’ve watched a few, and the only time the landlord loses is if he or she did something dumb like forget to take pictures of a tenant-damaged unit, neglect to document repair costs, fail to have a required form signed, or fail to document the resolution of a dispute. It kills me. They lose easily winnable cases because of their lack of professionalism due to a lack of education.

Let’s never forget that owning rental property isn’t some get-rich-quick scheme. It’s a business like any other. You have income, expenses, regulations, emergencies, etc. Don’t expect to wing it and be successful. You need to know your business just like an accountant, realtor, doctor, plumber or just about anyone trying to run a business. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can lose everything. No member of this Association should ever lose because they didn’t know how to do things right.

That’s my mission! I also think education can be used in other advantageous ways. For example: why don’t we negotiate a deal with the City of Long Beach where you take classes in exchange for a longer period between PRHIP inspections? Are you starting to see how education can pay off? We’re just getting started.

Potential Section 8 Program Changes

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I am excited to share with you all the great news regarding the legislative successes that we’ve had so far this year. Let’s begin on the local front. We are tackling the local problem with the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program, and working closely with Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson to streamline the program to make important changes. The current recommendations include the following: streamlining the Housing Choice Voucher inspections, waiver of certain permits and inspection costs for apartment owners who accept the Housing Choice Vouchers, and creating a damage mitigation fund to provide financial assistance to landlords to mitigate damage caused by tenants during their occupancy under the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The last and maybe best improvement is to make vacancy payments to landlords to hold units while the landlord is going through the approval process.

These potential changes will make the Section 8 program one that all landlords should be looking at. Here’s why this is such an important achievement. The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) has been struggling for years and has desperately needed some attention. The staff and Board of AACSC helped to identify issues that have sidelined the program. AACSC worked with the City and together are working on resolutions that will help both landlords and tenants. More important than this is that it demonstrates once again that AACSC can be very effective in improving the business environment for landlords and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

On the State front, members of AACSC’s legislative committee and our Executive Director, Johanna Cunningham, traveled to Sacramento and with our lobbyist, Ron Kingston, spent several days meeting with and educating members of the State Senate and Assembly on the merits of various proposed bills they will be considering this year that will directly affect the rental housing industry. The most egregious bill that we lobbied against was AB 1506, a bill to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, which is our main legislative protection against runaway statewide rent control laws. Our efforts helped force the bill’s author (Bloom) to remove the bill from consideration for this year. (He plans to reintroduce it again and we will need to continue to be ready to respond.)

I also think it’s important for you to know that the AACSC members who made the trip to Sacramento did so at their own expense. These passionate individuals feel so strongly about our industry that they are willing to sacrifice their time and money for your benefit. We all owe them a sincere Thank You! One of the main reasons that we were successful was that our lobbyist, Ron Kingston, had us so well prepared. Ron provided us with concise summaries of every bill that we discussed in our meetings. He arranged all the appointments with the legislators and gave us detailed background information on every legislator we met with. We knew our stuff in those meetings and it paid off. Ron did a terrific job for us, and we’re lucky to have him. That’s all for now. Thanks for your continued support.

The World is Changing

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Greetings from the front lines. The legislative front that is. The California Legislature has introduced almost 3,000 bills this year, and 150 of them will affect the rental housing industry. The assaults are coming in every direction with the most alarming being Bill AB1506, which is an effort to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act. For 20 years this one act has successfully blocked runaway rent control and vacancy decontrol policies related to things like evictions. In years past, we as rental property owners and managers have had to rise to the occasion periodically and join to fight one negative issue or another. But I am of the opinion that the world around us is changing and the days of the occasional battle are over. We need to adjust to this new environment and budget our time, energy and finances toward working against destructive legislation full time. We don’t have a choice any longer.

On the local front, tenants rights groups are trying to arrange meetings with any organization or city commission that is willing to meet with them in order to tell their “Just Cause Eviction” story. What can I say that hasn’t been said before about Just Cause Eviction? I don’t know, but maybe it just hasn’t been said well enough. If it had, maybe we wouldn’t still be dealing with it. Someday it would be nice to not have to keep explaining it. It would be nice if people would just get it. We can win this one and when we do, it will be a win for both owners and tenants.

Do you want to know how to help? Start by talking to your tenants! The so-called tenant rights groups count on our relationship with tenants being adversarial. If it isn’t, their reason to exist vanishes. Think about the tenants you have that you know will get it, and reach out to them. You fix your leaky roofs, burst plumbing or worn electrical systems because you’re protecting your investment. Your tenants are critical to your investment, too. How much of your time do you invest in them—to educate them on how bad legislation with a pretty label isn’t going to do them any good? If you aren’t communicating with them, I can promise you the other guys are. If your tenants always hear from them and never hear from you, what do you think is going to happen? If you want help telling the story, reach out to AACSC. We will help you.

As for State legislation, you can do a lot there, too. When we send out a Red Alert to call a legislator in opposition to a proposed bill, please make the call. You can call five legislators in five minutes!

Also, donate to the AACSC PAC. We use the money to support leaders who understand our issues. We use it for good legislation and against bad legislation. We’ll be OK in the long run if we pull together and work at it.

More Affordable Housing

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Housing providers have always been better Aadvocates for tenants than the so called tenants rights groups. Sound counterintuitive? Not really if you think it through.

The majority of housing providers rely on rental income to fund their retirements. You wouldn’t want to be at war with the individuals who fund your way of paying your bills, would you? Is it in the best interest of tenants’ rights groups for housing providers and tenants to be at war with each other? Very possibly.

If housing providers—yes, all you retirees know who you are—are made out to be bad guys, that ignites the kind of “good guy vs. bad guy” emotion that leads to successful fund raising. Is beating the “bad guys” their only issue? Fortunately no. Tenant advocates are trying as hard as housing providers to stimulate the construction of more affordable housing. Maybe their problem is a marketing problem.

Building more housing isn’t as emotional an issue as beating down the “bad landlord.” Take away that emotional appeal and you lose donations and maybe your job. If their real value, which is to advocate for the construction of more housing, isn’t emotional enough to sustain their fund raising, then maybe it’s time to redefine their mission. Is there anything to be proud of in finding below market housing for a needy tenant by defunding the retirement income of a housing provider who spent a lifetime fixing leaky plumbing and repairing old roofs in order to have money to live on down the road? Not if you’re being honest with yourself.

Housing providers, for better or for worse, do have a sort of marital bond with tenants. One partner’s job is to make a good home for the other to live in. The other’s job is to treat their home with respect and pay the rent. It’s a fair exchange. When things are going well, it’s an easy relationship. When things aren’t going so well, that’s when the strength of the relationship begins to show.

The problems are usually financial. The housing provider may fall on hard times and not keep the property in the shape they normally would. For the tenant who finds themselves in a financial jam, one of their first pleas for help is to their housing provider. Most of the time, the problem on both sides gets resolved, but a major reason for this is their reasonable business relationship. Take that away with adversarial rules like REAP and Rent Control, and that bond is forever broken.

Let’s not let that happen! It’s in tenants’ and housing providers’ best interests to maintain a fair relationship. Tenants’ rights organizations won’t like it. They can’t profit by it. When you understand that, it makes all the sense in the world for housing providers and tenants to stick together.

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