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January 15, 2016
2015 = Success
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Copyright: Michael Bednarek

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 Tuesday. NMHC and NAA 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 closer look at how our 2015 advocacy helped make a lasting difference.

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NMHC Insider
2016 POLICY PRIORITIES
SoU: Industry Emphasizes Importance of Balanced Housing Policy
In response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address this week, NMHC and NAA took the opportunity to release a detailed statement outlining the multifamily industry’s top policy priorities for the year ahead.
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CAPITAL MARKETS
Financial Regulators Exempt Multifamily from Margining Rule
In a significant victory for the multifamily industry, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued an update to their proposed margining risk management rule that will now exempt all multifamily and project loans from the rule. As we previously reported, NMHC/NAA worked together with the Mortgage Bankers Association to provide overviews to regulators on the strength of the existing risk management practices followed by our industry.
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FLOOD RISK
Congress and Industry Eye Flood Insurance Reforms
The Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held two hearings this week on the future of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and ways to expand affordability and coverage options. Administered by FEMA, the program is facing financial challenges due to several catastrophic weather events, including Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Apartment owners with federally regulated and insured mortgages on properties in high risk areas are required by law to purchase flood insurance. Created in 1968, the NFIP was established to provide flood insurance coverage to at-risk property owners in absence of any real private sector participation and to reduce taxpayer liabilities for disaster assistance.
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FAIR HOUSING
Industry Cautions Against Expansion of Fair Housing Liability
HUD proposed a new fair housing rule this past fall that provides guidance on “quid pro quo” and hostile environment harassment. This occurs when an individual in a protected class – relating to race, sex and disability – is subjected to unwelcome demands as a condition of their housing or when they are exposed to conduct that interferes with their ability to enjoy housing.
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PATENT TROLLS
Data Shows Uptick in Patent Lawsuits
Patent trolls continue to wreak havoc on businesses across industry sectors based on new data that was released recently that shows an uptick in patent lawsuits from 2014 to 2015. Patent trolls threaten legal action and demand licensing fees for the use of everyday business products and technology applications. For apartment companies, these can range from “off the shelf” tech tools and on-site video security systems to web-based transactions and marketing platforms. Frivolous, unsupported patent infringement claims are a costly drain for the multifamily industry, the real estate sector and economy as a whole.
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LABOR
NLRB Ruling on Joint Employees Could Be Headed to Court Soon
The National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) August 2015 ruling that expanded the definition of a joint employer could be headed to court soon. On January 12, the NLRB found that Browning-Ferris Industries refused to negotiate with employees who had sought to form a union – clearing a path for potential legal action. This type of action was not possible until the NLRB found that a joint employer refused to negotiate and, as a result, enabled a court to decide if an unfair labor practice had taken place. Joint employers occur in the multifamily and other industries when the supervision of employees, like subcontractors, suppliers, vendors and temporary staff, is shared between two or more businesses.
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TOOLS AND RESOURCES
Key Fair Housing Assessment Tool Gets HUD Seal of Approval
HUD recently released the final Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Assessment Tool for local governments preparing Assessments of Fair Housing (AFH) – both individually and in collaboration with other local governments and public housing agencies. The department also released the AFFH Rule Guidebook, an update to the Data and Mapping Tool, as well as the AFH User Interface that will assist HUD program participants in meeting the requirements of the AFFH final rule.
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CLEAN WATER ACT
House Sets Up Presidential Veto with Vote to Overturn Water Rule
On January 13, the House voted 253-166 to pass a joint resolution of disapproval to overturn the Obama Administration’s controversial “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) final rule. The rule was published last summer and would expand the scope of waters subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. But the chamber was unable to secure the two-thirds majority that would make it veto proof. Ultimately, expanding the scope of the Act would result in undue and costly federal regulatory requirements for the multifamily industry.
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NMHC EVENTS
There's Still Time to Register for the 2016 NMHC Annual Meeting!
Don’t miss the 2016 NMHC Annual Meeting, one of the largest gatherings of multifamily industry leaders. This premier event for exclusive networking and in-depth sessions takes place next week from January 19-21 at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek/Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, FL. On-site registration will be available for NMHC members interested in the annual meeting. On-site registration opens at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, January 18 and will be available until the end of the last day of the meeting on January 21. Please note that online registration is currently available on our website until 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 15.
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NMHC PAC
Riding the PAC Momentum into 2016!
At next week's 2016 NMHC Annual Meeting in Orlando, out-going NMHC PAC Chairman Bob DeWitt will be turning over the reins to the capable hands of Sue Ansel after a successful 2015 that resulted in the PAC surpassing its goals. Several key PAC events at the meeting are considered must-attend.
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Hill Watch
Senate Committee hearing entitled, "Laying Out the Reality of the United States Postal Service," Thurs., Jan. 21, at 9:30 a.m. EST
Senate Committee hearing on near-term outlook for energy and commodity markets, Thurs., Jan. 21, at 10 a.m. EST
Media Roundup
A State of the Union for the Age of Polarization
The New Yorker
J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation Adds NMHC President Doug Bibby
HousingWire
Freddie Surpasses Fannie in 2015 Multifamily Volume
Affordable Housing Finance
FTC Warns Targeted Ads and Big Data Can be Civil Rights Issues
NextGov
New Rules Will Bring on a Pile of Overtime Lawsuits in 2016
Fortune
Contours of Tax Overhaul May Appear in 2016
Bloomberg BNA
Housing Regulator Closes Loan Loophole Used by REITs
Wall Street Journal
Republicans Whisper About a Contested Convention
Politico
The Scoop
The Obamas May Stay in DC After All?

Rumors are surfacing that the Obamas plan to stick around DC for three years until their youngest daughter graduates from high school. No stranger to looking for housing in DC, the President rented a modest apartment when he was a freshman Illinois senator. To check out his old digs, read more below.

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