Nine Tips for Managing Short-term Rentals in Your Community



The abundance of attractions and businesses throughout California ensures that there is never a lack of travelers needing lodging. And with websites like Airbnb®, VRBO® and HomeAway®, it is easier than ever for people offering lodging and people needing a place to stay to find each other.

If you are on the board of a homeowners association (HOA), chances are you have already faced questions about how to handle short-term rentals in your community. Regardless of whether you consider them to be a nuisance or a differentiator, your HOA needs to have a policy that is clear and enforceable. Here are nine tips to help ensure that your HOA is on top of this growing trend.

1. Review your governing documents. Many HOAs were formed before short-term rentals became popular. As a result, their governing documents do not include a policy about them. Determine how well your governing documents address short-term rentals (or if they address them at all) and whether they specify rental length terms. If your policy is lacking, raise the issue at your next board meeting.
2. Survey residents. Before proposing any changes to your governing documents, survey the attitudes and opinions of residents to see if there is a consensus about short-term rentals. A well-equipped community management company can provide guidance and communication resources. Changing governing documents requires positive votes from a large majority of the owners, and it is often difficult to reach the required quorum.
3. Know the local laws. Regulations regarding short-term rentals vary widely among cities and municipalities in California. For example, Ojai and Anaheim ban short-term rentals completely. Some places, such as Laguna Beach, prohibit them in residential zones. Other areas require a business license. Many towns are still playing legal catch-up as the popularity of home-sharing websites increases. Make sure you are familiar with current and pending laws. Keep in mind that if your HOA’s regulations are less stringent than those of your town, the town laws take precedence.
4. Educate residents. Use a variety of communication channels to remind residents about regulations and the consequences of illegal short-term rentals. Some ways to reach out to your residents include holding special meetings and leveraging communication resources from your community management company to send email blasts or letters, post articles in community newsletters and make phone calls.
5. Conduct training sessions. Train board members, residents and staff about community awareness and how to handle suspicious or unauthorized guests. You may want to turn to your community management company to conduct this training or to provide resources.
6. Empower staff to enforce the rules. Community staff should have the authority to forbid unauthorized guests from entering the community. Depending on how your regulations are written, guests might only be allowed to enter if the owner is present or if they have written authorization.
7. Look for violators online. Periodically check sites like Airbnb®, VRBO®, and HomeAway® to see if any homeowners in your community are listing their homes in violation of your HOA regulations. Your community manager can then notify the owners of their potential violations and resulting fines, and request removal of the listing.
8. Document violations. Keep detailed records of violations and the steps you have taken to address them. You may need this documentation if legal action becomes necessary.
9. Impose fines and penalties. If you discover any violations, impose a fine or penalty on the homeowner, as per your governing documents. Speak with your community management company and HOA attorney to determine if and when you need to take legal action. Above all, be consistent in how you enforce your short-term rental rules.

Love them or hate them, short-term rentals are here to stay. HOAs in California need to be prepared in order to reduce potential problems.

Bay Area Rent Control Propositions Restricted By Existing California Law

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BURLINGAME (CBS SF) — Five Bay Area cities will be voting on whether to implement rent control in November, but a California law has long-restricted rent control statewide.

Five cities, five ballot propositions all with the goal of stopping big rentincreases and protecting tenants.

The proposition in Burlingame says they’ve suffered from unreasonable rent increases, in San Mateo it says exorbitant rent increases, in Mountain View, excessive rental increases, in Richmond it says housing has reached a crisis level, and in Alameda, it says high rents are an immediate threat to the public.

Frances Moore, known also as ‘Auntie Frances’ said, “I’m being gentrified out of my house…I’ve been there six years, I’m disabled, and I’m a senior citizen. I’m 61 years old. It seems so hopeless, but I know there’s power in the people. Cause there is power in the people.”

Voters may pass all these laws, but there is a higher power – state law.

And it’s state law that limits what cities and voters can do, in three big ways:

First, only buildings that were built before February 1, 1995 can be rentcontrolled. Places built more recently – after 1995 – cannot be rent controlled.

Second, only apartments can be rent controlled. Single family homes or condos cannot.

Third, in a rent controlled apartment if there is a vacancy, the landlord can raise the rent to a market price. A new tenant has to pay the higher market price, but then rent control limits future increases.

These restrictions on rent control are in place because of a state law called the Costa-Hawkins Act.

Willie Brown was the speaker of the assembly in 1995 when the act was passed. Brown voted against the law, but he remembers Jim Costa, the author of the bill.

Brown says Costa represented the city of Fresno, where there was no tenant movement.

Brown said the act passed in the 1990s because there were many other California legislators also looking out for landlords in their area.

“There were too many other places in California that were as politically comfortable looking out for landlords as Mr. Costa’s Fresno area was,” Brown said.

Current State Senator Mark Leno says state legislators – even Democrats – from non-urban areas still have no love for rent control.

Leno said, “Many of my colleagues in the Legislature don’t have rentcontrol in their districts so it’s hard for them to feel our pain.”

Leno described the Costa-hawkins Act “like a Holy Grail in Sacramento.”

So state law isn’t likely to change any time soon.

But supporters of rent control say they will take what they get.

More from Melissa Caen

How to protect your commercial property on Halloween

by Scott Lacourse –

The spookiest night of the year is almost upon us.

More than 171 million Americans will be celebrating Halloween this year and they’ll spend an average of more than $80 each doing it, according to research by the National Retail Federation.

Total spending is expected to reach $8.4 billion this year — that’s a whole lot of costumes, decorations, and candy.

All the excitement is great, but as trick-or-treaters take to the streets there’s also a spike in accidents and vandalism. It’s a good idea to prepare properly so that you don’t wake up to a nasty shock the morning after.

With commercial property insurance and the right precautions, there’s no need to fear for your business. Here are some tips on what to consider.

Be careful with Halloween decorations

Make sure that any decorations you put up in and around your business won’t cause problems for customers or people passing by. Look for any possible tripping hazards and remove them. Bear in mind that kids with costumes on may have limited visibility. Be careful not to obstruct or obscure fire exits, extinguishers, smoke detectors, or other safety equipment.

Use the right lighting

You might want to create a creepy atmosphere, but make sure that visibility inside your business is good. You should also turn on your outdoor lighting to reduce the risk of accidents or vandalism.

Use battery-powered LED lights with proper safety certifications, and avoid potentially dangerous candles in jack-o-lanterns. If you do use candles, don’t leave them unattended. Be very careful to ensure that they can’t be reached by kids, and keep matches and lighters tucked away out of sight. You should also avoid using flammable decorations and costumes.

Secure vehicles

It’s best to park commercial vehicles in very well-lit areas or, even better, in a garage at Halloween. Ensure that they’re locked with the windows closed and vehicle alarms set. You might consider covers for vehicles that can’t be parked in a garage to protect them from spray paint or eggs.

If you are out driving for deliveries or other business reasons, watch very closely for kids crossing the road and drive slowly. Remember they may not be able to see out of their costumes very well and most costumes are not reflective in car lights.

Secure your business

Make sure that you lock all windows and doors and set your alarm. Test your burglar alarm and smoke alarms ahead of the night. As mentioned before, it’s a good idea to ensure that your business is well-lit on Halloween night as it tends to discourage vandalism.

Burglaries are also more common at Halloween, so you might consider beefing up your security system. Motion sensor floodlights and video surveillance are more affordable than ever and well worth considering.

Read up on your insurance policy

Check your commercial property policy and make sure that you fully understand what coverage you have. It might be worth checking with your insurer whether your commercial premises, equipment and other contents are covered for vandalism.

Does your policy extend to fine artwork, rare or one-of-a-kind items such as outdoor sculpture or imported rugs? Does any of your property require official documentation such as a certificate of authenticity (COA), a professional appraisal or provenance?

Getting the right coverage beforehand will give you peace of mind, so you can enjoy Halloween without being spooked.

Scott Lacourse has more than 20 years in the insurance industry. He is a director at Enservio, a provider of contents claim software, payments solutions, inventory and valuation services for property insurers. For 15 years he served as director of content for Insurers World. He earned a bachelor’s in economics from Rhode Island College and is a past president of the local Lions Club International.

Huge housing development raises hopes and fears Lots of affordable units in proposal to replace Village Lake complex

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At face value, it’s a proposal packed with exactly what Mountain View leaders want — a colossal new apartment complex that would single-handedly boost the city’s affordable housing stock by about 15 percent.

Yet the city’s Environmental Planning Commission exhibited plenty of nervousness earlier this month when members reviewed plans for a 711-unit apartment project to occupy 777 W. Middlefield Road. For starters, the 10-acre location is already home to the Village Lake Apartments, a 208-unit neighborhood described by residents and city staff as one of the few examples of “naturally affordable” housing left in Mountain View. That led some members of the public to warn that the mass displacement of current residents would do more harm than good.

“I realize this checks some of the boxes of what we want in Mountain View: it’s adding some housing and it’s adding some affordable housing,” said Sarah McDermott, a Village Lake resident. “But this is going to be a loss. A lot of people living here aren’t going to be able to continue living in Mountain View.”

Village Lake has long been marked for future development. Last year, a so-called gatekeeper request to build as many as 650 units on the site was approved, signaling that city officials were amenable to rezoning the land for high-density development. Last December, the applicant abruptly withdrew the gatekeeper application and sold the site for a reported $145 million to the Los Gatos-based development firm FortBay. In interviews, city staff members admit that having the site in the pipeline for gatekeeper review likely boosted its sale value.

At the Oct. 5 planning commission meeting, FortBay team members presented a retooled development plan that upped the total number of apartments to 711 – including 144 affordable units – which would be spread out between four buildings of four- and five-stories, each with two levels of underground parking.

Built in the 1960s, the Village Lake apartments are nearing the end of their useful life, so it made sense to rebuild them, said Perry Hariri, a FortBay principal. Any construction would still be at least two years away, and he assured city officials that the current Village Lake residents would be taken care of. But he cited the large number of affordable units being built as the reason why his firm couldn’t build the project in phases to allow residents to immediately transition over to the new apartments.

“We’ll make sure all the residents have a place to go with adequate assistance and to be able to relocate there,” he said. “Nobody’s going to be forced to move without a place to go.”

As one of Mountain View’s largest residential proposals ever, redeveloping Village Lake prompted plenty of other concerns. Its location nestled between Shoreline Boulevard and Middlefield Road is already regarded as one of the city’s worst traffic hotspots, and several neighborhood residents pointed out that adding high-density apartments would likely worsen that snarl.

Echoing the concerns of her colleagues, Commissioner Lisa Matichak said she supported affordable housing, but she faulted the city’s gatekeeper process for moving a project forward even though it was significantly different from its original proposal. Originally, the city was looking at a phased project with fewer units that would provide a public park as a community benefit. Those details had all been modified, she said.

“This is pretty different than what the City Council said they were OK with,” Matichak said. “Now we’re very far along down this path, and I don’t want to change things because of that.”

Assistant Community Development Director Terry Blount gave reassurances that the proposal was still at a relatively early stage, and various aspects, such as the traffic impacts and community benefits, were still being studied. But he reminded commissioners that FortBay’s affordable-housing component is generous, far exceeding what the city could require solely through its housing-impact fees. The bare minimum fee the developer had to provide would amount to only 43 units, he calculated.

“Even if the city made a contribution and leveraged funds, we’d never get a project of this size,” he said. “We do believe that it is much better for the city overall to go this route.”

Another question hanging over the meeting was how the city’s proposed rent-control measures would impact apartment redevelopment. Under the California Costa-Hawkins Act, rent-control measures can only affect apartments occupied prior to 1995, which could create an incentive for property owners to redevelop older building as a way to circumvent rent restrictions. A city attorney at the planning commission meeting declined to interpret how this scenario would play out.

Contacted by the Voice, Members of the Mountain View Tenants Coalition explained in an email that their proposal – Measure V – does not explicitly guarantee tenants a right to return to redeveloped apartments at the same rent-controlled price. Some aspects of how tenants would be impacted by redevelopment projects would depend on how the City Council or rental-housing committee chooses to interpret Measure V, they said. Other cities with rent-control policies have usually made it standard practice that older units being demolished must be replaced by an equal number of rent-controlled or affordable units.

“If Measure V passes, what happens with particular development projects will depend in part on whether and how the city implements (state law) within the municipal code and regulations under the Charter Amendment,” wrote Measure V co-author Juliet Brodie in an email. “I know that may be an unsatisfying answer, but the truth is there’s not a simple ‘what will happen’ in some of these scenarios.”

As for the other rent control plan, Measure W, commissioners pointed out the City Council had postponed expanding Mountain View’s Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, which is referenced in the measure. Currently, only low-income and special-needs tenants must be paid relocation fees by a property owner if they are displaced as part of a redevelopment project.

In the end, the planning commission raised no major objections to the Middlefield project, but members asked for further analysis of the building height and the mix of affordable-housing. The Mountain View City Council is scheduled to review the project at its Nov. 22 meeting.

5 things you need to know about the LEED 2009 registration close on Oct 31, 2016

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Five things to know about the upcoming LEED 2009 sunset.

Oct. 31, 2016 is the last day to register LEED® projects under any of the LEED 2009 rating systems. After that date, we will officially transition to LEED v4 as the only version of the rating system available for new LEED projects.

What you need to know

1) The deadline

If you would like to pursue LEED using any of the rating systems below, you must register by October 31, 2016. After that date, registration for the older versions will be closed, and any new LEED projects must use LEED v4.

  • LEED for New Construction (and Italia New Construction) v2009
  • LEED for Core and Shell v2009
  • LEED for Schools v2009
  • LEED for Retail: New Construction v2009
  • LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors v2009
  • LEED for Healthcare v2009
  • LEED for Commercial Interiors v2009
  • LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance v2009
  • LEED for Neighborhood Development v2009
  • LEED for Homes v2008
  • LEED for Homes Midrise Pilot
  • LEED India 2011 (New Construction and Core and Shell)

The next major deadline for LEED 2009 projects is the rating system sunset date in 2021. GBCI® will continue to accept initial applications (for Design or Standard preliminary review) for certification until the LEED 2009 sunset date of June 30, 2021.

View all the LEED registration and certification close dates

2) Next steps

For projects that have not yet registered but want to use a LEED 2009 rating system, visit LEED Online before the October 31 deadline to register your project. To complete your registration, you’ll need your project details, payment and any forms to show you are authorized to act on the project owner’s behalf, if you are not the project owner.

For projects that are already registered, there is nothing additional that you need to do right now, but please note that there are additional deadlines regarding certification.

3) You can upgrade

LEED v4 was launched in November of 2013, providing new strategies for energy, water, materials, waste, performance, human health and other key areas within the built environment.

Over 1,000 projects around the world are using the updated version of the rating system. Connect with GBCI to upgrade your LEED 2009 project to LEED v4. The process is simple and there is no cost.

4) Sunset vs. registration close

Continuous improvement is a critical component built into LEED’s DNA, allowing the system to evolve along with technology and the needs of the marketplace.

As new versions of the rating systems are introduced, earlier versions are phased out, so that we are constantly pushing for the transformation to which we aspire.

At any given point, LEED rating systems are

  • Open for registration and certification,
  • Closed for registration but open for certification, or
  • Closed for registration and certification (sunset).

The Oct. 31, 2016 deadline is for the registration close of the LEED 2009 rating systems. The sunset is set for June 31, 2021.

5) Miss the deadline

Missing the deadline does not mean that your project cannot pursue LEED. LEED registration for LEED v4 is open now, and will remain open until the next evolution of the rating system.

More questions? Don’t hesitate to ask! The expert staff who make up our technical solutions and support team are here to help on everything from choosing the right rating system for your project to helping you ensure that your strategies and documentation meet credit requirements. Contact us via the web or email at any time for more information or to discuss options for your project. Your success is our top priority.

USGBC Articles can be accessed in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.

Are You Overlooking Any of These Fair Housing Laws?

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 by  –

In a recent post, I talked about HUD’s new guidelines forrenting to tenants with a criminal history. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the other Fair Housing Laws that property managers may be overlooking.

While all property managers are likely (or should be) familiar with standard Fair Housing Laws, such as the prohibition of discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability, there are also a variety of rules and regulations that have been implemented in the last few years that property managers may not be familiar with. Here is a summary of those recently implemented rules and regulations:

  • Civil Monetary Penalties Inflation Adjustment. The maximum civil penalty for a first violation of the Fair Housing Act was $55,000. Due to inflation, this has been increased to $75,000. Subsequent violators previously faced a penalty of $110,000, which has now been increased to $150,000.
  • Reasonable Accommodation for those with a disability. While not new, not everyone may be familiar with exactly what falls under the umbrella of reasonable accommodation. Currently, disability is defined by HUD as individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits life activities. These impairments can include visual and hearing impairments, cancer, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, AIDS, mental illness, drug addiction, and chronic alcoholism. These additional protections include making reasonable accommodations in current property rules and policies in order to allow the disabled person to use the housing. Reasonable accommodations can range from assigning a parking space to a resident with a mobility impairment, to making an exception to a “no pets” policy to allow a visually or hearing impaired tenant to have an assistance animal. They also include things such as removing carpeting in a unit where a resident has severe chemical sensitivity. They also include giving mentally ill tenants the ability to seek treatment prior to evicting them due to violating property rules.
  • Newer buildings must abide by a different set of standards. For instance, for any buildings built after 1991 that has four or more units, kitchens and bathrooms must be able to be used by those in a wheelchair. Reinforced bathroom walls are also necessary in order to allow the future installation of grab bars. These requirements are for all 4 unit buildings that have an elevator. For buildings that do not have any elevator, these requirements extend to the ground floor units.

For more information, visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development website athttp://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD, or contact your local and state agencies for additional information.

What the Election Means to Your PM Business + Presidential Landscaping Tips

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While many property managers may be distracted by and entertained with the political elections in the U.S., now may be an auspicious time to shift our focus. How about two disparate attention targets?

First, how do the presidential elections impact the cost of housing? My research found that residential real estate prices usually falls during a closely contested presidential election year. This is also the case in the final year of a two-term presidency. In fact, if we look at the transitional years of 2000 and 2008 it becomes more obvious that this year may be a housing market depressant.

Despite the lowest interest and mortgage rates ever, housing in the hottest markets like New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle in the Pacific Northwest have already cooled down. What’s caused the drop? There are many factors including high prices and fewer qualified buyers. The economies of these ebullient areas helped support strong prices, but are they sustainable?

Also, Presidential elections usually point to big potential changes in economic and housing policies. The uncertainty tends to scare many real estate buyers and dissuade over leveraged investors. The tighter the election, the more investor unease, and buyers often sit on the sidelines until the election is over. This year’s presidential candidates are keeping this “anxiety index” to a boil. When all the votes are tallied, and if the Fed finally continues its interest rate increases, housing prices may actually drop about 2% for 2016 according to a number of industry experts. This isn’t abnormal.

No one that I’m aware of is calling for a housing bust like we experienced in 2007 through 2009. Like so many bubbles, the real estate market may be ready for a systemic pullback. Be ready for opportunities.

Now we’ll shift our attention to ideas about landscaping in autumn. A well-maintained, attractive property will keep and attract residents almost as much as a great location or a fresh coat of paint.
The falling leaves of election season need to be raked and removed. Keep your lawn areas green with a careful sprinkling of a good quality organic fertilizer. Simply said, don’t put off your lawn maintenance.

§ Arborists suggest that pruning trees, especially young ones can be a prudent idea before winter too. Pruning and shaping young trees helps them grow attractively and also promotes robust, good health.

§ Do everyone a favor and reduce the use of those loud, obnoxious lawn blowers that cause clouds of dirty air. Raking is good for grass and sweeping doesn’t take that much more time. Residents will thank you.

§ Empower your landscaping crews with well-maintained equipment. If you hire landscapers, make sure they have the kind of tools that will do a good job. Ask to see a sample of their work at other locations.

§ Although flowers may not grow well during the election season, consider putting down a fresh coat of ground cover or bark chips. Let the emphasis be on mulching tree roots with a light, colorful layer.

§ Let the autumnal period be a reminder to communicate with your clients about plans for next year. Discus the contents and ideas in this article and see what resonates with them. The weekend before the November elections daylight saving time ends. Call your clients the week before and tell them they’ll be gaining an hour on Sunday morning so they can get some extra sleep.

Everyone likes more time and some good news. Shower your clients and residents with as much as possible, and see how your business will grow in the seasons ahead. Be proactive!