Pillow Talk – Imagine

by Perry Pillow, AATC's Director of Government Affairs

John Lennon’s Imagine asks listeners to consider a world without heaven or hell; countries; possessions; or religion. Lennon envisioned a utopian society where everyone lived in peaceful harmony. John had a healthy imagination.

Have you ever considered what DFW would be like without apartments?  No residential rental property of any kind? Take a moment and contemplate how different our world would be.

First, you and I would be out of a job—so would more than 240,000 of your DFW colleagues; 720,000 thousand Texans would be unemployed; and 12.3 million individuals across the country would be without work. No maintenance staff; no leasing professionals; no assistant managers, mangers or regional managers; no corporate staff; and no supplier partners.  You may not miss your demanding asset manager or annoying vendor, but their families will miss their paychecks.

Second, 40 million people would be homeless including 2.8 million Texans and 1.3 million folks that call North Texas home.  Extremely limited housing options for students, seniors, young professionals, and skilled labor. Think 1800’s Texas. Multiple generations living under one roof. Countless homeless. People living in their cars. Third-world like shanty towns in public spaces.  Overcrowded single-family houses. Not a pretty sight.

The economic impact would be horrific. Dallas-Fort Worth apartment owners and residents contribute more than $70 million per day to the local economy—that’s $26 billion per year. Statewide, our industry accounts for more than $76 billion in positive impact to the Texas economy. Nationwide, the multifamily industry generates $1.3 trillion in economic impact.

If a DFW without apartments seems unimaginable, you need to be aware that it is goal of many citizens and local leaders throughout DFW. They truly believe apartments overcrowd schools; increase crime; drive down single-family home values; and that apartment residents do not contribute to their neighborhood. They sincerely believe that every adult should own their dwelling. They work hard to restrict future multifamily development and reduce current multifamily properties in their city. In general, they are established, single-family homeowners who view apartments and apartment residents as less-than citizens. They pay property taxes and, most importantly, they vote.

The good news is that AATC members and staff are working hard to alleviate these fears and to educate elected officials about the demand for rental housing and the positive economic impact that our industry has on the local, state, and national economies.

An effective way to overcome industry misconceptions is to personalize the need for workforce, senior, and affordable housing: the person who served your coffee this morning; the recent college grad; the downsizing senior; the knowledge entrepreneur; city workers; teachers; skilled labors; medical professionals; co-workers; friends; and family members.

Lennon-like world without apartments, one can only imagine.

MAY 4thELECTIONS AATC PAC SUPPORTED CANDIDATES: This year’s city elections are Saturday, May 4th.  AATC PAC is supporting the following candidates.

Arlington:  Mayor–Jeff Williams;District 3–Roxanne Thalman;District 4—Andrew Piel; and District 5—Ignacio Nunez.  AATC is not supporting a candidate in District 8.

Fort Worth:  Mayor—Betsy Price; District 3—Brian Byrd; District 4—Cary Moon; District 5—Gyna Bivens; District 6—Jungus Jordan; District 7—Dennis Shingleton; and District 8—Kelly Gray.  Incumbents Carlos Flores (District 2) and Ann Zadeh (District 9) are unopposed

SAVE WATER – AATC is working with the City of Fort Worth to help our members conserve water; thereby, lowering their properties’ water bill.  If you would like information on various water saving initiatives, please contact Michele Birmingham at michele.birmingham@fortworthtexas.gov or (817) 392-8206.

LEGISLATURE UPDATE– Late fees, property taxes, city fee transparency, parking permits, and flood insurance are just a few of the more than 100 bills TAA is actively tracking this legislature session. TAA is supporting HB 1519 by Rep. Phelan and SB 1414 by Sen. Hancock that clarify existing state law on late fees. These bills provide certainty by creating a safe harbor allowing an apartment owner to charge a tenant a late fee not to exceed $150 or 10% of the tenant’s monthly rent, whichever is greater. Both bills leave in place current law requiring late fees to be reasonable and provides penalties against owners who violate the law. Final, this legislation creates a clear, easy to understand standard for tenants and landlords, which is lacking in current law. To learn more about the status of specific legislation go to: https://www.taa.org/advocacy/issues/

STOP CRIME – AATC partners city police departments and Tarrant County Crime Stoppers to help reduce criminal activity throughout apartments in Tarrant County. AATC members are encouraged to build strong relationships with your local police departments Neighborhood Patrol Officers (NPO). These efforts have led to a reduction in violent crime particularly in the Las Vegas Trail area. Many cities have implemented the Crime Free Multifamily (CFMF) program.  AATC supports voluntary participation in the CFMF program. Paragraph 20 of the TAA Leaseallows AATC members to evict residents for theirs, occupants’, or guests’ criminal activities.  AATC encourages our members to promote Tarrant County Crime Stoppers (TCCS). TCCS uses information from anonymous tipsters to arrest felony offenders. In February 2019, TCCS received more than 250 tips which led to more than 30 arrests including four murder cases and the seizure of more than $15,000 in narcotics. The Crime Stoppers hotline is (817) 469-TIPS or (817) 469-8477.

CODE REPORTING – If you have a Fort Worth renter that is violating city codes (junk vehicles, trash, unruly pet, etc.) and will not respond to your requests to address the matter or a competitor that is bringing the neighborhood down, you can anonymously report their behavior to Fort Worth Code Compliance and they will investigate it. To report a potential violation  http://fortworthtexas.gov/codecompliance/online-city-services/