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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Three for Thursday 7/16/20 – Government Affairs Update

Local –

  • Columbus REALTORS® Government Affairs Forum featuring Congresswoman Beatty and Congressman Stivers & Balderson – SAVE THE DATE
    • August 13th at 9:00a.m.
    • Will be held virtually
    • Registration will begin next Thursday
  • Government Affairs Forum members will have first access
    • We are bringing back our Biennial event with our Members of Congress. With all that’s happening in DC, this will be a value add forum you will want to be attend (virtually).
  • Columbus REALTORS® Government Affairs Forum Politics & Policy Forecast – SAVE THE DATE
    • September 16th at 9:30 a.m.
  • Rescheduled from late March
    • Will be held virtually
    • Registration will begin next Thursday
  • Government Affairs Forum members will have first access
  • City accused of housing discrimination (City of Delaware, OH) via Delaware Gazette
    • Seattle House LLC filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court Monday against the City of Delaware, alleging the city’s capacity fees are illegal and discriminatory, which has led to the city’s “affordable housing crisis.”

Westerville-based Seattle House LLC purchased 24.2 acres on the city’s east side across from Glennwood Commons and developed the Seattle House Apartments on the property, which consists of 240 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The developer’s attorney, Joseph R. Miller, states in the complaint that in order to tap into the city’s water and sewer lines, the city imposed “arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful fees” on Seattle House totaling $1,917,883.

Miller goes on to state Seattle House contracted an independent third party to look into how the city calculated the nearly $2 million in fees. The investigation, he adds, argues Seattle House’s total fees should have been $693,881, and the city “overcharged” the developer by more than $1.2 million.

Miller states the fees are discriminatory and violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

    • “We are confident that these claims lack merit and the city will ultimately prevail,” Yoakum said. “As in any community boasting a high share of multi-family housing developments and exceptional water and sewer service, individuals and entities utilizing these services are asked to pay their fair share. Our city uses a well-established method to determine these fees and allocate costs that is used by many of our neighbors. We strongly object to a prominent developer’s attempt to derive profit from a baseless housing discrimination claim.”
    • NOTE: This is a matter of information as it’s relevant to our industry and something we’ll be watching closely.

Federal –

The ad—highlighting that NAR’s strict Code of Ethics goes beyond federal anti-discrimination laws and stresses honesty and fairness in housing—marks the first phase of NAR’s fair housing initiative. In addition, a sponsorship package in Politico’s “Playbook” newsletter will run next week. “In these unprecedented times, fairness and efforts to eliminate discrimination have never been more top of mind with consumers,” NAR President Vince Malta said in a statement. “For decades, NAR has been committed to, and fought for, making housing fair for all. And yet, many don’t realize the broad scope of NAR’s commitment against all forms of discrimination in housing, giving us a key moment of opportunity to own this commitment to fair housing in a public way.

“An initiative like this is made even more powerful with you—to stand behind it and bring it to life,” Malta noted. “We encourage members, brokerages, associations, and everyone in the REALTOR® family to join us as a champion of fair housing by leveraging these materials, sharing this message, and amplifying this important effort.”

NAR plans to build on the momentum of this first phase by launching a second phase of the fair housing initiative in September, extending into additional channels to make consumers aware of what discrimination looks like in housing. NAR also plans to collect real estate stories to help raise awareness around cases of housing disparity and discrimination.

  • COVID-19 raises legal concerns related to evictions and fair housing. Via REALTOR® Magazine
    • COVID-19 has altered the rulebook for property managers and investment property owners for the foreseeable future. Balancing the pressures faced by tenants struggling to pay rent due to job loss with your need to keep up with expenses and safety measures presents distinct challenges. Two of the biggest concerns affecting rental properties are the patchwork of eviction moratoriums and the unique fair housing issues and disability protections related to COVID-19. Here’s how to navigate these issues.

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