Chapter 27 Ordinance Passes – For over a year, AAGD worked with Dallas staff and the Council on the extensive proposed changes to Chapter 27 in their Code of Ordinances – the chapter that contains all of the minimum housing standards that rental housing owners must comply with. All that work came to a climax on September 28, 2016 when the Council voted 12-1 to approve the final revisions to the Code.
The new regulations will take many months to be fully understood by those that must comply, but the highlights to note in the new code are:
- The code now includes a mandatory inspection program for the approximately 50,000 single-family rental homes and condominiums. Dwellings must be inspected once every five years. The annual registration fee will be $21 and the landlord must file an affidavit attesting to the property condition.
- The annual registration fee for multi-family units will remain at $6 per unit.
- An employee of a single dwelling unit has five days to provide the owner’s name, address, and phone number before being held personally liable for any violations of the code.
- “An owner who enters into a written lease shall, upon the occupant’s request, provide the occupant with a written lease in the occupant’s primary language, if the primary language is English, Spanish, or Vietnamese.” (*AAGD is working with TAA to provide a legal translation of the lease into Vietnamese. The lease itself is the only document that must be translated. These forms will be available to members only and will be available in January, 2017.)
- “An owner shall provide, and maintain, in operating condition, refrigerated air equipment capable of maintaining a room temperature of at least 15 degrees cooler than the outside temperature, but in no event higher than 85 degrees F. in each room. It is a defense to prosecution that at least one habitable room is 85 degrees F., if the outside temperature is over 110 degrees F.” Providing screens as an alternative to air conditioning has been eliminated from the code.
- In the same vein, heat must be provided capable of maintaining a room temperature of at least 15 degrees warmer than the outside temperature, but in no event lower than 68 degrees.
- Hot water must be supplied that will reach a minimum temperature of 110 degrees F. measured at the water outlet. (This was reduced from 120 degrees).
- New exterior lighting will be required, for purposes of crime prevention, along pedestrian pathways, at stairwells, along breezeways, and at cluster mailboxes. The overall illumination must be four foot-candles for the exterior lighting.
- Bed bugs were not separated out with their own remediation requirements, as first feared. Instead, they are included with all “infestations.” Now the code requires that an owner of a rental dwelling “shall eliminated the infestation using a person licensed under the Texas Structural Pest Control Act, and repair any condition that contributes to an infestation.” TAA members will still be able to use the TAA Bed Bug Addendum which outlines responsibilities and liabilities for the expense.
- The occupancy limit was revised from 100 square feet of habitable floor space for each occupant to reflect the Texas Property Code, Section 92.010, which allows 3 adults per bedroom. (Since this is a maximum number, the owner is always free to lease to fewer than 3 adults per bedroom, except in the case of a “family” under fair housing rules.)
- These items must now be posted in a conspicuous place in a common area of the property: 1.) the certificate of inspection; and 2.) the property’s score from its most recent graded inspection as well as an information sheet explaining how the graded inspection is scored, which will be provided by Code Enforcement.
- An owner or property manager must employ a full-time manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of a property is it has 60 units or more. (We have been informed that one full-time manager may oversee more than one property, as long as they are available when needed on each property in the event of an inspection or emergency.)
- The registration form will require much more information. The new form will want contact information for:
- The owner of the rental property
- The person or persons who can be contacted 24 hours a day
- The holder of any deed of trust or mortgage lien on the property
- Any agent, employee, officer, or property manager in control of or operating the rental property.
- The form of the entity, including a corporation, general partnership, limited partnership, trust, or limited liability company
- The location of the business records
- The official recording information for the owner’s deed or other information evidencing ownership.
- A list of all businesses, whether for-profit or non-profit, operating out of the property
- A copy of the owner’s driver’s license or other government-issued identification card.
- The Code Department will conduct a graded inspection of each multi-family rental property at least once every three years, but not more frequently than once a year. They shall conduct single-family inspections at least once every five years, but not more frequently than once a year.
- Re-inspection of the exterior will be $20 for each separate multi-family structure inspected. A re-inspection of the interior of a multi-family unit will be $46 for each unit that is re-inspected. The initial inspection of a single dwelling rental unit will be $110 per unit, and $43 for the re-inspection. (This fee is separate and in addition to the registration fee.)
AAGD is working with the City of Dallas to provide a workshop that will review all the changes to the ordinance. The ordinance has been approved and will take effect January 1, 2017. Please feel free to call Kathy Carlton at the AAGD office with any questions.
Dallas Council Approves Limited Source of Income – The Dallas Housing Committee, chaired by Councilman Scott Griggs, has been working for months on what to include in the city’s new Housing Policies. This document will serve as a guide for all decisions related to housing, and especially the development of affordable housing options to comply with several HUD mandates. The policies are not complete, but it was decided to move forward with one aspect of the policies – that related to Source of Income (SOI).
AAGD joined forces with TREC, who had serious concerns about some of the mandates that were included in the published draft of the overall policies. AAGD and TREC submitted a joint position paper detailing the potential problems that the policies would cause with future development.
The City Council considered the recommendations of the Housing Committee at their meeting on October 26. The original option presented by the committee would have been to make SOI a protected class, regardless of any state law prohibiting it. Fortunately, that option was defeated. A subsequent option was introduced that mirrors state law, and which passed. The ordinance makes holders of VASH vouchers a protected class under the fair housing ordinance, and will require that ANY rental owner may not turn down a VASH (Veterans Assistance) housing voucher, if the resident meets other standard rental criteria. The ordinance took effect immediately upon passage. Although there are less than 100 veterans with unused VASH vouchers, you need to know about the new requirement to avoid any sort of fair housing claim.
Included in a last-minute amendment, the ordinance also contains wording that states: “Multifamily housing accommodations that benefit from a financial award approved by the city council (includes tax abatements)…shall set aside at least 10 percent of the dwelling units and solely lease those dwelling units to holders of housing vouchers…for a minimum of 15 years.” This will have a very serious impact on new high-end developments in Dallas.
AAGD will hold a joint training session with the Veterans Administration and Dallas Housing Authority, who administer the vouchers, for our members on how to comply with the ordinance, should a potential resident present you with a VASH voucher. Watch the AAGD website or future Rooflines for the date of that seminar.