Sunday, July 29, 2012


The Cap and Trade Bill is bad for the housing market and especially bad for landlords and tenants! Below are some questions I answered for a internationally known editor and photojournalist that is doing an article on this bill.

Essentially HR 2454 is a Cap and Trade Bill that will require you to retrofit all of your property and make it energy efficient to comply with revised building standards. Insulation, double pane windows, energy efficient Heat Pumps, storm windows and doors, etc. You will not be allowed to sell it if you don't retrofit it. It was introduced in 2009, then amended and re-introduced in 2012, where it passed the House and is currently before Committee in the Senate!!!

Since the vast majority of energy efficiency incentives for Va homeowners expired in 2011, how do you and your associates feel about the Cap and Trade Bill that will require E E updates to homes?

We strongly believe in our free market system as that is the foundation of this great country. It's not a wise idea to impose regulations upon it that will further harm the housing industry.

Supply and demand governs our economic system. In order to increase demand of items that are cost prohibitive, there has to be a payoff. Either the price of these energy efficient items decrease via federal and state tax breaks to companies that produce them or the government continues to offer rebates to those who purchase them. This will spur a higher production level which will in turn decrease costs to produce which will be passed on to the consumer in industries that are required to compete with each other to survive.

Would you urge our Senators to include amendments to the current Bill that will assist landlords in outfitting homes to comply with the new EE requirements?
How do you think it will affect our housing market in Roanoke since most of our homes are older - either historic or the glut built in the 60's and 70's?
In this economy, how do you think it will affect Landlords and those purchasing property for rentals?

Reducing our dependance on foreign oil should be a priority as it is a national security issue. Allowing drilling permits and development of new technology such as effectively using hydrogen and or ethanol alcohol etc will take care of that. Most of the energy used within our homes is from coal, natural gas and nuclear, all of which are from American companies that employ American people. Saving energy in these areas is also wise but should not be confused with the real objective of reducing our dependance on foreign oil.

The Cap and Trade bill requires that all new homes have to fall within the new energy standards in order to be sold. This will have a negative impact and stall the growth of the new home and building construction industry across the United States.

If this bill is enforced on existing properties it will completely crush the real estate market and the economy again along with it.

It is advisable that our senators and house members both on a federal and state level continue to offer tax rebate programs to assist property owners in making energy efficient products a reality so older homes can be economically retrofitted with energy efficient products. These tax rebates should extend to small business owners and landlords as well as these energy efficient products will directly result in trickle down economics and the end user low income tenant will reap the benefits.

How do you feel as a landlord, and one with multiple properties, that it will affect your tenants if you have to refit their rentals with Energy Efficient updates?

As a landlord, retrofitting multiple properties will require financing to do so. Financing that is difficult to come by with the currant market conditions. Those that are able to obtain financing will be forced to substantially raise rents across the board to cover the costs of the loan and it's interest. Those who can not obtain financing will be in violation of the law and will not have the financial means for compliance.

It is critical that there are amendments to what is currently proposed to protect landlords so the cost doesn't have to be passed along to tenants in an already bad economy.

Dallas Powell, VP REI of Virginia

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Western Virginia Water Authority - Full Frontal Attack On YOU!!!

The Western Virginia Water Authority LOVES Landlords as we are the new guarantee that all bills will be paid eventually...

The Western Virginia Water Authority has asked me to send this information to you as they have now stepped up their game and have decided that you as the landlord of a tenant that did not pay their water bill will be the victim due to the passing of HB 567.

As you know, landlords have been legislatively made responsible for paying a tenants unpaid water bill even though the Water Authority has a contract between themselves and the tenant and not with you. Billing a third party for a product or service that they had no beneficial use of is not morally or ethically right. 

The New Attack On Landlords Includes: (Effective July 1st 2012)
A. The Authority is now requiring you to provide an authorization form that signs the property owners rights away acknowledging that there is a contract between you and the water authority rather than just between them and the tenant. And if you don't they have decided that they will not allow water at your rental property essentially shutting down your business. THEY WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO RENT YOUR PROPERTY WITHOUT GIVING THEM THIS AUTHORIZATION FORM.

B. If the landlord has a lien put on their property from a tenant that did not pay their water bill, and the lien has been on the property for at least 2 months, they can shut down the landlords business by refusing to turn the water on until the tenants delinquent bill is paid. They say they are not enforcing this provision right now but we all know they eventually will.

C. The Authority now no longer has to get a judgement against the tenant which was legally required before. The Authority previously told REI of Virginia that they refuse to do so due to the cost of taking their customer to court, a cost that landlords have to face on a regular basis in order to evict a non paying tenant. There will be no way for a landlord to tell when doing a background check if they are renting to a new tenant that has previously not paid a water bill at another property.

D. There is an increase of a court filing fee to the landlord from $2.00 to $5.00 which will be added to the lien amount.

E. The Authority can now add an additional 20% to the tenants unpaid water bill in what they will call a "collection fee" in order to stick it to the property owner after the tenant doesn't pay their water bill. And the Authority can charge interest on top of that. The Authority appears to have decided that they will charge the collection fee but won't charge interest at this time.

F. When the lien is released the Authority will mail the landlord a notarized lien release form which you can take down to the courthouse and have recorded yourself to release the lien. The Clerk can not charge the landlord for doing this at this point in time.

G. The Authority will put the lien on the landlords property after they have submitted the tenants debt to the State's Set-Off Debt Collection Program which I believe is where the state attempts to take the money out of the tenants tax return. Do not pay any lien until this point as it appears that this is their ONLY means of debt collection from the tenant.

H. The Authority can not legally file a lien for less than $25. The Authority is allowed to let the tenant build up a delinquent bill for 3 straight months. Any lien that small is not foreseeable due to this. The maximum that the authority can charge a landlord for is 3 months of delinquent tenant water bills. The Authority has made no decision to cut the water off at the drop of a hat due to non payment.

I. Your tenants water deposit in this new "Program" will be $150. THE AUTHORITY IS REQUIRED BY LAW TO COLLECT A SECURITY DEPOSIT THAT WILL COVER NO LESS THAN 3 AND NO MORE THAN 5 MONTHS OF YOUR TENANT NOT PAYING THEM. Apparently the Authority feels that the average water bill can not go over $150 in 3 month period of non payment and abuse by your tenant.

J. When the property is sold, the lien's rank as high as unpaid taxes so they will have to be paid before the mortgage gets paid. They are at a higher priority than the mortgage.

K. If your tenant has Section 8 or is on ANY kind of Need Based local, state or federal rental assistance, the Water Authority will not be able to legally charge them a deposit so ALL of their delinquent bill will be paid by the landlord.

So what is a landlord in Greater Roanoke to do? You can put all water bills in your name and raise your rents across the board to cover tenant abuse and non payment of water..... You can charge up to 2 months worth of rent for a deposit which hopefully will cover any liens that you may get however in these trying times it's hard enough for someone to come up with one month security deposit.... Are you going to have to change your rental criteria? Unfortunately this new "Program" makes it difficult to rent to those who get "needs based rental assistance" such as Section 8, etc. since they don't have to pay a water deposit and all delinquint bills will be paid by the property owner.


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