Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations

Source of Income Bills Introduced
Two pieces of legislation – both introduced in December in the Michigan House of Representatives – propose to add “source of income” protections in state law. First, House Bill 5287 would amend the Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act to forbid a landlord to do any of the following as it relates to source of income:

  • Deny or terminate tenancy
  • Make any distinctions or restrictions in rental price, terms, conditions, fees, or privileges
  • Attempt to discourage the lease of any rental unit
  • Assist, induce, or coerce another person to engage in a practice violating this law
  • Coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with rights granted under this law
  • Represent to a prospective or current resident that a unit is not available for inspection or rental when in fact it is available
  • Otherwise make unavailable or deny a unit.

The bill goes on to mandate that a landlord shall not publish or display any notice or ad indicating a preference or requirement based on source of income, and, that a person who “suffers a loss” as a result of violation of the law may bring a court action to recover actual damages or up to 4.5 times the monthly rent of the unit, whichever is greater, along with court costs and attorney fees.

The second bill, House Bill 5288, proposes to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. This legislation would add source of income protection to both the title and section 502 (relating to real estate transactions) of the act. An identical bill, Senate Bill 687, has been introduced in the Michigan Senate as well.

AAM strongly opposes these bills for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it would force all Michigan apartment providers to participate in the federal Section 8 housing voucher program. This program, while a fantastic way to help families in need,  was designed and codified to be voluntary – not mandatory – as it requires compliance with numerous federal rules which some apartment providers find too restrictive. AAM will work aggressively to educate our lawmakers on the impact such legislation would have on the rental property industry.

Posted in 2020, FEBRUARY 2020 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Winter Safety Tips And Slips & Falls Safety

Written By AJ Hale Jr. CSM-LSP, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Risk Manager

Obviously, driving in winter weather is a monumental safety hazard due to slippery roads and drivers around you, but there are other hazards as well:

Plowed Snow Results in Blind Spots

  • Many intersections are blind now because of high snow piles. Be extra cautious when approaching and moving through any intersection.
  • Road shoulders are practically non-existent. As road crews work toward opening these passages, take extra precaution when determining the best location to stage the vehicle.
  • Think through the possible scenarios of “other drivers” that might lose control of their vehicles and what that means to you.
  • Always wear your reflective vest or jacket, especially when working along a roadway.
  • There are a lot more hours of darkness during the winter months. Heavy cloud cover will cause dusk to settle in earlier making you hard to see.
  • Sometimes in the rush of getting our work done, the sense of urgency overwhelms our thought processes about safe driving. Slow down, anticipate other drivers and be aware of the changing conditions. Never assume anything.
  • Exercise caution when getting in and out of vehicles. Walk slowly and deliberately.
  • Wear boots or other slip-resistant footwear.
  • Be prepared for black ice formation after melting occurs.
Extreme Weather Driving

  • There are several general rules for driving safely in extreme weather.
  • Start out earlier and allow extra time when weather conditions are difficult.
  • Turn on your headlights lights so you can see better and so that other drivers can see you better.
  • Slow down and match your speed to the weather conditions rather than the posted speed.
  • Stay alert and watch out for other drivers and dangerous road conditions.
  • Increase following distance from 2 seconds to at least 4 seconds.
  • Prepare for stops so you can bring your vehicle to a halt quickly but safely.
  • Get off the road to a safe place like a rest stop or turnout if weather conditions get so bad that it is unsafe to continue.

Slips & Falls Safety

Have you fallen and you can’t get up? Those timeless commercials probably make you roll your eyes, but falls are actually the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in adults 45 and older. Not only do falls happen any time of year, but winters in the Midwest can be especially rough. We are often hit with the wombo-combo of snow, freezing temperatures and extreme wind. While the ice sculptures Mother Nature creates are pretty when you’re indoors, facing the treacherous walk from your office to your car, or helping a client, can become an Olympic sport.

Since very few people are trained Olympic ice skaters, it’s important to think about fall prevention techniques before winter becomes even colder. Most adults who fracture a bone do so because of a fall. Protect yourself from trips and slips with these winter safety tips.

Look Before You Step
The best way to keep from falling is to watch where you are stepping. If that wet patch up ahead looks like it might be ice, avoid it. It’s also important to look ahead at what you might be walking into. Move slowly and examine your surroundings. Find the path of least resistance, or in this case, the least snow-covered ice.

Watch the Floors
Even after you have made it inside, watch out for places that other people have walked. Snow and ice from other people’s shoes will most likely have melted into lovely, brown messes on the floor. Mix that in with tile or linoleum, and you have a recipe for disaster. Watch where you are walking for your first few steps inside to avoid these potential slipping hazards.

Wear the Right Shoes
Even if you are required to wear dress shoes to work, high heels and ice don’t mix. Wear boots with rough or textured soles to trek through the snow and ice. These boots will give you much more traction than any dress shoe. While changing into and out of different shoes might seem like a hassle, it’s much more important to protect yourself from falling.

Use Handrails
Whether you’re inside or outside, handrails are available to you for a reason. Think of the mid‐west like an ice skating rink. Seems pretty accurate, right? Well, ice skating rinks have railings! They obviously work. Whenever a railing is available to you, use it. Railings have been proven to keep people upright when they begin to slip.

Relax
Tensing up when you fall can actually cause you to injure yourself more. While it sounds impossible, relaxing and keeping yourself from fighting the fall can prevent serious injuries from happening. If you are falling forward, try to roll with the fall. If you are falling backward, attempt to sit down on your bottom.

Use Salt & Floor Mats
After a snow or ice storm, be sure to use salt, ice melt or sand to increase traction on sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. Make sure floor mats are located at entrance way doors. This additional traction can be a deciding factor in whether or not you slip and fall.

Winter in the Midwest can be beautiful, and dangerous. Protect yourself by keeping these winter safety tips in mind. Accidents happen, and in the event that you do fall, report the incident to your supervisor right away. 

Should you require assistance with understanding or applying the OSHA or MIOSHA Standards, please contact AJ Hale, CompOne Administrators Inc./Rizikon, at 269-789-9166 or ajhale@compone.net
Posted in 2020, JANUARY 2020, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Winter Safety Tips And Slips & Falls Safety

Advocacy Update

WRITTEN BY FORREST WALL, CAE, STAFF VICE PRESIDENT AND INDUSTRY RELATIONS

Emotional Support Animal Bills Gain Support
As you may recall from my October article, AAM is supporting a two-bill legislative effort in the Michigan House of Representatives to strengthen state law to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal (ESA). I am pleased to report the legislation recently passed the House Regulatory Reform Committee and is gaining support as it now is being considered by the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 4910, introduced on September 3rd, would create the “Misrepresentation of Emotional Support Animals Act.” This bill provides a definitional framework for state law, bars individuals and health care providers from falsely representing a disability or possession of an ESA, allows for documentation requests by housing providers, provides requirements for health care providers who prescribe ESAs, and includes criminal penalties for violations of the law. House Bill 4911, would amend the Revised Judicature Act to support termination of a lease for misrepresentation of an emotional support animal. Modifications to the bills are possible as the industry continues to work with medical interests who have expressed concerns with parts of the legislation.

AAM Board Vice President Karlene Lehman of Princeton Enterprises expertly testified in support of the legislation before both House committees. Thank you Karlene for volunteering so much of your time to advocate for the rental property industry!

E
mergency Contact Legislation Introduced
A measure which would protect residents and property owners who request emergency services has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives. House Bill 5154 would prohibit local units of government from enacting any ordinance which would penalize a resident or property owner for contacting the police or emergency services in situations where it is believed abuse or a crime is taking place, or if it is believed there is some type of emergency. The legislation also allows a property owner or resident to bring civil action against the local unit of government which attempts to enforce such an ordinance.
Posted in 2020, JANUARY 2020 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations
ESA Issue Active On Both State & Federal Levels

As you may have read in my October article, legislation was introduced in September in the Michigan House of Representatives to strengthen state law to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal. This legislation is now joined by identical bills in the Michigan Senate – Senate Bills 608 and 610 – introduced by Sen. Dale Zorn (R-17th District). Both the House legislation and the Senate versions recently started the legislative process with hearings before the House Regulatory Reform Committee and the Senate Local Government Committee. AAM Board Member Karlene Lehman of Princeton Enterprises testified at both hearings in support of the legislation. Ms. Lehman provided compelling evidence of the fraudulent documentation currently available, as well as the need for better standards under the law and penalties for those who falsely represent a need for an emotional support animal. Thank you for your advocacy on this issue, Karlene!

On a federal level, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has requested the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate websites which sell questionable assistance animal (includes both emotional support and service animals) documentation. In a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons, Secretary Carson stated, “These certificates are not an acceptable substitute for authentic documentation provided by medical professionals when appropriate.” This action is certainly a step in the right direction, but ultimately revised guidance from HUD is needed to further limit abuses of the law.

Amendments to Elliott-Larsen Act Introduced

Two bills have recently been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. House Bill 5157 proposes to amend both the title and section 502 of the act (relating to real estate transactions) to add victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to the protected classes under the statute. The second piece of legislation, House Bill 5224, would also amend both the title and section 502 to include military status. These bills join Senate Bill 351, introduced earlier this year, which would amend the act to include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression among the protected classes under the law. Currently, Michigan’s civil rights law prohibits discrimination in real estate transactions on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, familial status, and marital status.
Posted in 2019, DECEMBER 2019 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations

Uniform Assignment of Rents Legislation Proposed

Legislation introduced in October in the Michigan House of Representatives would provide for a uniform act covering assignment of rents. House Bill 5086, sponsored by Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo), would create the “Michigan Uniform Assignment of Rents Act.” The purpose of the legislation is to create one act providing for the creation, perfection, and enforcement of security interests in rents, while at the same time repealing other sections of law currently covering this. The basis for this legislation comes from the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), which in 2005 released a model version for proposed adoption by every state in the U.S. The ULC is an organization made up of practicing lawyers, judges, legislators and law professors, all of whom are appointed by state governments. ULC seeks to draft model legislation for certain areas of critical state law in an effort to create uniformity and save states from the cost of preparing legislation themselves. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for action.

 

HUD Proposes Revision to Disparate Impact Rule
In August, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a proposal to amend its original rule interpreting the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard. Disparate impact is a controversial legal theory, formalized in the 2013 HUD rule which prohibits neutrally-applied practices with a disproportionate impact on protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, even without proving intent to discriminate. A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. upheld the validity of disparate impact liability but highlighted limitations to that liability. The goal of the proposed rule is to align with the limitations cited in the majority ruling in that case to provide more appropriate guidance on what constitutes unlawful disparate impact.
Posted in 2019, NOVEMBER 2019 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update