Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Resources
Updated September 24, 2017
Here are some resources from the Texas Apartment Association, the American Red Cross and others to help property owners deal with the impact from the storm. Property owners and managers may find these resources useful.
Please be Aware: We have heard that individuals claiming to be with FEMA are contacting managers asking for resident’s personal information over the phone. We have spoken to FEMA and been told this is a SCAM. Do not give ANY information over the phone!
Our Hurricane Harvey Forum 90-minute webinar which took place on September 21, 2017 offered rental property owners, managers and supplier partners in the industry an opportunity to get the latest information on response to the storm and what comes next. Click below for the full recording, to view the PowerPoint presentation from the webinar or listen to excerpts that address FEMA resources and special information for tax-credit properties.
Here are some resources for listing or finding available housing. We will add similar portals or resources to this list as available.
ALN (focused more on availability outside of Houston; includes information on rent deals and fee specials)
MRI Software (A link is available for non-client companies to request to be added to this listing)
Yardi/RentCafe Those seeking housing can also call the Yardi/RentCafe toll-free hotline: 844/363-6317
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs resources for listing and finding affordable reduced rent housing options
Financial assistance from the American Red Cross: The new American Red Cross immediate assistance program provides $400 to qualified households affected by Harvey. Registration for this program is available through October 10, 2017.
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs resources for listing and finding affordable reduced rent housing options
HoustonRecovers.org; links to resources where you can volunteer, donate and register for assistance; updates from City Hall
Sheltering and immediate assistance available (Department of Homeland Security info)
Texas law prohibits charging excessive or exorbitant fees for certain life necessities, including housing, following a disaster. The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection line accepts price-gouging complaints.
Properties that use dynamic pricing should be careful not to automatically adjust rents in a way that may be perceived as price gouging. Here is the relevant state law:
Section 17.46(b) of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act provides that it is a false, misleading or deceptive act or practice to take advantage of a disaster declared by the Governor under Chapter 418, Government Code, by:
- Selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or
- Demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine or another necessity.
Rental property owners should keep their property’s current situation in mind when dealing with September 1 rental due dates. Under the TAA Lease, there is no obligation to abate rent or accept late rent, but nothing precludes TAA members from voluntarily abating all or part of the rent as a gesture of goodwill and compassion.
Considerations may include the extent of damage on your property, the availability of your staff to accept rental payments, your plans to repair damage, as well as other factors. Ultimately, this is a business decision.
If you believe that catastrophic damage is substantial, or that performance of needed repairs poses a danger to residents, Paragraph 26.5 of the TAA Lease allows the owner to terminate the lease by giving residents at least 5 days’ written notice.
The Texas Property Code does not dictate how this notice should be delivered. You should attempt to deliver the notice to the resident by the best available means that will allow you an opportunity to prove that notice was delivered. See “Rental Housing Owners’ Rights and Legal Responsibilities after a Natural Disaster or Other Catastrophe.”
Filing insurance claims promptly when able is important, but there is a rash of misinformation circulating concerning a change in Texas law that takes effect September 1. While damage assessments and documentation are key to both relief efforts and the claims process, protecting life and property should be your primary concern when conditions are still dangerous.
HB 1774, designed to limit lawsuit abuses in weather-related cases, goes into effect on September 1. According to the Texas Insurance Council, under this new property litigation law:
- The claims process for filing a claim has not changed. The new law only impacts lawsuits filed after September 1, when there is a dispute between the insured and the insurer.
- Consumers still have all legal remedies available under consumer protection laws in the event an insurer engages in bad-faith conduct.
- The Texas Department of Insurance is available to handle any complaints about insurers.
- The new law does not take away any right to sue and does not diminish any cause of action that a person has against an insurance company. HB 1774 does, however, require notice before a lawsuit is filed, and makes some other changes that impact lawsuits against insurers, including the penalty interest rate.
- The pre-lawsuit notice is effective for all “actions filed on and after the effective date, which is September 1, 2017.” Any lawsuit filed after September 1, 2017, would be governed by the new law.
HB 1774 also only affects homeowners’ insurance claims, which does not cover flood or wind damage claims.
TAA members should contact their insurance companies directly to file claims, and work with your adjuster to identify all damages and coverages.
Here are some resources that may be useful to independent owners, as well as others.
Webinar on how to tackle the storm’s aftermath: This webinar by TAA member John Ridgway, CPM, was developed for his colleagues with Lifestyles Unlimited and includes practical information owners may find useful as they begin the recovery process. The link to this webinar is provided as a tool to assist our members in a time of need. TAA cannot endorse or verify recommendations made in the webinar. We encourage our members to seek advice from qualified experts if they have questions regarding topics discussed in the webinar. We appreciate John’s willingness to share this resource with other TAA members.
IRS disaster assistance and emergency relief for small business owners, self-employed individuals.
The Texas Association of Business is offering assistance to business owners via a hotline during normal business hours. Call 512/637-7714 or email email@example.com.
The state Comptroller’s office has compiled information for taxpayers affected by the storm, including details on:
- how to request an extension of filing tax returns;
- the temporary waiver of state and local hotel tax for disaster victims and relief workers; and
- certain sales tax exemptions available as a result of a declared natural disaster.
For more information, please visit Declared Natural Disasters and Emergencies Tax Help.
For the 2017 franchise tax reports with valid extensions to Nov. 15, the Comptroller’s office is granting an automatic extension to Jan. 5, 2018, to businesses located in the federally declared disaster area in Texas. Businesses located in these counties do not need to request an extension for their franchise tax reports.
Service providers who file franchise tax reports on behalf of other taxpayers can request a franchise tax extension if the provider is affected by Hurricane Harvey and is located in the federally declared disaster area in Texas. See How to Request an Extension below.
The Comptroller’s office is granting businesses located in the federally declared disaster area in Texas that are not required to report (file) electronically an automatic 30-day extension to complete the following sales and use tax reports:
- August monthly reports due Sept. 20
- Quarterly reports due Oct. 20
Taxpayers are not required to report electronically if they paid less than $50,000 in sales and use tax in the preceding state fiscal year (Sept. 1 to Aug. 31). Taxpayers located in the federally declared disaster area in Texas who are not required but choose to report electronically will also receive the automatic extension.
Taxpayers required to electronically report sales and use tax and taxpayers reporting other tax types may request a 30-day extension of time to file if located in the federally declared disaster area in Texas. Taxpayers affected by Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma located in disaster areas outside of Texas may also request a 30-day extension of time to file.
How to Request an Extension
An affected business must request the extension either by calling the Comptroller’s Taxpayer Services line at 800-252-5555 or emailing ExtensionRequests@cpa.texas.gov and provide the following information:
- taxpayer name
- taxpayer number
- name of person making request
- email or phone contact information of person making request
- tax type(s) for which extension is requested
- affected filing period
Extension requests due to disasters are handled on a case-by-case basis. The taxpayer will be notified when an extension request is granted or denied.
Elevator, escalators, boilers information from TDLR; licensed mold remediation professionals in Texas
Was Your Elevator or Escalator Damaged During Harvey?
If your elevator or escalator was damaged or submerged, then it is important that the equipment be assessed by a TDLR-licensed Elevator Contractor prior to being placed back into operation.
TEMPORARY SUSPENSION of Expedited Plan Review Fees for Equipment Located in Affected Counties
If alterations are required for your elevator, escalator, and related equipment (not routine maintenance and service), then the equipment alterations must be submitted to TDLR for plan review.
To help with Harvey recovery efforts, TDLR will expedite plan reviews from the affected counties identified in Governor Greg Abbott’s disaster proclamation. TDLR is suspending the $1,000 Expedited Review Fee and only charging the standard Plan Review Fee of $200. Please coordinate with your TDLR-licensed Elevator Contractor on how to properly designate your plan review submittal.
TEMPORARY SUSPENSION of Removed from Service Fees for Equipment Located in Affected Counties
If damage to your elevator, escalator, and related equipment will delay obtaining your required annual inspection, you may request that the equipment be Removed from Service without having to pay the $20 fee. Please coordinate with your TDLR-licensed Elevator Inspector on how to properly submit your Removed from Service request and have the equipment locked out in accordance with our Administrative Rules.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-803-9202 between 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CDT Monday through Friday.
Boiler system information
Licensed mold remediation professionals
Licensed mold remediation professionals in Texas (Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; businesses offering mold services must be licensed and/or registered with the state of Texas)
This information may be useful for you or your residents:
- Apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance Help & Resources
- Call FEMA at 800/621-3362 or 800/462-6585
- Find FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers
- FEMA Harvey rumor control website
- FEMA Federal Aid Programs for the State of Texas
- Financial assistance from the American Red Cross: The new American Red Cross immediate assistance program provides $400 to qualified households affected by Harvey. Registration for this program is available through October 10, 2017.
- Disaster unemployment assistance
- Disaster loan assistance (for homeowners and businesses) from the Small Business Administration
- Harris County Flood Control District, 713/684-4020: information line for potential home buyout program
- Help after Harvey Texas Department of Insurance information
- Harris County Business Recovery Center, University of Houston Small Business Development Center, Region Office, 2302 Fannin St., Suite 200, Houston, TX 77002. The center’s current hours are Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
- The Texas Association of Business is offering assistance to business owners via a hotline during normal business hours. Call 512/637-7714 or email email@example.com.
- HoustonRecovers.org; links to resources where you can volunteer, donate and register for assistance; updates from City Hall
- IRS disaster assistance and emergency relief for small business owners, self-employed individuals
- IRS extensions for certain individuals and business owners in affected areas
- The State Bar of Texas legal hotline – 800/504-7030 – helps people find answers to basic legal questions and connects them with local legal aid providers following declared disasters. Learn more at texasbar.com/disasters.
- Office of the Attorney General Tips on Avoiding Disaster Scams
- Office of the Texas Governor – Texas Hurricane Center
- Texas Extension Disaster Education Network provides information on cleaning and drying flood-damaged homes, emergency food and water supplies, post-flooding safety precautions and other topics. It also has a number of instructional videos on handling flood recovery.
- Licensed mold remediation professionals in Texas (Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; businesses offering mold services must be licensed and/or registered with the state of Texas)
- Public health and safety information
- Red Cross emergency shelters—Find a shelter
- Texas Department of Transportation Road Conditions
- TDHCA disaster relief resources for individuals and families
- Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation information on recovering boiler systems after a flood
- Preparation Information from the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network
- Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell NAA:
- How have you been impacted by Harvey or Irma?
- Are you accessing federal recovery resources through FEMA, the Small Business Administration or other federal agencies? What has been your experience?
- What are the remaining obstacles to bringing your apartment community or rental housing property back to full operation?
Your information and specific examples will assist NAA in communicating with federal lawmakers and other authorities.
The Texas Apartment Association is making a $10,000 donation to the American Red Cross to assist with Harvey relief efforts. The National Apartment Association also has pledged $10,000 to the American Red Cross.
If you’d like to help contribute to Harvey relief efforts, text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief or visit The American Red Cross.
Please share any of your industry efforts with TAA and NAA by emailing Michelle Helmers at TAA (email@example.com) or NAA (firstname.lastname@example.org). Consider sharing your efforts on TAA’s Facebook page and tag any related social media posts #HelpForHouston.
Rental housing owners’ rights and legal responsibilities after a natural disaster or other catastrophe: This article outlines a property owners options following disaster-caused damage to the property.
Questions & Answers about property damage caused by a natural disaster: Answers to some common questions that arise following natural disasters.
“Termination Notice Due to Natural Disaster or Catastrophe”: This form permits the owner to end the lease contract early and regain possession of the badly damaged unit so that repairs and remediation can be undertaken.
“Termination Notice Due to Natural Disaster or Catastrophe for TDHCA-Regulated Affordable Housing”:This notice complies with rules for affordable housing regulated by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
“Emergency Post-Disaster/Post-Catastrophe Notice to Our Residents”: Sample notice to advise residents of steps to be taken by owner and residents following a disaster.
“Lease Addendum Allowing Temporary Increased Occupancy Because of Fire, Natural Disaster or Catastrophe”: This notice permits a temporary increase in occupancy (say, allowing family members or friends not typically on the lease) as a result of a disaster.
TAA Disaster Preparedness Guide includes tools and resources to help your apartment community be prepared for the quickest possible response when a disaster or emergency occurs, including issues arising from flooding.
The guide includes checklists and tools for responding to some of the most common natural and man-made disasters and emergencies.
The guide also provides:
- Best practice suggestions on communication with employees, residents and the media;
- An emergency contact information template;
- General procedures that apply to all emergencies; and
- Things to consider after a disaster strikes.
Disaster preparedness tips and reminders (May 2017 newsletter article): This article includes helpful tips and resources to help members cope with crises and limit their impact.
“Notice to Community Residents about Hurricane Warning”: This sample notice can be provided to residents to advise them of preparations to take in advance of the storm.
Download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on mobile devices, including emergency weather alerts and information on what to do in the case of a flood. The app also displays shelter locations.
For your residents, the app includes tips on how to assemble an emergency kit in the event of a power outage or evacuation, an “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know they’re okay, and a real-time map to help find the location of Red Cross shelters should they need to leave their home. The app has a Spanish language toggle switch and can be downloaded by visiting redcross.org/apps.
If someone is coming to a shelter and has time to prepare, they should bring any prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. If possible, they should also include any special items for children such as diapers, formula and toys, and items needed by family members with unique needs.
For more information on what to do before, during and after a flood, please visit redcross.org/prepare/ disaster/flood.
Find Red Cross information for your area
Red Cross general tips for preparing for an emergency
Create and practice a disaster plan
Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a flood occurs. Decide where you would meet and who you would contact in case of flooding. Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit. Be prepared to evacuate your family and pets at a moment’s notice. To locate the nearest Red Cross emergency shelter, check your Emergency App or visit redcross.org/shelter. Listen to area radio and television stations for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress.
People should get their disaster kits ready. Include a gallon of water per person—enough for three days, three-day supply of non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a hand crank weather radio, first aid kit, medications, personal hygiene items, extra cash, cell phone and chargers, family and emergency contact information, copies of important papers and a map of the area. More details on what to include are available here.
Heed flood warnings
Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information. A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A flood WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
Never drive on flooded roads
Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.
Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger!