Must-have resources for Texas rental housing industry professionals

Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Resources

Updated November 7, 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.

Get updates on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and recovery efforts, from the National Apartment Association.

Information for renters, including available housing resources.

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.

Hurricane Harvey Forum Webinar – Full Recording

Hurricane Harvey Forum Webinar – FEMA Clip

Hurricane Harvey Forum Webinar – TDHCA Clip

Hurricane Harvey Forum Webinar – PowerPoint Slides PDF

Here are some resources for listing or finding available housing. We will add similar portals or resources to this list as available.

Statewide/Regional

ALN (focused more on availability outside of Houston; includes information on rent deals and fee specials)

Entrata

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

Houston

Harris County Housing and Community Resource Center

Houston Housing Availability:  powered by Smart

List properties with the Houston Association of Realtors temporary housing service

American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Response Information

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

State and federal assistance information

Sheltering and immediate assistance available (Department of Homeland Security info)

Directory of emergency assistance services in Houston area

List of Local Mental Health Authorities and Local Behavioral Health Authorities  There are 39 LMHAs/LBHAs in Texas. Each LMHA/LBHA provides mental health services to adults and children who have severe and persistent mental illnesses (SPMI) such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, and other severely disabling mental disorders which require crisis resolution or ongoing and long-term support and treatment. However, many LMHAs/LBHAs in affected areas are in the process of hiring and mobilizing crisis counselors that can be called upon to assist survivors in the community. Individuals in need of crisis services are not required to have a formal mental health diagnosis to qualify for services. The disaster crisis counselors and other mental health crisis services can be accessed through the LMHA/LBHA crisis hotline numbers. TAA members can call on behalf of someone or encourage and support someone to call for themselves.

List of substance abuse Outreach, Screening, Assessment and Referral Centers Fourteen of the 39 LMHAs/LBHAs operate regional Outreach, Screening, Assessment, and Referral (OSAR) centers which provide regional coordination of substance use disorder treatment services. TAA members can call on behalf of someone or encourage and support someone to call for themselves.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Real Estate Commission and the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board (the Agency) extended all deadlines for two months for all license holders and applicants statewide with license expiration or application deadlines in August and September. That extension ended on October 31, 2017.

After careful assessment of the significant impact and damage sustained by our license holders, the Agency has decided to further extend application and renewal deadlines by an additional period up to four months for those in the 60-county disaster area declared by Governor Abbott.

License holders who live in theaffected counties with licenses set to expire August 31, 2017 through January 31, 2018, will be extended until February 28, 2018.

Initial applicants who live in the affected counties with applications set to expire August 21, 2017 through February 27, 2018, will also be extended until February 28, 2018.

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:

  1. Selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or
  2. Demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine or another necessity.

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.

Find a sample notice for this purpose and a similar notice for tax-credit properties.

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.

Useful information about insurance claims from the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas.

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.

Programs and disaster loans from the Small Business Administration. Note the deadline to apply for an SBA disaster assistance loan is October 24.

Basic details of the SBA disaster assistance program:

  • The SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters by providing low-interest direct federal recovery loans for uninsured or under-insured damages.
  • Loans for homeowners can be up to $200,000 to repair their primary residence.
  • Homeowners and renters can receive up to $40,000 for personal property losses, including disaster-damaged vehicles.
  • Small businesses and nonprofit organizations can qualify for up to $2 million for repairs to business real estate, lost inventory, etc.
  • For small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations, SBA can also offer low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans to cover working capital during the recovery period.
  • Rates are as low as 1.75 percent for homeowners or renters, 3.305 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for private nonprofits with terms up to 30 years.

Some key points:

  • There are no costs to apply and no obligation to accept any loan funds.
  • Applicants don’t have to know how much they may need when they apply (loan amount is based on a loss estimate completed by our verification department).
  • Applicants DO NOT have to wait for any insurance claims to fully settle. SBA will work with applicants while they are finalizing their insurance settlement, which can then be used to pay down/pay off the loan.  We often find we can get funds in the hands of survivors before insurance settlements are received, therefore helping speed up the recovery and rebuilding process.
  • Applying for an SBA Disaster Assistance Loan does not automatically eliminate a survivor’s eligibility for FEMA assistance.

Find a Disaster Recovery Center

Learn more about SBA disaster recovery loans

Find out how to apply for SBA disaster recovery loans

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 Texas Association of Business is offering assistance to business owners via a hotline during normal business hours. Call 512/637-7714 or email hurricane@txbiz.org.

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. 

Extensions

Franchise Tax

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.

Sales Tax

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.

 

 

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 recovery@tdlr.texas.gov or call 1-800-803-9202 between 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CDT Monday through Friday.

Boiler system information

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation information on recovering boiler systems after a flood

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:

Send an email to stormrecovery@naahq.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, and will be contributing additional funds to local charities in affected areas. 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.

Tips on avoiding charity scams.

Please share any of your industry efforts with TAA and NAA by emailing Michelle Helmers at TAA (michelle@taa.org) or NAA (communications@naahq.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.

Emergency App

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.

Evacuation Shelters

Locate Red Cross shelters.

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.

Have a disaster kit

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!

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