Author Archive

New Trulia Rentals Map Widget

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Pierre Calzadilla, Manager, Apartment Industry Relations

Trulia is proud to announce our new rentals listing map widget which you can now install on your website or blog, for free. With just a few clicks, you can have a customized map, like the one on the right, live on your site with just your listings. Get it here now.

For Rent in San Jose, CA

If you have a website, having a map is crucial to help home and apartment hunters make a decision. For home hunters, there is nothing like looking at a map, understanding where a property is and imagining life in the neighborhood.

What Does Property Maintenance have to do with Resident Retention?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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Maintenance is often regarded as a necessary evil or odd stepchild to the whole rental experience.   Like in a restaurant, the busboy is not high on the totem pole, yet remove or neglect the bus service and the restaurant falls into chaos and diners are not happy.

Maintenance_CostThe same can be said in the apartment industry.  Neglect maintenance and you will quickly find out how important maintenance is to your residents.  In 2012, SatisFacts Research published an e-book that revealed the highest-ranking factor for an apartment resident’s renewal decision was “Quality of maintenance service provided”.  Maintenance ranked higher than perks, parties and even the desire for more parking.

Keeping in mind that maintenance is such a great concern for lease renewing residents, successful property management teams look at maintenance providers as a valuable asset to be used in resident retention programs.  Consider the cost of routine maintenance against the massive cost of a rental make-ready in the event that a resident does not re-new their lease.

List or identify the ten top routine maintenance requests in the past year.  Determine if the item could have been quickly resolved by asking a few key questions such as:  “Is the pilot lit?”, “Have you pushed the reset button under the garbage disposal?”, “Have you reset the GFCI button on the electrical outlet?  Team up with your maintenance team or provider for a much more extensive list of simple questions that may resolve an issue while your resident is on the phone.  Asking the right questions will also save on your maintenance costs.  Sending out a plumber to reset a button is very expensive use of a resources and a potential time waster for your resident.

An often-overlooked aspect of maintenance is the follow up call to ensure the work was satisfactory and the work solved the resident’s issues.   This a good time to practice your customer service tools and ask the resident if there is anything else they need.

Use the maintenance team as a secret weapon in the war   against vacancies. Make sure the residents know who the maintenance team members are; introduce them, mention their long professional service to the community.  Emphasize their maintenance proficiency and ability to perform service requests in a timely manner.

The property management and maintenance team are not separate teams.   As an example, the property management & maintenance departments are very much like offense and defense teams in a football game.  Both work as one team and both are critical to the success of a winning game.  One makes the points and the other defends the points.  One without the other spells disaster.  Communication is key to a winning strategy. Both teams need to know the end goal.  Treat both your management/leasing team and maintenance team as equals; they are two sides of the same coin.   Use both your leasing and maintenance departments as a two-prong approach to filling vacancies and controlling resident retention.  In other words; a happy resident will be a long term resident.

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Frankie & JerryBuffalo Maintenance, Inc. provides comprehensive maintenance and repair solutions for the rental housing industry.  Jerry L’Ecuyer  is a licensed contractor & real estate broker.  Frankie Alvarez is the Operations Director and has been involved with apartment maintenance & construction for over 18 years.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act: “Dos” and “Don’ts” to Simplify Compliance

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

TCPA

With Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims on the rise, now is a good time to review what’s going on and how it affects businesses and organizations.

TCPA Snapshot

The TCPA was enacted to protect consumers from aggressive telemarketers. TCPA provides a variety of restrictions. Most recent claims relate to promotional marketing calls using automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS also called “robocalls”), artificial or prerecorded voices and calls to cell phones.

Two primary factors complicate TCPA compliance:

  • Broad interpretations of the law’s provisions by the courts and the FCC, and
  • Technologies that have been developed since the law was enacted in 1991.

For example, the FCC interprets a “call” to include the sending of a text message. However text messaging is not specifically mentioned in the TCPA.

Important TCPA Facts

  • TCPA does not prohibit message notification services, ATDS, artificial or prerecorded voices, or automated calls and text messaging to residential and cell phones.
  • FCC regulations exempt calls that don’t include unsolicited advertising and calls that are made to those with whom the caller has an established business relationship.
  • TCPA requires that prior written consent be received for ATDS and artificial or prerecorded voice telemarketing or advertising calls to cellular and residential phones
  • TCPA requires that ATDS and artificial or prerecorded voice telemarketing or advertising calls have opt-out mechanisms.

Best Practices DOs and DON’Ts

  • DO feel free to use a message notification service. It’s an efficient, inexpensive and highly-effective way to keep groups of all sizes informed.
  • DO get written consent from those on your contact list allowing you to send messages using ATDS, artificial or prerecorded voice technologies, and text messages to their land lines and their cellular phones.
  • DO use a notification service that provides recipients with opt-in and opt-out mechanisms.
  • DO make sure that contracts for marketing campaigns with outside vendors expressly exempt you from potential TCPA violations.
  • DON’T send promotional notifications, advertisements or any unsolicited messages that can be construed as advertising to anyone without first securing their written consent.

And lastly, don’t be tempted to over react to concerns about TCPA compliance. Provisions in the law make message notification services a good fit for businesses and organizations of all sizes. Periodically review your communication policies and practices and make sure your staff understands the dos and don’ts.

For more information regarding resident communication solutions please visit www.onecallnow.com, or call (877) 698-3262 to find out how our text, email and voice messages can work for your community.

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NickFrantz2011

Nick Frantz is the National Sales Manager for Property Management Solutions at One Call Now, where he has worked since March 2011. He specializes in Property Management solutions – commercial and residential – assisting in communications between property managers and staff/residents. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University.

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Before You Hit ‘Send’-Three Reasons to Call Instead!

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Rommel Anacan | www.RelationshipDifference.com

E-mail imageSome of my favorite things to read online are the things people say when they’re commenting on stories! I am always amazed at how ugly, mean-spirited and downright awful some people can be when they communicate behind a wall of anonymity provided by the computer.

Here are some comments I found on a few sites:

You are a FOOL–with a LOT of company.

3 crap articles in a row.  You’re on a roll Doyel.

Obviously Ravens fans can’t speel, no surprise.

Do you think any of these people would actually make those comments if they were standing in front of the people they directed them to? I don’t. (And BTW-I love that the comment about someone not being able to spell has the word “spell” spelled wrong.)

When I was the customer care manager of a property management company in Southern California, I discovered very quickly how making a phone call could be the best thing you do in resolving a complaint! I usually had a practice of communicating with people in the same way they first contacted me, unless they told me otherwise. So of course I loved it when people emailed me or wrote me a letter because I could respond back without having to actually talk to them! (Admit it, you feel the same way!)

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But sometimes I’d notice that an issue that should have been resolved would keep going; or sometimes I’d see that my email back would trigger another email that seemed more angry and frustrated and the first, which of course, was not my goal!

Here is the funny thing…when I’d see these escalated emails or letters, I would then pick up the phone and reach out to the customer personally. In a majority of the cases the residents would typically be very nice and sometimes apologize for how they communicated to me in their writings.

It seems that the one-on-one connection was often enough to defuse a customer’s anger. Sure, I often had challenges that still needed to be resolved, but I found that residents were often more willing to work with me and see my point of view when I spoke with them personally, instead of relying on email or letters. I can’t count how many I’ve spoken with who thanked me for calling them and working with them, even when I wasn’t able to give them what they wanted!

Why You Should Consider Calling Instead of Writing

It’s Easier to Sound Like a Jerk Over Email

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This one works both ways. I’ve seen many emails from associates to residents that made me cringe and fear for the job security of the associate who wrote them! As I talked about earlier, when you are safe and secure behind your desk, it’s easier for you to say something you shouldn’t say, or to say it in a way that you shouldn’t. It’s also easier for your upset resident to do the same thing.

When you are talking in person (or on the phone) there is a tendency for people to want to find some type of common ground, because not everyone is comfortable being combative or aggressive in person.

It’s Easier to be Misunderstood Over Email

There is no way around this one, letters and emails often read harsher than they are intended. This is why you’ve probably heard that you should never use email to correct or discipline or chasten someone. The other issue with written communication is that it can be looked at and stewed over again and again, further inflaming an already upset resident. If you must send an email read and re-read it from the customer’s point of view~and have someone else (who is generally level headed) to read it for you if you have any doubts!

Personally Connecting is Powerful

Personal ConnectionWhile technology allows us to communicate in every way possible, it also seems to isolate us from people as well. In today’s world where we text more than we call, where we Facebook more than we meet for coffee, there is something emotionally powerful when you pick up the phone and say,

“Hi Roger. This is Kimberly from the Quail Run office. I just got your email and I am so sorry about your experience and wanted to talk to you right away about it…”

Before you click on the “send” button, would you be better off picking up the phone instead?


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Rommel Anacan is the president of The Relationship Difference; a corporate training, motivational speaking and consulting firm in Orange County, California. He is a multifamily industry veteran, having worked at all levels of the industry from onsite to corporate, where he developed a reputation for tackling common challenges in an uncommon way. For more information visit his website at www.RelationshipDifference.com

The Top Rental Sites For Listing Your Units

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Compliments of Appfolio.com Posted: 13 Jun 2013 04:14 PM PDT

appfolioAccording to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, the national vacancy rate for rental properties in the first quarter of 2013 stood at 8.6%. That means nearly one of every nine units stands empty. For property owners, that translates to a significant cash drain.

An all-important job for any owner or property manager is to fill all rental units. To that end, here are some websites in which you should market your units in the event of a vacancy.

Top Rental Sites

Craigslist.com
This high-traffic site is one of the first places people go to for any number of needs including looking for a place to live. The site features location-based search that significantly increases the odds that you will be reaching your target prospective tenants.

Zillow.com
Zillow_detail_ipadThis has become a leading go-to site for all real estate needs. They claim to have a million more listings than MLS (Multiple Listing Service). After setting up your account, you can quickly create your listing and upload pictures. As an added feature, your listing here can be sent straight to Craigslist for free. The benefit of starting here is that they will prepare a custom code that uploads to Craigslist and makes your listing look professional. (Mobile app available, as well.)

Trulia.com
This is another online listing site that also has a tool that allows posting directly to Craigslist. They also provide visitors with the ability to get inside information on properties and communities that attracts additional prospective renters. (Mobile app available, as well.)

Trulia_demo

Postlets.com
This site offers a search-optimized website for your property listing with a unique URL. Postlets makes it fast and easy to create a professional-looking classified ad, and then to syndicate the listing on Craigslist, Zillow, Local.com, as well as your Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn account.

Rent.com
This online site drives additional traffic by offering $100 gifts card to anyone who rents through the site. (Mobile app available, as well.)

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ApartmentGuide.com
This site features location-based, comprehensive apartment search functionality. (Mobile app available, as well.)

Realtor.com
Affiliated with the National Association of REALTORS, this site claims to have the most up-to-date and accurate listings online. (Mobile app available, as well.)

Local Newspaper Websites
Just as many people still view print ads when looking for a rental property, many also look to local newspaper websites for the latest listings. A good number of individuals use these sites as their browser’s default “Home Page,” meaning this is the website that automatically appears when they open their browser each time.

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Social Media Websites
Don’t forget social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest. It’s the new digital word of mouth.

You can post your listings directly on the above list of sites. Or, if you are using property management software, you likely have the ability to post your vacancies to hundreds of sites on the Internet including most of those listed above with just a couple of clicks of your mouse. Most programs provide professionally designed listings automatically. Prospective tenants can be directed right to your website if they are interested in one of your units.

In addition, for a fee, you can add rental listings to an MLS. There is no agent involved, but you can list here starting at around $100.

Renting empty units is a top priority for you, and there are more ways than ever to get the word out to prospective tenants online. Use as many top rental sites as you can to keep your vacancy rate down.


appfolioAppfolio  |  Company Website  |  LinkedIn Connect  |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

So Many Apps, So Little Time

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Nick Frantz

I have a friend who’s nuts about apps. He’s always downloading the latest and greatest. Whenever we meet, he tells me about a new one he’s found. The last time we talked, he said, “So many apps, so little time.” Now that was a comment that stuck.

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Apps… all these wonderfully creative little tools. Some are useful. Some are just fun. But for me, the best ones are the apps that save us time.

There are dozens of apps available to help property managers. But resident-specific apps would be a big help, too. So how do you cut through the clutter to find them?

Here are three primary functions that provide ample app opportunities for you and your residents:

Think “functions” first… then look for the apps.

1. Maintenance Requests. In a 2011 SatisFacts Research survey, residents reported that the quality of maintenance services is the number one factor influencing retention. Number one! You want— you need—to make maintenance requests, scheduling and follow-up easy for you and easy for your residents.

Your property management software may offer an app for residents to use to submit maintenance requests. Maintenance issues don’t always wait until you’re in your office. Use your message notification service to confirm appointments and satisfaction. Check for apps that allow you to communicate with residents and staff anytime, from anywhere. And apps that make it easy for message recipients to add appointments to their calendars.

2. Payment Processing. Online payment processing is good for your cash flow. Some property management software offer payment processing apps for residents. Use your message notification service to send automatic reminders that help keep payments coming in on time.

3. Communications. In the same 2011 SatisFacts Research survey, residents ranked the ability to easily communicate with the community staff fourth in nearly 50 items analyzed. A good message notification service helps property managers meet the challenge of timely communications with staff and residents. But managing the daily flow of incoming communications is challenging for recipients, too. Again, look for apps from your message notification service that are created specifically help recipients manage their messages and their calendars.

Time is a valuable commodity. With only so much of it in a day, it’s a struggle to keep up—to get everything done. Hassle-free time savers are always welcome. Make life easier for you and your residents with apps that shave minutes off your days and turn multiple steps into just a few taps.

For more information regarding resident communication solutions please visit www.onecallnow.com, or call (877) 698-3262 to find out how our text, email and voice messages can work for your community.

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NickFrantz2011Nick Frantz is the National Sales Manager for Property Management Solutions at One Call Now, where he has worked since March 2011. He specializes in Property Management solutions – commercial and residential – assisting in communications between property managers and staff/residents. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University.

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What is the OFAC Terrorism Watch Search and Why is It Important to Real Estate Professionals and Landlords?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Elizabeth Whited, May 13, 2013 | ewhited@therrd.com, 1-855-733-2289

When choosing screening services have you ever wondered what the OFAC search was, and if it was really necessary to use for your company? Recent events like the tragedy in Boston have placed a lot of emphasis on America’s terrorist watch list, and what it really means.

OFAC_logoThe Office of Foreign Asset Control, or OFAC is part of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. It administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, parties engaged with weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or the economy of the United States (US Department of Treasury).

So how does this search affect you and your business? In short: the list they administer and enforce tells you who and who you cannot do business with legally. The list they create of the restricted parties is known as the “Specially Designated Nationals List” (SDN), and is available on their website. A recent LinkedIn poll showed that 78% of Real Estate professionals use the OFAC search and believe it to be an important tool, while 5% used it, but didn’t really know what it was, or what they were getting, and 16% did not use it in their tenant or pre-employment screening at all, or knew what it was.

While the SDN list is extensive, it is important to note that you always need to perform due diligence with it (just as with any other report you get back with tenant or employment screening), as it can return with similar names to your applicants. If you do suspect a match has been found there are hotlines to call to verify that information, depending on what list you received the information from.

Most OFAC searches will return with information regarding the applicant at the top: name, address, filing state, social security number, birth date, birth country, and a best name, followed by the databases searched. It is important that every applicant to any property, be it small, large, class A-C assets, should be screened, and in light of recent events should be searched through the OFAC Terrorist Watch/Patriot Act Database.

Not only is it important to screen every tenant or employee applicant, it is also important to know and completely understand what you are receiving in your reports. It is also good practice to perform due-diligence before making any final conclusions.

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ElizabethWhitedAbout the Author: Elizabeth Whited is the Operations Coordinator at the Rent Rite Directory. She has written educational articles for multifamily magazines and Real Estate websites to help Property Managers and Owners improve their properties, in an effort to reduce crime in their communities. The Rent Rite Directory educates Property Managers and Owners at Crime Watch Meetings, and Crime Free Association Conferences, and works closely with law enforcement nationwide. For more information, visit www.therrd.com

‘Tis the Season… For Maintenance!

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Spring has sprung and so have leaks, cracks, weeds, you name it

By: Nick Frantz

BuildingMaintenance_iconSpring has sprung… it’s maintenance season! After the winter thaw come the winds, the rain, the leaky pipes and roofs, the cracked paint, the weed surge, the potholes, need I say more? It’s a time when property maintenance becomes a frantic rush to stay ahead of the routine schedule, so you can also tackle the unplanned issues.

This is also a time that puts your retention rates at risk.

Here’s why: the quality of maintenance services tops residents’ lists of all factors that influence retention (SatisFacts Research 2011 survey). Yes, you’ve got to get the job done, but keeping your residents satisfied with your maintenance efforts doesn’t take perfection. It takes communication and coordination.

When it comes to maintenance issues, nobody likes to be surprised!

People become dissatisfied when their expectations are not met. Now this is good news for property managers. With timely communications and follow up, you have more control. You set the expectations.

Put a maintenance communication plan in place and get your staff onboard. Develop a communication plan with specific steps and stick to it. For example, when residents request service:

  1. Acknowledge requests as soon as you receive them.
  2. Let the residents know the next steps: who will perform the service, when it will be scheduled, what will happen.
  3. Confirm all appointments with residents.
  4. Follow up with residents after every service call.
  5. Continue to follow up until the maintenance is complete.

For general property maintenance:

  1. Let residents know what will be happening, who will perform the service, when it will take place and if alternative actions are needed (e.g. “…park in the north lot until repaving is finished on Tuesday”).
  2. Notify residents when the maintenance is complete.

Electronic communications—your website, email, texts and phones—will make this heightened level of communication easier. Check out a message notification service. It can save you and your staff loads of time and be convenient for your residents, too.

Let your residents know that you are addressing their maintenance issues and that it’s important that they are satisfied. It will pay off in the high-quality condition of your property… and it will pay off at renewal time, too.

For more information regarding resident communication solutions please visit www.onecallnow.com, or call (877) 698-3262 to find out how our text, email and voice messages can work for your community.

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NickFrantz2011Nick Frantz is the National Sales Manager for Property Management Solutions at One Call Now, where he has worked since March 2011. He specializes in Property Management solutions – commercial and residential – assisting in communications between property managers and staff/residents. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University.

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Why Property Owners Should Consider Micro-Apartments

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

by Holly Aker – Photos provided by the NYC Mayor’s Office via CBS New York

As America’s population continues to grow, property developers are having a difficult time finding space to accommodate eager renters. Now, with the emergence of micro-apartments, property developers may have found a solution.

Micro-apartments are becoming more and more common in population-dense cities like Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and New York City. Typically located in popular neighborhoods, micro-apartments meet the needs of middle-class, single, young renters who want to be close to urban centers but would not otherwise be able to afford the price tag that comes with these areas of town.

Micro-Apartment_3Smaller Is Better

Besides meeting the needs of renters, micro-apartments can benefit property owners and developers by increasing the number of rentals in their portfolio and their total revenue. Property owners can achieve this by converting their current apartments into micro-apartments – or developers can consider developing properties to be used for micro-units.

Take New York City for example: the increasing popularity of micro-apartments spurred Mayor Bloomberg to change the minimum living space requirement to 250 square feet. Seeing as the average one-bedroom apartment in New York City is 750 square feet, a property owner could take that one-bedroom apartment and create three individual units.

Micro-Apartment_4

While these micro-apartments will come with a lower monthly rent, property owners will make up for it as they’ll have more units to market. In San Francisco, some micro-apartments are listed for $1,600 a month. This price tag may seem high given the reduced amount of space, but when compared to the average rent in the city – $2,741 a month – micro-apartments are actually quite a deal.

By looking at both of these examples, a property owner can end up with three units bringing in a total of $4,800 per month, which is $2,000 more than what one unit could bring in.

What’s more, micro-apartments don’t necessarily have to be confined to just renovated apartments. In Chicago, property developers are creating micro-apartment communities out of foreclosed flophouses.

Some developers are even using micro-apartments as a way to preserve historic buildings. In Providence, Rhode Island, architects took an old mall that was considered one of the most endangered buildings by the Providence Preservation Society and transformed it into a 48-micro-apartment development.

Factors to Consider

Before jumping into a full-blown construction project, there are a few factors property owners need to consider.

First off, the cost of converting any kind of building into micro-apartments can add up very quickly. As these units will be very compact, they will need to be designed well to accommodate all the needs of renters without making them feel as if they live in shoebox. And since the units will be under construction, property owners will not be collecting rental income.

Additionally, property ownerrs need to be sure they have the ability to take care of all their new micro-apartments. Two or three times as many units means more maintenance needs and more renters who will require more attention and administrative duties.

Location can also be a deal breaker. In order to be successful with micro-apartments, it’s vital that prospective building be in a city experiencing mass growth and in a part of town that is highly coveted by single, young people looking to live in the center of the action.

With the right location, financial plan and target demographic, micro-apartments can be a great option for property owners looking to expand and improve their portfolios.

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HollyAkerThis is a guest submission by Holly Aker, of Austin-based Software Advice.  Software Advice provides free reviews, comparisons, and demos of property management software. The company also maintains a blog about current industry news and developments.

Capital Alert: Bill to Bar Apartment Smoking Goes Down in Flames at Capitol

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

marclevine.jpgLegislation to bar millions of Californians from smoking inside their own homes was rejected today by an Assembly committee.

Assembly Bill 746 would have made California the first state to venture into personal bedrooms and living rooms with smoking restrictions. It targeted condominiums, duplexes and apartments.

Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, proposed the measure to ensure that people who live in structures that share walls, ceilings, floors or ventilation systems with neighboring units are not subject to second-hand smoke.

The bill was rejected 5-2 by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee today despite several amendments, including one that would have delayed fines from being issued until January 2015.

Voting no were Democrats Norma Torres, Toni Atkins and Cheryl R. Brown and RepublicansBeth Gaines and Brian Maienschein, according to Levine’s office, and Democrats Ed Chau andKevin Mullin voted yes.

Landlords already have authority to prohibit smoking in their rental units, through a law implemented last year, but Levine’s bill would have imposed a mandatory ban statewide.

AB 746 would have permitted outdoor smoking near apartments or condos, but only in a clearly marked area that is at least 20 feet from any housing unit and 100 feet from a playground, school or pool.

Critics of AB 746 questioned who would enforce it, how, and what impact the bill would have on habitual smokers or on people with disabilities who could not easily leave their residences to smoke.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael during session in the Assembly chambers in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, March 11, 2013. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

Categories: Bills (2013-2014 session)

Tags: 

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