In a way, 2021 stands as a reflection of the overall pandemic crisis, with its challenges and its successes, its setbacks and advances. And certainly, property managers have been riding the waves of turmoil and progress in the name of their clients, residents and tenants. As my term as IREM President winds down, I can reflect with pride on the way the industry rose–and continues to rise–to those challenges, forging a path into the post-pandemic normal for all of our constituents.
There’s no denying that the property management industry stood on the front lines of one of the essential issues of the crisis–the provision of clean and healthy places to live and work. The industry response, marked primarily by a re-evaluation and enhancement of protocols already in place, was clear, swift and communicated well.
We can’t underestimate this last point: clear communication to all constituents remains essential, especially in the midst of changing directives from local, state and federal agencies. Indeed, as new variant strains of the virus continue to rear their heads, we remain vigilant to ongoing changes in resident and tenant needs and the often-shifting mandates of those governmental authorities.
Over the past 18-plus months, our partnerships with our stakeholders were forged in the furnace of the economic slowdown and the threat of rental non-payment. Property managers across the nation–indeed, across the globe–had to balance blanket eviction moratoriums with the individual needs of their occupants, often walking a precarious tightrope between the financial demands of ownership and customizing personalized payment deferrals.
Of course, we brought these concerns to our elected officials. In the course of the year, we conducted over 100 meetings with legislators and other officials to discuss issues important to the property management industry, and we have worked with more than 400 industry organizations, such as NAR, NAA, NMHC, and BOMA to amplify our voices and effect change.
On the legislative front, IREM and its partner associations banded together to lend our insights to terminate the federal eviction moratorium, which ended in August. Those discussions continue with a handful of states that have some sort of moratorium still in place.
As Senior Director of Government Affairs Ted Thurn reports, we’ve been able to work with the Administration and Congress to expedite funds for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. That effort continues as we work with both entities to break down barriers in ERAP that unnecessarily complicate the distribution of funds to struggling renters and housing providers.
Going beyond COVID, we lent our combined voices to the issue of limits on 1031 like-kind exchanges and were rewarded with its ultimate exclusion from the recently passed House version of the Build Back Better bill, along with capital gains tax increases, taxes on unrealized capital gains, increased estate taxes, and carried-interest provisions. The proposal has now been sent over to the Senate for consideration.
We’re particularly proud of our March Advocacy Impact Day. More than 200 IREM members attended this virtual event to learn about issues affecting the real estate industry, such as COVID-19 relief, the SAFE Banking Act and 1031s. And in July, our virtual Congressional Briefing brought together more than 400 IREM members and 58 Congressional offices.
In January, I will officially hand the gavel to my colleague Barry Blanton, CPM. But the work continues. Challenges remain, such as a COVID-driven talent shortage, the ongoing threat of new variants and issues surrounding how hybrid work policies will affect both the home and the office.
IREM’s advocacy leadership will continue as a top priority for our members, their businesses and their clients. The IREM Government Affairs team has a number of initiatives planned for 2022, including our next Advocacy Impact Day, Congressional Briefing, quarterly webinars and in-district meetings. And with solid communication always in mind, we’ll also keep providing members valuable resources such as our Public Policy Priorities, Policy Statements, Government Affairs Digest, and Advocacy Action Center.
Leadership may change. The vigilance that has been an IREM keystone since well before the pandemic began remains a constant.
Chip Watts is 2021 president of IREM. In addition, he serves as president and executive CPM for Watts Realty Co. Inc. in Birmingham, Ala.