Legislative Issues for Property Owners
The Iowa Association of REALTORS® (IAR) held their 2015 Legislative “Bus-In” Day on February 10, 2015. The purpose of the event was to provide REALTORS® with an opportunity to learn about current legislation in the Iowa Legislature that affects homeowners and land owners. REALTORS are given an opportunity to meet with their own elected legislators to learn not only about the legislation, but to hear how their elected official(s) plans to vote on the various issues.
The legislation on everyone’s mind was not about real estate, but instead deals with an increase in the tax on fuels in the state, which are used to repair, replace and create a transportation system in the State of Iowa. Legislators that we spoke with were against the increase, not because it was an increase in taxes, instead their concerns centered on the fact that too little of the increase would be devoted to solving the infrastructure problems in the rural areas of the state. Only 20% of the increase would be made available to the counties to use for repair or replacing bridges and updating rural roads.
Sixty percent of the increase was slated for the Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT has a formula that shares this with cities and uses the remainder for the Highway and Interstate road system with Iowa.
Overall I heard, “the increase does not fix the problem”.
Legislation that IAR is highly in favor of deals with Home Savings Accounts for “First Time Homebuyers”. This legislation would establish a system to permit individuals / or / families to place up to $3,000 per year in a Home Savings Account tax free, with a total limit of ten years. This savings account would be used as a down payment on the purchase of the individual’s / family’s first home purchase. If the money is used for any other reason, it would be taxed during the year it was used. This legislation had not reached the committee level the day of the event. Most discussion surrounded how the reduction in income tax revenue would be offset.
Radon disclosure is a second area that has support from IAR. Currently, State of Iowa law stipulates that the results of radon testing on residential property are only to be disclosed to the owner of the property, unless the owner signs a waiver to have the information released to someone else. The conflict arises when, after an offer to purchase has been accepted by a seller, the buyer requests and pays to have a radon test completed. Even though the buyer paid for the testing, the seller must sign the waiver before the results can be released to the buyer. Legislation to change the wording to allow buyers, with an accepted offer on a property and who pay for radon testing, be allowed access to the results of the radon test without approval of the seller. This has support from everyone I spoke with.
Another area of legislation with IAR support is the Commercial Broker Lien Law. This legislation, although not out of committee and aimed at protecting brokers, would create lien rights for real estate brokers who enter into written contracts for services related to selling, leasing or conveying any interest in certain commercial real estate. The broker named in the contract would be able to record a lien affidavit for the amount of the services related to selling or conveying any interest in commercial real estate.
Finally, HF 161, is legislation that changes a City’s ability to regulate occupancy of residential rental property that is based on familial or nonfamilial relationships between the occupants of the rental property. In some cities, local ordinance prohibits landlords ability to rent to people who are not related. As an example, a landlord is not able to rent a four bedroom home to four college students because they are not related to each other. IAR does not support familial status as a means of occupancy restrictions.
This was the first time I attended the IAR Legislative Day and found it very informative. I was able to speak with my friend John Landon, REALTOR® and legislator from Ankeny, Scott Ourth, legislator from Indianola and Julien Garrent, Senator from Indianola. All gracious and happy to discuss, teach and listen to constituents.
Scott Ourth - firstname.lastname@example.org
Julien Garret – email@example.com
John Landon - firstname.lastname@example.org
There are several bill tracking tools available for the Iowa Legislature online. The Iowa Legislature website will guide you through the process and allow you to follow bills that are important to you.