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Stop! Then Go, Stop! Then Go

This article is not about driving in traffic.  It’s about stopping the one-sided media stories about renters being “ victimized” by property owners, and then going forward with an effort by housing providers to make sure their side of the story is heard.

Has the cost of doing business as a housing provider gone up significantly?  Yes.  Here are some of the things for which I’ve seen the costs increase:

  • Property and casualty insurance
  • Real estate taxes
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Building supplies and materials
  • Utilities

Even though the melting dollar may make it feel like you have a significant amount of unrealized equity in your property, the actual day-to-day costs of being a reasonable housing provider are not getting any better. 

Add to these rising costs the increased negative attitude in the media and certain segments of our society that says housing providers (landlords) are rich and greedy and shouldn’t be paid, and we now have a perfect storm where one side is making all the noise and the other isn’t speaking up.  Housing providers keep putting their heads down and working to get things done while remaining silent as to their situations.  This leaves us vulnerable and causes us to lose the optics-is-everything battle.

Housing providers need to tell their stories about how one bad tenant can take away two years of profitability from a property.  They need to make it known that when they have a good, long-term tenant, they often keep the rent below market so as not to disturb that tenant because the cost of turning that unit and finding a new tenant may not be worth the extra $50 or so a month they could get from a rent increase.

The purpose of this article is to do three things.  First, it is to make you aware of the need to be diligent as to what it is really costing you to continue to be in business with the increased cost of insurance, taxes, maintenance and repairs, reserves, etc.

Secondly, I want you to understand that if you are quiet, you are presumed to be just fine with nothing wrong.  It’s the other side, “victimized renters”, that need the attention, not you.

Thirdly, I want to give you a mechanism whereby you can make your voice heard.  Once you know your numbers, and if you have pictures of an ugly unit after a tenant has trashed or destroyed it, please share that information with local media or someone who has written a non-fact-based article bashing landlords and extolling the virtues of rent control and other espoused tenant rights. 

Be willing to ask hard questions of those who seem to think all housing providers are bad and all tenants are being treated unfairly.  Why don’t long-term tenants go buy a house?  What prevents them from being able to save enough money to put 3% down on an FHA or nothing on a VA loan?  Should a housing provider be punished because they have the discipline to control their finances and have a high enough credit score to be able to qualify for a loan?  Should a housing provider be punished because they had the self-discipline necessary to save for a down payment to be able to buy an investment property?

I hope this article causes you to think about how you can make your voice be heard.

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