Remembering What Job One Is

I’ve had tenants come and go. It’s all a part of the business of renting. I’ve only had to evict one tenant and others left for general reasons ranging from needing more space to a roommate breakup. But I’ve also had my fair share of tenants point the finger at me and slander my name to the neighbors. Why? Because they were forced to move due to their inability to pay the rent. So of course, it’s my fault. “Don’t take it personally”, I can hear many of you say.  But it’s not about taking false accusations personally, it’s about respect. Respect for being a human being. Respect for all the times you’ve cried about your money woes and landlords did their best to work with you. Respect that what is an apartment to you the renter is a business to a landlord and mortgages aren’t paid with apologies. Respect that despite a tenant’s refusal to abide by the lease or pay the rent, landlords still have to by law maintain the building. Respect that while they give 0% of the rent owed, they still live in 100% of  a landlord’s unit. Respect that they could’ve been out in the street years ago but we chose to see a human and not a dollar sign. And for all these issues, landlords deserve better. We deserve to be respected because we are also residents just like tenants. I don’t expect groveling but an appreciation in the form of respect is needed.

Every time a landlord goes through such an experience with a tenant, it takes a toll on their humanity. And their compassion erodes into an iron steel will that becomes unbendable and unbreakable. In a society where tenants and pro-tenant organizations are complaining about rising rents, it’s imperative that the Single Property Landlord have a clear lens and a sturdy focus. Yes, rents are high and yes, wages aren’t matching them, but that’s not the Single Property Landlord’s problem. Business has to get done whether a tenant pays the rent or not. And that cold and callous truth should focus us even more. Put compassion where it belongs, volunteering for your favorite charity or mentoring a young mind. But job number one is ROI and cash flow when it comes to your business. 

The Blame Game…

I recently read an article today titled “Renters Are Shelling Out a Bigger Share of Income For Housing Than Homeowners” which outlined the financial woes of Jane Doe Renter who is spending a huge chunk of her  income versus Mr. Homeowner whose mortgage costs are actaully decreasing.  Much of this article’s intel seems to be at odds with what I see in the real world, as I know plenty of homeowners who mortgages are taking a big chunk out of their incomes.   Hey, life happens and the numbers that won you that bank loan may not be the same five to ten years later. But what got my feathers ruffled was the implied tone which once again pits the “poor and disadvantaged” renter against the “fat cat” homeowner, a seemingly common theme in our society.  To be fair, the author did state later in the article that the individual’s daily wage wasn’t keeping up with the increasing living costs but the damage was already done in the court of public perception.  Bottom line, the homeowners are taking it easy while the renters are struggling.  And for the landlord, the perception is even worse. It’s funny how society doesn’t take into account the responsibility and accountabilty of every homeowner.  What it takes to get one’s finances in order, to save up money for a downpayment, delaying gratification to realize the dream of homeownership over a vacation or new car. And being handed the keys is just the beginning.  Maintenance, homeowners’ insurance, not to mention unforseen problems like a pipe bursting.  And if you’re a landlord, Pandora’s Box is about to reguritat. Adopted tenants (a mistake I hope SPLs never makes!), unit turnover, the dreaded water bill… Yet the homeowner tackles it all on with grit and determination to breath life into their hopes and dreams.  But no one applauds the homeowner for such, everything is only seen through the lens of the renter.

I agree with the author, today’s wage is the culprit. But there is another villian that needs to exposed and dealt with.  The sense of entitlement of renters.  I believe every human being has a right to housing but not to location.  Many of us would love to buy off the rack on Rodeo Drive, but our money decides whether we shop Walmart, Macy’s or even the exclusive boutiques on Newbury Street within Boston’s pricey Back Bay neighborhood.  Each retailer offers good quality apparel for certain price points and soceity accepts this reality no questions asked.  There is no legislature demanding Barney’s New York to sell their merchandise so all can afford them despite clothing being a necessity like food and shelter. But legislature is coming down the pipe like a roaring train to control rents in many cities and it will be the single property landlord, the one without the deep pockets who will get shafted.