My headline is a rhetorical question and I personally don’t think landlords and tenants are bad people but, after seeing so many municipalities work so hard over the past few years passing ordinances that, in many cases, in my humble opinion, tramples the property rights of landlords as well as the rights of tenants, one would have to believe that landlords and tenants must be some pretty bad people. After all, if not, why would some municipalities work so hard to discourage them from entering their cities and work hard to chase them out?
For example, the most recent egregious example of this comes from the north-county city of Berkeley, where, last September, the city council passed an ordinance (#4320-bill can be seen at bottom) that put a “30-percent limitation of single-family rental homes per residential block“. Bill number 4456, which was the bill introduced that became the ordinance, gave the purpose of the new ordinance to be:
“The City (Berkeley) seeks to create a positive impact in city neighborhoods by creating an atmospher for residents to enjoy a good quality of life by creating a 30-percent limitation of single family rental homes per residential block”
Since the city of Berkeley seems to equate “a good quality of life” with a “limitation of single family rental homes‘ I think, by negative inference, we can come to the conclusion that Berkeley is saying rental homes, and I would guess either the people that own them, or the tenants that live in them, must negatively impact, or run counter to, “a good quality of life” in their neighborhoods which now brings us back to my initial question, are landlords and tenants bad people?
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As I mentioned, this issue is not limited to Berkeley as many municipalities, mostly north county ones, have passed ordinances targeting landlords and tenants and, in many cases, making it so burdensome that responsible landlords don’t want anything to do with it and avoid the city. For example, back in October, the city of Florissant passed it’s
“Crime Free Bill No. 9226” which was just loaded with regulations negatively impacting the rights of landlords and their tenants. This bills purpose included;
“The goal of the City of Florissant Residential Rental Housing Program is to create a crime-free housing program and increase the quality of life of residents by partnering the City with Owners, Landlords and Managing Agents to decrease the incidents of public safety/nuisance/code violations and criminal activity in rental properties.”
Like the city of Berkeley, the city of Florissant appears to equate increasing “the quality of life” of its residents with additional regulation of landlords and their tenants to “decrease the incidents of public safety/nuisance/code violations and criminal activity“. So, once again, it appears the city of Florissant feels that tenants and landlords lower the quality of the life and increase crime in their community which would lead you to a conclusion that landlords and tenants are bad people.
I could go on as there are many, many more examples, but my fingers are getting tired of typing and you get the idea. I’m not saying problems in these communities don’t exist, I know they do. I’m just saying that the approach the cities are taking, in my opinion, are very wrong and are unnecessarily hurting people that, in many cases already have it hard enough. It’s not secret that, in general, the average tenant is in a lower socio-economic class than the average homeowner and, in many of the north county neighborhoods I’m taking about, the tenants are low, to very low income as well. Many are minorities, many are single moms, people receiving rental assistance, etc. People that now may find it hard to find decent, affordable housing owned by responsible, caring landlords because cities like Berkeley and Florissant, with the ordinances they pass, chase them away. The funny thing is, these ordinances have nearly the opposite effect of what the city claims to desire. The good landlords, and the good tenants, won’t put up with it, and go elsewhere. I can tell you that every investor I meet with I tell them to steer clear of places like this and go to municipalities where they won’t be abused. So, what this leaves are the real derelict landlords that are basically “invisible” and absolutely don’t care and the tenants that kind of landlord attracts.
Before I close, I should clarify, I’m not saying all landlords are good, responsible property owners that maintain their property and provide safe, clean housing for their tenants, and nor am I saying that all tenants are good, responsible, law-abiding citizens, but nor can I say that about all homeowners either. The bottom line is, there are good, responsible homeowners, landlords and tenants, and there are bad, irresponsible homeowners, landlords and tenants and there are a plethora of existing laws and ordinances to deal with people that break the law or do not maintain their property so attacking a class of people, or type of resident or owner, with regulations that affect the good and the bad, is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.