San Francisco Landlord Shares Insights, Part II

Empty apartmentIn my last post, I briefly discussed the current situation in the San Francisco rental market. Now I’d like to address some ways for both landlords and tenants to understand and cooperate with one another.

As a landlord, I accept that it can be a challenge to pay the hefty mortgage on a rent controlled apartment when I know its market value, but I am also proud to have the means to house the elderly, the under-employed, and many other wonderful tenants at 25% of the market rent. As one of my Buddhist teacher friends explains, rent control is what allows individuals to live near their work and their community, so I see my position as one of service, which brings me comfort.

To Landlords

Landlord keys 3I won’t beat around the bush here. Many of you are taking advantage of the current market and forcing tenants out of their homes to make way for higher income producing tenants. It’s changing the makeup of our city, and not always for the better.

If you can afford it, there are small steps you can take to make life easier for renters.

  1. Offer your own ‘subsidized housing’ by providing an affordable home to an artist, student, teacher, or someone who works in a field that you feel is over-worked and under-appreciated.
  2. Consider your own ‘rent control’ by holding your rents where they currently sit. There is no way to know what tomorrow will bring financially, but you are likely making a hefty profit on your rental properties. Don’t be greedy.
  3. Consider offering an ‘extended tenant’ discount. If your tenants have lived in their homes for more than two years, consider dropping the rent by the normal cost of turnover. This good will gesture will show your tenants you care and you will have the benefit of no rental turnover time and expense.

If you own multiple rentals in one building, these gestures will keep your tenants happy and will likely encourage community and care for your properties. All human beings want to feel secure. This is your way of supporting your tenants wellbeing at an affordable cost to you. Yes we live in a capitalistic system, but we can be instrumental in keeping the system healthy and balanced. It’s not all about squeezing every last dollar out of a rental.

To Renters

Cheerful couple sitting in empty new houseIt’s a tough rental market, no doubt. If you can afford to pay the rent you have, while putting some money away, I suggest you do it. Otherwise, I suggest you consider downsizing or creating a co-housing situation that allows you to do so. You might also consider renting in an up and coming area where rents are more reasonable. When you are looking to buy your first home, do your research and watch the market trends.

Now is not the time to invest in real estate. But if you are a renter making money in this economy, take advantage of your income. Work hard and save for your investment. It may be the wisest decision you could make for yourself and for your future.

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