…but that’s it! I’m a renter. I have always been a renter. Even when I was a kid my parents never owned the home we lived in. While I accept the humanity of landlords, as I do all people, I have little sympathy for people who own investment properties. If an elder person owns a rental house that helps them get by in retirement, or if a young single mom rents out a room in her home to help pay the mortgage, then that is an entirely different scenario. I feel like we need to be concerned with large property management firms controlling vast amounts of our housing market share on behalf of owners of large numbers of properties and owners who are not from here.
The problem we are facing of high rents is that these property management firms control enough of the market to fix the price higher than it should be. Given that reality, so long as outside investors are buying properties here sight unseen only to turn them over to enormous property management firms to manage, there will be no building our way out of this problem. The prices are fixed by the management firms due to them having so much control over the market. That creates a leeching of resources not just to the wealthy but to the wealthy who are often not even from here.
Below is what I wrote in defense of City Councilor Renata Rollins who went on rent strike during the pandemic. She was hated by many for her position and totally vilified. I think she did the right thing. Tens of millions of people are having trouble paying the rent right now. I think that keeping renters in homes is way more important than worrying that some rich people lose their third fourth or two hundredth property.
(I posted the following on May 15th, 2020 on facebook.)
City Council member Renata Rollins wrote a letter to her landlord saying she is #rentstriking in solidarity with those who can’t pay. She isn’t well off but could pay. However she made the commendable choice to let landlords know that if you want to evict the poorest then you’re going to have to go through her as well. That’s really what it is supposed to be about. That’s called #SOLIDARITY and she has made herself a target. Well let me say that I support what she is doing and what all #rentstrikers are doing. Furthermore if anyone threatens her or the landlord shows up with the police then I’m a phone call away to making that bad situation a total clusterf**k. And I’d like anyone out there facing landlord harassment or eviction to feel free to call me and I’ll do what I can, which ain’t money but which can be the meanest cold fury I can muster.
Because I hate landlords on principle. The landlord tenant relationship is an adversarial one at it’s core. The tenant is the weaker position and the landlord is the bully position. I hate bullies.
There are exceptions. I currently find my landlord very flexible, reasonable, understanding and he treats me like a human being. That’s Duane Moore who owns the houses he paints black in Olympia. I’ve lived in his houses for 10 years. He’s been great, real fair, rent is reasonable. I’m not rent striking because, frankly, it’s just normal that if I can’t pay I don’t, until I can as a matter of course and sometimes on rare occasions it’s gonna be short or in trade. And it’s been a decade long of this already. It’s still an adversarial relationship at it’s core but it’s also a human one.
He’s the opposite of Renata’s landlord Zach Kosturos who wrote a response to her #rentstrike letter on LinkedIn. He says he’s just a small businessman, President of a company with 1,500 rental units, a quarter of a billion in assets. Clearly this total genius made his money through his own hard work. In his screed he says, “As landlords, we are more than happy to work with tenants who find themselves out of work or in a legitimate position where they are unable to pay their rent, to the extent we are able. The vast majority of us are not greedy people getting rich by taking advantage of others. Most of us are small business owners who live and work in the community Renata talks about serving and trying to protect.”
He says “work with” that NEVER means debt forgiveness. It means late fees, signing new agreements, putting down a higher deposit, payment plans, interest, then the threats of eviction, then eviction, then lawsuits and credit marks against you. But he’s a good Christian. His Instagram is full of Jesus quotes but looking at the way he is living, it’s pretty high on the hog. What does greediness look like if not this house? What would Jesus do? Apparently own a lake house and have a game room with three enormous tvs too watch football… after church of course!
Here’s a few screenshots of how he lives. It’s what he does with your rent money. While you’re stressing out over the form letter he’s sent out a thousand times in the standard response path he heartlessly puts out he’s happy as hell! He couldn’t give a shit about his tenants. I want this guy to feel punishment for his opulence. I would like Jesus to come down and point at him and say “heaven is highly unlikely for you you rich bozo.” I’d then like to see all his houses wiped out in a flood while his tenants sail away on an ark in happiness.