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TENANT RELOCATION ORDINANCE: public comments from a MP resident

From: domainremoved <Jeff>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2019 01:23:04 -0800

Dear Members of the City Council,

As a resident (not a renter nor a landlord) of Menlo Park, I’d like to
share my humble opinion about this tenant relocation ordinance.

I attended the previous public hearings hosted by the Housing Commission. I
totally got the point that the bay area is an expensive place to live for
most of us, however, I didn’t get the reasoning for why if a tenant can’t
afford the market rent and has to move, it’s the landlords’
responsibilities, and they should pay the tenants to find new places.

Landlords are actually also renters. They rent the properties from the
county and banks instead, while-as tenants rent from landlords. Landlords
are not really the owners of the properties. If they are unable to come up
with the periodic payments for property taxes or mortgages, the real owners
would take over the properties. So, landlords and tenants are essentially
the same type of people, and should be treated equally and protected equally.
In addition, as house providers for a city, landlords are contributors, and
should be protected. However, let’s look at the current situation.

If you are a tenant at Menlo Park and can’t afford the market rent, you may
need to find a new place. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s just part of the
life for most people. Before I was able to afford a property of my own, I
have rented for many years and moved a lot of times. As an tenant, if the
rent was not affordable, I still had various options, for example, I can
downgrade my place; I can move to a smaller place in the same neighborhood;
I can share a place with others; I can move to a more affordable place
nearby. I’ve never thought about that it’s my landlords’ responsibilities
to pay me to find new places. I am an adult, and I knew that I must take
responsibilities for my own life. Even my parents would NOT pay for me to
find new places, why would I expect my landlords to do that? Everyone
should take responsibilities for his/her own life. My parents have their
own life problems to solve; my landlords have their own problems to worry
about too. Finding a suited place to live for myself is my responsibility,
not my parents’, not my landlords’, not someone else’s.

To understand more about being a landlord at Menlo Park, I did some math
assuming that I rent out my property. The number showed that it’s way far
from breakeven and I would lose significant money every month. Remember, I
had to buy the property with the market price; I had to pay remodel fees
with the market price; I have to pay insurances, maintenance fees, and
gardening with the marketplace prices...Nobody put any cap on the annual
increase on these expenses, and there is no landlord protection at all in
case they can’t afford these expenses, but now the Housing Commission
proposes an ordinance to only protect tenants at the costs of landlords. Is
it fair? To be fair, can we add the comparable protections for the
landlord side as well in the ordinance? Say, if the rent is not changed
but a tenant decides to move out, and the landlord can’t find a new tenant
with the same rent, should the tenant pay the landlord 3 months of rent and
two months rental agent fees as well, to help find a new tenant? Tenants
and landlords are equal, and they should be protected and also be bound
equally. With the unilateral protection proposed by the Housing Commission,
I know I would never want to be a landlord at Menlo Park.

There are way more risks and challenges to be a landlord, compared with
being a tenant. For example, if a tenant moves out, and the landlord is
not able to find a new tenant soon, he/she may not able to pay the property
tax/mortgage, and can lose the property; if the landlord loses his/her job
(which can happen to anyone, especially now when many economists are
warning the incoming economic downturn or even another financial crisis),
they may lose the property; they may get bankrupted. For mom and pop
landlords who have no jobs and rely on the monthly rents to make a living,
to pay the tuition fees for their kids, to prepare for their retirements,
what if their properties become vacant? What if there is an earthquake (we
are in an earthquake zone!) and the property gets damaged? What if there
are other natural disasters happen on the property, and the landlords have
no saving to repair the properties? What if a landlord gets sued by
tenants or someone else? Their property can be at risk too. Nobody talks
about these serious risks that a landlord faces, and the Housing Commision
just assumes that a landlord would have the money (3 months of rent, 2
month of rental agent fees, and maybe more) to pay for the tenant to move.
Is it fair?

In the rental market, who is making money? The county, they collect
property taxes no matter the property is rented out or vacant; the banks,
they get consistent mortgage payments; The landlords are actually the most
vulnerable group in the market, but now we are asking the landlords to pay
for tenants to find new places. Why not ask the county to pay, why not ask
the banks to pay? It’s not fair to landlords.

Even we ignore the landlords’ challenges and push this ordinance to pass,
is it going to work? There are real examples in the bay area. In San
Francisco, after years of strict tenant protections, there are more
tensions and lawsuits between tenants and landlords; there are more
homeless on the street and in the bart stations, and the house problem is
not solved at all. Menlo Park is a great community and I really hope that
Menlo Park won’t repeat the same mistake. We can do better than that by
figuring out the right proposal to solve the housing problem.

Essentially it’s just supply and demand. I believe the right solution is
to work on increasing the housing supply, e.g. by making property
development or expansion easier, faster and more cost-effective; by
approving more high density buildings and secondary dwelling units.

I love this community, and I urge you to reject this unfair ordinance that
won’t work.

Thank you for your considerations.

-Jeff
Received on Tue Feb 12 2019 - 01:19:32 PST

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