Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Millions of Americans skipping payments as wave of defaults and evictions looms (npr.org)
416 points by evo_9 34 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 575 comments

I'm so extremely grateful that I accepted section 8 tenants into my rental units. Most of these tenants have nearly all of their payment covered by the government and they just have to pay $100 or $200 on top of that to cover what the government won't.

These tenants are often not accepted by landlords because they're thought to cause more issues. Mine are great. They keep the units spotless, mow the lawn for me on my multi unit properties. When I have a tenant like this, I never raise their rent, and if they can't pay the hundred bucks the government won't I sure don't care.

I love my section 8 tenants. Same here, they take good care of the place and the government doesn't miss rent payments.

Some counties even provide free legal help for landlords if their section 8 tenants do something bad. It's actually pretty low risk.

The main downside is the increased overhead of paperwork and inspections. The government wants to (rightly) make sure you aren't a slumlord so they do a lot more inspections.

I'm on the other side of the spectrum. I converted all my units to luxury units, and have had far far fewer tenant problems after the renovations and rate increases.

High paid tenants seldom miss payment - I've setup automatic EFT withdrawal from their accounts, so I don't even need to process checks, and they aren't really impacted by the rise in unemployment right now - most just work from home.

I think the bitter spot for being a landlord (especially now) is to manage low-mid income units. ...it's just a constant stream of problems - people moving in and out - single mom's that chronically cannot afford the rent - unregistered tenants - people that refuse to pay and refuse to move out - drug and police raids... like it was a total total nightmare.

Managing 12 low-mid income apartments was a full-time nightmare. Managing 12 high income lux units now takes about 4 hours every other weekend and is usually a pleasure to do.

My wife discovered the same thing. You either want to manage section 8 housing or you want higher-income housing. Once you know the system and the case workers it's easy to deal with bad section 8 tenants. It takes a while to learn the ropes, though. The higher-end tenants are generally easy to work with as you mention. The problem now is that's where all the property managers are wanting to go!

Just for my own edification, is the problem market size?

Is it the case that most people are in the middle, with not enough section 8 and luxury qualified people to go around? In my naiveté, I thought that there would be more section 8 people. (Of course, I also thought they would be worse than the middle income people. So I guess that shows how much I know about it.)

Anyway, if the majority of the market are those low-mid people, I mean, that's a problem. I was under the impression that those people normally bought houses they couldn't afford and so didn't negatively impact the rental market that much. (Again, maybe just a stereotype I had?)

Is it the case that most people are in the middle, with not enough section 8 and luxury qualified people to go around?

Exactly. Section 8 is difficult to get as there is a fixed allotment of housing available and it can take years to get your voucher.

The other thing that's surprising is how many people are renting their homes. My own naiveté had me believing renters lived in apartments. Not even close! Most renters live in houses in regular neighborhoods from the low-end to the high-end. There are higher-end neighborhoods near where I live where 20%-30% of the houses are being rented, not mortgaged. In lower-end neighborhoods the percentages are much higher. That was before the 2008 housing crises, the percentages have increased since.

Interesting. I'm actually a bit separated from it because I pay someone ~8% of my rents to manage the place, I wasn't aware of any extra inspections or hassle so I guess I'm getting my money's worth.

I think it depends the city/county. You may not be getting any extra inspections.

My mom was obsessed with providing Section 8 housing and low income housing, the tenants were a mess every single time. I was put off on the entire concept and hassle of real estate, until I was exposed to inner city luxury housing. Which is priced in its own privileged tier to even get started as an investor.

Of course it comes down to the people, regardless of the psychological incentives. But maybe the incentives promote some poor behaviors enough that its such a shared experience of poor behaving tenants.

I guess being good sometimes pay

I own an apartment in Rome that I rent because I don't live there anymore.

It's rented to a Bengali family that nobody wanted as tenants because they're immigrants and such (you can guess the reasoning behind it)

They used to bring the grocery home to my mother, so I gladly accepted to rent my house to them when they asked

They've been the best tenants I've ever had and due to covid they found themselves in the position of being one of the few local shops still open in the neighborhood, so their business didn't suffer much from the lockdown.

Many in Italy stopped paying the rent for 2-3 months as of now, but they always paid in time and in full, I asked them if they needed a cut on the rent to save some money, due to the bad situation, but they refused the offer.

So I'm installing air conditioning at my expenses in exchange

It's good when things go smoothly despites the odds

Someone must be cutting onions in here.

What a great story.

Thank you for being a decent human. Is racism more prevalent in Italy ?

Thanks for the kind words!

I just did what it felt right

I'm inclined to say that racism in Italy is different from the general notion of it: I mean, there are certainly racists in Italy, no point in denying that, especially towards some ethnicities (Africans, middle Eastern and South Americans in particular, they are considered too loud and unreliable - coming from us it's really something - and often also worse than that) but Italians are mainly suspicious of what they don't know (yet) until they know them, like we still live in small state cities, surrounded by walls, that don't trust each other. But it's mostly a trust thing: still people from the north usually don't trust people from the south and vice versa. In Rome I've seen many times that Romans prefer Romans like them, just because it makes them feel safer. Until they realize they really don't like each other.

Think of it as "the evil you know".

I must also say that they are often wrong and that there is a good chunk of the population who really doesn't care where you come from and just loves being with others.

I only spent a month and a half in Italy, almost all of it in Milan, but I was around italian families a lot. The north south thing really seemed like a big deal, though obviously for some more of a joke than others, as you say.

In at least half of the young families (kids aged elementary to high school) I was around in Milan, one or both parents were originally from the south. They spoke of it almost like how immigrants do: they'd moved north for better jobs/better life, with the implicit sacrifice of being close to family/environs where their real roots were. I guess the southerner stereotype to northerners was sneaky/mafia etc, while the reverse was something like overly bourgeois, slick without substance, moneygrubbing etc. Very interesting and a bit sad (that development in the country seems so uneven).

I never got to visit the south so if I ever get to go back I hope to spend just as much time in the south as I did in the north.

The only other place I know well with such strong and old regional beefs is South Korea and that's really only between two regions, plus people from Jeju stereotypically don't trust mainlanders I guess.

There's a similar dynamic in South Africa between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Cape Town is tourism, tech and surfing, Johannesburg is industry (mining, smelting, utilities) and 'business'. Cape Town has even earned the nickname of Slaapstadt (Sleep Town), a play on Kaapstadt, the Afrikaans name.

> In at least half of the young families (kids aged elementary to high school) I was around in Milan, one or both parents were originally from the south. They spoke of it almost like how immigrants do

That's correct.

A lot of families moved from the south to the north in the past 70 years and they lived the same experience you hear from migrants today: discrimination, poverty, segregation etc etc

So many moved to the point that at least half of the north, especially in Lombardy, is made by families with roots in the south (usually grandparents, many are from Sicily)

There are many popular stories about the infamous "we don't rent to people from the south" you could find on the listings all over the north (from Bologna to the Alps)

My parents moved in the late 60s from the country side 100kms south of Rome to the city to find a job as well

My uncles went to Germany, Belgium, Argentina and then have come back only because their parents were becoming old and needed support

I moved from Rome to Milan as well, not in the same conditions of course, I moved for a well payed job, but I still had to move to get it

It is so engrained in our recent history that it's taken for granted that if you are stuck in your homecity in the south the only way to change things is move to the north, that there is even a comic movie from the 80s titled "thanks to Apulia region for giving us the Milanese"

On the other hand people move to the south when looking for a better lifestyle, better climate, better food or just being closer to the sea, and many of those that moved to the north try to go back to where they are from as soon as possible

Including my parents that went back to their city in the country as soon as they retired, especially my father

The north is beautiful, the food is good, but the stereotype says that in the south everything is much better, and I somewhat agree with it. I can't help it, Milan is not Rome, it will never be. A risotto will never beat a carbonara. But that's just my opinion :)

Now that we live almost 800 Kms apart I see my parents rarely, especially my father who really enjoys being alone, away from the crowded city

He went to Rome only to work, he lived there for 50 years, raised two children, but he never really felt part of it, he never lost his accent and never took the Roman one.

So in a way in Italy we are all trying to go back home, one day.

> if they can't pay the hundred bucks the government won't I sure don't care

I used to have this same mentality. Until the person who was renting one of my properties decided to lie about certain issues (like claiming a shampoo bottle lodged down one of the toilets was there for years). When I decided to not renew the lease with that tenant, they decided to cause considerable damage to our property.

Sometimes, when things come easy to people, they don't appreciate it. Holding people accountable helps them lift themselves up too.

Anyone who thinks anything comes easy because you're poor hasn't been poor except in the poor college student "working" their way through the college daddy is paying for type of poor.

Your experience points to the human race sucking not poor people.

There is a significant difference in incentives, though. How many well-to-do people get evicted? Not a lot. And if they do, they can probably afford a higher deposit on their next apartment to offset the perceived risk. And they probably have the money to pay market rate, or above market rate, to get somewhere to live. And even if they can't find something fast, they can probably afford to get a hotel or an AirBnB for a little while so they have somewhere to sleep at night. They will likely keep their job through an eviction to maintain a stable employment record.

People living in poverty don't have those luxuries. Their chances of having an eviction record are higher. Their ability to pay a higher deposit are drastically lower, since just staying alive consumes basically all of their paycheck. The chances of them being able to pay above market rates are basically nil; their chances of being able to pay market rates are not great. If they get evicted, there is a significant chance they end up homeless. There is a significant chance their new circumstances will result in them losing their job as they struggle to find somewhere to live, because priority 1 is not sleeping in a shelter (which I absolutely understand). To add on to that, they might have children who also follow them into their new circumstances. 28.9% of children below 50% of the federal poverty line experience an eviction before they turn 15, and 25.6% of children between 50% and 100% of the federal poverty line experience an eviction before they turn 15.

All of which is to say, the possibility of eviction is far more threatening to people living in poverty. Their lives are not cushy even when they have stable housing. I can absolutely understand that losing their housing could be the straw that broke the camel's back, and they lash out irrationally. I don't think they suck. In fact, they're probably stronger than I am, I don't think I could endure the things they deal with on a daily basis. But I also don't discount the possibility that they react more vehemently to losing their housing than someone who has less to lose.

This is a situation where I think the private sector does a poor job of handling the situation. In a market where there is perpetually more demand than supply (who has a housing glut, other than Detroit?), there is always going to be some bottom percent of less profitable potential buyers who get screwed. For non-necessary goods, this is fine, but not for housing. I don't think any first world countries should have citizens that have persistent worries about how long they will have a roof over their heads.

I don't disagree. I hope I didn't come across any other way.

You said "when things come easy to people, they don't appreciate it" referring to one of your Section 8 tenants.

If you didn't mean to imply that housing comes easy to poor people who are on Section 8, then what did you mean?

That a $0 copay may lead to different behavior than a $50 copay?

You "It's not what you did, it's that you lied"ed a tenant who lied to avoid being kicked out, in order to justify kicking them out?

Yeah, it sounds like moralizing to avoid coming across as ignorant of class issues. However, ironically, it gives you away, because people who think that's excusable are generally ignorant of class issues.

What if the bottle was there for years?

The funny part about that shampoo bottle is that it's the same kind that they keep over the toilet in the cabinet... The reaction when I showed them the bottle was priceless.

Why did they lie? They feared you would kick them out? The horror of that conversation? You are ofc not responsible for the formula but... The most productive approach is probably to beg you for mercy at your feet?

No clue why they did. It was one thing after another, so it wasn't just the bottle issue. After a few inspections and things not being well kept, I decided it was best to not renew.

Do you honestly believe I expected them to beg for mercy at my feet? You need a reality check. The problem is that you don't fully understand the situation, the background, etc.

Of course you don't expect that. You should pick the best candidates within the parameters of the law. Your laws put them at your mercy. Here in the Netherlands it is almost the other way around. (not ideal at all)

And yes, from your comments we cant understand nor judge the situation at all. Even if you would describe it in great detail it would merely be one side of the story.

People can at times end up in a downwards spiral of crap. A mix of stuff that is their own fault and things they couldn't do anything about. At some point one may throw the hands into the air and get careless and sloppy about it. You should obviously get rid of people like that but it isn't like they stop existing when you do.

> when things come easy to people

I think you have a very misguided idea of what it's like to live in poverty.

I think you have a very misguided idea of what it's like to be a landlord....and perceptions of who/what 'landlords' (a very unfortunate term) are from some tenants... no good deed goes unpunished etc. Plenty of great people around but you have to be very careful who you rent to...

For most of my adult life (now I'm 34) I have spent 30-50% of any paycheck I've received on rent.

In my country (Ireland) over the previous two generations, houses went from dirt cheap to extremely expensive. In the generation that came of age in the late 80s and early 90s, you could work a normal job and buy a house, easily. If you had a good job, you could buy several houses.

Now, my generation. We came too late. Houses now cost so much that you will be en-debted to a bank for life if you buy one. Now we have a rent crisis. For many people, they can barely even afford to rent a house and buy basics like food. Meanwhile, anyone who was lucky enough to be a bit older and smart enough to jump on the property wagon when it was cheap, they are rolling in money. They earn thousands of euros from doing essentially nothing except be born in the right generation.

It's very hard not to look at them, look at the hardships of the people my age who struggle to pay rent, and not think of landlords as social parasites.

This is a problem for our generation actually. The two generations before us became rent seekers about everything and from what I can see %90 of current population is unable to acquire significant income to buy anything meaningful. We are going back to feudal times, with minority of population owning everything and others paying for the privilege of using them.

I think a big part of this is that suburbanization created a tremendous amount of (government subsidized via infrastructure) value that in many metro regions has all been scooped up now. There’s not much left to build outward, no arbitrage, and not enough political will to fix it (or: too many people benefitting from capturing the value).

And in combination globalization/corporatization has put a lot of high paying jobs in a small number of areas.

In my opinion it’s basically generational warfare or at least a hidden retirement tax paid for by professionals in booming cities for old people who happened to own property in those cities. Even if you don’t subscribe to that hot take, it should be uncontroversial that property values massively outstripping wages in some areas reduces quality of life and contributes to inequality.

I wonder if the current behavior can change if majority of companies start allowing remote work for a wide area of job families. I think we are already starting to see this in Bay Area with the introduction of remote work in leading tech companies.

Affordable housing/having roof over your head is a massive problem for everyone but the super wealthy. House costs in the western world are wildly out of whack with median incomes and whether you rent or own a disproportionate amount of your income is gone on this. The 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' house flipping and rental era did enormous damage to society, giving the illusion property owners are primarily rent seekers. (Slightly ironic on HackerNews since so many are now paid for working on software for rent rather than being purchased outright). The reality of owning rental property is often one of breaking even and spending money for repairs and new appliances that must be done now, as opposed to when you have the money in the bank for your own place. Finding good tenants is like Russian Roulette. A friend's mother died and she rented the house to a man without doing proper background checks. He showed up once and was never seen again after saying a 'friend' would move in some furniture. That 'friend' was a woman who changed the locks, never paid any rent and was seen bringing large packs of dogs in by neighbors. After months of expensive litigation the woman suddenly left on the eve of final eviction. The house had been trashed with every room used to keep dogs in for her 'dog walking' business. The place stunk and there was drug paraphernalia and needles everywhere. It cost thousands more to restore the house to livable condition. Horror stories like this are not uncommon, These are not 'rent seekers', just ordinary people renting out houses and flats, often under considerable financial stress themselves. Another (also female) friend answered a home wanted ad on a lamp post for a section 8 person and rented a small unit in her garden to her out of the kindness of her heart. That person then called social services after harassing her 'landlord' and told them the person she was renting from was insane. She made her 'landlord's' life hell for months until she was finally dealt with.

The solution is far more affordable housing but how we get back to that 1960's era English and Irish council housing model I have no idea in the current political and financial climate...

> Plenty of great people around but you have to be very careful who you rent to...

This goes both ways. You have to be careful who you rent from, too.

Of all the investment opportunities available to people, I'm not particular sympathetic to purchasing property to seek rents.

> Of all the investment opportunities available to people, I'm not particular sympathetic to purchasing property to seek rents.

If forbidding renting properties to tenants would solve problems, I would be on your side.

People will always need to rent. A society has to allow them to without allowing them to be exploited. But once you allow renting, you have to protect property owners from tenant caused damage as well.

I'm not saying we're there - we may be far from it. But renting is not only useful, it is necessary.

Think lease-to-buy. That way the tenant has skin in the game. MY house was a school project. It was absurdly cheap to build as the construction workers had to pay to build it. If you account for market value the rent paid for the place 4-5 times by now. If you only take the original construction cost + maintenance its been paid for an absurd number of times, so many times over that I don't want to think about it.

We can at least lower the rent down to zero over [say] 40 years but it would be more reasonable to make the tenant the owner after he paid for the place 3 times over.

The rent would have to increase a lot - why not just take the extra money, invest it and save for a down payment? Much faster than 40 years, tenant can live anywhere and there's no financial entanglement between landlord and tenant along the way.

Rent is always based on what people can pay.

@majormajor Absolutely. People are untrustworthy on both sides. I've had the stress of being evicted by an unscrupulous San Francisco property shark in the past, and also know people who have had to spend large sums to evict sketchy people and then thousands more to make repairs. It cuts both ways...

When we talk about 'rent seeking' it's usually not about actual rental of property, which fills a very real need in society.

Maybe it's different in other parts of the world but where I live, rent seldom covers the mortgage on a property, let alone all other expenses. The profit, if any, generally comes from capital gains when selling the property (which right now isn't on the cards for pretty much anyone.)

For Germany, the profits usually come from rent itself as well as capital gains, at least in the cities.

I'm a member and live in a housing complex owned by a cooperative. The rent you'll pay in this kind of setting is at the lower end of the market, the services you get are at the upper end. Being a cooperative means I own shares, so I get dividends and balance sheets etc. Even with this great (for renters) setup, they still pay out 4% dividends and expand like crazy (not to produce more dividends but to provide more apartments). They could pay out much more than 4% but they don't want to optimize for profit and make it an investment, the dividends are meant to incentivize members to invest/save more than legally required.

The place I lived at previously had higher rents and less services. I don't know how much of a profit they made annually, but I'm sure it wasn't anywhere close to 4%.

> rent seldom covers the mortgage on a property

Don't forget that "covering the mortgage" involves building the landlord's equity, so it's not as if this portion is lost to the bank while the landlord has to depend on appreciation. If I "only just cover the mortgage" while renting for the entire term of the mortgage on a house that doesn't appreciate above inflation, the landlord still goes from owning 20% of a house to 100% of a house over that term.

True but there are a lot of additional costs (maintenance, council rates, depreciation) to owning a house on top of the mortgage. Again only speaking for myself but I have a small rental property and the rent basically only covers the interest plus expenses.

I wasn't in it to seek rents, we were nearly breaking even. It happened to be a place I previously lived in and it was easier to rent than to sell during the great recession.

> Plenty of great people around

No offense but bullshit.

In my experience most people serve their own interests. Commercial enterprises in fact select for those who serve their own interests over morality because those parties are most likely to succeed.

In America you are lucky if your interests coincide sufficiently with the owner class that you can both get along productively. Expecting beneficence as well is unproductive.

@michaelmrose 'In my experience most people serve their own interests'. yes, and that includes renters...

Right, but in the case of renters, "serving their own interests" means establishing the fundamental right of having a place to live. That is important at a much deeper level than landlords rights, which involves making money from land and property ownership beyond what is required for their own domicile.

You don't have much of a choice outside of what your rental criteria is and if you take section 8 due to fair housing laws.

This is always true regardless of money or social status.


Providing a place to live for people has no value?

What a ridiculous assertion.

The landlord doesn't provide the place to live, it is already there, and the cost of upkeep is lower than the rent otherwise the landlord wouldn't be able to make a profit.

This is different from, for example, a retailer, who provides the service of gathering things into one convenient place, and does so more efficiently than everyone gathering the things for themselves. A retailer's profits are payment for providing that social utility.

Landlords' profits are mostly a consequence of their holding rights, rather than the provision of any comparable social utility (there are some small efficiencies to be had, but they are not the primary driver of profits).

Property developers (and the people who actually physically construct housing) provide places for people to live. Landlords simply buy/own those places.

Those are almost always different groups in practice though I’m sure you could contrive a counterexample.

A landlord provides about as much value to a consumer as a stockholder does to a public company. Economically the landlord-tenant interaction is primarily a speculative/investment/arbitrage relationship rather than a service

> Landlords simply buy/own those places.

Thus landlords are the one to actually finance those buildings.

> A landlord provides about as much value to a consumer as a stockholder does to a public company.

Which is a significant value, for a company (even if I would like more companies to be privately owned). In this model a landlord is how people can get access to housing without huge initial capital and/or long term commitment.

A rent-based housing economy causes huge problems for those that want to buy an house (somilarly to how Airbnb/short stays cause problems for rent seekers) but this is not about one sector being parasites, it is about an imbalance in the market.

the situation would not be better if landlords did not exist.

Thus landlords are the one to actually finance those buildings.

Actually it's mostly the banks that provide the finance, the landlord is an intermediary.

Landlords take housing out of supply and extract rents from it. They produce nothing- the house was "provided" already, they just inserted themselves into the process.

They transform housing from one form to another. Some people find renting more convenient and flexible than buying.

If a few people didn't own a majority of residents the cost of owning a home would be cheaper.

Why? Are the landlords currently colluding to increase prices? I think there are too many landlords for them all to collude.

That is because the buying process is an artificially inflated burden that reinforces the current system. Removing landlords would also remove the need for them to exist.

when I needed a place to stay for a year in a new country I am sure that the bureaucracy around buying an house was not what convinced me to rent.

Depends on the margins. Personally I think lease-Purchase would be a much better construct.

You think rich people don't cause damage?

I think you are very presumptuous. I grew up in poverty in a third world country and know what it's like to not eat, and when I did eat, I remember having to pick bugs out of my beans before cooking them.


Being smug and sanctimonious in response to having claims of lacking empathy being debunked isn’t a good look.

Sorry I'm confused. Was it not the GP that referred to people on Section 8 as having "things come easy" to them?

That seems like a clear failure of empathy and I fail to see how it was "debunked."

No, I claimed that I allowed my tenant to not pay their portion, at a cost to me in several ways. Please re-read my posts.

> debunked

Everything involved in this thread is matters of opinion and viewpoint, "debunked" is a strong claim.

s/debunked/refuted and my point still stands.

Or you know, someone sharing thoughts who has "been there, done that".

How do you know this? I think their point remains. Someone who gets a hand out, or wins $, as an example, will probably not appreciate it the same as if someone busted their ass for it.

Also, people often have a short memories when it comes to people that help them out financially. They might remember and appreciate it more if you help them move, or help them learn a craft.

How is that even a controversial statement? It's a well known phenomenon in behavioral economics.

There was a story about how charging some nominal amount for a mosquito net led to more consistent usage and lower malarial rates, than if they just gave the net for free.

Why? Because the "price" of something is a signal as well. If it's free, who cares? If you paid something, well then it's yours and you should look after it.

The rich kid, trust fund baby has great credit and can pay cash. But expect damage and a huge legal fight to evict.

Do you have any evidence that they did this because the government assisted them with their housing payments?

If you read OP, he chose not to renew their lease and this caused them to do damage. I think the suggestion here is if a landlord chooses not to renew the lease of qualified tenants, the tenants will voluntarily leave.

No, but the point was to ensure people pay what they're expected to pay. Not to give them a handout.

That's on OP to decide for themselves, though, not you.

What counts as a handout these days? A tech job that pays $50k-$100k over productivity? ("The company has been losing money since its founding, but we need a rockstar engineer so we can survive long enough to get bought by Facebook.")

I'm not sure we have any idea of the real value of things these days, including what work is worth. Credit has distorted the system; just because someone who is work full-time (however many jobs that takes) can't pay the rent rate the market seems to be dictating doesn't mean someone stepping in to fill the gap is giving them a "handout".

That is actually the literal definition of a handout.

It is not. They are not "needy." The market, pardon my language, fucked up either their compensation, or the rental rate, or both. This is the failure of an economic system to properly account for a worker's labor and deliver the shelter designated in the social contract, not an oversight or negligence on the worker's part. Especially with unions defanged or non-existent.

It's not charity, it's account-settling.

The idea that 'anyone who labors is ipso facto entitled to shelter' is new to me in the context of social contract theory. Where does this idea originate?

A lot of people would consider it an example of basic humanity.

Widespread homelessness is a bad look for any culture that likes to see itself as civilised.

...Locke's social contract. This is its basic premise. People consent to performing labor not directly related to their survival, and in exchange, the state resolves to provide the necessities that are not guaranteed by that specialized labor. If I work full time and can't afford food and shelter, why would I continue to work? Further, if there are structures preventing me from subsisting, away from a state which will not secure my livelihood in exchange for my labor, why would I not dismantle those structures?

> I used to have this same mentality. Until the person who was renting one of my properties decided to lie about certain issues (like claiming a shampoo bottle lodged down one of the toilets was there for years). When I decided to not renew the lease with that tenant, they decided to cause considerable damage to our property.

Surely the lesson here is that "this person was a criminally inconsiderate jerk", not "all Section 8 tenants are untrustworthy". (cr__ put it more punchily while I was posting: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23409805 .)

> Sometimes, when things come easy to people, they don't appreciate it. Holding people accountable helps them lift themselves up too.

How does denying housing to someone who needs it help them lift themselves up?

There is a 'blood from a stone' aspect from lower income tenants. If they trash a house and cause six figure damages to your property, your not getting your money back, and typically landlord insurance does not cover intentional damage:


Also people growing up in poverty experience higher stress, so the probability of them doing the 'going mental' thing is higher.

Many mom & pop and breaking even on a mortgage landlords cannot afford that kind of catastrophic loss.

If a rich person or rich person's kid cause this damage. Expect them not to pay and expect lawsuits.

You have to be careful who you rent to. Sometimes someone down on their luck would make a much less demanding and better tenant overall. Be careful chasing away the poor because they actual need your place and may take better care.

You can get vandalism insurance. I don't know any landlord that does get it, though.

Vandalism insurance doesn't necessarily cover intentional damage by tenants on a property.

As a challenge, I would like you to find an landlord insurance policy that explicitly covers intentional damage by a tenant and a price estimate on the internet, because I'm having a hard time finding it!

I'm not sure where you jumped to the conclusion about denying housing. I have no problems with section 8. I gladly accept section 8. What I have a problem with is (and I speak from first hand experience), is allowing someone who is on section 8 to not pay their portion. I allowed this, got burned and learned a lesson.

I thought I was being kind and "helping them out". When, in reality, that individual didn't appreciate it and they didn't take better care of the place because of it. When other factors (e.g. the lying) caused me to not want to renew with the tenant, they caused over 10k damage and flooded my house in retaliation.

> I'm not sure where you jumped to the conclusion about denying housing.

I am sorry that I read too quickly, and misunderstood your point, which I think I now understand. Although I see now that you specifically quoted your parent's point "if they can't pay the hundred bucks the government won't I sure don't care" before disagreeing with it, I reacted too quickly and thought incorrectly that you were disagreeing with the parent's broader point about why it was good to have Section 8 tenants.

One or even a few bad experiences shouldn’t mean disregarding a whole block of people, either

What the probability is of something like this happening with a random tenant vs a subsidized tenet?

I've heard multiple similar stories (in Europe) with non subsidized tenants.

Being disrespectful is not probably not correlated with being poor or not.

> Sometimes, when things come easy to people, they don't appreciate it. Holding people accountable helps them lift themselves up too.

Yea I’m invoking Poe’s law on this coming from a landlord. Are you trolling?

I would think not.

I assume section 8 is our equivalent of Housing Benefit. I know plenty of landlords who wont accept HB tenants because properties have come back absolutely trashed before.

Isn’t that the risk rent is supposed to ameliorate? Otherwise where is the risk of renting property that justifies a middleman?

It is a risk, and any good business man/women will work to minimise risk.

Hah, as if holding property is a business!

Holding properties isn't a business, its an asset of a business at best. The business is providing shelter as a service.

Never thought i'd find a reddit style anti-landlord on HN.

I’m a twitter style anti-landlord, thank you very much.

Bless you for taking a chance on the less fortunate. It sounds like you treat your tenants like people and they in turn repay you in something way more valuable than money: their time and kindness.

You're very lucky. Rented to a single mother with two teenage sons. The teenage sons that decided to strip down living trees of their branches, to make bonfires for parties in the backyard. Two trees are severely damaged, and anything that was burnable in the landscape is burnt. I don't even know how to go about pricing out the damage. Insurance is paying for their rent, because the last house they lived in burned down. Sent her a strongly worded email. She promised not to make more bonfires. But I was there this week, and more branches where hacked off, and one tree is almost hacked of its bark 60% around. Can't sleep at night, getting anxiety that they will burn the place down. They're to move out before the end of the month.

I'm not a lawyer but reddit's r/legaladvice seems to enjoy referring to people to tree lawyers. From what I gather there's a lot of money involved in tree laws. And if you've got picture evidence that's especially loved by lawyers.

It probably isn't worthwhile to litigate against Section 8 voucher recipients. Not much in terms of assets to recover for your monetary damages.

Litigate against the tenant? You're probably right. But insurance? Maybe.

Every time I see comments like this, and no direct offense intended, It always strikes me as coming from somebody who has never filed large insurance claims before. Been seeing this so much with riots lately, "oh you have insurance right, why you mad about your business getting destroyed?". If only it was that simple.

Watching Louis Rossman's videos on insurance recently has given me a whole new perspective on the subject. It's amazing just how much they get away with.

I've seen a lot of shady insurance practices of trying to get out of paying claims, but that "pandemic insurance won't pay for coronavirus because sars-covid2 is not specifically mentioned in the policy" takes the cake. The policy actually specifically says that it covers "flu and sars and other types of coronaviruses".

The fact that they are trying to waste people's time and money to litigate that out where they most certainly will not win is just unconscionable.

Have not seen those yet but this should be a friendly reminder that insurance companies jobs are literally to do everything they possibly can to not pay you any damages or the least amount in damages. They are after all for profit organizations so whatever they can do to keep as much cash as possible is the goal.

Depends on the insurer too. Riots might not be covered. Neither was pandemic. Sucks to be a small business right now. Anyone got first hand experience with SBA loans?

Travel insurance did not cover my 2 week vacation I had planned in Florida in May. They would only cover it if I or a family member who was traveling with me was sick. I count myself lucky to have a job that I can do from home. Others have it way worse right now.

If riots aren't covered in cities and neighborhoods with historical precedent of civil unrest, I don't think that's anyone's fault but the policy provider's.

Why the provider and not the purchaser who chose that insurance? It’s spelled out in the contract what you’re buying (and paying for).

"If riots aren't covered" the clause won't be in any contract to begin with.

I think that's generally false. Policies are generally written to cover a broad set of risks (which would include riots, terrorism, and acts of war) and then have exceptions listed specifically. It would be rare in my experience for property insurance to itemize the types of losses they cover.

As an example, my policy covers general losses arising from physical damage, but then explicitly excludes losses from earthquakes, floods, oil spills, and acts of war.

If I buy only that coverage and a flood or earthquake damages my property, it's not my insurance company's fault that I'm not covered.

What I'm saying is obviously true. What you seem to be concerned about is that you think the premise is false. If that is so, you haven't really communicated that...

If an insurance policy covers all physical damage perils and riots are not mentioned as an exclusion, then riots are covered. It's not like physical damage coverage itemizes every possible source of damage and those that aren't listed aren't covered.

I'm literally not understanding your claim, so it seems like we are indeed having significant difficulty communicating. Because of the way contracts are written, I think your claim is pretty close to obviously false.

Concretely: if riots are not covered, it is overwhelmingly likely that the contract will be structured as "physical damages are covered except as listed below" listed below: "riots are not covered"

If riots are not covered then they are not covered. It's as simple as that.

I'm just saying you're making a whole lot of points without actually addressing the literal contents of my message, which would make this conversation much smoother because otherwise we are speaking past each other.

It looks like that presumption is wrong because riots will be covered under the umbrella of "physical damage" but you haven't really explicitly made that point by addressing mine, so it's hard to move forward with you to a productive conversation.

Yes, if riots are not covered, they're not covered, but that will generally be obvious to the purchaser of the insurance (specifically by virtue of a clause about riots being excluded being present in the contract, in contravention to your claim above that "the clause [about riots] won't be in any contract to begin with". It will be there as an explicit exclusion.).

If the purchaser of the insurance makes the choice to purchase insurance which obviously and explicitly does not cover riots, they ought not be surprised when riots are not covered and it's not the insurer's fault.

Exactly. There's reason stores are proactively boarding up their store fronts, etc. to mitigate the change of having to go through the horrendous loses of business loss, and fighting insurance companies for money.

My dad was an insurance adjuster. He loved denying claims more than anything. "I'm not good at math, but I sure can subtract!" Fucker had a major power trip. Also had a slight anti-corporate bent, so he loved approving claims too.

He loved denying claims and he loved approving claims? How does that not completely cancel out, except perhaps for "he loves his job"?

He did love his job. He enjoyed handling hundred-million dollar checks, among other things. But the glee that he got out of denying a claim was perverse.

The largest insurance claim I've had was for a little over $5k for a vehicle repair after collision while avoiding a pedestrian in the street. I'm not sure if you think that's "large" but it was very painless to do IMO.

That's not large in this context. It would need to be large enough to cover several thousand pounds of legal defense fees to investigate and argue against the claim. So at least several tens of thousands of dollars.

Source: been through insurance claim on a business that burnt to the ground with months of finished product stock (and which our accountant had accidentally under-insured. Very painful!)

Nope, not large.

A friend had an Aston Martin that caught on fire. About a $120k car. It took months of investigations to close that claim. Insurance pointed finger at AM, AM wanted their own investigator, fire inspector involved, etc.

And that’s not even large relative to a house or business.

> And that’s not even large relative to a house or business.

It's way worse for a business, when I went to the MDRS for a week the bistro's kitchen in our Flagship restaurant went up in flames. The cause was unknown, but all in we lost 4.5 weeks of work due to unnecessary down time, not including the equipment repairs, contractor labor and misc costs because the city's investigators wouldn't come out to assess the damage in the allotted time slot to investigate and approve the repairs because of snow (IT'S COLORADO!) and then the Insurance stonewalled and tried to delay things further by not playing nice with the city that delayed reopening.

All told I wouldn't be surprised if we lost over a couple 100ks in lost profits and limited operational costs (we still had the bar/grill upstairs) and having to rebuild the Kitchen plus labor. Corporate paid us bonuses, which were really just 1/3 of our normal pay to help offset expenses, because of limited hours.

Bourdain was right: restaurants really are horrible businesses. Insurance which is mandatory, compounded with local government regulations and approval, makes it way worse.

I had a similar problem with an Audi except it was between the original person that hit me, the repair center thst did more damage and allowed the car to be flooded, and Audi. 9 months to sort out most of the car issues on a 95k car.

I thought the idea with insurance was that they would pay out and deal with recovering the funds legally, if possible.

In my limited experience with car accidents, they generally do.

This car burst into flames overnight while parked. Turns out it was an electrical short in the dashboard wiring. But, cars don't often self-immolate, so the suspicion of wrong-doing caused a delay.

I also don't know if they paid before the investigation was completely closed. They may have, but even at that, it was a few weeks.

They don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts, insurance is ‘better to have and not need than need and not have’ and the longer you can go paying premiums without needing to file a claim the better for the insurer (monetarily speaking)

I wasn't able to collect on insurance for “damage not due to a collision” on my motorcycle when it blew over in strong wind, because the insurance agent said, “There was a collision. When your motorcycle fell over it collided with the ground.”

Would there be any recourse, possibly in court?

I can't imagine that response passing muster in court, because as another commenter pointed out, all damage would involve some kind of collision between two objects which means that if we accept their response then the policy would be worthless because it wouldn't be able to cover anything.

It's implied (in the context of motor vehicle insurance) that "collision" in their case means collision between two vehicles but they're now trying to be pedantic about it when it's in their favor.

That's BS, damage due to wind when nobody was occupying the vehicle is clearly an act of god and in no way was due to your control of the vehicle.

What does it cover? Isn't any sort of damage potentially a collision?

I'm guessing it's only supposed to cover "traffic accidents", as opposed to "user caused" accidents (eg. dropping your phone on the ground).

Actually the opposite. Damage due to non-collision.

I can't think of a better comment to prove my point.

That’s missing 5 or 6 zeros in order to be considered large.

Two words: Judgment Proof


But if it's Section 8, maybe he can find some govt agency to sue?

Here[0] is one I reading from last year, treelaw is no joke. Birdlaw however is very much a joke.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/legaladvice/comments/7p3ubz/updateo...

Is she personally responsible, or is the insurance that is paying for the rent responsible. She signed the lease, but her insurance company is paying the rent. I would like to have some sort of compensation, to cover the cost to relandscape, and possibly for removing a very large tree which is likely to die now.

Can’t litigate against people who are judgment proof.

It’s the opposite. Tree Law!!!! is about people melting down over stuff a real lawyer wouldn’t even take a phone call about. That’s why they are on Reddit melting down about it.

But section 8 tenants don’t have money to compensate either.

These stories that come out of the woodwork every time tenants are mentioned are why I’ll never be a landlord.

> These stories that come out of the woodwork every time tenants are mentioned are why I’ll never be a landlord.

My wife and I own a number of (8) rental properties. My wife manages them and we rarely have problems with tenants.

I will tell you what I think is the secret. My wife figuratively crawls up the ass of all prospective tenants. She needs to see credit history, pay stubs, and proof of punctual rent payments in their current situation (if applicable).

I don't think many landlords do this type of background checking because it's extra work and it can come across as confrontational.

But you'd be amazed at the number of prospective tenants who don't come back after being asked for that information.

Last time I rented from a private person, they asked me for some basic information. I sent them my last 3 pay stubs and a credit check in a short email. They accepted me on the spot, and said most people can't even manage to write a proper email.

Every time we advertise for a new tenant we get many calls that go like this:

"Do you do criminal background checks?"


"Ok, thank you, goodbye."

To me that's very up-front. There might be a lot of people who would try to hide disqualifying information, hoping you don't find it.

There are probably a limited number of landlords who rent to felons, and they have to just make 1000 calls to find a place.

They also get it on both ends. Felons make 41% less than their same age counterparts [1]. Thus they are both felons, and have lower income (as well as a higher likelihood of evictions, etc).

I've been reading Evictions: Poverty and Profit in the American City on recommendation from HN and it has been eye opening. They don't make 1,000 calls, but there are several stories of people making a little over or under 100 different calls because of prior evictions and/or felony convictions. The quantity is only magnified by the fact that they're limited to apartments that are ~$500/month (which is already ~75+% of their monthly income). The book is heavily anti-landlord, although I'm not versed enough to say whether that's the truth or if there is a heavy bias.

I don't know what the solution is. There's a delicate balance of trying to give people a chance to recover or rehabilitate without also forcing landlords with cheap property to enter into blind negotiations and potentially damaging their own property. Frankly, Section 8 seems like a bad solution, and that we should go back to government owned and leased housing where you won't be evicted for complaining about sub-standard conditions because the landlord knows you can't afford a lawyer.

I think the real problem is it's just such a one-sided market in so many places due to market capture by property owners, plus just outright over-representation in lawmaking. If there were a lot more landlords desperate for any renters they can get to avoid going bankrupt on their units, there would be more options for everyone.

As for public housing, there used to be housing projects in the city I live in. The murder rates within those blocks were probably higher than in any country in the world.

> most people can't even manage to write a proper email

So true. I get so many emails like “we can move in tomorrow” or “hook me up”. If they call, voicemails are only marginally better. Makes screening easier though as I simply do not respond.

What rental market is this? In big cities where the majority professional class rents competition has been stiff. I had to meet and interview with my last landlord about my career and income.

Los Angeles, North Hollywood. Super competitive.

Here is "The Secret" from my wife's friend who keeps trying to talk us into buying rental properties. Especially applicable for places like Seattle that have a lot of eviction restrictions and tenant selection restrictions.

For a multi-room home:

1) Find a foreign female student to act as the primary tenant. It is easy to target rental availability to this market.

2) Let her find additional roommates.

Foreign female students usually are well-funded by rich parents. And, if a resident of a "single family home" (the first tenant) is seeking roommates they can discriminate more than a non-resident landlord can.

The last thing I want to do is get into the landlord business so I keep pushing back.

Note, when I was a kid, my mom had a hell of a time evicting a Section 8 tenant. It took months and they left behind tons of garbage and damage. It was tough on my mom because she felt so duped by the lady that rented her house while we were living in another part of the country. My mom was a struggling single mom too, our family of four lived in a basement of her friend for several months until the eviction cleared. And then it took a week to clean up the home before we could move back in.

foreign student seems risky as hell, man. All they have to do is walk and you're left holding the bag. Further more they're not tuned to what is "normal" for the area.

In uni one of the Chinese master's students fell asleep with a hotplate turned on and burned down the apartment a couple down from us. Students gonna student.

Not so amazed on this end. A landlord that demands a lot from a prospective tenant upfront without any indication that it's going to be reciprocated in terms of responsiveness to maintenance issues, understanding when crises (like pandemics) come up, etc., is a red flag. It means you're going to be seen less as a customer who's paying for a service and more as a simple monthly source of cash. Those are the types of landlords that will shamelessly pull all kinds of tricks: jack up your rent annually, remodel nearby units when they want you to move out, and otherwise do whatever they can while skirting the law (if that) to get as much of your paycheck as possible. If your credit is screwed up, they'll make it worse. If you're in a bad way, they'll introduce even more instability into your life. It's generally not worth it.

Rent-seeking sucks. People just want a place to live.

I can tell you that we haven't pulled any of the tricks that you outlined (nor any other tricks that I can think of).

I think we treat the tenants fairly. My wife's background checks are her way of assessing whether someone can actually pay the rent that we're asking for. If the applicant makes $20K / year and the rent is $1300 / month, both parties are just asking for trouble if they sign a lease.

> People just want a place to live.

Can I stay at your place?

I do indeed have a couch. Take your shoes off when you enter. We're renting, I want my deposit back.

Suppose you had a car worth $400k.

What assurances would you want before loaning it to someone to drive cross-country and back? Would you want to see their driving record? Would you want to know their financial situation?

I would be wondering why I live in a country where my only transportation options were walking or begging a wealthy car owner to let me borrow their vehicle for 150% of their car note.

I have one way worse. My Dad rented a couple houses for extra income when I was a kid. One tenant was evicted for reasons I cant remember. To get revenge they spread bird seed or grass seed all over the living room carpet and then turned the sink on and stopped the drain. When my dad came into the house later the seeds has sprouted and were growing out of the wet carpet.

That's actually really creative. Horrible, but creative nonetheless.

My simplified understanding is that this is what REITs are for. They're an investment vehicle for companies looking to build real estate they don't have the capital for. They raise through a REIT and you wind up with a dividend of some kind out of what they make from tenants. It minimizes the risk for a general investor.

Disclaimer: I know very little about them, this is not a recommendation I probably have some details wrong, just something I've seen floated around.

Edit: Someone want to jump in with what they are then? Not like I said go do this right now or something, would genuinely like to learn what I'm wrong about here. Downvoting without a response continues to be the weakest part about this community.

My understanding is that the appeal of owning real estate yourself is housing mortgages gives you: (1) the cheapest leverage available to retail investors and (2) a loan that can't be margin-called. In an upmarket, this leverage lets you juice your returns. Say you only have $200,000. Then by getting a mortgage of $800,000 you get ownership of a house worth $1M. This gives you the right to the cashflow from renting the house out and in an upmarket, the appreciation in the house price. If the house appreciates in value by 20% or $200,000, then with your $200,000 investment your return is 100%. Buying REITs in he form of an ETF doesn't offer you either the cheap leverage nor the margin call-proof loan.

Another difference is that REITs own many types of commercial real estate, ranging from office and apartment buildings to warehouses, hospitals, shopping centers, hotels and timberlands, but usually real estate retail investors own are for housing.

The tax treatment of directly owning real estate is also extremely favorable to landlords in the US, particularly mom-and-pop scale landlords. Many will have businesses which make an economic profit and many of that subset will positively cash-flow, but for tax purposes deemed depreciation will cause their business to operate at approximately break-even or at a loss (offsetting other income). Then, when they sell the property, they either get extremely favorable treatment on exchanging for other properties (to defer taxes until post-retirement), ability to exclude capital gains, or capital gains treatment on income which was effectively business income [0] (and would therefore ordinarily be taxed at a much higher rate).

[0] This might be a little weird to wrap your head around. Suppose I am a landlord and, over the years, depreciate a building by $200k. That is a "phantom" cost. On my balance sheet, it decreases my cost basis in the building and decreases my taxable profits from the rental business. When I sell the property, because I've shifted that rental income into depreciation, my cost basis has fallen, so my gain on sale rises by $200k, but that $200k is now taxed at 0~20% not plausibly 50%+ (top individual bracket + state taxes + self-employment taxes).

(I have somewhat better than casual understanding of this because my father worked in real estate all his life and other family run mom-and-pop real estate operations, but feel free to run past your friendly local tax advisors.)

Taxation is another important advantage direct real estate investment has over REITs. Thanks for sharing it!

Ah okay very interesting, so I guess it would be fairer to say the REIT would be used in the case you were a less a real estate savvy investor perse and more someone who was looking to diversify I guess what I would call a layman's portfolio such as me.

Thanks for the info!

> a loan that can't be margin-called

What do you mean by this? That the loan can't be eagerly collected in full? That the repayment is on a schedule?

Say you have $100,000.

You could buy a house worth $500,000 with 20% down and a 30 year note. As long as you pay the mortgage, it doesn't matter how much the market value of the property changes. A drop of 40% in real estate prices that lasts for five years is not necessarily a problem.

On the other hand, imagine you put $100,000 into a brokerage account and were able to get 2:1 leverage. You could then borrow $100,000 and buy $200,000 of stock.

However, if the market runs into a bad patch and that stock decreases in value to $120,000, your equity is now only ~16.7%. This is below the minimum margin requirement (25%) for your account. Your brokerage calls you up and says you need to put an additional $10,000 in your account - that's a margin call.

If you don't have the $10,000 then your brokerage will sell enough of your position to bring your account back within requirements; possibly at the bottom of the market.

Real estate: 5:1 leverage, no margin call Margin account: 2:1 leverage, plus margin calls

You can get around this by purchasing leveraged funds/etc. Although that should never be considered functionally the same. That said, you could consider real-estate interest+taxes+upkeep similar to the inherent loss/overhead in leveraged funds.

The lender can't foreclose if the house loses value. You have to stop making payments before they are allowed to take the collateral.

In contrast, if you buy stocks on margin, they will forcibly sell your position if the value of the collateral gets anywhere near the loan value.

Is there a reason why REITs can't themselves be leveraged? ie. taking out a mortgage to buy a house, just like an individual buyer.

Many are, but they're not typically 5:1 (or 33:1) no-recourse leveraged.

Largely offtopic but:

You are not incorrect per sé. REITs exists in an awful large number of varieties in every possible flavor and indeed broadly reflect what you describe, i.e. an exposure to a Real Estate. You get paid a dividend (which would be similar to the cashflow you receive from a rental property you own). There are a number of upsides of investing in REITs over buying a property and renting it out: - less work (no need to manage tenants) - less risk (it's a diverse set of properties across multiple locations vs a single property in one location). - highly liquid (you can buy any amount and sell virtually whenever you want you need to liquidity)

there is some downside: - it is not tangible as a property (sometimes that means that if you don't understand exactly what you bought under what conditions it can mean you have some unknown exposure/risk you were not aware of). - it has less upside generally (in terms of risk/reward, it is a much safer investment but with that there is also upside as if you were to own a single property in the right neighborhood). - less leverage (generally you get more leverage on your mortgage than on your investment account)

Particularly the last points is what catches people often. I.e. if you are renting a property and everyone else is owning, and the properties go up, you will feel 'stupid'. People love bragging how they got rich by buying and 'flipping' and ofcourse this happens and has happened in the past. But for all those great stories you don't hear the people that bought and were stuck with the house, had to sell at 'firesale price' because they lost a job/got divorced/etc etc. In the end, buying and owning property with leverage is a choice that fits a certain lifestyle and SHOULD not be for everyone. There are a lot of other investment opportunities in the set for any individual that would be better suited but are often considered 'complex'. Owning a house is simple and has been pushed for decades to 'build' wealth.

The reality is that for most people their housing cost is by far the largest fraction of their cost of living. Owning alleviates this costs to a certain extend if only psychologically, but it does not come risk free (the number of times I heard people say 'house prices only go up'). The leverage factor aside (which is a real thing), looking from a person investing their savings, an appropriate allocation would be something dependent on their age but in any case not much over 10% in Real Estate. About as much on commodities (GOLD/precious metals/etc), Fixed Income depending on age but somewhere between 20% percent earlier in career with little commitments and up to 70% in retirement, with the rest in stocks ideally globally diversified. That all being loosely based on the highest risk-adjusted return models (or how any active manager would run your fund from a top level).

Obviously, this is boring and it is way more smarter to buy this sexy property and flip it a couple times and those tenants are not an issue cause 'you love dealing with them anyways and have nothing better to do'. Basically risk-free money and you didn't even work for it. /s

If being a landlord was so awful they’d sell the property and call it a day. They want to make it sound worse than it is.

Hire an arborists to assess the trees with whatever is remaining; street view images. Also an appraisal based on arborists opinion. Mature trees are very pricey in legal damages. as essentially irreplaceable.

I could never imagine this scenario. But I have a Tree Addendum I had drafted specifically because I don’t want my tenants to even lay a hand on the trees. I’m more worried by negligent tree trimming that kills a tree. But it sets value to each tree too. Something like “$1000 per inch diameter at 18” above ground.” Sorry about this situation you’re in.

How big is the tree? Beavers cause this type damage and they also can't be reasoned with. If it's small enough to reach 60% of the bark just have it cut down and into pieces. It seems to make good enough firewood for them, hopefully the'll burn through most of it and you can plant a new tree in the ashes next month?

If only trees were that easily replaceable. I'm not sure how long you think it takes to grow a tree but a good formula is 1" of girth = 1 year of growth, so a reasonably small tree with a 1 foot trunk is over a decade old.

The pine tree is fully mature, maybe 40+ feet high. Its the one with the most damage to its bark. Too big for me to cut down on my own. Its also next to a fence. The blue spruce I could cut down.

Here in Sydney Australia some local council restrictions are very onerous when it comes to trimming or removing older trees (except a short list of excluded species). I've heard of fines of $40,000 or more. Nothing like that near you?

City has no bylaw prohibiting removing trees

Deer love to rub velvet of their antlers on the pines around me and it's not uncommon to see a whole group of pines without any branches on the lower half and they rub all the bark they can reach off in the fall. If it's 40 ft, would wrapping the trunk with tree wrap protect it until their gone? Then asses it, hopefully it starts to cover the exposed areas on it's own

"would wrapping the trunk with tree wrap protect it until their gone"

Bear in mind that the tenants have already ignored requests to stop destroying the trees, and they have opposable thumbs.

My thought was that some teenagers need a constant reminder.

Are you that worse off if they burn it down? You won’t have to worry about them resisting eviction and you’ll get an insurance payment.

Typically insurance payment doesn't cover everything. You will almost always be at some loss, often much greater than year worth of rent. Also, I'd suspect your future premium rates would rise given insurance companies will see increased risk due to your history of getting bad tenants.

Insurance payments being equal, I don't think it needs to be said that not wanting your things to be set on fire is a reasonable ask.

Problem tenants are different levels of problem in different jurisdictions. In San Francisco, I can imagine a landlord being perfectly happy to eat the distress of a tenant burning down their property, given that in the same stroke they solved the problem of their occupancy of the property.

I lived in a building with a few section 8 tenants. Most were disabled, some elderly, and others young single mothers. I only found out we had any at all because the property manager mentioned it to me. It was primarily a building of young professionals and grad students. She told me management love them. Government always pays the rent on time. They still had to pass a background check so that locked out a lot of the assumptions.

I am very thankful to hear you have had a good experience with your Section 8 tenants.

As a HUD-VASH veteran recipient in Los Angeles, I have hoped to discover that there are reasons to expand programs for more low-income people in the United States. I am EXTREMELY fortunate as a veteran to receive housing assistance. Thanks for making it possible for people in need to have a safe and affordable option! Blessings!

You should waive their fees for the duration of Corona, and refund any ones you've received! Just saying, it would be a great way to do some good, and they might get a lot more out of the 100/200 than you would!

Your tenant is the government though. Thats often pretty sweet if you can get it.

I am also in the process of converting my units to section 8.

I don't suppose the struggling non state supported private renters whom you outbid to buy these houses, which they might otherwise have been able to afford to buy themselves, but who are now paying rent to some other landlord instead, are quite so enamored with your altruistic enterprise.

I actually lived in this multi unit property when I first bought it. My wife and I were newly married and buying a multi unit property qualified us for a 3.5% down payment which was much more management than >=10%. Also, I live in a rural part of America where property values are relatively stable because there's so much room to build. There are ample new homes available and new homes cost about $100 per sq ft. Existing homes are unable to rise above this except for extreme circumstances.

You said something negative about landlords. You can really see from the rash of landlords on this post why hacker news is hugely pro landlord.

I doubt that communities adjacent to you were nearly as grateful.

what a nice government subsidy you have there.


That was my experience as well. There's Section 8 housing near the entrance to Fort Meade in Maryland, and the base commander put those neighborhoods off limits to all military personnel stationed there because of the high levels of violent crime.

Attract crime? Section 8 neighborhoods are like gated communities for poor people except instead of gates they have excessive police presence, few opportunities, overpriced essential goods, poor access to banking but usually several check cashing shops and payday lenders, minimum wage jobs or worse, bad schools.

Section 8 neighborhoods are a dumping ground for the people and families society deems undeserving.

Society pays for housing, health care, schooling, Pre-K, pre-pre-k, food, phone/internet, and more for folks in section 8 neighborhoods. They aren't being abandoned, they are being supported by society at considerable expense, at a higher standard of living than the average human being--in return for nothing.

Meanwhile the average worker pays 30+% of their income in federal, state and local taxes--basically working unpaid from Jan 1st through Mar 31st--and they are supposed to believe that the poor are the victims? Yikes!

Society pays for housing, health care, schooling, Pre-K, pre-pre-k, food, phone/internet, and more for folks in section 8 neighborhoods. They aren't being abandoned, they are being supported by society at considerable expense, at a higher standard of living than the average human being--in return for nothing.

These are all either basic human rights that the richest country on earth should provide universally no questions asked as a matter of principal, or they're necessities needed to participate in a modern economy.

Comparing a section 8 household to a developing household is not a fair comparison unless you want to see more income inequality and have slums, surrounding high tech cities in the clouds, where the servants live.

>Meanwhile the average worker pays 30+% of their income in federal, state and local taxes--basically working unpaid from Jan 1st through Mar 31st--and they are supposed to believe that the poor are the victims? Yikes!

Infrastructure and essential services are damn expensive. Without roads, telecommunications, satellites, vaccines, bridges, dams, railroads, hospitals, social safety nets and the like the American way of life would not be possible. If you want to consider what sacrifices in these areas look like I suggest you look at the recent Michigan dam failure.

It is possible for both the decaying middle class and the impoverished class to be victims of systemic corruption and misallocation of resources.

Section 8 housing is a trap, 1, where many Americans get stuck. There are many perverse incentives at work where it is better for the recipients to stop working or not work at all because doing so would end their benefits. Likewise, many families are far better off on benefits than not. I did some napkin math about this previously, 2. So, the solution lies not in being angry at the people stuck on benefits who've failed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Rather, with poor leadership, propaganda, benefit cliffs, and congresses inability to do their job and fix these systems that have been broken for generations.

Everyone suffers when we fail to fund essential services. Complaining about the raw numbers is easy and makes for a good clickbait headline but such statements lack intellectual rigor and blindly ignore reality.

1. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/section...

2. news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22043619

>> These are all either basic human rights that the richest country on earth should provide universally no questions asked as a matter of principal,

That would be true if we were actually "rich". We're often sold this vision that first world countries are somehow "rich". Or at least relatively "rich" to 3rd world countries. And, it simply isn't true. We're slightly better off and able to afford a lot of frivolties like tech gadgets and clothes.

In poor countries, people spend upwards of 90% to 100% on necessities. In so called "1st world" countries, people spend 80% or more on necessities: this data is available, just look at what the average US citizen spends on, 80% plus is all necessities: housing, transportation, food, water, medical care and education. 1st world countries aren't nearly as far ahead as we think we are: most of us don't even have 400$ in savings.

Personally, I know a couple in the top (2%-3% nationwide, roughly 200-300k or so) with high wage tech jobs, but their COL is so high, they don't have their townhouse paid off, they don't even have a backyard to grow food in, they even have to rent out every room of their townhouse just to make ends meet. Do you call that "rich"? And yet, their tax rate is extremely high.

The fruits of American labor and dominism are not distributed equally. Most Americans have these rights and necessities in varying degrees from bare minimum, eg leaded water will prevent death by dehydration but causes other problems. Or housing insecurity due to poor opportunities and insufficient safety nets. This does not mean America is not rich as a country. Just that American leaders are incompetent at the wheel. It's been established that America has the means to feed, house, and clothe everyone. Yet it's still an issue. Just a political one.

You've not responded to several of my points and are instead writing paragraphs about the headline summary of my comment. I'm not sure what points you're even trying to make here, maybe you're just venting? You started off talking about what is provided to Americans, when I elaborated on the things you've brought up you've moved onto different topics.

Percent of income spent on necessities is not a comparable metric between developed and developing countries when using it to make unspecific sweeping claims about progress. You're conflating American accomplishments with individual metrics. The two are related yet separate issues.

Your friends making 2-300k are fiscally irresponsible in my opinion. If someone making 6-10x median income can't figure out what millions of other people have on a fraction the income then that says more about the person than anything else.

Are there many efforts in the US to spread subsidised housing out through a broader community to avoid this? I think the idea is that everyone learns something from someone else (empathy, community spirit, leading by example with behaviour, etc).

Yes, and it's led to increasing crime in working-class neighborhoods, because section-8 doesn't cover enough for rent in expensive areas.


There is a real problem with the situation though. And I want to distinguish between the decision you've made, which are savvy, and the broader picture where this showcases some of the more unfortunate elements of socialism.

It is a terrible outcome if millions of Americans are about to go broke and the relative winners are people who (a) totally rely on government handouts and (b) rely on people who are totally reliant on government handouts.

This story points to a situation where a rational person would rather be involved in ventures that produce less resources than they consume. That will really start to hurt the absolute measures of prosperity if it persists for long.

> These tenants are often not accepted by landlords because they're thought to cause more issues.

You're ignoring the potential effects on property value.

> You're ignoring the potential effects on property value.

Bingo. Surprised nobody else brought this up. Not to mention the neighboring home/property owners are going to be pissed off because it's a potential drag on their property value. Though the stigma against section 8 may not even be warranted. I wonder whether there are any studies on the effects of section 8 on communities.

One of the few things our government (UK) has got right with housing is to ensure nearly every development includes social housing.

It's not perfect though as you get ridiculous situations like social housing in modern apartment blocks in the middle of London that no average worker could afford.

Or separate entrances for the social housing flats and regular flats in the same building (regular as in how it was intended to be built, not with extra walls to create extra rooms or with no living rooms at all).

Or with social housing residents being asked to pay separately for communal areas maintenance (because the government doesn't pay for that but you can't really stop people from walking on the grass) that they didn't ask for.

Nothing is perfect but it's a long way forward from complete segregation.

This is just the start. Landlords would be smart to work with tenants to share some of the loss and renegotiate temporary adjustments to keep at least some revenue coming in because the heady days of high demand for rental units is likely behind us for a while.

It'll be worse in downtown areas. I've heard from multiple firms that are looking at downsizing their expensive office space and continuing to allow employees to work from home. if a person doesn't have to work downtown they will often choose not to live there either.

COVID is going to change the face of urban real estate. So if you have a tenant, they're gold and do what you can to keep them.

Unfortunately, as part of the unfolding of the post 2008 recession, a lot of rentals shifted from individual or smaller landlords to larger corporate landlords whom take a much more impersonal approach to making it through the depression. To some degree, to the extent they can take out holdover loans and let rentals sit empty, they will do just that - irregardless of the social utility of compromise.


This is the pernicious dynamic. For Large landlords, certainly but also generally, you have a situation where property appreciation becomes more important than rental income, so evicting people and getting nothing becomes a better outcome than lowering rent.

Edit: Also note this appreciation driven dynamic is something of a product of QE - printing money. As the treasury dumps money into markets, anything of apparently reliable value, "money-like", becomes more valuable - commodities and land being examples but the "best" companies also. This appreciation process becomes more important than the ordinary use of the object in the case of land (empty mansions in London being the prime example but we may wind-up with many more if the approach continues).

If you raise taxes on non owner occupied housing you can achieve any reasonable target for real estate "investing" you desire.

If you just want to target holding but not renting property because it decreases housing supply you can do that even more aggressively.

I'll take 100% of appreciation for the months it sat unoccupied if it sat unoccupied for 3 or more months for 1000 Alex.

Was a renter in 2008 and you are spot on. Same situation in the Bay area as well as NY/CT. It was insane that rents started to go up during that time. People basically walked away from their houses and started to rent. It was weird. Also, the "corporatization" of housing scared me a bit. Consider the area in downtown Mountain View. Rent was under 2K around 2008. The corporate landlords did minor renovations (fancy gyms, granite counters, maybe a redo of flooring) - they then did fancy websites and sold a lifestyle. Totally focused on the high-paying tech jobs. I used to live in a complex with families and non-techies. All that evaporated as rent shot up to 3.5-4K for the exact same units.

As a renter I honestly do not mind the corporatization.

When I’ve looked for apartments in the past I’ve seen almost no difference in rents (as advertised on Craigslist, apartments.com, Zillow) between large corporate landlords and small time landlords, except for very high end luxury apartments I’m not in the market for.

Yet I’ve heard countless horror stories about unresponsive/malicious small time landlords and very few about large landlords. To the contrary, while renting from large corporations I’ve found that my service requests are addressed very quickly, there’s almost always someone in the property management team I can talk to about anything, and everything operates smoothly.

Perhaps the “mom and pop” landlords only advertise via word of mouth but every time I’ve looked for apartments I’ve come away thinking that renting from those same large, faux-luxury (as opposed to unrenovated since 1985 for the same price) corporate landlords are the best deal when renting in expensive areas.

There's more variance with small-time landlords. With a corporate overlord you know exactly what you're getting: they are going to be firm about sticking you to the exact terms of your lease and will raise your rent by the maximum possible each year, but you can also expect any maintenance issues to be taken care of quickly and they aren't going to feud with or retaliate against you. With a mom & pop you might get someone really nice who never raises your rent, understands if you're a couple days late, and takes pretty good care of the place; but you might also get someone who is completely unresponsive, violates a bunch of tenant laws figuring you don't have the resources to call them on it, and nickle & dimes you on your deposit.

I've rented apartments from giant corporations 4-5 times, and every single time I got screwed on the deposit on the way out. Presumably because they ran the numbers, and knew that they were better off nickel-and-diming people every time since most of their tenants wouldn't have the time or energy to drag them to small claims court.

There's also no way to negotiate with a person who has any actual power. You can talk to polite mooks all you want, but they can't actually change anything. You're guaranteed to get the maximum legally allowable rent increase every year and a huge pain in the ass battle for your deposit every time you move out.

True, though tenants in corporate owned single family housing all tell me it's closer towards the worst landlords. The corporations won't harass you, but they essentially don't want to do anything. You just get an expensive "as-is" house, which can be okay if it's in decent shape.

Specifically I was referring to large apartment buildings owned by corporations. Have never lived in a corporate owned SFH nor did I know that it was common. In my experience these large apartment buildings are quite proactive about getting anything fixed - likely because they have a team of people dedicated to doing that full time or at least contract it out, and just chalk it up to the cost of doing business.

Ah, makes sense. I didn’t factor in the possibility that a small landlord might not raise rents (though I assume it’s less of a factor in SF given rent control).

I move around a lot so rents getting raised aren’t as important to me.

Yeah, your experience is just very different from the average renter if you move around a lot, so you have different concerns.

Corporate landlords are rational and reasonable negotiators who will readily respond to market signals. Small landlords are a crapshoot; you might get one who just prefers an empty unit over lower rents. You can easily see this from craigslist data right now. Large buildings are lowering rent faster than small buildings and single-family houses.

This is true. I have known people who were more happy to have a house empty for months on end waiting for a tenants at a higher price rather then taking a tenant now for a lower price (~$200 price difference). They made the decision emotionally based on, "my house is worth so much" instead of looking at what would be in their best interest. Also some of the higher paying tenants I have seen not take good care of property.

I just accepted a lower price with a tenant because it helps them and was way better then them leaving and trying to find a tenant now.

This is really true. People talk about rents dropping in SF, but if you dig, it's really the large apartment complexes that are professionally managed. The same apartments that tends to be more expensive.

A good friend just moved to a 1-bed in SF last weekend. Small building (6 units). Rent was $2,200 per month, which is about the same as what it was last year. And they looked at a lot of units. They definitely noticed rents softening as they could knock $100 off most rents with little effort.

This is more about the specific financials of the property and the portfolio of the owner, for both small and large owners. Many small owners are, like, funding their grandkids trust funds and a few lost payments are not worth the trouble. Large owners may have occupancy covenants, or, conversely, may have appraisals that have to be maintained.

My personal experience is small owners are "reasonable" and open to building a relationship and large owners could give an eff, but mileage varies. Cheers.

Living in a place the landlord has a strong emotional connection to can also be difficult (e.g. their previous family home).

I wonder if that explains my current place. There was a recent ownership change and right before that the owners cut down the shade trees for the house. There's no air conditioning so back in April it was already getting too hot to stay indoors. The lease renewal is in June so when the new, corporate management company asked us if we wanted to stay and that they were generously not going to raise rent, we asked they either lower the rent or figure out a cooling situation. They balked so we walked and they didn't flinch at all. They were honestly surprised we weren't going to take such a deal.

In California for example, due to state-wide rent control, it's very dangerous for a landlord to lower rents. I would rather offer 6 months free rent than lock into permanent nonadjustable lower rent situation.

This is yet another reason in the long list of reasons why rent control is a bad policy.

I don't disagree, but it's important to remember that when rent control is proposed, it's because some people are very desperate. It would behoove us to suggest viable alternatives every time it's proposed and we shoot it down.

After my father died, my mother rented out the lower floor of her home. I think your definition of desperate is unfair it it includes only tenants. Not all "landlords" are taking on the headache of renting out units because they are professional landlords -- many are similarly disparate, have mortgage payments, property tax, repairs, utilities, etc.

I'd be in more favor of rent control if it would also freeze property taxes, electrician bills, utility costs. It is turtles all the day down.

Most places with rent control also have similar limits on property tax increases. In fact, I think most places have limits on property tax increases because property taxes are largely just some number pulled out of the ass of some bureaucrat.

Utilities across the US also have regulated rates.

Yeah, lots of the problems with rent control are related to it being an unfair disadvantage to some (usually not all) landlords and they have expenses as well.

But again: the reason rent control is passed is because enough people with significant political leverage were hurting. We need to be able to show them a better alternative if we don't want the pain of rent control's (un?)intended consequences to linger.

The alternative is allowing more housing development.

The real alternative is more housing development plus treating housing as a social good rather than an investment, but that's a long-term goal, it's not gonna happen overnight.

The government could build affordable housing and rent it out at a reasonable price. "Council houses" as they are called in the UK are built very well. They are often ugly, but I'm sure that these days they can be built well, cheaply and made to look OK.

The government could start by removing hurdles to build. The amount of hassle one has to go through in California in order to build housing is staggering.

When I visited a friend in England I accidentally stayed at a council estate that someone put up on AirBNB illegally. While it wasn't a slum, it definitely wasn't "just OK". I suspect the reason why that particular unit didn't look like a slum is because the owners were renting it out and doing their best to keep it nice. Not a single bit of that place was built well. Maybe it was cheap. Looked OK from the outside but inside it was like some background location for a movie that's about to experience an apocalypse.

What was specifically wrong? Structural issues or cosmetic. A private house from 1960 that hasn't been renovated since, unless carefully maintained will also look shit on the inside. Look at property that is auctioned in the UK, for example.

I got the impression that council estates are newer than that. However, the floors in the general areas (stairs, lobby, halls) were not cared for. The portal from the hall to the unit had a weird, rough tear in the floor right along the door jamb. I noticed once I crossed it that the unit was a half centimeter lower than the hallway. The fixtures (lights, plumbing, switches) were absolute penny quality. Very little hot water (which seemed dire since tea is so popular). The bathtub was on top of a cabinet, which I thought was really weird and unsafe. It didn't seem like an aftermarket thing- it looked like the tub was built like that.

0/10 would not use AirBNB again. Sleep on a friend's couch or floor, or shell out the money for a hotel. Or use a hostel if money is tight.

You chose to book a room using a service that’s known for a near complete lack of ethics. Oopsy!

It was a huge oopsy. I haven't booked through them again.

There are a number of "housing projects" in the US that turned into rampant crime nests. US politicians are largely wary of such projects right now.

The vast majority of council houses in the U.K. are owned by private landlords who rent to the council.

No one wants to live in Social housing projects in the U.K. and for a good reason they are all rubbish, the U.K. has had some of the worst designed and built social blocks in the world many of them were demolished within 1-2 decades.

Stuffing poor people into high density housing is a horrible idea every study shows that spreading them out is not only cheaper but also much more beneficial to them.


1. Not all social housing is high rise or high density. Look outside of the cities for example - new towns. Lessons can be learned this time.

2. Much of the social housing was sold off in the 80's I think, the trick is to keep government ownership of it, not sell it for a pittance and let private landlords profit from price increases.

Outside of the cities these are still high density, just instead of a 30 stories block those are 3-4 stories blocks in the burbs.

Concentrating poor and vulnerable people isn't a good strategy they do better when they are surrounded by the better off, having 2 low income families on a street would produce a much better outcome and shoving 200 of them.

Social housing in the UK is complex, at some point nearly 80% of the people lived in social housing, it wasn't for low income families but rather for nearly anyone but the most affluent which often held titles and on the other spectrum the most remote and rural communities.

Social housing was seen as a means to bring workers into the cities during the industrialization of the UK.

Today despite the fact that anyone is still eligible outside of political corruption which ironically nearly exclusively plagues Labour councillors, MP's and party officials which somehow jump to the front of the queue despite earning well above the mean council housing is seen as a solution for the working poor.

Councils already offer rent assistance, have council properties which are used to temporary house vulnerable people, building more of those won't help just look what happens when you have council flats in new build projects, drugs, anti social behaviour and damage to properties simply due to the high concentration of these individuals.

So while having 20-30% social flats in a new build project might seem like a good idea the only thing that it causes is a huge backlash from the regular tenants due to this behaviour and nearly always they end up winning.

I don't think it exemplifies why rent control is bad. 6 months free is 50% off annualized. It's just a very simple, easy-to-execute strategy for keeping the rent on paper high.

excuse me, but dangerous for who exactly? You mean your future returns on investments will be lower on your rental property? How exactly is that dangerous? Is someone's life in danger? If anything, lower rents allow more people to afford housing, making it less dangerous.

Let me guess, you have huge problem with the homeless situation, but are unwilling to consider lowering rents? Is that right?

So a rent reduction by another name?

Yep. My landlord did this with me. My rent is still the same amount but we created an additional 'discount' agreement on top of the original lease to lower it by a substantial amount.

If a lot of landlords start exploiting that loophole, I wouldn't be surprised if the law were revised to be based on the average rent over a year, or something similar.

They wouldn't have to change it, because that is factored in. The law states:

"In determining the lowest gross rental amount pursuant to this section, any rent discounts, incentives, concessions, or credits offered by the owner of such unit of residential real property and accepted by the tenant shall be excluded."

So if your rent is $3k/month, and the landlord gives you 3 months rent-free, your rent according to AB 1482 is still $3k.

That doesn't mean the law cant change.

No, but it means the law was expressly with to account for this circumstance, so it isn't a "loophole".

I think the only effect of that would be to prevent landlords from giving free months of rent - better to lose a tenant than permanently have lower rents which may not be sustainable.

There are a million ways around that - for example, the landlord could employ the tenant to clean and tidy the property.

The obvious fix would be to make it like tax evasion (illegal) vs. avoidance (rational behaviour with a morally questionable extreme) - viz. to a large degree the line is up for interpretation, coming down to the spirit of the law and the motivation behind what was done.

That really would be the best legislation. A simple calc of the rent of the first 12 months of the lease becomes the base rent.

This is already the case in Berkeley.

At the same time maybe it's time for landlords who have been sitting in armchairs swimming in cash to start giving back to the people who haven't been able to afford to live here?

Particularly in California -- it makes no sense for landlords to pay artificially low property taxes. Prop 13 should be reformed so you pay property taxes on the market rate of the property if you're renting it out.

> it makes no sense for landlords to pay artificially low property taxes

The core problem is Prop 13, not that Prop 13 doesn't exclude for-profit properties. There are a ton of property/owner classes that should absolutely not get the Prop 13 discount. Malcolm Gladwell did an episode on why golf courses (specifically member-owned courses) in California are massive misallocations due to Prop 13.

It's not low when you first buy, even for years after. Rates can effectively start around %1.5 to %1.2 percent depending on the city.

That's because entrenched property owners are paying artificially low taxes due to prop 13. Repealing it would equalize the tax burden.

While I agree that property taxes could come down if Prop 13 was eliminated, I highly doubt that would ever happen. The gov't could never turn down a new pot of money.

Repealing prop 13 would not reduce rates for new buyers. It would only make it harder for them to retain their properties as the taxes rise.

Not sure why this was downvoted. The reality in SF and many other locations is that supply has been artificially limited and landlords who bought years ago have been making enormous profits. I don't know that I'd describe it as "giving back" but there is a market recalibration that is justifiable and I won't lose too much sleep worrying about landlords in SF who make 30% less than they do now.

Landlord aren’t the ones imposing the artificial limitations though. It’s the same group who created the rules that would punish a landlord for temporarily lowering rent.

> Landlord aren’t the ones imposing the artificial limitations though

It's certainly not the people moving in from outside the area who want to rent for affordable rates.

Landlords are part of the NIMBY problem, but not the only part.

But they aren’t the part of the problem that is accountable for it. In a democracy you should expect that everybody will be appealing to the government to protect their own interests. The NIMBYs quite obviously do this. But it’s the local governments that implement the NIMBY-protecting policies. The local governments are the ones accountable to the people, not the NIMBYs. I imagine the delinquent politicians are quite happy when people point the finger at landlords instead of them.

I want to agree but I’m not sure landlords are exactly to blame for high rent. There are many people and players involved-like the willingness of people to pay so much of their income to housing. Part of why you can’t find a better deal is everyone else willing to take the higher price.

> There are many people and players involved-like the willingness of people to pay so much of their income to housing

You are saying that "the supply line isn't to blame for the demand line" when the problem is where they intersect.

I realize Im oversimplifying the supply constraints because landlords aren't all of the NIMBY problem.

I agree. It’s a faulty line of reasoning. I’ve felt it before though so it might be a “gut feeling” fallacy.

I think it's only faulty because it's incomplete, but the demand side is a real factor. There are tons of discussions here and elsewhere trying to figure out how to "recreate Silicon Valley elsewhere" (which would theoretically spread the demand across a much larger area).

Another end is making it more difficult to flip real estate as a career. But that’s at the buy instead of rent demand side-but they’re totally related and affect each other.

No times been better than post-covid for a desire to branch SV outward. My two cents would be looking at how to employ the people outside SV. Like is it noise about quality of their education or abilities? Not being able to interact with them locally?

I had this thought recently to make a programming “agency”. How to structure an organization that actually works on a programming task comparably to how a 1-3 person team would, but regardless of program complexity. Wonder if this and hiring people to WFH are compatible.

If that were the end of it, I'd agree. Except for the massive amounts of NIMBYism strangling the market by preventing new supply from entering the market to meet the demand.

You’ve got it backwards when it comes to residential real estate. More people become renters during a recession. Vacancies reduced dramatically after 2008.


2008 didn't have airbnb imploding at the same time.

This appeared to be a valid point (why the downvote).

An underlying pandemic throws most of the historical data out the window.

Just ask Hertz, AMC and Las Vegas.

Why the downvote? Because there are a few people who downvote anything negative for landlords on this board, and as we can see from the replies to this story, there are many landlords on hacker news.

Well. 1st one to the door (selling artificially inflated assets) does not guarantee success.

I'm sure many/most landlords are still rooted in reality and are still using the infamous investing formula of "where there are losers, there are winners" (aka buy low, sell high).

In some places, like Oakland and Tahoe, rent seems to be going up. But in San Francisco it is going down. Probably all as a result of people fleeing San Francisco to nearby places with a cheaper rent per square foot.

Mix shift. Oakland has just gone through a major wave of new construction. New apartments command higher rents. This does not necessarily imply a movement of people.

> Oakland has just gone through a major wave of new construction. New apartments command higher rents.

Funny, the religion in these parts is usually that building more apartments is the only way to drop rents.

New construction (supply) brings down prices overall but rental market reports only include inventory turning over right now, which is biased toward new, empty, and more expensive buildings. These two facts are not conflicting.

All new construction in the bay is usually high priced luxury since that’s where developers make the most return. Thus new units aren’t cheaper.

What I’ve heard is that’s either supposed to free up other older apartments or we’re supposed to wait 30 years for the new luxury apartments to become old and cheaper.

I think we need rules about constructing diversified units, not exclusively luxury ones but proportional numbers of basic, medium and luxury.

How in the world did this one of my comments get a downvote.

Are that many people really moving away? I understand the logic, but it's a major life decision, so I'm surprised if it's happening so rapidly in response to covid. I've heard of people leaving the city temporarily, but assumed many of them were maintaining their apartments.

I would have guessed the lower rents were more about money drying up, and landlords being desperate to hang onto any tenant who can pay.

Anecdotally, I know two professionals in their late twenties who used to live in New York City, but moved home to be with their family during quarantine. Their leases are up in September, and neither one seem likely to renew, since their jobs can be done remotely and their offices are planning on maintaining the status quo for the forseeable future, past the point when many people usually sign leases. I don't have data that this is a larger trend, but I don't see anything particularly unique about those two individual' s situations that would make a similar approach untenable or unappealing to many other people.

We're in a similar situation in our household. Our jobs are remote until (at least) 2021/1/1. Our lease is up in December, instead of June/July (unfortunately for us!).

In our case, instead of moving away, we'd be pouncing on the way-below-baseline price, high-quality rentals that have been popping up for the last couple months.

The market's totally inverted. It used to be that if deals like these appeared, they'd be snapped up within 48 hours or less. Nowadays, they linger for days and even weeks in some cases.

To clarify, I've been tracking 1-2BR apartments in the Clinton Hill-Brooklyn Heights-Park Slope-Carrol Gardens quadrangle. I've heard that other neighborhoods are popping in the other direction, but I don't follow them as avidly.

This crisis is terrible in many ways, but it's also a perfect opportunity to find your long-term rental "forever-apartment", if your lease is up.

It’s June. I don’t know about SF but in NYC most leases expire in June or July.

A lot of companies aren’t ending WFH till 2021 or fall. Plenty of young people are not renewing their lease and staying with their family outside the city or state.

My building had has four tenants move out in the past week - one a family.

They’ll probably be back and rent again but by then rents will have dropped.

You're right; the immediate response is driven by cash flow. The situation im talking about is likely a year or more away as many commercial firms are in longterm leases.

I'm just saying that its definitely on the horizon given the conversations I'm having, even if evidence at the moment is scant.

Yeah, people want that space for a home office now.

Google 'white flight' for historical precedent. It remains to be seen if it will happen again, but it is certainly possible. I know I'm ready to leave the Bay Area for someplace boring.

If there is deflation in the housing market, then marginal mortgage holders will walk away and become renters. That will swell the ranks of renters and drive up rents.

In many metro areas owner occupied real estate is overpriced relative to rents. When this imbalance corrects rents will rise, as before the correction owner occupants were subsidizing renters by overpaying for property even though renting made more sense.

Why do you say this? By all accounts, in the UK at least, rental demand has boomed compared to last since lockdown restrictions eased


Leases are typically for a fixed period, so it's really the integral of these charts that matters - how many people are currently in a rental.

I suspect that number is still a long way below normal, because lots of people are moving in with friends or family (students, young professionals, etc.).

My experience in London is the ratio of people looking for a house to houses advertised is the lowest I've ever seen in 10 years.

The second wave and new restrictions are inevitable.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact