It’s up to Harrell to Save Renters in Peril

Comments

1

"a potential tsunami of evictions"

If this was a valid concern, we would have seen huge increase in evictions outside of Seattle since 10/31/2021.

2

@1 - exactly. I've said before that evicting people who were good tenants before the pandemic makes no business sense. There was a WaPo article last week noting that the expected surge of evictions there was not happening, either.

Now, that vaccines are available to all and there are jobs going begging, it is probably time to start asking that people pay their rent. I am not sure that a continued moratorium makes any sense. Helping people dig out of the hole of back rent is going to be challenging but it needs to happen.

3

The tsunami was always bullshit . It was used to pass permanent regulations. The longer government puts off letting people run their businesses the worse our housing problems become.

4

The lack of a tsunami is based on a statement from a landlord association.

Incredibly good article. It chews through and digests a lot of detail, while giving useful information.

5

@4 Personally, I am basing the lack of a "tsunami" on the complete absence of any media reports indicating widespread evictions occurred after eviction moratoriums were lifted in other jurisdictions.

I have to assume if widespread evictions were indeed taking place, someone would be talking about it. Perhaps even the Stranger would notice.

6

Government can't force landlords to not get paid forever. This eviction ban has to end sometime. Unemployment in King County is super low. Now is a decent time to end it.

7

https://esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo/monthly-employment-report

8

Ah, right. The Seattle moratorium hasn't even ended yet, but all the RWNJ's are shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU! that landlords didn't enact rent increased before the moratorium expired.

My landlord, who literally reaps a 70% profit off our rents based on the current valuation and tax basis of his property (you can look up your own at: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/assessor/Parcel-Sales-Search.aspx) just raised our rent by $100 a month starting in June, claiming "cost of living increases". So, maybe he gets a little less return from property tax increases, but otherwise he hasn't spent a penny on upgrades since buying us a new hot water heater about four years ago.

9

Let's be honest though. In Hannah's example does anyone believe a tenant that is $40K behind in rent is ever going to be able to make that up? I'd support regulations that Covid related evictions can't be held against renters when applying for an apt in the future but I honestly don't see how extending this another few months to say May is going to make that much of a difference debt wise to anyone who is that far behind.

10

@5: "Perhaps even the Stranger would notice."

Not if it's outside Seattle. Maps of the floating bridges are annotated with "Here be dragons" to the East.

11

@8: In June? You should have no trouble accommodating. Cut out Netflix and a few subscriptions and maybe your premium wine and vodka indulgences and you'll be fine. Crybaby lib.

12

$100 a month, probably the new tax to fund the expansion/renovation at Harborview.

I voted for it too, it’s definitely worth the investment, and now have to pay for it.

That’s how property taxes work.

13

8- Please share your calculations arriving at a 70% profit. I am wildly skeptical. A 5% return is a more typical number for a residential real estate investment.

Also, regarding the $40,000 unpaid rent: Another way of looking at it is the renter is now $40K richer because they received $40K goods or services without paying for them, and the provider of the goods and services is $40K in the hole, with no likelihood of recouping that money.

14

@8 If you were my tenant, I would evict you for ignorance and attitude, which are not protected classes. You will always be a renter with that sort of math and set of assumptions. Here are a few realities. A piece of property has value that an owner could sell it for. If a house was worth 1 million, the landlord would be lucky to rent it for 5,000 a month. That is 60,000 a year. Taxes would be 10,000, and maintenance and insurance about another 5,000 more or less. That nets $45,000 assuming no loans and not accounting for time spent managing and dealing with people like @8, which may cause health problems.

If the owner owned it outright and sold it for the million, and they put the money into a stock index fund, it would generate a pain free $75,000 annually, with no snark, taxes, risk of deadbeat tenants and other maladies. And a lot more in the past couple years. Caveats of course are that this is an average return, and some years the market would be higher, and some lower. And many owners have debt to service. They real return is in appreciation, which historically has not been as high as we have seen in the last few years (and remember we had years of decreasing values around 2008 and other periods.

Any landlord who rents to low income folks is more a saint than a sinner, given the tendency of such tenants to be on the edge of ability to pay. There is really no excuse today to not be paying rent and be employed if capable of working. And in past months during early Covid, to pay at least part of the rent out of the public funds being provided. If one can afford anything optional, paying a bit to the landlord is the right thing to do. And remember folks that non-payment is not a pass if one has an income. It is easy to go to court, win the case, and get a judgment allowing one to garnish wages and seize other assets, not to mention the mark on one's credit rating.

There is no more sin in owning and renting out a home than there is in getting paid for a job, or obtaining a retirement income from a pension, IRA or 401K. No investor is entitled to make a profit. They take a risk with their cash and time. No tenant is entitled to free housing or a right to tell a landlord that they may not profit off of risk and fortuitous timing.

15

@14 - not to mention the fact that @8's landlord very likely lost money of broke even at best the first few years he owned the building. That is investment that has to be considered.

As for renting to poor people, you are 100% right. The city has placed 110% of the risk of the low-income housing business on landlords. There is absolutely no way I'd offer housing at the low end of the market now. Good for the people who do, but I don't know how they're going to make it.

16

Harrell can and should give himself some breathing room on this issue -- by immediately extending the moratorium through March. It shouldn't ever be legal to evict a tenant during winter, unless said tenant either (a) poses a clear, immediate danger to the health or safety of others in the building or (b) is known to have ready access to another domicile. Cold-weather evictions of rule-abiding tenants with nowhere else to go are just Dickensian-level cruel, no matter how far behind on rent a tenant may be. This is a minimal standard that any society that calls itself civilized needs to uphold, regardless of economic considerations. Anyone who wishes to profit from rental housing should be prepared to accept this one principle without argument.

17

Good to see Perkins Lane is back in the news.
Homeowners sue to build on a cliff, then sue when their house slides downhill.
As humans, we will never learn.

18

@8 70% yield on rental property is a pipe dream. If a piece of property is completely paid off, i.e. no mortgage, yields of 10% are considered good. Property tax, insurance, repairs/maintenance, income tax (yes, you have to pay income tax on profit from rental activity), tenant screening costs... it all adds up. The alternative is to sell the property at market rate, pay commissions, and then invest the remainder in stocks or bonds or cash. Cash yields below 1%, S&P500 index maybe 8%, bonds are yielding maybe 3%.

19

Harrell isn't going to do shit to protect renters from eviction.

20

There are jobs everywhere. Take some responsibility. If you can’t pay your rent it’s because you won’t get off your lazy ass. At this point that is the only excuse.

22

Oh noes, time to get a job and pay rent and get all adulty again!

23

Buried the lead here. That lead is that Seattle's menu of programs from cash assistance to free lawyers, are not up to speed and mostly overwhelmed, court dockets are packed and nearly half of tenants that get docket times don't make their appointments.
Second line, "No wonder dockets are full if people can't get time off to go to court."
The breadth and depth of differences in landlords (speculating investor groups to retirees trying to keep their homes by renting rooms), and tenants (Covid plagued industries such as Food and Hospitality or natural growth from studio living). From responsible to reprehensible, in both camps... there is no segment that rises to 15% of the population.
It is a mixed bag, and mixed programs will yield mixed results, and people will just keep on trying to make a go on living off of starvation wages in high rent areas.
Glad I sold my 2 Houses, 3 units, before I would have gotten rolled if any of my tenants lost their income, couldn't pay, I couldn't evict, and would have gone hungry if I needed to foot those 2 extra mortgages.
For those too excited about errant arithmetic, grow yer asses up.

25

It's the "Seattle libs" that keep all the old cranks in their government payments.

26

Its time for those renters who may be subject to eviction to take matters into their own hands. A first good step would be to go out there and get a job. Take the money from your own pay check and pay YOUR rent.

One might ask what these poor unfortunates have been doing since March of 2020. At some point, you have to ask ...how much time does a renter need to 'prepare to pay rent".... in light of the huge amount of jobs available?

27

I know this is controversial, but the government is not responsible for the outcome of your decisions nor is it your daddy.