Friday, October 13, 2006

Angry Tenants

Read this Letter to the Editor in The Examiner today:
Angry tenants have called me to let me know I’m one of those “greedy landlords” because I’m against rent control. My response to them: “I’ll rent to you. Here, sign this lifetime lease, and if you break the lease, you will have to pay for the remaining term on the lease (the rest of your life).” They say I’m being ridiculous, but I suggest that is exactly what landlords are being made to do: sign a contract that potentially will last the tenant’s lifetime with no ability to get out of it. And the tenants wonder why units are being held off the market and their buildings are being Ellis Acted? And why would a landlord want to turn his building into a TIC or a condo? Self-explanatory.

I was a renter for several years before I purchased my TIC. Perhaps because I had lived in a different part of the country before moving to San Francisco it never dawned on me that my rental lease entitled me to anything other than a temporary home for hire.

I had the opportunity recently to speak to an angry tenant. I asked him why he thought he merited rent control and the other guarantees tenants receive in San Francisco. He said "without people like me - the queers, the crazies, the wild and unkempt we will lose the character of the city, a place where people can come and live their dreams." He added, "And we don't have access to capital like rich owners."

What an appalling statement. And how disparaging, particularly to our gay community, most of whom would probably not want to be lumped in with the crazy and unkempt. I am glad I never got trapped in the incredibly self-defeating illogic of tenant entitlement. Otherwise I would not have worked and saved and adjusted my expectations and bought into an old "needs work" TIC. For those in the market hoping to own a home - including the artists and eccentrics - I say don't listen to the angry tenants. Work. Save. You can do it.


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