Landlords deny huge rent hikes
Landlords deny huge rent hikes
Despite what you may hear, most landlords are not raising rents by double digits, several landlords said Wednesday night.
And they brought the data to prove it.
The meeting was the second of three sessions held to explore issues related to rental housing in the city. Last week, tenants spoke of how they were affected by rent increases. Wednesday night was the landlords turn.
Under strict rules laid down by facilitator Jeff Cambra, audience members could not question speakers and no one was allowed to mention properties or owners by name.
To maintain a safe environment speakers did not have to give their full names, but many did. Last week, some tenants requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from landlords.
Lisa Fowler, who works for Gallagher & Lindsey, gave a breakdown of reasons tenants gave when they moved out of the 1,000 rental units the company owns or manages over the past 23 months to determine if high rents were forcing renters out. The most common reasons were job relocation, or relationship breakups forcing one of the partners to move out or move in with someone else, Fowler said.
Other tenants moved because their unit had been sold, the owner moved back in or they bought their own homes, she added. Others left the area to care for a parent or family member in another part of the country.
"What we found, which is just what I thought I knew from memory, was that most people did not cite the amount of their rent going up or being too high as their reason for moving,” Fowler said.
Don Lindsey, founder and chairman of Gallagher & Lindsey, showed that most rentals owned or managed by his company had only modest rent hikes in the last decade. He analyzed rents during an 11-month period in each of two years.
The average rent in the 215 units analyzed rose from $834 monthly in 2004 to $1,204 a month in 2014. That represents 4.4 percent annual hike over a decade, he said.
Lindsey said the numbers are indicative of Alameda’s housing market.
“These are averages,” he said. “We have had up years and down years. The market in the last 10 years has been pretty solid.”
The cost of maintaining property amounts to between 40 and 50 percent of rental income, he said. It cost more than $120,000 to retrofit one 17-unit property to meet seismic standards.
But raising rents can work against an owner. Gallagher & Lindsey works to keep tenants for continuity and to avoid the high cost of remodeling units for rental once a tenant moves out.
“That’s philosophically the way we run buildings. We want people to stay,” Lindsey said.
John Sullivan said most of his rentals are below market price as well. Most tenants are not seeing the kind of huge rent hikes that make headlines, he said.
“That’s really what’s happening out there, not what you read in the papers,” he said.
But Angela Hockabout of the Alameda Renters Coalition had a different story to tell. Her rent was raised 25 percent last August, from $1,800 a month to $2,250.
The news was devastating, said Hockabout, a stay-at-home mom.
“It felt very impersonal,” she said. “I felt I was some landlord’s personal ATM."
The group will meet on January 7 to seek solutions to the problems and are expected to present recommendations to the City Council on January 20 if both sides can unanimously agree on any proposal.