Wednesday, January 26, 2022

An idea to help alleviate rental costs

| November 30, 2021 1:00 AM

I know several rental property owners who aim to keep rent affordable for their long-time tenants. (See Sept. 9, 2021, Daily Bee letter to the editor by Lea Sammons, "Law hurts efforts to provide affordable housing”; These landlords rent to hard-working elders, folks on fixed incomes, families with young children to name a few. These landlords feel squeezed because the costs associated to ownership such as utilities, maintenance and particularly property taxes are rapidly rising. 

These rental property owners are grateful for the relationships with their tenants and are making efforts to avoid raising rents. Ms. Sammons, who chooses to keep rent below the market average, points out that as taxes rise she has a decision to make to “either raise rent or risk being taxed out of ownership." This makes the point that not all rental property owners are out to make a financial killing by increasing rents to what the market will bear. Some are genuinely hoping to offer affordable housing to their tenants. 

Is it possible to create an incentive for rental property owners to keep the rents affordable? Perhaps the property tax assessment could be based on the actual rent they are collecting; not on what the market is. Such as an incentive akin to the homeowners exemption. A property tax break could be the tipping point that landlords need in order to not raise rents.

This incentive would certainly not be the entire solution to the housing crisis befalling lower- and middle-income people in our area; however, it could help prevent many vulnerable people from being displaced by increased rent. 

I was not able to be at the Geezer Forum on Nov. 23 and missed the opportunity to participate in the discussion. I applaud you, community leaders, looking for solutions to these housing issues that impact us all. 



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