BARHA Question 8: Community - Boulder Area Rental Housing Association

BARHA Question 8:  Landlords want good tenants and tenants what good landlords. How do you think landlords can best support the community and still make their investment and effort worthwhile?

Aaron Brockett: A good landlord charges a fair price for their rent, keeps their property in good condition, and is responsive to tenant needs. I think Boulder landlords can (and generally do!) stick to those basic principles and have their investment be worthwhile.

Mark McIntyre:  Landlords will attract better tenants and receive a greater long term benefit when they invest in their properties for energy conservation, resource conservation, comfort, and neighborliness. Tenants will be better off, be more productive in their life, be more comfortable in their homes, if they practice being better members of the community and more respectful of their neighbors.

The key to making this happen, I think, is a standard set of expectations of the behaviour and actions of both landlord and tenant. This set of expectations should be based in a lease that is standardized. Our standard buy/sell contract, used for almost all real estate transactions in Colorado, is an example of a state mandated contract that provides certainty and clarity for both parties. Everyone benefits from this structure.

I think the city of Boulder should, at a minimum, supply a standardized lease, designed by a working group made up of city legal staff, BARHA, and renters’ representatives. I would support the use of this lease across the city as a protection for both landlords and tenants.

Rachel Friend:  In my experience, landlords who have community ties, and better yet, neighborhood ties, are the most invested in outstanding results. The further we get from human investment, and the closer we get to strict financial investment, the more frayed our LL-T relationships and values are. I would therefore prefer to incentivize landlords who care about my street, my community, my City. That tends to hold true for me for any business; the more local the business, the more likely they are to sponsor events, be interested neighbors, and care about things like dilapidated fences and joining in on community efforts. Corporate landlords have an economy of scale that also tends to produce

“good neighbor” outcomes. So to answer the question, I’d like to incentivize landlords who have and continue to demonstrate neighborhood commitment and stewardship.

Bob Yates:  Probably the number one complaint about both landlords and tenants that we hear on city council is the condition of properties on the Hill. Some landlords (undoubtedly a minority) do not make the necessary investment to maintain the properties appropriately. Conversely, many students are not respectful of their neighbors, or even of the properties they live in.

Improving conditions on the Hill will require a concerted and collaborative effort of landlords, tenants, neighbors, the University, and the city’s code enforcement personnel.

Junie Joseph:  I think it’s important for landlords to try to understand the position of renters, most of whom are financially insecure. And then it’s important for landlords to not take advantage of that power imbalance, but to treat tenants fairly and compassionately. It’s also important for tenants to understand that most landlords are not evil, but are just businesspeople trying to make a living, like other businesses.

Benita Duran:  Yes. Landlords can find ways to show appreciation for their tenants, particularly those who have been residents for years. They need to start with their own tenant community and assure all their dealings are professional and fostering an environment of mutual respect. They can be kind and honest with tenants, and the general community. They can support the community by establishing good lines of communication with the landlord- tenant program in the Human Relations Commission, the Boulder Police Department, and the City’s Building Inspection Division. On a broader scale, and in order to stay current with landlord-tenant policies and best practices, they should participate with BARHA and other landlord community associations.

Paul Cure:  Be accountable and present.

Mark Wallach:  The focus of Landlord should be attentive care for their properties, communication with neighborhoods and responsiveness when issues arise. When houses become ill-maintained and disruptive party places, that is not supporting the community, and I doubt it is enhancing the value of the asset. We have thousands of rental properties in town that have zero impact on the neighborhood in which they are located because they are properly maintained, and expectations are set for the conduct of tenants. And those tenants are therefore contributors to the community, as well. These are simple and obvious principles, but when they are ignored, the reputation of all landlords is diminished.

Brian Dolan:  I think that Smart Regs is a good example of ways landlords can help support the community and still make a good investment.  Smart Regs improves dwelling efficiency, which as I noted earlier leads to better rentals and lower utility bills.

Andy Celani:  Landlords need to maintain good communication with tenants .

Corina Julca:  I don’t see any contradiction between Landlords supporting the community or being good members of the community and earning a profit on their investments. It’s a question of moderation. Landlords who are receptive to their tenants’ suggestions can often manage their business better, creating a win-win.

Gala Orba:  Let me start by saying you guys are doing great work considering the complexities of Housing in Boulder. Your job is to house the people of our town and you are doing it. It’s such an important job and you are doing good work considering the complexities of Housing in Boulder. Boulder is not cheap, our mountain views and beautiful natural environment are highly sought after. It’s an idyllic town and that comes with a cost.

So keep doing your job well. Ensure a quality home where amenities are all in good working condition. Be responsive, be timely in addressing concerns, and be fair to all maintenance requests. Use the money from security deposits wisely. Be transparent and you will be fine. If you set the stage with a good, honorable, kind connection you will often get the same energy out of your tenants. Your investment will be worthwhile if your people skills are sound. If you yourself are too busy or are not a ‘people person’ consider hiring someone who can do this part of the job for you. Giving someone a job is a noble thing to do as well. If a tenant can reach you, and you respond and act on their issues, then you are doing your job. Keep in touch with the Council so that you are a part of the change as we grow. Please be a part of the solution as your expertise is so valuable. I want to hear from you.

Susan Peterson:  As stated above, investing compliance with the city’s Green Points program is a win for the landlord (investor) as well as the renter (tenant) in a multitude of ways.  I will work to close the gap between rental housing that conforms to Smart Regs (which can reduce energy costs by 50-75%) and those rental units that are currently out of compliance.  Providing a clean, safe, energy efficient home to the renter is a great start.  A successful landlord, however, must be immediately responsive to random issues that unexpectedly arise, and also must be clear and fair in setting expectations.  Some of the expectations should include timely payment of rent, good or better maintenance of the property as spelled out in the rental contract, and immediate reporting of issues related to the rental when they arise.  Judging by the amount of new rental units currently under construction in Boulder, at higher and higher rents (Colorado Real Estate Journal reports that rents on the Hill were up 39% in Q4 2018 over the previous quarter!), landlords’ investments seem to be quite worthwhile in Boulder.

Adam Swetlik:  Unfortunately I don’t see housing as a prime place for investment. Speculative buying drives up housing prices and makes luxury units that are unaffordable to middle and low income people more desirable to build. Renting in Boulder is an incredibly lucrative proposition as we know since 55% of our housing units are rentals. If it were not that percentage would probably be well below 50%. I think landlords could help our community a lot by reducing rent increases so that more residents can stay here without fear of displacement. I myself wouldn’t be able to afford to live here as a renter anymore. Maybe it’s time to put community first, and profit second.