Dependable Erection

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


As regular DE readers know, i like a good whine as much as anyone in town. But the spectacle of a bunch of landlords on the PAC mailing lists yesterday whining about how difficult it is to get good tenants in response to the suggestion by a couple of local activists that Durham ought to keep on eye on how Raleigh's new landlord registry program was too much, even for me.

As my daddy used to say, nobody's holding a gun to your head forcing you to be a landlord. If it's really that much trouble, get out of the business. You might even have more respect for yourself in the morning.



  • The landlords keep whining (including in an off-list e-mail conversation I had with one) about the lack of a tenant registry. Is there a good reason not to throw in a tenant registry, if it will shut them up?

    (Aside from the argument, which I already shared with the guy, that they're neglecting to use criminal background checks already, so why bother with a registry?)

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 1:28 PM  

  • i got an offlist email from what i assume was the same landlord as you. I told him i'd be happy to rip his rental car analogy to shreds on the list if he wanted.

    didn't hear back from him.

    By Blogger Barry, at 2:17 PM  

  • It also occurs to me that if the landlords had put in 1/10th of the effort they put into opposing the rental registry into, oh, I don't know, developing a collaborative, volunteer tenant registry, it would be done by now. Seriously, there's nothing stopping the landlords from requiring a waiver of their tenants at least time that they disclose their name and maybe a drivers license number, which all the big landlords could put into a database they maintained, along with their rental history. Done.

    The reason they don't, of course, is what they'll never admit -- renting to bad tenants makes money. You take their money, then throw them out when they mess up and keep the deposit.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 2:56 PM  

  • The tenant registry could be tenuous... but it would be quite easy to ask for a reference from a previous landlord. It would achieve the same goal, but avoid data retention problems and privacy laws.

    By Blogger Rob, at 10:01 PM  

  • i don't see anything preventing landlords from sharing information about bad tenants, but seriously, how would the logistics of a municipal registry of tenants work?

    Landlords are the ones who make the profit on the transaction. That's the point where the pressure gets applied.

    Want to use the amenities of our town and/or neighborhood to make your profits? Give something back to the community.

    By Blogger Barry, at 10:11 PM  

  • Barry-
    I agree.. if a prospective tenant signs a release, then a former landlord can say anything the want. Also, these references can be used to make yes or no decisions when it comes to renting; the only thing not allowed under the fair housing act is a decision based on any protected class (race, religion, disability status, marital status, etc). The tenant registry should not be a public/government service. The government doesn't handle credit reporting (it does regulate it, perhaps not as much as it should). It shouldn't handle a tenant registry, either.

    Another thing that I'm not sure made it to PAC2 was that the landlord in question is very mistaken with his broken pipe example. He stated that he could be arrested for fixing a broken pipe without a tenant's permission (due to right of entry limitations under common law). This is incorrect; under NCGS 42-42 a.2 and a.4, lessors are specifically required to maintain plumbing, electrical, and other items. This requirement to maintain supersedes any right of entry limitations under common law. Additionally, every form rental contract ever written for NC includes a right of entry clause, so if you are a landlord and you pay the $50 each year to get an updated form rental contract, you'll be allowed to enter the property at any time you please.

    By Blogger Rob, at 10:38 PM  

  • Do landlords have to have a business license? It's a business, after all. Seems to me that they could simply be rolled into the business licensing system.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:59 AM  

  • If you want "good" tenants, sink some capital into your properties and charge what the market will bear for a decent place to live. The business model of far too many property management companies in this town is spend nothing, rent to risky tenants, and eke it out on deposits.

    And now they want the local government to subsidize the very business model that keeps entire neighborhoods looking awful? To hell with them.

    I know of a house in my neighborhood that a friend looked to rent back in September. She's single, stably employed, and works at home--i.e., pretty much an ideal tenant. She requested a few repairs that would have cost the company maybe $300 before she moved in. They said no thanks.

    The house is still vacant.

    By Blogger Brian, at 9:12 AM  

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