This article was posted on Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020

Dear Members of the Council:

As an owner and manager of income property, I have been losing the struggle for fairness from this Council. The last four years have seen a steady reduction of property rights via the implementation of a terrible Rent Control, Tenant Protection and the Ellis Act.  

It was interesting to hear the emergency person bemoan the packed apartments and others worrying about small businesses affected by the Covid-19 situation.  

There is nothing in my being that isn’t moved by the dilemma of those tips-dependent and low-wage persons struggling with the closing of many public gatherings in answer to the threatening pandemic.  Yes, a landlord agrees that something should be done. My consternation comes from a societal dilemma – the solving of which is placed only on the shoulders of housing providers.

I know you think you have no funds in the City coffers, yet you have collateral in the Measure E fortune coming within a few months. Why then can you not get a low interest loan and fill in the gaps of partial or complete loss of rents? You would be in a better position than I am to insure their paying you back rather than tell us you’ll intercede with the Feds to pay taxes, utilities, and mortgage payments, knowing full well that those ongoing liabilities will not disappear.  You were quite succinct in pointing out that rents are not forgiven. If there is no room for rent when a person’s labor is disrupted, what makes you think that that tenant will have the capacity to pay back the rent owed? 

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I don’t know why I expected anything else. This Council has never viewed income property owners as small businesses, even though they pay for a business license and support the burgeoning Housing Department. The Council has never seen the value in owners hiring painters, gardeners, carpenters, roofers, plumbers and masons. We are held to 5% ignoring CPI;  you’ve taken away an owner’s right to decide the right number of tenants in their apartment; the City has denied owners seeking utility-sharing with those increased numbers, especially water, which the City has not protected its citizens from the wild rises of  the San Jose Water Company.

Just Cause codified the usual practice of landlords – if the resident doesn’t pay the rent, he has to go. That’s not to say that owners don’t try to work with the resident. They want to keep the resident, because evictions cost about $1,500 and then the apartment needs cleaning, painting, possibly flooring and is vacant for a time. The statistics of illegal evictions were always rare, but now 96% are for non-payment. One thing is clear, if a tenant has paid nothing down on rents by the next month’s pay period, there is a definite probability that they won’t. The Council is prepared to extend the moratorium for the duration. 

So, the one program that the City and owners agreed on is now brought into the spotlight.  I fear that this Council hasn’t a clue as to why builders aren’t building and why owners are taken advantage of and are being the least served.

                                                                                  David E., Owner, Manager