Playing the “Blame Game” Heralds Trouble for Rental Owners A PERFECT STORM IS BREWING IN THE LANDLORD COMMUNITY.

 L andlords are not the problem in the affordable housing debate. The real problem is the larger macroeconomic forc- es that contribute to this Perfect Storm: • There is an unprecedented de- cade-long surge in rental demand, an increase from 34 million rental units to nearly 43 million rentals in 2015. This figure is expected to grow to 47 million units by 2025. • 80 percent of the market’s growth has come from the conversion of single-family homes to rentals, with individuals or trusts owning 87 percent of those homes. • By income, the largest increase in renters, 4 million, was among households earning less than $25,000 annually. • Growth in the number of renters earning $50,000 or more was nearly as large, at 3.3 million, including an increase of 1.6 million renters earning $100,000 or more. Key takeaway: Demand from higher income renters has led to a slowing expansion of lower rent supply, exacer- bating affordability.

by BrianWojcik


theme of the series is that landlords take advantage of poor tenants and that judg- es are unjust. Anyone who has been a landlord or a judge would be quick to tell you otherwise. It’s easy to point fingers, identify assailants (landlords) and vic- tims (tenants), and in turn, ridicule lack of progress. In my first-hand experience while participating in a Summer Study Work group to develop consensus legis- lation, the lack of progress is the result of obstructionism by tenant advocacy. I was hard-pressed to find journalistic integrity in this series, which was rampant with confirmation bias, which is defined in journalism as the tendency to simply interpret all facts as confirmation of pre- existing beliefs on the part of a reporter or study author. By the same token, the series was extremely moving and compelling to the uninformed. Had I not been through the horrible and costly experiences that I en- countered in my early landlording days, the series would absolutely sway my opinion toward the idea that landlords are bloodsucking vampires. This series and tenant advocates have the power and ability to win the hearts and minds of public opinion, and by extension, win political votes and eventually elections. We run the risk here, in Baltimore, of

s landlords, we are unknowingly conducting our business in a Per-

fect Storm. By dictionary definition, this occurs when a rare combination of circum- stances aggravates a situation drastically. There are several rare combinations of circumstances leading to unfavorable - and significant - change for landlords. The storm is already brewing and will likely permeate state borders in the fore- seeable future. Some landlords are naive, some arrogant, and some are apathetic. The number-one aggravated situa- tion landlords are unknowingly mired in: affordable housing. They may not know it, but they are regularly blamed for troubles in this sector. Why? Simply put: it’s much easier to identify assailants and victims than reach to the heart of the problems. The underlying issue goes largely unnoticed or avoided because it seems too big to solve. When you add politics to the equation, things get down- right nasty. The root cause gets lost in political noise and emotionally-charged debate. The net result: everyone loses. Case in point: The Baltimore Sun recently wrote a series of articles that took issue with Rent Court, Maryland’s legislatively-mandated legal process to collect unpaid rent and agreed-upon ex- penses of the lease contract. The baseline

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