Camas resident Mark Wey believes there is a lack of protection for tenants, especially in this time of COVID
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com
I would like to call attention to a serious issue that is affecting myself, my parents and another family. We all live together and we all have had COVID, even those of us who were fully vaccinated. This has resulted in missed work by the two primary breadwinners in our house.
In July the lease on our rental expired. We had been paying $3600.00 a month. As of the writing of this letter no new lease contract has been provided. The lady with whom my parents split the rent managed to get a verbal agreement of $2600.00 a month. On Sept. 27, we received an unofficial notice of rent increase to $3200.00 on Oct. 1. As we were not under contract and had a verbal agreement, we ignored the notice and paid $2600.00 – the agreed upon amount. Our landlord sent a text telling us we had only paid for 27 days rent, and we had to leave on the 27th, which is today.
That is the situation in a nutshell, and we have been looking for another place to no avail. Which brings me to my point. The rent is far too high in Clark County right now, and there are no protections for tenants, especially in this time of COVID. I want to draw attention to this issue. Some protections and regulations are needed, because few people have $3600 just laying around from their 9-5 job to pay for rent each month. If you crunch the numbers you see that in order for someone to afford this, they would have to be earning $5000 a month, to cover food, utilities, gas, insurance (car, health and possibly life) and any car payments. That’s $60,000 a year. My dad worked at Safeway for over 30 years and the most he ever earned was half that.
I would like you to thoroughly examine, research and publish about this issue. As it currently stands, landlords can ask for any amount they desire for rent, and they will get it, because there is too much demand, too little supply and absolutely no tenant protection. But where does that leave two hardworking families like us? We represent the majority of the workers in Clark County, who earn little more than minimum wage. Where are we supposed to live? Where are the protections for those of us who have lost work, or worse, our jobs due to COVID? I think those who encourage and perpetuate this flawed system like to keep it hidden, away from the public eye. So the only way to change things is to bring it all into the light. I hope you will do this, for us and all those like us.
Move to a red state.
In a free society, an owner of rental property decides what they are willing to accept for it’s use and a tenant decides what they are willing to pay to use it. If you can’t reach an agreement, you are both free to look elsewhere. There are plenty of other economic systems in the world if you prefer an alternative. I hear the weather in Cuba is nice this time of year and the rent is free.
As you demand increased government intervention you might want to consider the two obvious reasons for your current challenges. Both are the direct and predictable result of government actions.
One, inflation caused by government spending and money printing through a relationship with the private Federal Reserve.
When the supply of money increases faster than the supply of available goods and services, prices go up. When prices go up, costs measured in dollars also go up. When costs to keep and maintain a property increase, a landlord must cover those costs. Your rent is the way they cover those costs. Government caused inflation has played a part in your rent to increase.
Two, the recent eviction moratorium.
It was inevitable that short of embracing full communism, the eviction moratorium would eventually end and the bill would come due. Because of government’s actions to “help renters”, many small mom-and-pop landlords are now behind on their own payments. Even if some renters met their rent obligations in full through the pandemic, many others did not. The small landlord with a handful of properties is in a position where they not only need to increase rents to cover those losses that in many cases have put them in arrears, but they must also build up reserves to cover the increased risk that government will again resort to such reckless behavior. A power once assumed by government is almost never relinquished. All but the most foolish landlord knows this.
Because of this, landlords must now be more selective than ever when deciding which tenants to accept and take proactive action to rid themselves of those who are risks while they still have the chance. When tenants can be removed for non-payment in a short period of time, that is one level of risk. When nonpaying tenants can receive a government blessing to reside in someone else’s property for years with little consequence, that’s another. This will make a landlord much less likely to rent to those with limited incomes or other factors that make them increasingly likely to default, damaging the very people who are the alleged beneficiaries of governments radical actions.
This moratorium also caused many landlords to exit the market entirely by putting their homes up for sale and caused other prospective landlords to choose other investments. The government-imposed moratorium has driven sales of existing rental homes to record highs as small landlords search for more reliable sources of income. At a time when demand for rental homes is increasing, supply is dwindling. In a free market, this is unlikely to happen. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a free market guided by an invisible hand. The market is increasingly guided by the driving whips of central planners installed by people who fail to see the inevitable consequence of government intervention as they seek to steer outcomes in their chosen direction.
Prospective landlords, myself included, have decided to delay or cancel plans to enter the rental market. Until recently, it has always been my plan to augment my retirement savings with several rental properties. I had hoped that I would provide good people with a great place to live and that in return, I would have a reliable inflation adjusted source of income in my retirement years. I no longer have any plans to provide rental homes. When a single politician with the stroke of a pen can erase my income and effectively deprive me of ownership over my own property, the risk is too great. Government actions have prevented me from having this reliable source of income in my old age and it has prevented you from having a place where you can afford to live.
Government edicts to “protect renters” caused the opposite to happen. Do you know what’s happening right now with the moratorium ending? Did you think the timing of this sudden rent increase you’re now experiencing was an accident? You’re living out the direct consequence of your own government interventionist desires. If you don’t like it, blame a central planner for doing what you asked them to do.
To be clear, we don’t disagree because I want to, or it feels good. We disagree because you’re wrong. Your problems have been created by a combination of government solutions and your own actions. Yet, instead of connecting the dots and changing course, you demand more government solutions that will inevitably cause increased problems requiring a still increasing number of government solutions.
Unlike your characterization of the situation, there are a large number of existing legal protections in place for tenants in Washington State. I suggest that you read RCW 59.18.140. and do some research into how the law has been specifically applied. Depending on your true circumstances, this might buy you some time to solve your short-term problems.
Fixing your long-term blame the bourgeoisie victim mentality could prove to be a much more difficult challenge.
My name is Sjon Mackey and I am a felon who did 28 month at Walla Walla correctional institution ok so I am a 43 year old male who has made many ok several mistakes in my life, and know that I have served my time to the community and I am able to acknowledge what I have done, I was homeless when I went to prison and I was released homeless from prison I have been given a chance of a life time VHA has awarded me a section 8 voucher and for someone who has been on the streets for 8 years prior and post prison I can’t tell you how much this means to me, only one thing I am a felon and I can’t get anyone to rent to me not even VHA run apartments denied me because of my back ground so they take the 40 dollars I borrowed from my sister just to tell me I am denied becouse of my background maybe I just belong outside cold and wet Hungary I can say this if any one thinks that all homeless people are out here cuz we want to be I would have to say come walk a day in my shoes just one day out in the rain wind can’t stop shaking cuz it’s cold just walk one day in my shoes and let’s see we’re they take you
Clark County has implemented and currently operates eviction prevention rent assistance programs to assist people who are low-income impacted by the pandemic. These programs have provided an unprecedented $30.9 million in financial assistance to 3,987 households, paying for 33,634 months of rent and utilities since August 2020. Approximately $700,000 in financial assistance for rent and utilities is going out to about 90 additional households each week.
Referrals for 400 additional households to receive rent assistance including arrears will open on Wed., Dec. 1, at 6 p.m. Links and instructions to apply are below. Please note: the links will not be live until 6 p.m. on Dec. 1 and will close once all available referrals have been received. Click link for full article https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/news/county-provides-covid-19-related-rental-assistance-update-5/