Council Looking To Address Renters’ Rights

rental-agreementBy Sean Raycraft

If you ask renters in Davis about their experiences, they will likely tell you it is a nightmare. High rents, low wages, absentee landlords, housing insecurity and theft of security deposits are all too commonplace in our city. As a renter in Davis for the last 10 years, I can personally attest to living this nightmare. The worst experience I had was a few years ago. I rented a reasonably priced condo with my girlfriend on Donner court. I did not realize this at the time, but the reputation of the property management company was so bad, they changed their name to avoid renters from looking up reviews. I could have saved a lot of trouble by taking a closer look.

The landlord was absent. Whenever something was broken, it took weeks if not months to fix. Multiple phone calls, emails and in person visits were required to get any kind of response, unless of course you were a day late on the rent, at which point the management company would call you at least 5 times a day (which only happened once). It took 5 weeks to get a broken window replaced. A month to fix our door that would be near impossible to open on a rainy day. It took them 3 weeks to find someone to fix our oven. Then, 6 months into the lease, the bank decided to foreclose on the property. We were then required to have the unit ready for prospective buyers with 24 hours of notice, which sometimes, we did not receive. People would just show up at our home, at any time during the day. This was particularly annoying for me, as I work nights, and sleep during the day. Imagine waking up to find a stranger opening the door to your room. When the foreclosure was finally resolved, we decided we were going to move out. After moving out, we hired a professional cleaning company to clean the house for $200. The place was cleaner than when we moved in. We took pictures, documented expenses, and submitted receipts with the keys.

We were shocked to when the new landlord arbitrarily took $250 out of our $1000 security deposit. We thought we had done everything right. When we asked for receipts from the landlord, he simply listed things he said he had done. No professionals, no itemized receipts, no material documentation. I decided to call the city, to see what resources were available to renters, and I was shocked to find out that there were none. The nice city employee told me there used to be a program, but the funding was cut during the great recession, and that I could try my luck with a small claims court. When I looked up the cost of a lawyer consultation, I decided it just was not worth the hassle. The landlord, who is a millionaire could keep my $250.

My story is hardly unique. Every year, renters in Davis face similar problems. Years ago, my sister had a landlord return her deposit 4 months late, and with 30% missing, after she had a professional cleaner. She had already moved to another city and did not want to fight it in small claims. I met a man a few weeks ago whose landlord literally said “this is the best I have ever seen an apartment at move out time, but I am still taking $75 out of your deposit.” Everyone who rents in Davis knows how difficult it is, and I am not trying to smear the good landlords out there, because I have had many who were great. The point is that there are exploitative landlords out there, and their abuses need to be reigned in.

A few weeks ago, I was at an event for a political candidate, who supports the renter rights ordinance. I was having a conversation with a nice affluent middle aged woman about the city’s proposed ordinance. She said that she owns four rental properties in town, in addition to her own home. According to a quick google search, the median home value in Davis is well over 500k. That means this lady owns assets of around 2.5 million. She then proceeded to tell me “$100 a year may not be a lot to someone like you, but for me, this is my retirement income.” It was hard for me to maintain my composure at this ludicrous statement. For the record, I work nights at a grocery store and do some work for my union. I do not own assets of 2.5 million. There will certainly be pushback to the proposed ordinance from the landlord class at the city council meeting on May 17. They have a nice racket going in a city with a 0.3% vacancy rate. It doesn’t matter how much they neglect the needs of their tenants, the landlords can still raise the rents next year and find new tenants because people are desperate for housing.

This problem is only going to get worse over the next few years given the coming surge in student population and the University’s refusal to provide adequate housing for the increased population. This only further incentivizes landlord abuses, mini dorms, student commuters, and sky high rents. That is why we need this ordinance NOW. I would encourage the readers to go to the city’s website and read the proposed ordinance for themselves, but here is the cliff notes version as I understand it.

– Dispute arbitration services paid for by a $25 per parcel per year fee

– City inspection program where tenants, landlords and neighbors can call the city and ask for inspection

– Allows the city to accumulate data on bad actor landlords, and will allow prospective renters to view this data.

– Creates a one stop kiosk at city hall where renters, landlords and neighbors can view all rights, rules and regulations

Sean Raycraft is a lifelong Davis resident, and a proud shop steward with UFCW 8.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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167 Comments

  1. Barack Palin

    – Dispute arbitration services paid for by a $25 per parcel per year fee

    Why should homeowners who don’t rent their properties be hit with yet another parcel tax?

    1. David Greenwald

      Community good? Tax laws? We all suffer the consequences otherwise? Take your pick. $25 a year to keep the peace seems a small price to pay.

      1. Barack Palin

        Here we go again, a little tax here a little tax there and all of a sudden homeowners are getting slammed.

        How about this, when a homeowner rents out their parcel they get hit with a fee to cover this program?

          1. David Greenwald

            Funny how supporters of Prop 13 don’t realize that what they reap is what they sow.

        1. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > Funny how supporters of Prop 13 don’t realize

          > that what they reap is what they sow.

          What does Prop 13 have to do with a small number of slime ball landlords ripping off tenants and/or people wanting the city to create and staff a local dispute arbitration service?

          1. David Greenwald

            Nothing, it has to do with the $25 tax structure, I can’t believe there are almost 30 comments on a $25 proposal for a tax. Also, I find it interesting that you acknowledge the “slime ball” landlords but want to put the $25 on the tenants.

        2. Barack Palin

          DAVIS JUSD ……………..101.

          LOS RIOS CCD…………..57.

          DAVIS JT UNIF C………..327.

          DAVIS JT UNIF E……….204

          DAVIS LANDSCP………..49

          DAVIS CFD…………………268.

          DAVIS OPEN PROP…….24

          DAVIS LIBRARY………….99

          DAVIS JT UN CFD………198.

          DAVIS JT UNIF………….778.

        3. Barack Palin

          What does Prop 13 have to do with a small number of slime ball landlords ripping off tenants and/or people wanting the city to create and staff a local dispute arbitration service?

          Liberals always try and blame Prop 13 as the evil to all of their woes.  What they don’t realize is most homeowners now aren’t paying their 1975 value as they have moved or they’re new homowners and are now paying through the nose.

        4. Barack Palin

          I see – you’re counting your own CFDs and Mello Roos’.

          Of course I am, am I not paying them as are many other homeowners in Davis?

          1. David Greenwald

            Sure, but you got screwed over by the developer and council, not by the voters of Davis.

        5. Barack Palin

          Sure, but you got screwed over by the developer and council, not by the voters of Davis

          The point is many of us already have high parcel taxes and trying to add more is a burden to many homeowners.

          1. David Greenwald

            You’re illustrating perfectly many of our concerns about the CFD. The developer and council majority at Cannery countered that without the CFD, the developer would have simply built that into the purchase price, but as your illustration shows, that is not part of your calculation when it comes to tax time.

        6. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > I find it interesting that you acknowledge the “slime ball”

          > landlords but want to put the $25 on the tenants.

          We have a great (tenant friendly) small claims court system that is easy to use (Nolo press is your friend).  If tenants can’t be bothered to take a half hour and read about sending a demand letter on line and want to just make a call and have city staffers deal with their problems they should pay for it.  Does it really make sense to pay a city staffer $500+ in wages and benefits (+ pay for a city owned vehicle) every time someone “does not want the hassle” of  dealing with their landlord to get back $250 they are legally owed?

        7. Tia Will

          BP

          Here we go again with lack of consistency. I did not hear you complaining about the amount of taxes spent on foreign wars, or the amount congress was spending on the endless and futile Republican attempts to “repeal Obamacare” or the ridiculous amount of legislative and prosecutorial time spent on the baseless allegations against Planned Parenthood. So it would seem that it is fine to spend tax money when you like the cause, but a plot to steal “your money” when you do not support the use.

        8. Frankly

          Here we go again with lack of consistency. I did not hear you complaining about the amount of taxes spent on foreign wars, or the amount congress was spending on the endless and futile Republican attempts to “repeal Obamacare” or the ridiculous amount of legislative and prosecutorial time spent on the baseless allegations against Planned Parenthood. So it would seem that it is fine to spend tax money when you like the cause, but a plot to steal “your money” when you do not support the use.

          Here we go again after decades of liberal and RINO do-gooder social engineering that has jacked up non-defense spending per GDP many, many orders of magnitude higher while defense spending has stayed flat and recently has been gutted.

          Here we go again after state and local Democrats have looted every dime and then started writing IOUs to fill the bank accounts of all the public sector union members that help them get elected until we had to start taking money away from the schools and then the Governor looted the RDA program to keep those public sector union contributors happy.

          So sure… it is Prop-13’s fault.

          Typical liberal Democrat BS… demand more spending… vote for politicians that spend irresponsibly… and then blame Republicans not caring because we won’t let more tax increases be passed.

          California is an example that liberal Democrats are unfit to lead unless the goal is to lead a community to economic ruin.

        9. The Pugilist

          Frankly: You’ve become a caricature of yourself.

          Barack Palin: As David said, you’ve illustrated the exact reason to oppose CFD’s, because people look at their tax bill and don’t separate out the voter approved parcel tax from the council/ developer approved CFD and Mello Roos.  And while the developer might pass around the increased cost in the purchase price of your home, at least then, you won’t get a yearly reminder.

        10. Frankly

          TP: I don’t think so.  I think you are just used to hearing your left leaning ideas validated in this left-leaning city echo chamber.  And it is made evident in the fact that you have nothing useful to counter with.

    2. ruralknight

      Read the staff report…the fees (registration and inspection) are for single family rentals and will cover the cost of a self sustaining program. Multi-family units will be accessed similar fees.

      If you’re not a Davis landlord, you have nothing to worry about. If you’re a homeowner, you should be dancing up and down with excitement-this program will help alleviate the blight caused by the bad acting management firms, absentee landlords, selfish landlords taking advantage of renters, etc. If you’re a renter, you have a lot to gain asking the City to approve Option 1.

      Go with Option 1 in the staff report but also ask council to strengthen it!

      1. Barack Palin

        I don’t think a parcel tax can just be levied on rental homes.  I’m pretty sure it would have to be a blanket parcel tax on all parcels.  Now if the city wanted to call it a fee to be levied on renters then that makes sense.  If that’s the case the article and David have it wrong referring to it as a parcel tax.

        1. Matt Williams

          BP, if I read the Staff Report correctly what they have proposed appears to be effectively a Business License that applies to residences that are rented, but not to residences that are owner-occupied.

    3. Tia Will

      “Why should homeowners who don’t rent their properties be hit with yet another parcel tax ?”

      Maybe for the same reason that pacifists taxes go to support immoral wars ? Maybe because we all pay for people who do not act honorably whether it is through crime, or neglect, or greed or desire for power ? Maybe because the need for taxation at all is to address issues of public concern that are not being addressed by public voluntary assumption of responsibility ?

      1. Frankly

        You are so full of it today Tia.

        Support building more homes to reduce the vacancy rate so renters have a choice and landlords don’t have captive customers that don’t have a choice and so they, the landlords, have to start performing to attract tenants.

        The reason that landlords misbehave is something called leverage.  The Davis NIMBY no-growers give it to them.

        Your lack of business sense is astounding to me given what you feel confident in opining about so strongly.  I would think you would at least couch your opinions sometimes with a question to those that know more.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          You are so full of it today”

          Well, we seem to be in agreement with our mutual assessment today. You are completely and consistently ignoring that I am in favor of Nishi, which at least according to Tim Ruff will provide a fair amount of new housing.

          Of course, I am not in the habit of emulating your recent comment of coming as close as possible to calling me a liar without actually doing so. If you are confused, I would direct you to your comment that perhaps someone should follow me to the polls to verify my vote.  Or perhaps I should take you up on your previous suggestion that I recommend that you leap off a convenient cliff ….. !

  2. South of Davis

    BP wrote:

    > Why should homeowners who don’t rent their

    > properties be hit with yet another parcel tax?

    If the renters want an arbitration service it seems like a $25/year fee added to each lease would be fair.

    1. Barack Palin

      There you go, it serves renters so maybe they should pay the fee.

      “$25 a year to keep the peace seems a small price to pay” for a renter.

      Right David?

      1. zaqzaq

        If the parcel tax only applies to rental properties then I have not problem with it.  If it applies to all properties then I oppose it.  I do not see why a homeowner should be paying for this.

        1. David Greenwald

          You can’t do it legally. But in my view, everyone benefits from this because most people live in close proximity to rental properties and more harmonious relations benefit the whole neighborhood.

        2. Matt Williams

          David, why can’t you do it legally?  A Business License levied on the owner of the residence when that residence becomes a business seems totally logical and totally legal to me.  Where is the legal prohibition?

        3. Matt Williams

          Further, the decision to convert a residence from owner-occupied status to income-generation status is made in order to make a profit.  Why is it not appropriate to license that profit-generating business?  Frankly’s business is licensed.  Your business is licensed.  The business Tia works for is licensed.  Why should the business of providing housing be exempted from licensing?

        4. Matt Williams

          Thanks for sharing that Donna.  It will be interesting to hear how that $25 per year license fee compares to what Frankly pays as a license fee for his business.

        1. Barack Palin

          Well then I say to the city council “go for it”.  Throw out yet another parcel tax for the homeowners to vote on.  Add to that a roads parcel tax and let’s not forget that our schools want us to vote on another parcel tax come November.  Deluge the homeowners and hopefully they will finally say “no”.

          1. David Greenwald

            I guess would help to look at the staff report: “Implement a new fee to cover costs associated with registration, education, mediation and program administration. The fee will be $15 per Single family unit. Multi-family unit
            properties will pay on a graduated scale depending on the number of units. The fee listed is the total amount, it is not per unit. The fee will be charged annually.”

        2. Tia Will

          zaqzaq

          Either way the landlord will pass on the cost to the tenant through higher rent or as a fee in the lease.”

          Some will, some won’t. Not all landlords act identically.

  3. Marina Kalugin

    Renter’s rights?   ok,  doesn’t everyone in this town demand the MODEL LEASE?

    And,  what about owner’s rights?   but, the real problem, Sean old buddy is the developers have the rights and no one else truly does.

    You know, the same developers re: Ricci and Woodbridge (ask your folks Sean)….and then the Cannery and now Nishi..

    The same folks that “lied and signed” and less than a week later were whining to the city council that what THEY signed for the Cannery the cannot afford to do.. and in comes the CGD…..

    You know, the same developers who pad the campaign pockets of the incumbents and the new guy, whose family are developers and realtors…  no conflict of interest there, right?

     

     

     

    1. David Greenwald

      “doesn’t everyone in this town demand the MODEL LEASE?”

      The model lease doesn’t address the issues in the new ordinance. As was explained to me, one of the problems is that with such a low vacancy rate, the owners are pretty much free to do what they want because the renters don’t have other realistic options other than moving out of town.

      1. Misanthrop

        Joe Krovoza talked about re-writing the model lease when he ran but never did a thing about it. The model lease needs to be rewritten. It hasn’t been updated in at least 25 years.

  4. South of Davis

    Sean wrote:

    > The landlord was absent. Whenever something was broken, it took

    > weeks if not months to fix. Multiple phone calls, emails and in person

    > visits were required to get any kind of response

    Just like at an expensive restaurant (say Fireside in Old Sac) you will typically get great response and at a cheap restaurant (say KFC in Davis) you typically get not so great response (drop a fork at Fireside and you will have a new one in 5 seconds and if you drop your spork at KFC you may have to yell for a half hour before the drive through line slows down and they decide to give you a new one to get you to be quiet).  When you rent a nice (but expensive) place from Tandem they will take your calls and fix stuff (even with the staff extra busy putting up Yes on A signs) and when you rent dumpy (cheap) place from the local company that starts with an A (just like their old name) the criminals working there will do whatever they can to avoid you and hope they don’t have to deal with you until you move out (and they steal your deposit).

    > It took them 3 weeks to find someone to fix our oven

    If a landlord won’t fix your oven in California you have the legal right to hold back rent to pay for the repairs yourself. (if it ever happens again just type landlord won’t fix oven california in to Google and you will learn what to do).

    > I decided it just was not worth the hassle. The landlord,

    > who is a millionaire could keep my $250.

    Glad to hear that you are doing so well that $250 is “just was not worth the hassle”,  But if a landlord ever illegally holds back money again I can tell you that for landlords taking a day off work and going to (renter friendly) small claims court is also almost always ” just was not worth the hassle” so spending 10 minutes writing a demand letter would have probably got you the $250 (I had to do it to my last landlord and a day later I got a call and he said “I got your letter, the check is in the mail”, and it came in the mail the next day)…

      1. Tia Will

        Marina

        I think that this depends upon what one values most. If you value your money highly, the $250 will be worth it to you. If you value your time or other activities that you could be doing more highly, then the $ 250 will not be worth it to you. This is a matter of relative values, and one does not have to be rich to have values that are higher than money.

        1. Justice4All

          So this was several years ago. Yeah 250 bucks was a lot for me then, but by the time I found out what my rights were, looked at getting a lawyer (which would have cost $$) the costs in time and effort did not appeal to me at all. I thought it was best to just move on. No the union does not pay me well lol, not at all. I do what I do because I believe in it.

        2. Barack Palin

          You don’t need a lawyer to go to small claims court.  I’ve won a few cases in small claims without a lawyer.  The Internet and Google can do wonders.

  5. Marina Kalugin

    and, for those who still think that Davis had a water shortage, we did NOT….it was all a ploy as we couldn’t grow fast enough to support the needs of developers and builders…

    and, who is now paying for that?  mostly homeowners…..

    it used to be that WGS was included in rents, but now anyone who is smart won’t include it….way toocostly and we are only on step 2 or something of the increases……(please correct if you know better….it’s been a while and I’ve moved on….both literally AND figuratively….we just closed on our place in the country where we will have our own water…and our house will be fixed up and rented…to those who can better afford to share and pay the costs)

    1. Tia Will

      for those who still think that Davis had a water shortage, we did NOT”

      For me, the issue was not so black and white. While it was true that we did not and do not at the present time have a water shortage, I was not willing to hold further residents of Davis, whether those already here, or those who might choose to come here, hostage to the amount of water that we currently have. I supported the project.

  6. Misanthrop

    The 25 dollar fee should be on rental properties. There are already taxes/fees that only are paid by owners of rental property so it would not be hard to add to that amount. The mechanism for identification and taxation already exists. With two thirds of Davis residents renting you might need to adjust the amount but not by too much.

     

        1. David Greenwald

          “Implement a new fee to cover costs associated with registration, education, mediation and program administration. The fee will be $15 per Single family unit. Multi-family unit properties will pay on a graduated scale depending on the number of units. The fee listed is the total amount, it is not per unit. The fee will be charged annually.”

          I failed to look at the staff report – it’s a fee, not a tax.

    1. Justice4All

      I probably should have been more clear on that. It is a fee on rental properties, based on the parcels, not rental units. Sacramento has something very similar.

  7. Marina Kalugin

    some years ago, one of my sons was working at the airporter and going to school commuting to ARC after having decided the university he wanted to go to and the only one he applied to and got into was not worth the hassle or expense…and returned to Davis…….  Several pals decided they should rent a place in town….the full time students drove BMWs and the owner left the dog since the boys didn’t mind….guess who ended up taking care of the dog?  Guess who paid the rent and then tried to get it out of the others…..My son drove a beat up honda more than 20 years old…and the kids of the millionaires just never could get their funds together…and, one of them was international and those parents paid HUGE bucks….but the boys still couldn’t pay their share of the rent..

    when it was time to move out, the others bailed, and bailed on hundreds of dollars that my son lent them…he finally gave up….they left trash and their rooms were a wreck…and guess who declugged and cleaned?

    I support renting and leasing by room….and that is why….

     

  8. Don Shor

    Allows the city to accumulate data on bad actor landlords, and will allow prospective renters to view this data.

    I’m not sure that’s a useful function for the city. Davis Wiki has lots of information about landlords, at least with respect to apartment complexes and property managers. Very entertaining reading in some cases.

  9. Michael Harrington

    I view the rental inspection proposal as the city looking for a small problem to magnify into the need for a new and expensive city program.   In the last 3-4 years, the Planning Dept has mostly funded itself with the three large exterior projects, and with the third and last soon to bite the dust (hopefully), what are the staff going to do with their positions?  Look for a problem!  Find a solution!  And charge the heck out of ALL rental owners for the problems of a few.

    If the CC does this, I think a repeal referendum is in order …. need we wonder who would pay for the emergency gathering of those signatures?

     

    The Davis Model Lease?  It’s generally OK.

      1. Justice4All

        Maybe you dont understand just how prevalent the problems are here in town Michael. Every fall, students and working poor people expect their landlords to steal from them. They also do not complain about conditions, because the landlord will threaten to not renew their lease, which in turn will incur all kinds of costs on the tenant. 25 bucks per year is not too much to ask for basic renters rights. The rent goes up more than 25 bucks per year on average anyways. Lets not pretend like this is some huge burden on the landlord class.

  10. quielo

    I find this opinion piece to confused and the author’s advocacy for redundant services baffling.

    “High rents, low wages, absentee landlords, housing insecurity and theft of security deposits are all too commonplace in our city”

    Other than the security deposits none of these are addressable issues. Regarding security deposits this is the #1 issue for small claims courts so they are well versed in these issues and no attorney is required or even allowed. Books on procedures are available in the library and numerous websites have advice and the state has templates for the letter of demand. To create a separate, redundant, city function is crazy.

    There are also many sources of landlord reputation. Since the author admits not doing due diligence what is the point of creating another source that will not be checked by the lazy?

    Why would anyone want to go to a kiosk when there are literally thousands of sources of this information online?

    Nothing makes in this article makes any sense at all.

     

     

    1. Barack Palin

      Totally agree.  I’ve been to small claims court and the judges understand that a plaintiff isn’t versed in the law and gives them much leeway.  This seems like just another added cost and program that the city doesn’t need to take on because a tenant already has the resources to go after any perceived landlord injustice.

      1. quielo

        Yes, and the courts can issue a judgement which is much more useful for collecting money than mediation is. I suspect there are landlords who will wait to see if they get a letter of demand. If they don’t they know that the tenant is going to go away and they can keep the money.

        The current system is very simple, go to the state website, fill in the blanks, print the resulting letter of demand and send by certified mail. File for a small claims date. No arbitration process will be easier or quicker.

        1. Barack Palin

          I once had a case against a local well known landlord over a deposit and as soon as I told him I was taking him to small claims court magically he gave me back all of my deposit.

    2. dlemongello

      I agree, this would be redundant, it would still require a process and one with even less teeth than small claims court, while adding yet ANOTHER $25 to everyones’ taxes/fees. I also sense a bias in how it would be implemented.

    3. Justice4All

      Given the transient nature of our community, its important for ease of access. I actually did do my homework on the property management company. They literally paid people to post positive reviews on websites for their new name, AFTER they had changed their name the year before because their reputation was so bad.

  11. Sam

    “That means this lady owns assets of around 2.5 million. She then proceeded to tell me “$100 a year may not be a lot to someone like you, but for me, this is my retirement income.” It was hard for me to maintain my composure at this ludicrous statement.”

    Sean-So you are assuming that because she owns property that she also has an abundance of cash?

    1. Barack Palin

      I was thinking the same thing.  I own a property where I have about $700,000 equity but I can tell you right now that I don’t have much extra cash to throw around.

      1. South of Davis

        BP wrote:

        > I don’t have much extra cash to throw around.

        I’ve noticed that most (but not all) homeowners with a fairly high net worth tend to try and reduce small (~$25) expenses) and go after someone that owes them $250, but most (but not all) renters with no net worth typically don’t worry, care (or to quote David “can’t believe”) that $25 will ever add up to anything so they don’t worry about it and typically “can’t be hassled” to try and get back $250 if it means staying home to write a demand letter rather than taking a $25 Uber ride to a bar to spend $25 on drinks before going to a $25 concert before spending $25 for a late night snack before the $25 Uber ride home…

    2. Justice4All

      Im saying she owns 5 properties in Davis, I work at a grocery store, and somehow she thinks I have more money than she does. Thats a pretty ridiculous statement.

      1. South of Davis

        Sean wrote:

        > I’m saying she owns 5 properties in Davis, I work at a grocery

        > store, and somehow she thinks I have more money than

        > she does.

        I worked in a (non union) grocery store from 14-18 and I worked 54 hours a week (M-Sat 9hrs a day) the summer before I left home for college (and got a part time union job).  I have never had more cash after paying bills than I did that summer (still living at home with my parents).  Owning rental property is a great way to build wealth, but not a great way to have a lot of cash flow with $5-$10K in property tax per year + $1-2K in parcel taxes $1K+ for extra expensive homeowners insurance $1-$2K for city services and things like $5K for a new water main, $5K for a new heater or AC unit or $20K for a new roof that pop up when you least expect it…

        1. Justice4All

          Im guessing you are over the age of 50 given how you talk about the grocery industry. Years ago, grocery clerks made 3x the minimum wage. It is not so now. Someone owns 5 homes in davis is extremely likely to have a significantly higher net worth than any grocery worker.

        2. Marina Kalugin

          true Sean…when I was a lowly undergrad, there were a bunch of poli sci majors in a nearby apartment  that was when the Safeway was next to Sycamore lane apartments..

          I made 50 cents  or something babysitting, and my friend, made something like $15/hr as a checker in the Safeway…his dad was a big Safeway honcho who still lived in a tiny 2/1 in the area just before Hayward area…..by then my friend had tons of seniority from starting young… and worked off hours …..  THAT was the line to be in at that time..

           

        3. South of Davis

          Sean wrote:

          > Im guessing you are over the age of 50 given how you talk

          > about the grocery industry. Years ago, grocery clerks made

          > 3x the minimum wage.

          I’m over 50, and as a High School student I moved up from clean up boy, to bag boy, to stock buy, to checker to weekend asst. manager and I was making just under 3x the minimum wage at 18 (still under $10/hr back then).

          > Someone owns 5 homes in davis is extremely likely to

          > have a significantly higher net worth than any grocery worker.

          There is a big difference between 1. Value of property owned, 2. Net Worth, and 3. Cash flow.  Since you just lived through a foreclosure in a Davis property I’m guessing that while the guy who owned your condo 1. Owned an expensive property, 2. He probably did not have much of a net worth or any positive cash flow.

          P.S. I’m also not able to afford to live on the SF Peninsula where I grew up. It sucks when homes and rents go up in the area you want to live in, but maybe you should think of moving where rents and home prices are cheaper like I did (and just about everyone that I grew up with who see the homes our parents bought for $25-$30K sell for $1-$2 MILLION)…

  12. Cayce

    I hope you take the time to read this but if not that’s ok too. This is about the town and being a renter vs me and the landlord but it is about renter rights.

    I bought my first house when I was 20 years old. A totally fun restoration project in Asheville NC with 5 bedrooms and a full guest suite with a kitchen for our hiking pals to come stay. We had 3 acres, a creek and university forest property behind us right there in the Biltmore Village area. I had a 10 month old son and loved Davis when I came to visit so I sold my house and headed out.

     

    When I moved to Davis I was shocked by the housing AND the prices. I though all of L street area was a huge doublewide trailer community with the weird flat roofs and shape and how close together they are…. I had a very short stay in Green meadows with everything in storage then a friends mom was renting this little house in East Davis, now Central Davis. I am the last house in “Old East Davis” on our block. The owner years later gave the property to her son. At one point I think she asked me if I wanted to buy it but I had two little kids and decided to not be married any longer so as a single mom I did not take the offer, I should have. 22 years I have been in this tiny house. I say I lived tiny before it was cool! This little house afforded me the chance to raise my kiddos without any support as a single mom. It allows me to volunteer my time and send my kids to college. I am debt free and shop at the co-op and have an awesome business where we give back to our community.

     

    I have treated this house as if I owned it. I transformed the yard into a series of beautiful gardens that I pay for. I put up fences and mend them out of my pocket. I do all the minor repairs out of pocket like painting and fixing the toilet or dripping kitchen sink. I buy the window AC units and dispose of them when they conk out, same with laundry machines. I love the location of this house and feel really connected to the neighborhood. Interestingly enough the town and neighborhood does not treat me with the same respect as a renter. When I tell folks I rent they say things like, “wow, I thought you lived there!” Hmmmmmm I do live here.

     

    When a teardown rebuild took place to the South behind us 27 feet straight up no set backs and windows looking down into our bedrooms and bathroom, they built SEVEN FEET from the property line, that’s right 7, we had no say in protecting our privacy or our quality of life. We live in the constant shadow since they are to our south. We lost our cross breeze in summer and the natural light year round. They  put their massive two a/c units between our houses so  we hear a constant generator sound year round and if we open the windows we are hit with blowing hot air off the units. The TOWN treated us badly not our landlord. As a renter we had no rights to protect our quality of life from greed.

     

    We pay rent, we pay taxes, we shop locally, we vote, we volunteer, we own a small business, my husband was born and raised here in Davis but we are treated like we do not have a voice or rights as a renter. The people who built the house behind us was a real estate person and the city staff said to me that I was a renter and could just leave tomorrow vs the homeowner who owns their house. Did I mention she moved about two years later?? It’s always about money with this town. Everyone wants their slice of the pie. I laugh reading about making enough room for students on campus. Davis would crap their greedy little pants to lose all their renters paying for their too large houses and retirements! Give me a break folks. Who is clapping their hand over losing the ability to charge $600-$700 a room?? This town is run on greed and grabbing a slice of the real estate for investment. How many council members also own income properties? I think income properties should be taxed beyond belief because the rental market is what makes the housing so stupid expensive! We are not paying for the beautiful beach, lakes or mountains folks…… we are paying for an artificial market. PS next time you get ready to say something nasty about renters bringing down the neighborhood I want you to stop and think about what an asshole statement that is, Davis.

    1. Marina Kalugin

      yes NEVER should have sold my first Davis house…the developer family who bought it said it was for their family…I wanted a family for my friends and there families who were neighbors.

      Within a year it was rented….for MORE than the monthly costs…  I was mad, but what could I do…

      Oh yes, the couple were attorneys who lived in El Macero and bought and sold houses or rented LOTs of houses.

      some years later, I was a lowly payroll/personnel “asst” at UCD and the graduate student who I was hiring was living in MY old house…..and so were many others….as grad students and postdocs in STEM, they were never there to even mess anything up.

      Years later, I wished I had that house for my sons to live in and take over…in the meantime it would have helpd me, a single mom, make ends meet for more than 2 decades make ends meet…

       

       

       

       

      1. Cayce

        Marina, it really is something! Lots of greed in this town! Our families always had second homes but they were vacation places like lake house or cabin somewhere….  never have I seen so much greed and rental income in all my life!

        1. Justice4All

          I really enjoyed that read Cayce. There is a serious greed problem with the landlord class in this town. They prey upon a captive population, and get richer from it.

  13. Frankly

    Note to all renters.

    You are mistreated by landlords because landlords hold the cards.  Landlords hold the cards because Davis residents have decided that their views of open fields around the city are more important.  These residents want to build a farmland moat so that Davis cannot grow out.  And many of those same residents reject any significant denser housing being build as infill.   So, we have a near-zero vacancy rate.

    Now, say I am a person with a few bucks in my bank account looking to make that money make me more money.  What would I invest in?   Real estate is one of the things that folks like me invest in… especially in Davis where I know there is 100% likelihood that I will succeed in renting it out… and at a high rent.

    I am attracted to investing in Davis real estate because the word is out.  I can barely maintain the units and all those housing-needy students will still rent from me.   I don’t have to work too hard.   Now… I have rental investments in other cities where the vacancy rate is much higher… and for those cities I have to work a lot harder to attract tenants… and I have to be competitive in rental rates.   Thankfully I don’t need to spend too much time with my Davis properties so I can devote more to these other communities making sure I provide really good customer service to my tenants.

    Since UCD does not have an undergrad business school, I assume that our population is less business savvy than other communities our size.  But this is the lesson of leverage.   In every two-party agreement, the one party with the most leverage will generally end up getting the better deal.   The landlord has the rental space and those needing to rent have few alternative choices.  So the renter has almost zero leverage to demand that the landlord provide certain things like quick response for maintenance issues.

    However, if Davis would increase its vacancy rate to say 5%.  Then renters would have a choice and would tend to reject those properties that are not kept in good repair or with a landlord having a bad reputation for providing good service.

    If you want to be treated better as a renter, then demand Davis build more housing so that landlords are forced to be more responsive to your needs as a renter.

    1. Alan Miller

      BS Frank Lee.  Many landlords in town have treated students like S since way before there was this near-zero vacancy rate.  True enough about market rate and affordability — but the landlord over students game is many many decades ingrained in Davis fabric.

    2. Justice4All

      Frankly, you are right in saying that the situation allows the landlords to hold all of the cards. Where we digress is on the course of action. I would like to see the University and city allow for more housing to be built. But I also do not like seeing people being taken advantage of, which is what the landlord class in Davis is doing. The bad ones are exploiting a captive population. It is a reasonable response to implement a renters rights ordinance to curb abuses, just like many other college town in California.

  14. Scheney

    My son rents here in town.  He is 27 years old, but still requires a parent co-signer for the lease.  I am not just liable for his portion of the rent, but rent for the entire household.  Without my shouldering this risk, he could not live in Davis.   I’m wondering at what age he will be able to sign a lease without his mother.  We have learned to write off the deposit.  At one apartment he was vacating, I personally cleaned it.  I spent most of the day doing this.  I even replaced missing grout in the kitchen and repaired a few things that were broken when he moved in.  The property management showed up half a day early and demanded that he vacate the property, because they had someone moving in the next day.   He didn’t get all of his deposit back and it took 10 days to get it.

    His current situation is the best ever.  He has found one of the better property management companies in town, plus he and his roommates have learned to be firm on their demands.  That they are all adults probably helps.  He shares a 4 bedroom house with 3 other young men (and a cat) – all with jobs and leading relatively quiet lives.  They make sure to pay their rent on time and not disturb their neighbors.

    Renters pay a tax in a way.  Having to pay $1000’s in deposits every time you move – money that you never seem to get back from landlords keep is part of being a renter in Davis.  So renters pay additional money above their rent and utilities, but this money doesn’t go to the City.

    I think that we would be willing to pay $25 to have someone from the City do an inspection and require needed repairs from the landlord.

    1. dlemongello

      I also wonder what is going to be considered “needed repairs”.  Is every little thing going to need to be perfect every time so the tenants can just break it again?  Sorry, but that is my experience. Let me give a couple of examples;  I put in some tile at the entryway, within a few months someone had dropped something blunt and heavy on it and cracked it. The reason I put tile there was the tenants before that had rested a hot pot on the carpet there and burned it.  I would replace the carpet but it’s good enough, why bother when it could be ruined at any moment?  Same for window coverings, I just repair the slats as they break them.  Etc.

      1. Scheney

        I would think that we are talking about health and welfare – broken windows, plumbing or sewage problems, appliances not working, dangerous electrical wiring, no heat, pests and mice, etc.  Not broken slats, crack in the tiles, worn carpet, etc.  It would also cover what tenants do to places.

      1. Scheney

        The danger of individual leases is that you have no control over who your roommates are.  The landlord can move someone in that is incompatible and is a nightmare for the other roommates.  You have no recourse other than wait it out until you can move out.

    2. South of Davis

      Scheney wrote:

      > My son rents here in town.  He is 27 years old, but still

      > requires a parent co-signer for the lease.

      I moved out at 18 and never had my parents c-sign for anything (not they ever would have).

      Does your son have some nightmare credit problem?  I know single Mom’s with crappy jobs that rent homes in Davis without a co-signer, so there is something strange going on when THREE (3) adult men with jobs can’t qualify to rent a place without mommy on the lease.

       

       

      1. Scheney

        When I challenged the requirement, I was told by the property manager that this is how it is done in Davis.  They assume that single people sharing a place are students who have no stable income and have parents that they can collect from.  As far as I know, all the young men had to have co-signers.

        1. Tia Will

          Scheney

          This is not universal. My son rents out rooms in his childhood home without demanding co-signatures. I do not know what the standard practice is at large rentals, but I do know that it is variable with folks just renting out rooms as he had done some comparison pricing and evaluation of policy prior to moving back to town two years ago.

    3. quielo

      I have no idea why you “write off the deposit”. I am both a landlord and a tenant, I live in Davis and own elsewhere.  I have never not gotten my entire deposit back. I had one landlord who felt attached to it but I sent a letter of demand (http://www.courts.ca.gov/11150.htm) on day 21 and my deposit arrived back, all of it! I could have gone to small claims court for damages but opted not too.

      IMHO this mediation is idiocy. If someone owes me money what I want is a judgement from a court. I don’t care about mediation or a ruling by an arbitrator, give me a court judgement every time. People like the author “Sean” who are too lazy to send a letter of demand will not be better off with a mediator as it will be more effort and more difficult to understand than the simple effective current procedure.

        1. quielo

          So they will magically know to go to a kiosk in City Hall? If you google “security deposit california” the first listings are the court I referenced, the department of consumer affairs, and a variety of consumer help sites. The letter of demand is already crafted, they just need to fill in the blanks and the process really could not be simpler. If you believe people are too stupid to google it then they need a guardian appointed for them as any process that Davis devises will be more difficult to find and access than the current one.

        2. Barack Palin

          Quielo, exactly.  You are looking at this logically but in order to push through this unneeded proposed ordinance the tenants have to be portrayed as helpless naive sheep being led to slaughter.

          1. David Greenwald

            He/ she has a point. I think overall the complaints I heard were valid and that the city needs a more comprehensive approach.

  15. dlemongello

    Frankly, maybe you can show me the error in my math.  If one bought a while ago and paid less or little for a property, one is making money from that rental. But if I were to buy now for say $450K, or even a few  years ago for $350K and charge $1600/mo. on let’s average it and say a $400K investment, I’d bring in a gross of $19200 per year.  From that I’d pay property taxes, maintenance, etc., maybe end up with $10000 or less on my $400K investment or an annual return of 2.5% and have all the hassle of finding tenants, fixing things etc., a part time job.  Why is this a good investment, even though it is hard to make 2.5% with anything low risk?  The stock market or housing market could also both crash, yeah I know, that’s called risk.

    1. Frankly

      $450k property with $400k mortgage at 4% is about $2000 per month P&I, then add $800 for insurance, property tax and maintenance.  That is $2800.

      It is a four bedroom that get rented for $700 per bed.  That is $2800.

      So you are net neutral.  Keep in mind if you paid cash you would be seeing that 4% return that is otherwise going to the mortgage bank interest.

      But you get to depreciate the property on you taxes while it appreciates.

      And rents will go up.  So you will be net positive in a few years.

      Now, what if you can stuff a fifth bedroom in the house?

    2. South of Davis

      Donna wrote:

      > Why is this a good investment, even though it is

      > hard to make 2.5% with anything low risk?

      Let’s say you bought a Central Davis home for $400K four years ago that is worth 500K today.  You might not have a ton of cash flow, but when you add in the $2K a MONTH the place has been going up in value (tax free) since 2012 things look a lot better…

  16. dlemongello

    First of all I am talking about paying cash.  See, here’s the problem; I am not going to rent it for $2800 a month/ $700 per BR or bed, absurd. A house one could rent for that would most likely cost more than I listed in my example.  Oh, and rents will go up, you’re sure of that? So I have a part time job that is net 2.5% return right now and I am speculating that rents and home values will rise. Who’s scenario is more realistic?Neither of us knows.

  17. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   MY sons never had any problems with landlords…they paid the rent on time, didn’t trash up the place and were considerate……of course, they were also polite, well mannered in spite of being raised by a single mom….they also were GATE and too busy to spend much time loafing around, partying and drinking…..they had to keep up GPAs due to scholarships…and so forth..

    not long ago, my neighbor said you are not going to rent out the house are you..

    I said I am going to have to….she was SO upset….I said that if my younger can find a job in his field in this area without too much of a commute, then he could live at the house….she was thrilled..

    Since HER husband died, my son was the one to help her around the house….he was tall, she was short, he is a brilliant techie, and she was having some difficulties with her internet…

    if you find proper tenants, then the neighbors will love them…and they can make a few bucks or a meal on the side….

    1. South of Davis

      Marina wrote:

      > in the Menlo Park/Atherton area..the bedrooms go

      > from $5K to $30K per month

      It sounds like Marina is exaggerating a little since $5K per bedroom ($15K/Month) is enough to BUY a ~$3 MILLION 3 x 2 home at $30K per bedroom ($90K/month) you can BUY a ~$20 MILLION dollar home…

      P.S. Here is a place in Menlo Park for under $1,500/month/bedroom

      https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/apa/5547486705.html

      1. Marina Kalugin

        I recently was there and looking at the rental brochures AND the house rental and condo web sites.

        That is the range……yes, there were a handful in the 2-3K range per bedroom per month…but most of the few were in the $5K and up…..

        and I was looking at real ads not craigslist…..

        PS>   you can buy  2/1 house in Atherton right now…it is a steal at $2.5 million…right on El Camino and very close to the road….but it is “nicely upgraded” has a garage and room to expand…LOL

        look on realtor.com….and look  for the median house prices….

        those are the houses that go for those prices…and some ARE the average prices…

        PS. no need to exaggerate when the REAL info is so absurd…. cya

  18. nameless

    The landlord was absent. Whenever something was broken, it took weeks if not months to fix. Multiple phone calls, emails and in person visits were required to get any kind of response, unless of course you were a day late on the rent, at which point the management company would call you at least 5 times a day (which only happened once).”

    As a tenant, if the premises do not provide hot and cold running water, working appliances, heat and air conditioning, leaks water or is infested with roaches, which makes the place uninhabitable, you have the right to withhold rent until it is fixed.  If the landlord then tries to evict you, and the eviction process is onerous for the landlord, you can then explain to the judge why you withheld rent.  Just make sure to document everything with pictures preferably.  You also have the right to make repairs and deduct the cost of repairs from rent.

    The nice city employee told me there used to be a program, but the funding was cut during the great recession, and that I could try my luck with a small claims court. When I looked up the cost of a lawyer consultation, I decided it just was not worth the hassle.

    You cannot bring a lawyer to small claims court.  Neither side is permitted to be represented by a lawyer in small claims court.  Each side must represent themselves (pro se).  The filling fee for small claims court is about $25, and the tenant can ask that the filing fee be refunded by the landlord if the tenant wins the case.

    Dispute arbitration services paid for by a $25 per parcel per year fee

    I do not believe this is what is meant by the staff report.  A fee would be charged to each rental unit, be it a single family residence, duplex, or multiple family complex.  The staff report states:

    “The City of Sacramento currently charges a $16 program fee and $127 unit inspection fee. Additional fees are imposed if the property is not brought into compliance within 30 days of the initial inspection. Sacramento County charges a Rental Housing Code Compliance fee of $15.50 per unit…

    Implement a new fee to cover costs associated with registration, education, mediation and program administration. The fee will be $15 per Single family unit. Multi-family unit properties will pay on a graduated scale depending on the number of units. The fee listed is the total amount, it is not per unit. The fee will be charged annually. The proposed Multi-family scale is:

    3-10 Units $20

    11-19 Units $50

    20-49 Units $75

    50+ Units $100

    This would generate approximately $67,500 in single family revenue and $17,680 multifamily revenue, totaling $85,180 to fund education, mediation and program administration. The revenue will be reviewed annually to ensure all program costs are being covered.”

  19. nameless

    IMO, what is needed most is a Neighbor, Renter and Landlord Bill of Rights, that is required to be given out to each neighbor, renter and landlord.  Then everyone knows what their remedies are.  I don’t particularly have any problem with an inspection program paid for by landlords, to keep everyone honest.  This would be for the protection of the landlord, renters and neighbors.  But the city has to be willing to consistently impose fines for noncompliance.

    1. quielo

      If there is any legal topic that is covered in greater breadth and depth than renting/leasing I do not know what it is. There are hundreds of landlord and tenant advocacy sites with helpful advice. In addition the court site I linked above has a template driven system to generate all documents.

       

      Maybe someone can explain to me how the Davis program will aid those with serious ignorance and/or sloth.

       

      1. South of Davis

        Quielo wrote:

        > Maybe someone can explain to me how the Davis program

        > will aid those with serious ignorance and/or sloth.

        Just like the “main” goal of the soda tax was to get more money for the government the “main” goal of this tax is to get more money for the government (that does not care if the poor pay more for soda or apartments as long as they keep getting raises and can retire young with a big pension)…

      2. Marina Kalugin

        well, if Sean can get them to notice the DV and actually come on and participate, it might…..

        however, all one has to do is also talk up the model lease…..when I was a student, it didn’t exist in the current form…but I am kinda fanatical about reading each word…….

        if it is more than 180 characters, most won’t read it….gotta be more succinct Sean….

         

  20. Barack Palin

    Some great informational comments on here and I think we can all pretty much agree that any city instituted tenant resolution program would be a waste of money.

    1. nameless

      Not if it is paid for by landlords.  That gives incentive to slumlords to get their act together or else be fined, assuming the city is truly serious about such a program and it is not mere window-dressing.

      1. South of Davis

        nameless wrote:

        > Not if it is paid for by landlords.

        It won’t be “paid for by landlords” since if every landlord in town has to pay it rents will just go up (even more) and the tenants will pay for it…

        1. Matt Williams

          SoD, the level of rents is a function of the supply/demand relationships in the town.  Landlords will charge what those supply/demand calculations support … and rarely any less.  Housing pricing is not “cost plus” and in a perpetually hot housing market like ours, never will be.

        2. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > Landlords will charge what those supply/demand calculations support …

          All landlords are not the same and do not do business the same way.  There are the “pros” and the “regular” people. Tandem has ~1,000 units in town and a full time crew to paint clean and lease a unit when someone moves out.

          When someone moves out of my rental (and another small landlord’s rental) I’ll lose at least a months rent and have to spend a LOT of time and money getting the place ready to rent and finding a new tenant.

          All the small landlords I know we find a good tenant, rent the place at a fair price and raise the rent as expenses increase (showing the tenants the actual bills).  For most people that don’t have a “leasing office” and “turnover crew” they make more money at the end of the day finding good people and keeping the rent below market so they stay and take care of the place.

           

        3. Matt Williams

          SoD, thank you for your input. As I said to Donna, the challenge is that it doesn’t take too many bad apples to spoil “the barrel” for everyone.

          At the risk of repeating what I said to Donna, I do think that landlords like yourself who work hard to keep your rental rates affordable should/could qualify for fee credits based on the documented  efforts in contributing to the affordability of housing in Davis.

          It also sounds like you and Donna have had the same experience with respect to end-of-lease cleaning.  That sounds like an issue that needs to be addressed in an update to the model lease.

  21. Alan Miller

    When I was a student and post-student in Davis I had several rentals.  We found out the property manager at one place was leasing apartments and not telling the landlords.  He was prosecuted for embezzlement and his smoking hot young wife left him.  Karma.

    I quickly learned the game:  at mostly-student rentals, they take out about 30%, because 80% will just take it.  Of those that do complain, they cut it in half, just enough so it’s not worth small claims.

    Since no one knows exactly what the “Davis Way” is, if you want the truth, see above paragraph.

    The solution was simple:  Once I learned the game, I demanded a walk-through with the responsible party, and insisted that we both sign a copy of statement that we’d get our entire deposit back when XXX was done, and both sign it and get a copy.  So few people did this that the one’s I did it with never complained.

     

  22. Marina Kalugin

    Yes, Alan Miller, many will quickly learn the game…the others complain or get taken advantage of.

    I remember that guy…and there have been plenty of other such stories of  “property managers”  being busted.

    I think we have it way better than many other places around…I haven’t particularly noticed slumlords around here – not to say that there could not be some users who are not so visible.

     

  23. Justice4All

    So these comments escalated rather quickly. I do find it incredulous that so many who profit so greatly off the renters are complaining so much about a 25$ fee. This is a systematic problem, which requires a systematic solution. I know my rights as a tenant now, but only because I navigated the system after being screwed over by a bad landlord.

    Many of these comments boil down to “well if you dont know your rights, then thats your fault”. Which I find to be absurd, considering a significant part of this ordinance is actually educating a population that constantly turns over.

    1. South of Davis

      Sean wrote:

      > I do find it incredulous that so many who profit so greatly

      > off the renters are complaining so much about a 25$ fee.

      We became “accidental” landlords when we could not sell our house in 2012 for more than we owed (after buying a new house in Davis). In those four years we have had negative cash flow from the rental every year (and our current “monthly” city services bill is MORE than the “bi-monthly” bill of five years ago, aka the city services bill has MORE than doubled).

      I like our old neighbors and I don’t have the time to get higher rents by turning the place in to a mini-dorm and re-renting it every year so every year the taxes go up, the city services fees go up, my insurance goes up and the city OKs a new parcel tax I need to find a way to cut back (I already drive a 22 year old car when I’m not riding my bike and we don’t have cable TV)…

       

    2. Sam

      Again with the assumption that landlords are making so much money off of renters in Davis. If that is the case then why don’t you purchase a few properties and rent them out. There are currently several 3/2 1200 sq. ft. properties for sale in Davis for about $500,000. With $100,000 of cash out of your pocket your mortgage payment will be about $2,600 per month with impounds. Water and garbage is another $150. You can have someone mow the yard for another $100 per month or run the risk that the tenants kill the landscaping. Repairs are going to average about another $500 per month depending on the age of the property. So that is $3,350 out of pocket every month. If you get a renter that stops paying they can stay in the house for several months while you spend even more money trying to evict them. Sure the value of the property may go up, but it also may go down. Houses can be difficult and expensive to sell too.

      Not all landlords are “rich” “millionaires” or “profit so greatly off of the renters”.

      1. Barack Palin

        Yes Sam, but that’s the story line that the tenants have to push that the landlords are greedy scummy slum lords and that the tenants are just naive college students being taken advantage of who always pay their rent on time, leave their apartments in perfect condition and have no idea how to deal with problems or getting their deserved deposits back.  They are highly educated except when it benefits them to play dumb.

  24. Justice4All

    Come on now, we are talking about 25$ a year. Thats less than a dinner on friday night with your partner. Lets not pretend like this is some huge financial burden. However, if we are going to talk about financial burdens, lets talk about the percentage of families in this city that are rent impacted.

    1. Matt Williams

      Sean, this comment confuses me.  Are you trying to:

      (A) fix a problem with the quality and responsiveness of landlords (especially absentee landlords) to renter complaints, or

      (B) reduce the number/percentage of families in this city that are rent impacted?

      1. Justice4All

        Ideally both. With this policy, we are trying to improve landlord responsiveness. The point about rent impacted families was to illustrate the petty nature about complaining about a 25$ fee for such an obviously needed policy change. There are so many people in our city who struggle to pay the sky high rents. Meanwhile, the people who are collecting those sky high rents are complaining about an annual fee that amounts to what it costs to take your partner to a dinner on friday night. It just seems so out of touch.

        1. Matt Williams

          Sean, my personal belief is that when you commingle the two objectives into one, you risk accomplishing neither.  Sky high rents are a very different issue than landlord responsiveness.  There is nothing that the City Council can do to reduce the demand for housing in Davis, and in the short run there is little that the City Council can do to increase the supply of housing in Davis.  On the other hand there is a lot that the Council can do to increase landlord responsiveness.

          My advice to you is to pick your battles.  Focus on fixing the things that are fixable.

          JMHO

        2. dlemongello

          Now that you know we already pay $25, do you think we should pay another $25? And I do not think I collect sky high rent actually, not to mention I keep the place decent. And I will tell you, I will pass this on if I end up having to pay it.

      2. Justice4All

        I think practically every renter in Davis would pay 2 bucks a month for the right of arbitration of conflicts, particularly on security deposit issues. So I think the threat to pass along the costs to the renters is hollow at best.

    2. Frankly

      Come on now, we are talking about 25$ a year.

      You mean it is only one tiny little cut… on-top of the thousands of other tiny cuts already administered.

      Bleeding out does not just require a single large wound.

      1. Matt Williams

        Frankly, the fee is 100% avoidable.  Just make the discretionary decision to use single family residential housing for the purpose it was designed … housing families in a family-friendly setting.  If a home owner wants to make the discretionary decision to use their residence for a conditional use, then paying for a conditional use permit is appropriate.

        When I walk into your business, am I going to find a conditional business use permit conspicuously displayed?

        1. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > Frankly, the fee is 100% avoidable.  Just make the discretionary

          > decision to use single family residential housing for the purpose

          > it was designed …

          Do you want to just have the fee for “mini-dorms” and not homes occupied by a “single family”?

        2. Frankly

          Matt – all business fees are passed down the the customer.  So you are really talking about the renters paying another $25.  Seems counter productive to me.

        3. Matt Williams

          Frankly, if the renters see it as an insurance policy that addresses their concerns about no clear process for addressing their complaints, then “Yes, I do think they would pay $2 per month per apartment for that insurance policy.”

  25. dlemongello

    Just so you all know, there is already a $25 fee per year to have a rental, it comes added to the January w/s/g bill, so this is another $25, it’s always more added to what’s already there.  Then we always hear it’s just a coffee (I don’t buy coffee), it’s just a dinner (it is a rare occurrence indeed that I spend $25 on a dinner), etc.

    The Davis model lease has a section that tells tenants to ask for a pre-moveout walk through, they rarely do. I generally remind them they have this right, they sometimes take me up on it. I spell out every detail of what is needed to get the deposit back, I tell them I would much rather simply return their deposit than have that work to do.  To many it is simply not worth their effort.

    1. South of Davis

      Donna wrote:

      > Just so you all know, there is already a $25 fee per year to

      > have a rental, it comes added to the January w/s/g bill,

      Don’t forget the $15-$21 “gross receipts tax” that most rental homes also pay (and the “permit fees” and “inspection fees” you need to pay to the city above and beyond the cost to install a water heater AC unit or the next thing that breaks)…

      http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=1949

      P.S. Every time you get a permit to fix something the city will find something else you have to replace and spend money on (like adding a low flow toilet, LED lights or more smoke and carbon monoxide detectors)…

    2. Marina Kalugin

      I find it kinda amazing that for many renters it is “not worth it to do any cleaning.”….wow….  of course not, likely mom or dad paid the deposit and they obviously have more important  err…interesting things to do…..I see that attitude all over and it is really telling

      Me to son who is finally working:  so are you getting insurance with this job..son: .jee mom, I’m sure it is not nearly as good was what “we” pay for….  huhhhhh, WE….?      similar…but he actually cleaned and got his deposit back…..or at least for his share of the house…oh wait a minute I paid the deposit for everyone  as the others “didn’t have the money”….

    3. Matt Williams

      Donna, again, thank you for your input. The challenge is that it doesn’t take too many bad apples to spoil “the barrel” for everyone.

      I also think that landlords like yourself who work hard to keep your rental rates affordable should/could qualify for fee credits based on the documented  efforts in contributing to the affordability of housing in Davis.

  26. Tia Will

    quielo and BP

    You are looking at this logically but in order to push through this unneeded proposed ordinance the tenants have to be portrayed as helpless naive sheep being led to slaughter.”

    While it is true that you are looking at this logically, I would like to point out that you are also looking at it from the point of view of someone with a high level of reading and comprehension. I know . because I wanted to test out your claim that this is a very simple process. So I Googled demand letter as you suggested and what I found on multiple sites is language that is likely to be beyond the comprehension of an individual reading below the level of a college bound high school graduate.

    At this point in time, I am completely neutral on this issue since I did not attend nor watch last night’s council meeting. But in terms of ease of usage, when considering the vocabulary level and reading comprehension of many of my adult patient’s, and many more that I have tutored regardless of first language, this would likely not be a simple 15 minute process for them, and for some, would be beyond their capabilities entirely snide comments about need for a conservator aside.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > what I found on multiple sites is language that is likely to be

      > beyond the comprehension of an individual reading below the

      > level of a college bound high school graduate.

      I bet more than 90% of the kids at Davis High could find a demand letter on line and print it (you don’t need to be a “college bound high school graduate” to do this.

      > snide comments about need for a conservator aside.

      What percentage of people who are on their own and are able to find an apartment on Craig’s List, fill out all the forms to apply and get a credit check then sign a lease do you feel are not able to Google “how to get security deposit back”?

      Should the city also tax car owners $25 a year to help those who are ripped off my a mechanic and need someone from the city of Davis to help them?  Why not also make all bike owners pay $25 to fund a full time person who can help anyone that has a problem with a bike shop overcharging them…

      1. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        I think that because you are educated and articulate and understand some legal terms, you may be underestimating that number of people that are not so blessed and who do need assistance perhaps not to just fill out an application, but to understand what they are doing when they attempt to fill out a form with legalistic jargon as was found in the three forms that I looked at.

        This would not apply to our college students filling up the mini dorms, but certainly might apply to some of our less affluent citizens. It has been over 15 years ago, but we had done a survey in Kaiser which showed that about 14% of our population was not reading at above a junior high school level. This was surprising to me because I was making the unfounded assumption that people were actually filling out their own forms and reading the handouts that I gave them. It is actually fairly easy to “pass” for literate in our country while remaining quite restricted and flying under the radar accompanied by a friend, adult family member or child.

        Also, there are what to me is a surprising number of people who do not own or use computers. I have many patients who still conduct all of their business by phone or in person.

        Again, I am not arguing for or against this idea. Simply pointing out that it is easy to dismiss those who may not be as fully equipped as we are to live in our current digital world.

  27. quielo

    > snide comments about need for a conservator aside.

    This ordinance is essentially an attempt to appoint a guardian for all renters as the tools to aid those with problems are widely and freely available. The only part of this that would be useful, IMHO, is the model lease. The model should focus on making clear to both sides what the terms are should include links to further resources.

     

     

  28. Justice4All

    I think a lot of comments on this thread are missing the broader point. There is a whole lot of systematic exploitation of renters happening in Davis right now. This has a negative effect on neighborhoods, renters, and families. We have absentee landlords, bad actor landlords, and bad actor tenants. Currently the city does not have adequate tools to address these issues, and its having a negative effect on the citizens of Davis. These facts are not in dispute by reasonable and informed people.

    I was at the city council meeting last night, and the Vanguard trolls could not be bothered to make themselves known publicly at that time. There were property owners, renters, homeowner associations, student advocacy groups, organized labor, and anti poverty activists all there in support of this reasoned and carefully thought out measure. Will this ordinance fix all that ails the housing market? No. But it is a step in the right direction, and it will empower renters and neighborhoods to improve their own quality of lives by cracking down on the bad actor landlords.

    I find the incessant whining of some of the landlords over a $25 fee a cover for what they are really complaining about. Namely a change in the power dynamic between the renter and the landlord. Right now the landlord has practically all the power, and they like it that way. A disruption of the status quo will upset their feudal dues collections and that is something they cannot tolerate. Heaven forbid if people get due process when they are being ripped off.

    1. Barack Palin

      The one thing about the ordinance that I can agree with is it deals with the problem of mini dorms in neighborhoods.  So far there’s no real recourse for neighbors to deal with this problem.  Other than that we already have a method for renters and landlords to get due process through small claims court.  As far as trolls, after viewing the city council video I noticed many of the same trolls that show up to countless city council meetings and bring in their little groups to back their cause made their usual  appearance last night.

      1. Matt Williams

        BP, I was there for the meeting, and I did not see any of what you have referred to as “trolls” at all.  As I noted in my public comment on the item, I felt the quality and constructiveness of the comments was remarkably high.  Who commented on the renters item who you felt was a troll?

    2. quielo

      There is a significant difference between identifying a problem and saying that a specific ordinance is a solution. For example the mediation proposed is completely insane. Big business does everything possible to move customers from access to courts to mediation. Right now renters have direct and immediate access to the small claims court which is a very friendly venue for the tenant. Instead you propose moving them to medication which is landlord friendly as they are in front of the mediators constantly and give donations to the politicians who select the mediators. As a current Davis tenant, if I have a problem with the landlord I am not screwing around with your mediator, I am going directly to small claims. As a landlord I love the idea of mediation, it takes more effort, and puts any potential judgement that much further away. Most tenants do not pursue legal action as they don’t have the patience. I do find your assertion that UCD students do not know how to use Google and “interesting” theory. Mediation will be an additional step and who knows how much time before the tenant can get a judgement. Landlords will know that mediation rulings are non-enforceable and therefore can safely be ignored. Landlords know the law, they also know human nature and that delaying a settlement is in their best interests. Mediation is just another roadblock to recovery of money and that is why all the big companies demand it in their T&Cs. I don’t understand what you people are thinking, so the mediator says “you owe money to the tenant”, so what? That is not a judgement. Then the mediator says “if you don’t pay we will put you on our naughty list”. So what, they can still rent apartment to students anyway.

      1. South of Davis

        Great post, I hope Sean and others read quielo’s post and understand that a city run mediation program is just a way for the city to get (more) money from landlords to hire a friend to an easy job (most people will use Google and small claims court and only a few people a year will waste their time using a city run mediation program with no force of law).

      2. Tia Will

        quielo

        I doubt that anyone suggested that UCD students don’t know how to use Google. But I do think it is quite an assumption to make that every one who rents in Davis is a college student or college educated. As far back as 15 years ago when my kids were in the Davis public schools, we knew families who rented in Davis who were of questionable proficiency either with the English language or with reading in English.  Just because we live in an educational bubble does not mean all of our citizens share the advantages.

        Again, neither for nor against actual proposal, just stating that educationally we are not all the same, even in our highly educated little city.

        1. quielo

          Hi Tia,

           

          Justice wrote above “College students and working poor people dont know what a letter of demand is, much less how to craft one.”

          Which lead to my comment. When tools are not being used the solution is not to make new tools unless you can clearly articulate why the new tools will be used when the old tools are not. The tools available now are clearly superior to the ones proposed, the author would be better off trying to get people to use what s available.

           

           

           

           

           

        2. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > As far back as 15 years ago when my kids were in the Davis public schools,

          > we knew families who rented in Davis who were of questionable proficiency

          > either with the English language or with reading in English.  

          Over the last 15 years Davis rents have almost doubled and the number of poor people who can’t read English very well have dropped. With that said I was talking with a Davis resident today (in Spanish) who does not speak or read English very well.

          Like most (but not all) people in Davis that does not speak English very well he is not here legally so will not be going down to city hall to talk about mediation when a landlord charges him $20 to clean windows that he washed himself…

           

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