Meet Local Housing Providers – Natalie

“Affordability, housing supply, and rent control are serious issues that require careful and balanced consideration by all parties involved, rather than political promises that will promote certain election results but no real change.”

Name: Natalie

How long have you owned rental property? Since 2011

How many units do you own? 9 units

What neighborhood? Rockridge & Temescal in Oakland

Owner/occupied? No

What do you like most about owning property in Oakland?  I like both living and working in Oakland, and appreciate the opportunity to invest in my community and contribute to positive change.

How would you describe your relationship with your renters? Positive, respectful and communicative.

What concerns you most about the renter-proposed initiatives being considered in Oakland? My primary concern is that the proposed initiatives will have no impact on the availability or affordability of housing in Oakland, and that limiting opportunities to invest in real estate and improve Oakland properties is going to lead to a deteriorating housing stock – which will benefit no one.

I am also concerned that the media and renter advocates characterize rental owners as being greedy, immoral individuals who just wait to cash rent checks and evict low-rent renters, while renters are innocent victims. In truth, there are good and bad owners, and good and bad renters. My husband and I have jobs and ALSO manage rental property. We didn’t inherit them, we invested fairly recently to help fund college for our three kids and our eventual retirement. We invest time and money maintaining our properties and work hard to be responsive and respectful to our renters.

What we really need is more enforcement of the existing rules, including prosecution of property owners who conduct illegal evictions or don’t abide by the current rent control laws and the same for renters who don’t pay rent, damage property, or create a nuisance. I support the rent control rules that were in place five years ago, but the proposals to limit rent increases to just CPI are unsustainable and the math just doesn’t work. How can a property owner afford to pay for the rising cost of housing services like garbage and utilities, increasing assessments and taxes, and capital improvements, when no increases above CPI can be passed along to renters? Further constraining the existing rent control rules is going to make it impossible for us to stay in business. And if we go out of business and a developer takes over and constructs a new building that isn’t subject to rent control, how will that improve affordability?

What is the most difficult part about being a property owner in the city? The City Council and Rent Board and courts have a bias towards renters, and are creating a situation that is imbalanced and unsustainable. Property owners are small businesses that deserve city support.

There is too much political misinformation about how tightening rent control is going to improve outcomes for those that need affordable housing, which is simply untrue.  Many rent control properties are not occupied by people who need this form of subsidy, but by those who have realized the financial benefit of staying in place.  The focus should be on increasing the supply of housing available.

Any other comments? This situation is a crisis.  Affordability, housing supply, and rent control are serious issues that require careful and balanced consideration by all parties involved, rather than political promises that will promote certain election results but no real change. I hope our City leaders take a long view of the impact of these proposed measures and avoid creating bigger problems for the future.