Back to Normalcy…But, What’s Normal?
Happy holidays to one and all! As we round the corner on what has literally been for some and perhaps many of us, more than 20 months of hell and financial turmoil, we can somehow see light at the end of the tunnel as the last of the Eviction Moratorium Mohicans sunset and we can now hopefully look forward to some sort of normalcy if that’s what you want to call it.
As the New Year dawns, we can all lift our heads up and view the horizon in hope that with the New Year, a new, better day will be cast upon those of us still toiling in the multifamily rental housing industry. Honestly, when you think about it, how much worse could “things” ever possibly get after the past couple of years we have just endured? It is nearly impossible to know, but somehow, I fear that just one bad flu outbreak or bad fire season or, G-d forbid, a major seismic event, and we’re back in mandated mask wearing mode again, and possibly even worse, local, and state government may breakout the regulatory shackles once again, and there we are under eviction moratoriums and rent increase freezes, and who knows what else our renter pandering elected officials might conceive. Yes, welcome to the Twilight Zone…we may just be living in a broken record. Let’s just hope we can tolerate the music a bit longer.
So, as I write this just before the Thanksgiving holiday, I have to laugh to myself thinking about presenting my proof of vaccination along with my identification just to sit down at a New York City diner, and I am thinking about why I have to show identification to dine, but not to vote. I know satisfying my hunger pains following what was a refreshing morning workout is important, but maybe its just me, but I feel like the right to vote and accuracy of our Democratic elections is far more important than my temporary need for some morning nutrition. I just ate breakfast, and this was on my mind, so sorry for the lame diversion in my thought process.
Looking ahead to 2022, I can pretty much guess how the scenario will play out for we “landlords,” although, let’s all now make a conscious effort (if you have not already done so by now) to change our vernacular and let’s refer to ourselves as “rental housing providers.” And, if you want to go one step further, strike that awful, curse word “tenant” and start out the year anew by using one or both of the descriptive words “renter” and/or “resident” which make for a far nicer, softer touch.
So, let’s talk about 2022…if the Linda Richman character created by comedian Mike Meyers were here, she’d say to “…Talk amongst yourselves…” But, if given a chance to be a betting man, I would bet that in 2022, we will see much more of the same-old, same-old that we have seen before and battled back against, and won and lost…hmmm, I am thinking about that broken record theme I referenced earlier…So, here’s what I say we will likely have to look forward to in 2022:
I, Dan Yukelson, Hereby Predict the Following
- More Local Rent Control Threats. Are you kidding me? That’s already happening, and there will be more to come. With the piercing of the “Orange Curtain” and the City of Santa Ana passing a rent control ordinance, more local jurisdictions will likely fall. Discussions are already taking place in Ventura County in cities like Ventura and Oxnard as tenant groups push for rent control limits well below state allowed “caps.”
You should know that the tenant groups are organized, they are active, and they are well funded. On the other hand, the “rental housing providers” are seemingly apathetic and unwilling to appear at public meetings or write to elected officials to express their views. When we, our Association, are able to “rally” members to show up at public meetings, we can often sway the decision making far more in our favor. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case…Now I do hear from those that complain our dues are too much or that we do not file enough lawsuits (we are heavily involved in five separate lawsuits by the way, all filed to protect our members’ interests), but when it comes time to make the pen meet the check, I hear dead silence. Wake-up people! Don’t be in this game unless you have the will to fight for your rights.
- More of the Same Sort of Regulations. Have you ever read the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse A Cookie?” The entire premise of the book is that by giving a mouse just one cookie, an entire series of events are then triggered such that the mouse needs to nap and wants a glass of milk, and then eventually cycles back to being hungry again and wanting another cookie. You should read the book to any young-aged children in your families, really! Here’s where I am going with this. In the same breath as “rent control,” it is never just that, but a whole host of other, complimentary regulations that go along with it such as rental registries, just cause eviction rules, right to counsel (government funded legal services for “renters”), and anti-harassment regulations. All of this is seemingly never ending, but at least we know what we can look forward to and anticipate our next move.
- We Will Hear From Sacramento. Ahh, our State Legislature…I really get the feeling that they don’t like us. Let me guess…in 2022, I am sure we can all look forward to the fifth time a statewide rental registry will be proposed, there will be more attacks on the Ellis Act (this allows us rental housing providers to exit the rental business), and perhaps more hurdles imposed on those of us who find ourselves undertaking the unlawful detainer (eviction) process.
And wait, there’s more…strap on your battle gear and get your checkbooks out, because we may find ourselves once again fighting another ill-conceived ballot initiative – this one is another attack on Proposition 13 that would assess a punitive 1.2% additional tax on the value of your property that is over $4 million. Sure, perhaps you are thinking “my property isn’t worth more than $4 million.” But first of all, that $4 million is only the starting point and the threshold could be reduced in some future ballot initiative, and also, that $4 million is an aggregate across all properties owned. Capiche? Get you pen and checkbook ready is all I can say. This will be a knock-down, drag-out fight like the wars we waged against Propositions 10 and 21.
Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. As your apartment association, we are not just sitting back waiting to be some government drone’s punching bag. Since I have been at the head of this organization, during the past four years, we have deployed far more resources both in terms of personnel, outside consultants, grass roots campaigns and litigation to proactively fight for the rights of rental property owners. We’ve had some impressive wins along the way, although we are working with a stacked deck against us most of the time.
So let me tell you about a few things we have going on that are “in the works” as they say in Hollywood. We have helped to form and are actively involved with a coalition of owners and other advocacy groups to alter the balance on the Los Angeles City Council and to elect candidates that lean more favorably on issues of importance to rental housing providers. We hope this initiative, which is being funded by millions of dollars, will become a model of success to carry out within many other Southern California jurisdictions. We are also engaged with several law firms and looking at litigation options for reducing or defeating unfair regulations and given the current make-up on the U.S. Supreme Court, we believe now is the time to launch these efforts. We are supporting a ballot initiative to reduce or eliminate the adverse impacts of last year’s Proposition 19, which imposes significantly higher property taxes on inherited property. Finally, we are supporting a ballot initiative that is in the very early planning stages that could reduce or eliminate so many of the local ordinances and regulations that plague our industry – it’s got to be kept a secret, so more on this another time.
Still with me? Well, listen…I want to wish you and your families a very wonderful rest of the holiday season. Let’s all stay positive for what I hope will be fantastic New Year. Sometimes, each of us needs a bit of hopefulness to hold onto, and let’s hope we get all that we ask for and more in 2022.
If I don’t say this enough, I do thank you for being a member of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, and I do very much appreciate all of your support. Our members are our greatest asset, and we as an organization could not exist without you. Always know, we are available and standing by to help you in any way possible. But, please, do say engaged and let’s stick together. We can and will prevail against government intervention and overregulation…we will.