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Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Our Worker Housing Crisis?

By David Robinson, Court House

To the Editor:

In regard to our “Housing Crisis,” speaking as a landlord, is it a housing crisis or more sinister problems? A shortage of rental housing must be addressed by investors who build suitable dwellings that will meet the needs and budgets of our citizens of moderate or low incomes. It might be new housing or non-conforming buildings renovated to adequate living quarters.

I converted a non-conforming building into a one-bedroom home. Zoning was over $5,000 with another $80,000 in renovations. Property taxes, maintenance and repairs, fire inspections, inflation; I deal with the same issues as my tenants. Last time I checked, you do not encourage any industry by continuously hiking taxes.

With worker housing, the news is even worse – many landlords never collected rent since executive orders allowed tenants to refuse to pay rent without proof of inability to pay. Tenant groups insist rent should not exceed 30% of incomes, including utilities. Sounds good on paper, but if a landlord’s costs are increasing are landlords obligated to subsidize a tenant’s rent? With a shortage of rental housing, it tends to increase the price of housing that is available. I can assure the public that landlords are not being subsidized by the government.

A recent article stated a median-priced house in Cape May County is $305,000. Maybe for a fixer-upper. The median is closer to $500,000. After executive orders ended, thousands were evicted for failing to pay two years’ back rent. Not only were they evicted, but they also had a big red eviction sticker on their credit report. Landlords do not rent to persons with evictions.

Who caused the housing crisis? In our community, tenants refused to pay rent, trashed properties, and went on to the next property. But now, thanks to the internet and credit reports, nothing is hidden. Your past conduct will follow you.

Who caused the worker housing shortage? I constantly deal with rising property taxes and now a state-mandated registration/license fee that is nothing more than a redundant tax. Sorry, but I already paid with my property taxes. Faced with constant inflation of taxes, repairs, maintenance, and poor-quality tenants, and very biased tenant/landlord law, it might be cheaper to let housing sit vacant, or transition to seasonal vacation homes.

Who caused the rental housing crisis? No one will invest in worker housing to lose money. The easiest solution to solve our housing crisis are revised landlord/tenant laws. A tenant must pay rent in full each month. No exceptions. A dedicated landlord/tenant court that schedules cases within 14 days of filing. Same day evictions. Tenants will be required to pay back rent and to pay for any intentional damages. Yet, we have tenant groups that will fight any reformed laws to the death. But laws to protect tenants allow landlords no rights of collecting rent, timely evictions, or collecting for intentional damages. Under such circumstances, no one will invest in worker housing, or moderate- and low-income housing, unless, of course, the government provides it, then all citizens will pay dearly, in monetary and other more myriad of ways.

Landlords – unable to collect rent, destroyed properties, unable to evict, excessive taxes and regulations – I believe our “housing crisis” is also a financial crisis, a constitutional crisis, and a property rights crisis. All together now: “Who caused the housing crisis?”


Court House

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