October 7, 2022

Whole Community News

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Syrett, neighborhoods comment on police reform, landlords on renter protection

7 min read
Local mom-and-pop landlords asked for more time to review proposed renter protections.

Local mom-and-pop landlords asked for more time to review proposed renter protections.

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Councilor Claire Syrett spoke briefly Dec. 13 before the public comment period.

[00:00:05] Eugene City Councilor Claire Syrett: The Register Guard article December 5th, the Use of Force Board discussion over the fatal shooting of Mr. (Eliborio) Rodrigues, really point out to me how dysfunctional this review board process is. The board felt that if Officer (Samuel) Tykol had been more decisive in placing Rodrigues onto the ground, the incident might have ended at that point. Placed him onto the ground for doing what? They were saying, ‘You should have just violated his constitutional rights much earlier in the process and then the use of force wouldn’t have been necessary.’

[00:00:42] John Q: A neighborhood committee referenced those remarks.

[00:00:45] Jolene Siemsen: Hello, I’m Jolene Siemsen. The River Road Community Organization Social Justice Committee recently sent to City Council members and the mayor a letter indicating support for the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policy recommendations. The work is particularly relevant tonight to the comments Councilor Syrett made regarding the use of deadly force in 2019, that resulted in the loss of the life of Mr. (Eliborio) Rodrigues, who was collecting cans in his neighborhood.

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Other neighborhood groups that signed on include the Friendly Area Neighbors, Active Bethel Community, Whiteaker Community Council, and Jefferson Westside Neighbors.

[00:01:27] We urge all of you to commit and recommit to following through on these recommendations as a top priority in 2022. The work cannot wait and it is long overdue.

[00:01:39] John Q: The City Council heard that proposals to help renters may force small local investors out of the market.

[00:01:45] Kathryn Dunn: Hello everyone, I’m Kathryn Dunn. I am a realtor and a rental owner, and my partner, Paul, and I have owned rental properties for about 25 years now, and that’s our retirement plan. Our properties are very well-maintained and most of the renters that we have stay for many, many years. We manage most of them ourselves and being a landlord is risky business, I’ve got to tell you. Select the wrong tenant who doesn’t take care of your property, and it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, well over the amount of a security deposit.

[00:02:18] And we should know, because over this past year it’s been crazy. We’ve had to refurbish five single family residences. We’ve never had this situation ever before in the history of our rental properties. This year five of them needed to be completely refurbished. One to have them completely remodeled. There’s really no way to collect from tenants who damage our properties. If you go to court, you can maybe win a judgment, but good luck collecting on that. So tenant selection and getting sufficient security deposits are key to being able to continue renting our properties.

[00:02:50] We only recently found out about the proposed renter protections. We don’t understand why we weren’t notified about this process. Since we fund that rental housing program and the city is considering having that same program fund new measures, then it would seem that we would be notified since we fund that program.

[00:03:09] We weren’t the only landlords who were unaware. Many were unaware of what was going on and to help get the word out we created a Facebook group and it’s called Eugene Rental Owners. And now we have over a hundred members who are interested in what’s going on at the city and with these proposals.

[00:03:25] On the surface, some of these ordinances could benefit renters. However, most would be at the expense of landlords, which may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It may cause some of them to consider selling their properties, especially since this is coming after regulations that, number one, capped rent increases; two, created more stringent eviction laws, and three, put moratoriums on evictions with still no financial aid provided to landlords.

[00:03:51] Meg: Hi, I’m Meg. I’m an elderly widow. I rent out part of my home as a completely private apartment as a way to afford to keep my house. After my husband’s death, I provide safe, clean and comfortable housing. I’m a grateful member of the rental owners association. I take workshops and classes and so I follow all of the requirements. As a housing provider, I’m concerned about newly proposed changes affecting my safety and my limited finances. I’m considering selling my property now, which would create yet more loss in rental units and actually would put me on the position of being one of the people looking for a rental unit on my limited income of $832 a month on Social Security. I don’t have a large equity in my property. And I’m asking you to consider rules for small resident landlords.

[00:05:01] Kathie Robidou: Hi, my name is Kathie Robidou and I’ve been a realtor for 36 years. My husband and I own three rentals in Eugene and two in Springfield. We purchased these properties for our retirement. Our current tenants have all been in there from three to eight years, and we’ve only had the rent raised once on two of the properties.

[00:05:21] One of the things I was particularly concerned about was requiring owners to accept credit scores as low as 500. My husband and I had to save 25 percent down to buy an investment property, each one of them. And we had to qualify with a minimum credit score of 740 to get a decent interest rate to purchase them. And the only way they will function for our retirement, if we were able to generate an income from them.

[00:05:46] We’ve only had a few tenants who’ve been abusive on how they kept the property, pay the rent. But the few who did, did a lot of damage, and limiting what the security deposit can be, will also limit the tenants a landlord will consider, because there is a risk to the landlord, serious risk. And I’ve definitely experienced it. I’ve already had a couple of clients who are in the process of selling their investment properties because of the changes that have already been made to landlord tenant laws.

[00:06:14] I can understand the City Council being concerned about low-income housing and tenants, but coming up with things that doesn’t make it work or punish his landlords who are trying to help others and have a retirement isn’t the way to do it.

[00:06:27] Scott Smith: My name is Scott Smith. In the past I’ve been a property manager in Eugene and it was important to be able to offer folks the opportunity to pay a higher security deposit, to offset a potential risk if they maybe did not meet our standard rental criteria. By offering a higher deposit, it actually offered them an opportunity to rent a property that they would not have been able to rent.

[00:06:58] I think the vast majority of people want landlord-tenant law and rules to be simple and intuitive because generally it’s folks that are not lawyers that are handling the rental relationship when people move into houses and move out. And I’m going to guess that at least 95 percent of the time, there’s no lawyers involved. It’s just citizens, laypeople, that are having to work through the rules and the law. And as we get more layers and it gets more complex that’s going to make it difficult for both sides and ultimately it’s going to change the landlord-tenant relationship to something that’s more adversarial. And I’m a believer that there’s a good portion of renters out there that would, they would like to rent from mom-and-pop landlords. And I think you’re going to see an exodus from mom-and-pop landlords.

[00:07:51] Pam Haggard: I’m Pam Haggard. I am also a real estate broker and a property owner. I’ve also experienced tens of thousands of dollars in repairs after tenants have left a property in really bad condition. And it’s not the good tenants that do that. It’s the tenants that are not paying their rent. It’s the tenants that are not taking care of the property.

[00:08:12] There was a reference to leases that are less than a year. And I think that we’ll see more of that. Because when someone I’m always very nervous when a new tenant is moving into one of my properties, because I don’t know how they’ll take care of it, and if I have the opportunity to evict them because they don’t take care of a property, I want to be able to do that with no cause before it goes beyond that. And then I can’t evict them afterwards because I have, that’s a huge investment is my retirement income.

[00:08:44] Niyah Ross: Our last speaker is Kathryn Rogers.

[00:08:48] Kathryn Rogers: My husband and I had quite the scare, I think, like everyone else in the recession with the stock market. And so since then we decided to diversify just for retirement benefits and we’ve invested we’ve scraped and lived in tiny houses and put everything we could together to secure a rental property for ourselves. And we’ve done that successfully and we’re proud of ourselves, my husband, I, we don’t have a rental agency or anything. We know the families, we go over there and do maintenance. They call us if the smoke alarm doesn’t work or whatever. So we’re invested in the community. We make sure that the neighbors are happy and there’s no conflicts. And in five years we’ve never evicted anyone.

[00:09:25] I just ask that you guys give us more time. You know, this was really short notice for so many of us in town, especially us just, single- family rental mom -and -pop ones. And so if we could just get more information or you guys could do more background research on a lot of the things you’re suggesting, I feel that would be beneficial.

[00:09:42] John Q: Check the City’s website to find your next opportunity for Public Comment.

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