Aug 29

For years I struggled with setting rents. Too much under market rents and the properties did not perform as well as they could. Too much over market rents, they sat vacant and do not perform as well as they could. There seems to be a theme developing here. 😉

To succeed you need to know what others are charging for rent in your very specific market. To that end, we spent a lot of my time, my staffs’ time and effort trying to collect comparable rents.

Ten, fifteen years ago our team manually enter details from for rent ads in the local papers, Craigslist, Zillow and anywhere else we found them. Then we would combine that information with city property records, trying to get an accurate view of what the market rent was for a particular unit. This was expensive and annoying.

We tried freelance data collectors through oDesk (now UpWork) to collect and correlate the records. Better, but still costly and the results still were not exactly what I wanted.

Then I saw promise in AI and Machine Learning, using tools like BlockSpring. Better results, but then Craigs and others started blocking automated collection tools.

We went back to manual data collection where we had to and automated what we could.

We were doing the rent surveys once or twice a year due to the hassle and costs. Quarterly would be better to catch trends.

I had looked at Rent-O-Meter in its early days. It seemed promising but had far less data than even our rudimentary data set.

Last October I relooked at Rent-O-Meter. Wow. We have been using it ever since.  They have both a free version and a free trial of the “Pro” version that goes for about $200 per year.  Setting one rent wrong will cost you more than that. You may want to take a look.

Note: while this may sound like an ad for Rent-O-Meter, it is not.  I’m just a happy, paying customer of theirs.

Jul 31

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/healthy_homes/smokefree

This rule is helpful for private owners who wish to ban smoking, as well as offering a marketing opportunity, I guess, for owners that permit smoking.

I agree with HUD on this, the advantages of smoke-free housing outweigh any market advantage of allowing smoking.

https://archives.hud.gov/news/2016/pr16-184.cfm

HUD’s smoke-free rule will reduce damage and maintenance costs associated with smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HUD’s national smoke-free policy will save public housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs and preventable fires, including $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care, $43 million in renovation of smoking-permitted units, and $16 million in smoking-related fire losses. It is estimated that smoking causes more than 100,000 fires each year nationwide, resulting in more than 500 deaths and nearly a half a billion dollars in direct property damage.

Jul 23

In essence, once a standard is included by reference into a law, does that standard becomes public domain. As we discussed with the NFPA and IFC fire codes incorporated by reference into the carbon monoxide detector code, it should.

Public.resource.org wins appeal on right to publish the law [pdf] (uscourts.gov)

Ever operated a tank barge and wondered what power source you would need for your cargo tank’s liquid overfill protection system to comply with the law? Probably not. But if you did, you might consider thumbing through the Code of Federal Regulations, where you would discover that one option is to hook up to an off-barge facility, provided that your system has “a 120-volt, 20-ampere explosion-proof plug that meets . . . NFPA 70, Articles 406.9 and 501-145.” 46 C.F.R. § 39.2009(a)(1)(iii)(B). Dig deeper and you would learn that NFPA 70 is not some obscure rule or regulation or agency guidance document but is instead another name for the “National Electrical Code,” a multi-chapter technical standard prepared by the National Fire Protection Association (the eponymous “NFPA”), detailing best practices for “electrical installations.” Complaint ¶ 66, American Society for Testing & Materials v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc. (ASTM), No. 1:13-cv-01215 (D.D.C. Aug. 6, 2013) (“ASTM Compl.”), Dkt. No. 1, Joint Appendix (J.A.) 86. Parts of NFPA 70 have been incorporated into the statutes or regulations of at least forty-seven states and, as we have just seen, the federal government. American Insurance Ass’n Amicus Br. 5.

A bunch of good comments:
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17579742

And a good summary of the issue:
http://www.dailyreportingsuite.com/ip/news/IPLD20180718

Underlying dispute. The district court had addressed motions and cross-motions for summary judgment brought in two separate but related cases brought by SDOs against Public Resource. In one case, the American Society for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”), National Fire Protection Association, Inc. (“NFPA”), and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (“ASHRAE”) (collectively “ASTM Plaintiffs”), sued Public Resource for both copyright and trademark infringement, based on Public Resource’s copying and dissemination of 257 standards developed by the ASTM plaintiffs that have been incorporated by reference into federal law. Public Resource admitted that it purchased hard copies of each standard, scanned them into PDFs, added a cover sheet, and posted them online. Public Resource also retyped the plaintiffs’ standards and posted them online. The summary judgment motion related to nine of the allegedly infringed standards.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/17/appeals_court_copyright_fair_use/

Y’know… Publishing tech specs may be fair use, says appeals court
Expect this one to be argued all the way to the Supremes
In a victory for those supporting open access to technical specifications, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday vacated injunctions [PDF] that prohibited Public.Resource.Org (PRO) from publishing copyrighted technical standards online.

 

Jul 11

A worthy read:

Evictions: They Are Not The Terrible Landlord’s Fault

Jul 03

Milwaukee Journal has an article about Milwaukee’s new ordinance that requires deconstruction, as opposed to bulldozing, pre 1929 single families and duplexes.

A Milwaukee ordinance went into effect in January requiring single-family homes and duplexes built in 1929 or before to be deconstructed.


The extended timeline and need for more workers causes deconstruction to often cost nearly twice as much as demolition.

Bloomberg just had a piece on how recycling in general is failing.

Similarly a decade ago or so one of the Milwaukee TV stations followed a couple of DPW trucks full of recycling bin plastics to a landfill. The response was they were ‘just storing them underground’ until they could reuse the plastic.

None of these well-meaning things work as government mandates, but often take off when they are profit motivated.

Look at the electric car. Great for the environment but little interest among the general population. Then along came Musk with his Tesla Roadster. Not a utilitarian, save the planet vehicle, but a quick, sharp looking sports car that enthusiast liked, oh and it also happened to be electric. That changed the topic. His later vehicles are like little high tech spaceships from the Jetsons. Today, there is even Formula E racing, similar to F-1. The buying public, including gearheads, is now getting excited about electric cars and all the major manufactures are racing to beat Tesla. Soon gas may be a thing of the past.

Deconstruction will only work well when there is similar economic motivation to do so, such as a marketplace for used lumber and consumer desire for the materials.

But deconstruction of older properties has the additional problem that many of the materials cannot be reused due to containing lead, asbestos and who knows what other chemicals that will prevent its direct reuse.

 


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