Aug 10

DESMOND: In June, cities like Cleveland and Milwaukee saw evictions spike 30 to 40 percent above normal level when moratoriums expired.

[Ignores a greater than 30% overall decrease in 2020 evictions – Tim]

DESMOND: And it also doesn’t solve the landlord’s financial problems. You know, eviction right now, though, is kind of the only tool we’ve given to landlords, right? We haven’t seen a serious investment in housing from the federal government.

[Agreed – Tim]

DESMOND: And so when you’re a landlord and you’re in a pinch, you kind of reach for that pink slip.

[No landlord wants or wins when there is an eviction, rather they generally never recover the money lost. An eviction is either failure to screen or the tenant met with circumstances afterward. – Tim]

DESMOND: You know, we need a national moratorium on evictions. We need to say, look, in this pandemic, the home is medicine. The home is safety. And we have to protect that. Americans deserve that level of protection. Property owners need to pay their bills, too. And so we don’t just need moratoriums. We also need rent relief.

[There is no need for a moratorium if proper need-based rent subsidies are in place. Agreed that property owners need to pay their bills. The outcome if they cant is chronicled at – Tim]

DESMOND: We need a serious investment from the federal government with the recognition that everyone needs a stable, affordable place to live in normal times and especially during this pandemic. That’s true.

[Agreed – Tim]

Aug 07

I encourage everyone to download and read the following published research paper

“Our research shows that in order to keep rental housing affordable and sustainable for low-income families, lawmakers have to walk a fine line in determining what will benefit the tenant and what may ultimately be detrimental to them,” Shen said. “On the surface, strict landlord regulation sounds good for tenants, but our paper points out, the solution isn’t that simple. The research suggests that conventional thinking on the issue of more regulation may have the opposite effect on tenants.”

“Though advocating for tenant rights seems noble and the right thing to do, the resulting consequences could have a devastating impact on this vulnerable population,” Shen said.

“Our research indicates that if landlords aren’t allowed to evict, rent will likely increase to compensate for their losses. The housing supply would diminish, though the demand would still exist. These landlords may choose alternative investments if owning property is no longer feasible. A reduced housing supply would mean less competition, which would drive up the cost of rent for everyone.

Jul 23

A recent Wisconsin Realtor Association podcast featuring Tom Larson and Tim Ballering.

We have all heard reports that say residential rental evictions surged due to the Wisconsin eviction moratorium expiration in May.

The real numbers show a 30% decline for the first six months of 2020 versus 2019. How can this be true, you ask?

Listen in as WRA chief lobbyist Tom Larson and residential rental expert Tim Ballering from the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin (AASEW) break down the actual numbers and provide valuable insights into the eviction issue in Wisconsin.

Jul 15

A tsunami, an avalanche, a flood, a pandemic, and now a cliff of evictions.

No wonder no one tries to fix the root causes… some see it as a natural disaster, rather than something that with diligence can be fixed in a manner that is good for both tenants and housing.

When Desmond started, he had a great goal – universal housing vouchers, similar to food stamps, for people in need. But along the way, Matt was abducted by the Eviction Defense gang, a zero-sum game where individual tenants have small wins at the expense of the greater good for all tenants and housing.

Rather than eviction “defense,” which harms other tenants and housing by passing the cost burden to both, the better solution is eviction “prevention.” Even the recipients of the eviction defense come out of it with damaged rental histories. Excluding the attorneys, there are no long-term winners, only multiple losers.

Often eviction defense results in a tenant being able to stay for an extra month without paying rent. I wonder if there would be similar or better results if the money spent on eviction defense attorneys is used to pay a month or two of rent.

How many tenants have multiple evictions, or move without fulfilling their rental agreement every few years? Some get parents and friends to “front” for them as they cannot obtain housing independently from property owners. Others seek out small owners who do not know how to screen or go to owners who don’t care as long as they have a fist full of move-in money.

Prevention needs to occur before the rent is missed.

People at the bottom rung of the income scale will always have problems paying rent unless there is something like rent vouchers to help. What other societal costs could be reduced if the constant moving were to be reduced? I think there is a significant safety factor in knowing your neighbors, making it more likely you watch out for one another. What is the impact on schools as kids move, not just due to housing, but also utility disconnects? And so much more.

As I have said to Desmond in the past, I fully support his universal housing vouchers and am willing to work hard to promote it.

The numbers of people at risk of going over this “evictions cliff” are staggering: Data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that between 43 and 45 percent of adults live in renter households affected by recent job or income losses, and nearly half of all renter households were struggling to make ends meet even before the virus hit. A UCLA analysis projects that in Los Angeles County alone, about 120,000 households—including 184,000 children—are likely to experience homelesseness, and Black, Latinx, and poor families will suffer the most.

Having a lawyer in housing court can give tenants facing eviction a fighting chance: A March 2012 Boston study, for example, found that about two-thirds of people in the group with full-service representation were able to keep their homes, compared to one-third in the group that received more limited legal help. In Seattle, the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project found that tenants with counsel are more than three times as likely to avoid a forced eviction executed by the local sheriff’s office and reach an out-of-court agreement with their landlord. When the agreement includes a payment plan for catching up on rent, tenants remain housed nearly two-thirds of the time.

Jul 01

On the Apartment Association email discussion board (free and open for anyone to join) there was a comment that the reduction in evictions “Seems obvious since couldn’t evict for 3 months.

Yes, it was obvious to those of us actually involved in housing.

But, some folks and the media were predicting a “tsunami” of evictions after the moratorium ended May 26th that would push us way past prior-year eviction counts in a single month.

For example, the Journal reported: “Predicted surge comes true: Eviction filings jump over 40% in Milwaukee County and state” citing a single week over week increase, using the first week that most evictions could be filed after the moratorium.

Owners are working with tenants more now than ever.

Groups such as the Apartment Association of Southeastern WI and the WI Apartment Association are working with Community Advocates and Legal Action to find resources to help tenants pay rent in ways never seen before.

Both “sides” understand that owners need their tenants to succeed for owners to remain viable, and tenants need owners to succeed for housing to remain available and viable.

My company has pledged to attempt mediation before eviction and waived late fees beginning in April, a month before the moratorium.

We need to remain vigilant as the true economic crisis may come later this year if the economy doesn’t rebound and /or the virus does. Regardless of your political leanings, the one thing we can all do is wear masks in public. If they do work, and I believe there is a value in wearing masks, then wearing a mask will keep infection rates down and allow businesses to remain open. If mask does not work, no harm, no foul.

Jun 21

Desmond says eviction filings are rising. “In Milwaukee, for example, evictions are up 38 percent last week from where they should be on a typical week in June in Milwaukee,” he says.

This is accurate for the single week chosen, which was the first week when most evictions could be filed after the moratorium on notices, and the courts having been closed for months.

But it is a grave distortion of the overall facts, even if you only look at the month of June.

The greater truth is YTD evictions are down 40% year over year in Milwaukee and down 34% year over year statewide. I expect as June plays out those percentages will close a bit, but we will not see anywhere close to 2019 eviction rates.

Landlords never “profit” from evictions. It is always a money-losing, stressful time for everyone.

Property owners and managers are now working with tenants more than before to avoid court as this is a hard time for everyone.

Feb 15

Two bills being proposed by the WI legislature. One allows for eviction moratoriums, the other restricts using eviction records for screening. This emphases the dangers that face our industry if we are not actively involved legislatively.

Bills like this, if passed, increase the cost of housing for tenants who pay their rent as the rent losses will be spread across the entire tenant population.

Back in the early nineties there was a Christmas eviction moratorium that basically allowed tenants who did not pay December rent to stay until mid to late January. We fought it and defeated it. It made to the New York Times.

WI Proposed Law Allowing for Eviction Moratoriums

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, no city, village, town, or county may enact or enforce an ordinance that imposes a moratorium on a landlord from pursuing an eviction action against a tenant of the landlord’s residential or commercial property.

This bill repeals that provision.

WI Proposed Law Restricting Use of Eviction Records for Screening

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill provides that it is discrimination under the state open housing law to do any of the following:

1. Inquire, whether orally or in writing, of a prospective tenant or any other individual about any eviction of a prospective tenant that occurred more than five years prior. The bill prohibits a prospective tenant from being asked about prior evictions unless the prospective tenant is informed that evictions more than five years old need not be disclosed.

2. Refuse to rent housing to an individual, or otherwise treat an individual unequally in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of housing, because of an eviction of the individual that occurred more than five years prior to the date of a rental application.

The open housing law is administered by the Department of Workforce Development, which receives, investigates, and evaluates complaints of violations and may order relief in appropriate cases. Persons who allege a violation of the open housing law may also bring a civil action.

Dec 14

The is a great, worth the time to read, article on landlord regulation over at BiggerPockets.

Oct 03

On top of the dire shortage of affordable rental homes, the rising number of evictions has only exacerbated tenants’ housing issues. In 2016, landlords in the United states filed an estimated 2.3 million evictions against tenants—an average of four evictions per minute.9 Nearly 900,000 of these filings resulted in an actual eviction,10 leading to more than 2.3 million people being displaced from their homes that year.11 Like the shortage of affordable homes, evictions also disproportionately harm marginalized communities.

The authors try to make the argument that evictions somehow add to the shortage of affordable housing and tenants having attorneys to help delay the eviction would help.

The much more unpleasant truth is in delaying evictions, and thereby causing more loses for the owner.

Only the tenant that is not paying benefits. Tenants that are meeting their obligations are actually suffering as owners have to raise all rents to compensate for the loses caused by the few tenants that don’t pay or are destructive.

Evictions add to housing shortages? Really? Obviously if there is a shortage of available units, evictions are making units available to someone else who also needed housing.

However, providing tenants with attorneys with the intent of delaying evictions based on legitimate causes actually may be adding to the overall rental housing shortage. How so?

Mom and Pop: I’ve seen many owner occupant duplex owners refuse to rent their upper unit after a bad experience in eviction court. Often these folks let tenants get away with excuses and promises to pay until the tenant owes thousands of dollars.

Large investors: You can invest in the Dow Jones Industrials and have seen an average 8% annual return 1957 to today, 10% since 1926. With index funds your work is checking your bank account. With rentals its so much more. Invest in the next FaceBook, Microsoft or the next big thing.

The point that is missed by many is we don’t have to be landlords and every time a landlord sells out, the next has to increase rents as they now have larger mortgages and less capitalization.

Dec 02

Last week my son sent me the following text:

I read this from time to time and thank you for it

The Public Policy Forum a few months back said Milwaukee’s really short of low-cost rentals. If more people went into the business, researchers said, it could help. Yet Ballering, who’s owned for 32 years, told his son to find another occupation: “It’s such a difficult business,” said Ballering.

“There’s better things to do with your life.”

Not what a city in need of rental housing wants to hear from entrepreneurs who provide it.


The back story:

My son was nearing high school graduation.   I asked him what his plans were.  He said that he was going to follow me into the rental business.  He was initially upset with me when I told him no.  Today he is happy as a partner at a major marketing firm.

Although being in rental housing has done well for me, it is a harsh business.  There is little to no appreciation for the amount of work and risk involved. Many who enter the industry leave broke and broken. Your properties get damaged, your tenants do not pay and, to quote the late Rodney Dangerfield, we get no respect.

The government, who would benefit from successful rental housing, seldom support us or gives us the tools we need to succeed.  As an urban housing provider, you become responsible for the misdeeds of your tenants, while those who commit crimes are often not prosecuted.

There is an eviction crisis.  Yet instead of putting resources towards the causes, poverty and social issues, those claiming to want to solve the problem are providing more resources to free legal helps so that the nonpaying or disruptive tenant can stay a month or two longer due to an undotted i or uncrossed t.

So, yes, being a marketing professional seems like a much better life.

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