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"Those Damn Landlords Will Rent to Anyone."

Larry Lick, RHOL

One of the major complaints that politicos and the media get from the public about rental housing is: "Landlords don't care who they rent to as long as they see money."

It is interesting to note that a shoe store, a dress shop, or even a gun store, need not care who they do business with. McDonald's will certainly sell a hamburger to anyone with a buck, a peso or a ruble, and newspapers have been known to print almost anything, to sell papers, ... to almost anyone.

      It is argued that hamburgers and shoe stores don't wreck neighborhoods, but that rental housing and bad tenants do.  Yet, who would argue that news papers can destroy an entire community by sensationalizing crime and personal tragedy, while ignoring official incompetence and corruption. (some hamburger hang outs certainly cause neighborhoods to decline too.)

      Stereotyping of religious, ethnic and minority groups is sanctimoniously regarded as bigotry and stupidity by the same high-minded fools who still quote such silliness as: "landlords will rent to anyone with money".

      Perhaps there are indeed short sighted and sometimes desperate landlords who might grasp any straw to meet their mortgage payment or property tax bill. There are also, a few, just plain bad guys in our business; in fact any business. But there are few who pay a higher price for bad judgment than a property owner who does not screen tenants for their history and their character.

      Few other business people can appreciate the anger and despair of a landlord who discovers his investment abandoned, infested . . . practically destroyed, with no hope of recovering a dime of the money owed, not even if it is the result of bad checks drawn on nonexistent accounts. His income has been instantly cut by hundreds of dollars a month.

      Social critics cannot conceive the humiliation and disgust that must be endured as a landlord who, often with spouse and family, spend their evenings and weekends cleaning . . . scrubbing on hands and knees, then hauling away mountains of smelly trash. Sometimes crying over burned and soiled carpet just put in new before the last tenant, in rooms with a horrible pet and urine odor . . and with broken windows and gaping kicked-in holes in the walls.

      " Ya, well,.. it just goes with the business your in. You should expect it. "

      When a customer steals a pair of shoes, or runs off without paying for his hamburger, or someone pays for newspaper advertising with a bum check. society is expected to punish the bad guy. Naturally, because that theft is passed on to the entire community in higher costs.

M aybe other business people should hear? "Gee, that's too bad,... but that's just the business you are in. You will obviously let just any one into your store. You should have expected it."

    No, I don't really mean that. We could all use just a little more empathy for the other guy for a change and all of society should work together to make sure that bad guys don't get away with stealing from anyone, because it only encourages them to try to steal from everyone.

Larry Lick, RHOL


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