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  • Sunday, January 24, 2016 11:28 AM | Anonymous

    The news making headlines across Oregon and around the nation is that there are not enough available rental units. The solution proposed by tenant's rights groups and some legislators is to eliminate no cause evictions and limit rent increases. ORHA is committed to encouraging builders, contractors, developers, and state and local programs to help address the lack of affordable housing.

    What is the solution, and how can we help? First, we need to identify the issue. Solving the affordable housing crisis won’t be done by forcing an artificial rent cap or even by slowing down rent increases. Housing costs are driven by the same issues that all other commodities are driven by, namely the market, the costs of labor and materials. If there is less of anything, prices will naturally and automatically go up. It’s just plain ignorance of the law of supply and demand to suggest that suppressing rental prices will magically solve the problem of a lack of housing units. Anyone who says that rental prices are why people can’t find a home isn’t listening to themselves talk. If there are ten people looking for a home and there are only five homes available in the area, logically there will be five people who can’t find a home; the price of the home isn’t the issue. Every study that looks at this housing “crisis” notes that the vacancy rate is extremely low everywhere in Oregon. If the rental price was the issue, then our vacancy rates would be high, not at all-time lows.

    Second, we need to promote a faster permitting process, tax deferment programs, tax waiver programs, lower bank loan rates and loan incentives; and city and county grants to encourage builders to develop more affordable housing.

    Third, Housing Authorities are working with reduced funding, while at the same time serving a dramatically increased client base. Local housing authorities need more funding now, and their clients need longer time frames to be allowed to look for housing. Rental dollar limits need to be adjusted for today’s market not based on the rates from three years ago.

    Most importantly, the public needs to be educated as to what “affordable housing” means. Most would describe affordable housing as basic housing with no upgrades. These units are built at a lower cost, so that they can be rented at lower rates. They are built specifically for a population that must pay considerably less than the market rate. The usual target for this type of housing are the disadvantaged, the elderly and the disabled. Residents often have some kind of rental assistance.

    Many Oregon cities are currently working on programs, grants and incentives to encourage building more affordable housing. We need to focus on the problem of growing a larger inventory of rental units, and not get sidetracked by the notion that rent control or rental rate “management” will solve the problem. Cities and counties have complete license to lower the costs of development, and to streamline the permitting process which is a huge issue with new construction.

    ORHA has been committed to working with local Housing Authorities for over 20 years and many of our local associations have employees of Housing Authorities on their Board of Directors. Together, we are committed to encouraging rental owners to work with lower income tenants. Oregon’s many Housing Authorities will agree that their main impediments to serving more clients are a lack of funding and a low vacancy rate.

    Understanding how we got to this crisis mode would assist our legislators’ to better address the real problem. The 2008 economic downturn caused many people to lose their homes and they became renters. We also have thousands of college graduates who in the past were starter home buyers that are now renters because of the sluggish job market and high student loan debt. This issue isn’t the fault of greedy property owners who during the downturn; were forced to accept rents far below the level of making any kind of profit. This is a systemic problem that will take honest and creative participation of many segments of our society.

    We need more rental units, not rent control by any name!

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015 12:58 PM | Anonymous

    I am sure you have by now noticed the reports of Formaldehyde being emitted from manufactured flooring imported from China. As a landlord this obviously could be concerning. Should we be worried about being sued by our tenants or should we be worried about being forced to take on the large expense of replacing the flooring in our units?

    As of right now it is too early to answer these questions, but it is worth keeping a close eye on as a landlord with manufactured flooring in your units. If you or your tenants are concerned then the first step is to test the air inside the unit. You can purchase a test kit for around $80. If you happen to purchase your flooring from Lumber Liquidators then they will actually give you a testing kit for free.

    If the test comes back positive for Formaldehyde then I would suggest that you take this health risk seriously and replace the flooring if that is the suspected cause. Formaldehyde is actually used in the vast majority of manufactured flooring, but that is typically only emitted into the air for a short time after installation. The flooring with the problem has come from certain manufacturers in China according to initial reports. When installed, the flooring has an ongoing reaction to the glue used that continuously emits Formaldehyde into the air. This obviously causes a health risk as it can build up and eventually poison your tenants.

    If you have been watching the reports on this it is gaining momentum and there are law firms that have already started building class action law suits against those they feel are responsible. As with many things regarding public health in this technological age, it is unlikely to just go away any time soon. This will just add momentum to the trend that has been gaining a lot of momentum over the years of everyone preferring things that are all natural.

    From the food we eat to the clothes we wear there has been a growing and now very large segment of our nation’s population that prefers everything to come from natural sources. Within my company we look at this as a possible tipping point in the housing industry as a whole when it comes to using natural materials. There may be a fast approaching day where units with natural materials rent for a premium. So it might be worth trying to get ahead of this curve and sourcing natural materials to use when you are doing the next renovation or a turn over that includes replacing materials.

    Within my company, www.CBPropertyManagement.com, we have recently spent close to $150,000 on natural, reclaimed wood floor planks and natural wool carpeting. We did this to help get the costs of using these materials down to that of synthetic materials for our clients. Since these materials are typically the more expensive ones to purchase we bought them in bulk straight from the manufacturers so that our clients can take advantage of that extra savings. Hopefully we will see more companies taking this proactive approach to make it feasible for their clients to use these materials in units that aren’t considered strictly high end.

    You may ask why we would go beyond wood flooring and purchase wool carpet as well. We figure that the wood flooring is just the start. As far as I know there haven’t been any reports on synthetic fiber carpeting causing any health issues, but that won’t matter to anyone that jumps on the band wagon of wanting to pay a premium to rent a unit with all natural materials used in its construction. The benefits of wool carpeting is that it is hypo-allergenic, naturally stain resistant, is better at regulating temperature, and of course comes from a sustainable source.

    There are many materials commonly used in rental units that can be replaced by natural materials. The next time you are doing a renovation or turn over it might be worth your time to at least research the possibilities and then advertise your unit as being one that uses those natural materials. Now that we have started this program we have seen about an average of a 5% increase in rents and we estimate that should grow to be a 10-15% premium being added to units that use natural materials as this trend continues to grow. This also turns the public’s growing fear over these reports of formaldehyde in manufactured flooring into a profitable fear for you as a landlord that offers units with natural materials.

    Christian Bryant

    President of PAROA & CBPropertyManagement.com

  • Wednesday, November 05, 2014 12:53 PM | Anonymous

    The Bureau of Labor and Industry has been doing a series of workshops around the state to inform landlords about the recent changes to the rules around housing vouchers. Oregon Public Broadcasting interviewed Brad Avakian, Oregon State Labor Commissioner and Christian Bryant, President of the Portland Area Rental Owners Association & President of Coldwell Banker Mountain West Property Management.

    Listen to the Inteview

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