Raleigh, NC–Unfortunately, I can answer that: competition. That is, the lack thereof.
A Legislative “Monkey’s Paw”, in you will.
I am an “Evil Landlord™”; between lighting my cigars with hundred dollar bills and stealing small children to harvest their organs, I got a chance to answer this question that punches deep to my dastardly heart. (I still have one; kept the receipts)
Our well-meaning (VERY liberal) legislature passed a bunch of “Tenant Protection” laws back in the 90’s (NC Title 12 General Statutes Section 42) that were intended to be a response to some rather savage and unfair dealing that renters were having with unscrupulous landlords.
Things such as a 10 day Notice to pay rent (10-day warning, had to keep them in for 10 days even if they didn’t pay),
and the right to have the eviction continued infinite times (I know what the law says, but I have seen an eviction continued 12 times), and the right to have a state-appointed (and paid for) attorney (Legal-Aid, they have wiped out so many smaller landlords that all Legal-Aid does now is represent tenants) represent the tenant, (but not the landlord) ended up bankrupting most of your smaller landlords.
Also, as part of these same laws, NC does not allow a collection for a judgment to be placed against a person’s income. That means that unless one has real property, a bank account, or solid, valuable assets (almost none of the tenants have ANY of these) then that person is considered “judgment-proof” (outside of the law) as far as collections goes. The landlord is simply out of the money.
In short, the ‘mom and pops’ (about 80% of your rental properties) were taken over the coals so hard by block-headed tenants (with the gleeful assistance of the NC government) that they either went out of business or just chose to no longer rent.
The state-literally-provides massive protections and information to a tenant that is facing eviction, but provides NO such help to a landlord that is attempting to enforce such eviction.
(I actually had a time where I was evicting a tenant who was running a drug operation-the state threatened me if I didn’t kick him out. Then the state turned around and provided him with an attorney to help FIGHT the eviction. I have ALL of this in writing)
I also had an instance where Section 8 told me to kick out a tenant because she had 5 other people living with her; I went to her apartment to tell her to beat it only to hear her caseworker call over speakerphone and advise her that they would supply an attorney to fight the eviction. She looked me in the eye and said: “Even I don’t believe this!”.
In addition, the state CAN hold me liable for a tenants behavior (drugs, domestic abuse, destruction of property) even IF THEY are providing the legal defense to slow the eviction. This includes seizing of my property, arrest and potential jail time for me.
Which meant that only rental agencies left were the guys big enough to hire their own attorneys and fight.
And since there are only a few left (compared to how many there were a decade ago) then a RENTER HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO PAY WHAT PRICE THEY ARE DEMANDING!
Competition and competitive price only work if you have a minimum number of vendors that are supplying the product you want to purchase-under that number, you WILL pay THEIR price. (DeBeers)
The intentions were good, but the fact is now that ALL renters pay a MUCH higher price because of the way the laws lets the jerks get out of paying. A one bedroom apartment price average in Hickory, NC is going for over $700 a month
A perfect example is this: if a Section 8 or Government assisted tenant tears up a screen, the Housing agency (or me) will send him a notice to fix it. It is my responsibility to give him an intact screen when he moves in; it is HIS responsibility to KEEP it intact.
If he doesn’t fix it within a certain amount of time, the Agency will declare the property “in abeyance” AND QUIT PAYING ME. This is considered to be some sort of motivation against him.
I AM NOT ALLOWED BY LAW TO SEEK REIMBURSEMENT FROM HIM IN ANY WAY FOR THE ENTIRE TIME BECAUSE THE APARTMENT IS NOT CONSIDERED “LIVABLE”.
After the first 30 days, I can then start an eviction proceeding, subject to all of the restraints that I have mentioned above.
He could very easily stay in the apartment for several months without paying, and I AM NOT ALLOWED TO EVEN TRY TO SUE FOR IT.
Finally, 4 months and 7 court times later (6 continuances), I get him out.
Costs: $30 screen ( I am going to have to repair it anyway) , 4 months worth of lost rent, severe damage to the apartment (happens EVERY TIME-walls kicked in, doors punched, Kool-Aid on the carpet), and several hundred dollars in court costs, plus all of the time that I went to court only to have it continued.
- me just paying $30 for the damn screen.
Do the math.
And, although he is SUPPOSED to be removed from the Assistance program as a result of his breaking the rules and his subsequent eviction, somehow the Section 8 Agency was “too busy” to process the paperwork (this was said to my face); he was given additional housing assistance less than 1 week later. (I knew his new landlord). Turns out that our Agency receives a certain amount of money for the number of people on the program; less people=less money. Can’t imagine why that might have been the incentive for them to overlook his case…
(Hangin’ Ten Properties, LLC v Toby S******** et al)
The system is set up to punish the landlord no matter what.
And (!) landlords are leaving the market in droves because of the unfair treatment.
When we passed these laws, a massive migration of renters from other states (such as Virginia, where a judgment CAN be put against your income) began.
The roaches went where the pickings were easier, I guess…
When I gave speeches to the landlord associations, I would start the talk with “How many of you know what Title 12 NC General Statue Section 42 Article 42 says? No one? Then shame on you; I ASSURE you that your tenants know what it says!”
One of the scariest things that I have done was to present a ‘Hustler’ wall calendar during one of these speeches. Ignoring the gynecology aspect, I ask people what scares them most about it.
And what is on the bottom of each month is a handwritten list of landlords, and what excuses they will buy to stay longer. (“Ginny recently lost her daughter-tell her that you have a child that is in danger of dying. She will give you at least another week.” “William in the office just lost his job-tell him that you are laid-off and seeking work. he’ll let you go until next month. Do NOT talk to Beth”)
In addition, there is also a listing of possible violations (usually tiny) that you might be able to use to defend with if they try to evict you (actual verbiage).
But what most people don’t pick up on is that the ink is the same color, and it’s in the same handwriting; this means that the information was COPIED from somewhere else. The bad guys are organized, and they are communicating with one another.
And the fact is that good guys are now paying STAGGERING prices because of laws that protect the bad guys. (A great deal of these laws are designed to delay the state getting involved for as long as possible)
I understand that there are bad landlords-what everyone needs to understand is that your opinion as to whether or not landlords are bad DOESN’T MATTER-the landlords have left the market, and now you have NO CHOICE BUT PAY THE HIGHER PRICE!
Or go live somewhere else.