Vote Yes For Less Rent Rip-off
Rent control has landlords worried. In fact, they're upset enough to be working together to raise up to $85,000 to defeat the charter amendment. And when Ann Arbor landlords get that uptight over something, tenants should probably take more interest in it.
Citizens for Good Housing (formerly Citizens opposed to Rent Control) is that coalition of landlords. With plans to collect $5 per rental unit from every landlord in A2, and with 17,000 units in the city, that's about $85.000. It's about $2.50 per voter and forty times what will be spent in support of rent control.
According to a recent letter sent to "rental property owners." CGH will try to convince voters that rent control will:
1. Increase property tax for homeowners
2. Cause apartment houses to deteriorate
3. Drive out new investment in apartment buildings
4. Create new problems and expense for the city of Ann Arbor through the creation of a bureaucratic monster.
A spokesperson for Citizens for Good Housing claimed that rent control should only be used as a "stopgap measure to prevent renters from abuse in a situation where there is a captive market and no vacancies." but A2 was not such a place.
"The best way to handle the housing problem is to create an atmosphere that is attractive to investors," he stated. "Through a healthy competitiveness, the system will correct itself. I believe basically in the free enterprise system, while the whole concept behind rent control is one of socialism."
But anyone who rents housing in Ann Arbor is unlikely to agree that this city does not have a serious problem warranting legislation to protect tenants. The metropolitan Ann Arbor area has the second highest median rents in the country, according to the 1970 U.S. Census. (The median rent for metropolitan areas across the country is $97, while in Ann Arbor the figure hits $I52.) In addition the vacancy rate is extremely low--3.5% compared to the national average of 6.67%.
Statistics aren't the only way to tell that the housing situation is bad. Reasonably-priced housing is difficult to find, as anyone who has been apartment hunting in the city can tell. And little new housing, except for the "luxury" market, is going on to help relieve the situation. The uncontrolled "free" enterprise system has not ended the problem, and the growing real estáte monopolies have effectively eliminated "healthy competition."
CLEANING HOUSE WITH RENT CONTROL
Rent control can begin to solve some of the problems in the Ann Arbor housing market. What the HRP charter amendment does is to create a Rent Control Board, which will determine maximum allowable rents through a complex formula. While the formula allows the landlord to meet all operating expenses and pay off the mortgage, it sets a limit on profits allowed. (For a more detailed account of rent control, see the summary of the charter amendment on page D of this section.)
"Our only goal is to have cheaper and better housing," said local attorney Jonathan Rose, who helped draft the amendment. "A fair profit is that which is necessary to motívate people to provide services we need. What we want to do is encourage production, but give some control to the consumer."
Rose pointed out that because profits are directly linked in the amendment to maintenance and capital improvements, rent control will serve to encourage landlords to keep up their property. In the past, rent control proposals in other places ran into problems when landlords cut services to increase profits. This proposal seeks to specifically avoid that pitfall.
THE CASE FOR RENT CONTROL
The strongest support for rent control has come from a study carried out in New York. While opponents of the Ann Arbor amendment continually point to the failure of rent controls in New York, the conclusion of the report is that the housing situation was far better with rent regulation than without it.
Because of problems with the rent control law in New York, vacancy decontrol was instituted on June 31, 1971. Under this law, apartments were released from regulation as they became vacant. The "Report on Housing and Rents" showed that vacancy decontrol neither stimulated new building construction, stopped abandonment nor spurred renovation. (All these faults were charged to the rent control law). It did bring about average rent increases of 52% in New York City. The study group found maintenance actually decreased, while tenant insecurity and harassment increased.
One of the major charges against rent control has been that it discourages new construction. According to the report, however, no direct links between rent regulation and construction could be found. Other factors, such as interest rates seemed to be the determining ones in construction.
The N.Y. Commission proposed that if rent controls were re-instituted, a Policy Board be set up to regulate allowable increases. Rent should be increased with consideration for the type of buildings, level of maintenance and increased costs to the landlord for operating and maintenance expenditures and increased taxes. They found that the problem with the previous rent stabilization program was its vagueness in defining allowable increases.
THE BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION
Ann Arbor has also had a group studying rent control. The Blue Ribbon Commission on Rent Control was formed in April, 1973, under Democratic Mayor Robert Harris. After months of inaction and internal factionism, the Commission released a report which reached no major policy recommendations. Partly due to strong business interests on the Commission, and partly due to inadequate data, the report is inconclusive. But according to Ev Erlich, a member of the Commission, the report did propose rent control be instituted on a trial basis of two years in the central campus and model cities areas, as well as a rezoning program throughout the city to encourage more housing.
BUT IT AIN'T PERFECT
Rent control isn't going to bring about any miracles for housing in Ann Arbor. It will solve some immediate problems of outrageously high rents throughout the city, but it will not suddenly increase the amount of moderate and low income housing. And it won't elimínate low vacancy rates. In fact, in certain areas like around central campus, demand
continued on page D
continued from page C
will probably increase due to lowered rents, making housing even more difficult to find (and little new housing will be built in the mostly housing saturated campus district).
In addition, over a long period of time, the amount of housing is likely to decrease. As lowered rents decrease the greed incentive, some older houses are likely to revert to single-family. owner occupied dwellings (exempt from the law). While the housing market will not decrease to the extent claimed by the amendments critics, there is nothing in the amendment to encourage expansion of the housing market. (Of course, for landlords, this law will be quite painful, since it will keep them from becoming multi-millionaires at the expense of Ann Arbor tenants.)
But one of the more awkward problems is the fact that the law is being presented as a city charter amendment. As Jonathan Rose admits, it's likely to have a few flaws. Yet changes are difficult as they can only be made through another citywide election. There is no flexibility as the need for change arises. A city ordinance passed by City Council would be a better means for this type of legislation. But with the current Republican majority, a charter amendment is the best (and only) means of immediate change
CHANGES FOR THE FUTURE
Rent control itself is primarily a temporary measure for dealing with the critical housing market. Without further legislation, other problems will become even more intense. Ann Arbor needs more moderate and low income housing, a better mass transportation system to end the crush on central city housing, more cooperatives run and owned by tenants, and less monopolistic management companies which control overly large segments of the housing market.
There is also a strong need for anti-discrimination laws which are actively enforced. helping students, minorities. and single-parent families from being forced to choose from a limited range of housing. Laws on tenants' rights need to be strengthened to prevent strongarm tactics by powerful landlords, and existing tenant's rights legislation needs publicity.
Without a city administration willing to take a series of progressive actions towards making housing a human right, and without a strong tenants organization to counter the money and power of the landlord interests, Ann Arbor residents will continue to find the housing market closed to tenants interests. A "yes "vote" for rent control must be seen as only a beginning.
--Ellen Hoffman w/Jeanne Hing
CITIZENS FOR GOOD HOUSING KESS
Wright, Griffin, Davis & Company
480 City Center Building
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
Dear rental-property owner:
Trouble is on the way.
And it may hit you on April 2.
That's when Ann Arbor voters will decide your future as a landlord. And, their decision my put many landlords out of business.
If the rent proposal passes, here's the kind of crisis you're in for.
1. There will be virtually no profit from rental housing.
Image One Caption: Your landlord is out to convince people that14% is visually no profit. Sort of makes you wonder what a landlord means by real profit, doesn't it?
PIRGIM RENT STUDY INTRODUCTION
The following study of campus area apartments was conducted by PIRGIM (Public Interest Research Group in Michigan). The study includes 1973-1974 monthly rental rates for apartment buildings, but does not include house or apartments in houses. Listed are the landlord, management company, address and monthly rent, so people looking for housing on campus for fall will have some means of comparative pricing. Al units include garbage disposal, air conditioning, free parking, dishwasher and heat as part of the rent, except where shown. (Abbreviations as follows: A - no air conditioning; H - heat not included in rental cost; P - no parking provided by landlord; G - no garbage disposal; D - no dishwasher provided)
Of course, most local landlords are likely to raise the rents for the 1974-1975 lease period, but the prices can serve as a guideline for tenants. Anyone who wants more information on the study should contact PIRGIM, 662-6597
ONE BEDROOM AND EFFICIENCY APARTMENTS
Landlord or rental agency Address Rent. Facilities not Included
Post Realty 809 Kingsley $133 A.P.D.
McKinley Assoc. 802 Fuller $198 D
Hariton 721 Kingsley $185 D
Walter Naylor 431 Glen $170 H.D
Tower Assoc. 1010 Catherine $215 D
Ann Arbor Trust 1127 Church $165 D
Ann Arbor Trust 720 S. State $175 D
Mrs. Wm. Baitman 808 Oakland $160 H. D
Summit-Hamilton 832 Packard $185 D
McKinley Assoc. 824 McKinley $195 D
McKinley Assoc. 215 Walnut $210 D
Enterprises 1412 Geddes $190
Dahlman 520 Packard $212 D
Tower Assoc. 1010 Catherine $260
TWO BEDROOM APARTMENTS
PCA Investment 820 Fuller $268 D
McKinley Assoc. 1028 Fuller $280 D
McKinley Assoc. 1028 Fuller $270 H.D
1015 E. Ann Assoc. 1015 E. Ann $275 D
Campus Rentals 214 Thayer $270
Maise & Blue 726 S. State $308 H (?)
Maise & Blue 726 S. State $328
Maise & Blue 726 S. State $344 H
Maise & Blue 726 S. State $300
Dahlman 520 Packard $250 A.D
Modern Apts. 521 Walnut $300
McKinley Assoc. 1506 Geddes $310 D
Maise & Blue 1700 Geddes $332
Maise & Blue 1700 Geddes $302
Summit-Hamilton 832 Packard $230 D
Summit-Hamilton 939 Dewey $215 D
Wilson-White 1015 Vaughn $230 H,D
Maise & Blue 1021 Vaughn $260
Zwas Realty 911 S. Forest $240 D
Maise & Blue 909 Church $336
Post Realty 912 S. Forest $316
Forest Terrace 1001 S. Forest $350 D
Summit-Hamilton 1321 Wilmot $260 D
Maise & Blue 1224 Washtenaw $314
Maise & Blue 1224 Washtenaw $300
Campus Rentals 1316 Geddes $324 H
Campus Manag. 1335 Geddes $275 D
Campus Manag. 1341 Geddes $275
Landlord or rental agency Address Rent. Facilities not Included
Campus Manag. 401 S. Observatory $260 D
Summit-Hamilton 1337 Wilmot $356 H,D
Maise & Blue 1333 Wilmot $324 H
Maise & Blue 1333 Wilmot $303
Summit-Hamilton 1327 Wilmot $285 D
Campus Manag. 309 Catherine $250 D
Wilson-White 1026 Vaughn $268 D
Ann Arbor Trust 720 S. State $300 H,D
Mrs. Wm. Baitman 803 Oakland $337 H.P.D
Mrs. B. Milford 712 Oakland $240 D
Mrs. B. Milford 712 Oakland $175 P,D
Duane Buck 1111 S. State $235 H,D
E.O Duncan 910 Packard $280 H,D
Doug Kaner 1317 Wilmot $265 P.D
Ann Arbor Trust 927 E. Ann. $320
Ann Arbor Trust 917 Packard $310 H,D
Ann Arbor Trust 1025 Packard $190 H,A,D
Ann Arbor Trust 927 E. Ann $280
Ann Arbor Trust 526 Linden $230 H,A,D
David Taylor 526 Packard $270 D
Harriton 721 Kingsley $250 D
Harriton 721 Kingsley $210 A,D
Campus Manag. 727 Kingsley $215 D
Campus Manag. 727 Kingsley $215 A,D
McKinley Assoc. 802 Fuller $240 D
McKinley Assoc. 802 Fuller $255 D
Post Realty 809 Kingsley $260 A,D
Post Realty 813 Kingsley $252 D
Post Realty 813 Kingsley $370 D
Post Realty 813 Kingsley $250 D
PCA Investment 820 Fuller $268 D
PCA Investment 820 Fuller $210 D
Chris Natzis 905 Church $250 G,D
Patrica Zubey 913 Dewey $230
John McDonald 926 S. Forest $280 D
Tower Assoc. 1010 Catherine $320
Ann Arbor Trust 1127 Church $260 D
THREE BEDROOM APARTMENTS
Summit-Hamilton 1337 Wilmot $375 D
Campus Rentals 1336 Geddes $297 H
Campus Rentals 1364 Geddes $360
Maise & Blue 909 Church $372
Maise & Blue 525 Walnut $395
Campus Rentals 214 Thayer $396
Campus Rentals 214 Thayer $372
Image Two Caption: According to the 1970 U.S. census, average rent in the Ann Arbor area is $96 for an efficiency, $144 for a one-bedroom $188 for a two bedroom and $226 for 3 or more bedrooms. As you can see by the above list, campus area apartments are over-priced even for Ann Arbor, and Ann Arbor already has the second highest median rents in the country.