Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good tenants sought

Yesterday (and on previous occasions) I blogged about the importance of landlords in assuring that crime and disorder do not infect neighborhoods. I think landlords generally do a very good job, and are as committed as anyone to making sure that problem tenants or risky business practices are avoided.

In Lincoln, many landlords are members of REOMA, the Real Estate Owners and Managers Association. Landlords also make good use of our online resources for conducting background checks, and a novel Internet application that we make available, whereby owners and managers can check up on all police dispatches to their properties instantly.

Recently, a landlord with property in our Stronger Safer Neighborhoods project area emailed me. He uses our Internet dispatch-monitoring service, and had a few questions over some of the codes and abbreviations. In the same email, he told me about a nice two bedroom apartment he had available--just in case I knew anyone who was looking.

That same week, a University of Nebraska journalism student was in my office. While we were chatting, he told me he was looking for an apartment. He said that he was a little bit concerned about the "reputation" of the Capital south area, but that there were some good deals, and he really liked to proximity to downtown and campus. I told him he had little to be concerned about unless he was engaged in high-risk behavior, and I gave him the email with the details of the apartment that the landlord had pitched to me on B Street.

The conversation got me thinking. This area used to be a popular one for college students. I hope that popularity returns. I think college students are generally good neighbors and good tenants. Despite all my blogging about the problems of high-risk drinking and party disturbances, the fact of the matter is that the stereotype about college students is quite inaccurate. A small percentage of students live the Animal House lifestyle. Most are like me at that age, pretty solid citizens working their tails off to pay part or all of their college expenses.

Shortly before I was married, I went to look at an apartment right across the street from Nebraska Wesleyan University at 2822 N. 52nd Street. My basement apartment at 3021 U Street were not going to cut it for a married couple. The owner didn't rent to single men, but when he met my fiancé, his made an exception to his policy. We got a great landlord, and I think Dale Moser got some pretty good tenants--despite my college student status.

I'm hoping we can promote the value and convenience of the Capital south area to more University of Nebraska students. Some of those complexes on the fringe of the City are examples of the phrase "beauty is only skin deep," and with gas at $4 a gallon, a short bike ride to class is pretty nice.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely right about some of those big complexes. Some are wonderful, but some are like the House on Haunted Hill. Here's an old tip: Ask if the place accepts Section 8 housing vouchers; if they do, run away as fast as you can!

People shopping for an apartment can also look here for some tenant-written reviews. The blistering reviews for The Lodge Apts and College Park Apts are particularly entertaining.

Michael said...

Rejecting a potential tenant based on marital status is not allowed under the Fair Housing Act. Interesting how times change.

Fortunately, "owner of a thumping car stereo" is still not a protected class.

Anonymous said...

Chief, there is talk about the man dropping off his 9 kids in Omaha, under Safe Haven... I wonder, would this law cover me if I were to drop off my unruly pitbull Al Capone Jr at Bryan LGH West? I want him to get his GED and make some changes.... Al Capone Sr

Anonymous said...

What about wives Can we drop them off?

Zen said...

Yay, more blog spam about the safe haven law. Don't feed the trolls.

Back on topic. I used to live at 12th and F, and until someone shot at the community center on the corner, we were pretty set on staying. The opportunity to buy a house in College View became available since the owner was willing to allow us to make his payment with a little on the side, so we took it. While the two neighborhood share some similarities in demographics (age, proximity to a college) the location of the Capitol neighborhood really can't be beat.

There are times we miss it and times we don't (1 am drunk walkers at the wrong door with our little kids in the other room, and the impromptu fiesta at 5pm every night across the street come to mind.) In any case I hope that the neighborhood's vaguely veiled unsavoriness can be overlooked-there is a police substation right there, anyway, so we never really had any problems with the neighborhood. Most of the issues are rumor, conjecture, and word of mouth generated by an incident or two being blown up and passed around.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your open, verbal support of GOOD landlords.

Section 8 is not a valid predicter of a good landlord or complex. I have worked with LHA for years and their clients can be just as bad as anyone in the general population. Some have been a notch above and are better off now because of the program. (Further career training, better job placement, and now a property owning RE tax payer.)

Section 8 with a poor manager IS a bad combination. It comes down to good screening - which the Chief mentioned.

But, I also believe the current section 8 program is a miserable excuse that is robbed by tenants who know how to "work" the system.

Current economic pressures may cull some of the less responsible landlords - or may line their pockets, but time will tell.

Despite the article in yesterday's LJS, I am finding it extremely and increasingly hard to obtain further financing.

Tom Casady said...


As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, I attended a session on crime issues in public housing. John Campbell, who did the presentation, asked the 500 or so people in the audience for a show of hands:

"How many of you have more problems in section 8 housing than the rest of the rental property in your community?"

"How many about about the same?"

"How many fewer?"

My hand went up on the last one. I've always felt that LHA does good screening and responds promptly to problems. We could probably do an even better job of making sure they are aware of problems we know about, but we're not often aware of who has a voucher and who doesn't.

Campbell said something that I think is absolutely true: people living in section 8 housing or with vouchers want the same thing everyone else does--safe, clean, well-maintained property, neighbors who are responsible, and the absence of crime and disorder.

Campbell knew that most of the hands would go up in the first wave, but there would also be several in the last. He told everyone to look around at that, then talked about the huge difference he's seen between housing authorities. His point was simple: it's not poverty, its good management that makes the difference.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that ALL section 8 renters are poor renters. I am currently helping a woman look for a place with her voucher and she would be an excellent renter. You cannot judge everyone based just on the fact they have section 8.

Anonymous said...

I've never had to break up a 300+ person kegger at a section 8 house so they probably make better neighbors than most college kids. Some may bend the rules a bit, mostly by having unauthorized people living with them, but they know they can lose the assistance if they get too out of line.