Some homeowners unhappy with influx of renters

Disgruntled longtime residents say that having more renters changes the character of the neighborhood. Others argue that renters, too, care about neighborhood welfare.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Sep 4, 2013 1:31PM

© Vstock LLC/Getty ImagesWe’ve written a lot about institutional investors buying up homes and turning them into single-family rentals, and about more Americans becoming renters, either by choice or by necessity.


But seeing more renters move in doesn’t always make the neighbors happy.


"Used to, we knew our neighbors," Laura Holcomb told The New York Times. She says her neighborhood in Memphis, Tenn., is now seeing homeowners replaced with renters. "Except for the two that have been here, I don’t know any of my neighbors."


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In the early days of the foreclosure crisis, neighbors complained about vacant houses that had become eyesores and were not kept up. That dragged down the value of all the nearby homes. Having renters move in seemed a vast improvement.

But, some neighbors told The Times, that has not always been the case.


In the Austin Park neighborhood near Atlanta, the homeowners association at first did not see any need to restrict rentals. That has changed after, as The Times put it, “a summer of loud music, barking dogs, prostitutes and two tenants served with a murder warrant.”

"You’re caught between 'I want the dues paid' and 'I want a peaceable, nice existence,'” Joi Aikens, the president of the homeowners association, told The Times.


Landlords argue that, contrary to stereotype, they do keep up the homes they own. Obviously, some do better at screening tenants than others.

"Where we go in, we go in to fix that house up, and we’re the best-looking house on the street when that goes through," says Kent Clothier, whose Memphis Invest company buys, renovates, sells and manages rental property. "That’s good for the neighborhood."


Commenters on the New York Times story suggested that the bias against renters wasn’t fair and that it may have something to do with class. Plus, whether people contribute to their communities is not determined by whether they rent or own. Wrote Don P. of Perth Amboy, N.J.:

"All across cities and towns you have some people who are active, involved and dedicated to sustaining and building their communities. Some of those people are homeowners and some are renters. ...

"It’s just too simplistic to say all homeowners are good citizens and neighbors and all renters are uninvolved citizens and bad neighbors. Both homeowners and renters have a vital and vested interest in creating and sustaining a safe, vibrant, clean and welcoming community."
Tags: rentals
Sep 15, 2013 8:50AM
No, not all renters are bad but the unit next to me has a history of being bad.  One of you suggested to contact a realty company and maybe they would be willing to buy the unit from the current homeowner.  The problem with that is no one can purchase out here anymore for the purpose of renting same property.  The one who owned property before that went into force can still rent and that is where this unit lies.  The homeowner has tried to sell it but she wants way to much and no one is willing to pay what she wants.  Even when she lived there she was not a good homeowner herself.  Her idea of what is nice leaves a lot to be desired.  I bought my unit 23 years ago and am 76 years old so all I want is peace and quiet.  It was nice and quiet when I bought it but due to this one particular unit has turned into a nightmare for all of us on this cul-de-sac.  When ever there is police on the scene we e-mail the Homeowner but she never responds.  Now the weeds in their courtyard are knee high again so will have to call Code Enforcement again for they stick thru the fence and seed my yard with their weeds.  I am sure some where down the line this mother is getting assistance to pay her rent for no one is employed and she has a history of retail theft herself.............I am just hoping some thing happens that she moves out before bullets start to fly with all the arguments and fights and I become a casualty.
Sep 14, 2013 8:36PM
If you don't own it - you are more than likely not going to take care of it.  My neighborhood is filling up with rentals.  Dirt for lawns.  Cars parked over the sidewalks. Cars parked in the front yards.  I just keep calling the city to file complaints.  Maybe the landlords will get a hint. We don't want that in our neighborhood.
Sep 14, 2013 5:18PM

I have owned homes, owned a rental- and now I rent. I have seen all sides of the equation. For renting, most of it comes down to the landlords/management companies, period. There is nothing to prevent uncaring, messy, destructive people or those inclined to criminal activities from buying a home (that have the money/credit to do so), but there is something to prevent the same from renting in your neighborhood- and that is the landlord. If a landlord truly cares about his property and the neighborhood, he/she will do their best to screen and put in responsible tenants, and to promptly evict tenants that do not honor the lease, pay the rent, destroy or otherwise damage the property.

For the record, I am the same as a renter as I am a homeowner- and that means taking care of my home whether I own it or not. And we had all better get used to more rentals in our neighborhoods- it's another fact of life post-housing and mortgage meltdown, and a struggling economy. 

Sep 14, 2013 5:14PM
A few years ago we decided to remodel a thirty year old home. The contractor (very dear friends) sat with us for many meetings to go over the plans and revised plans for six months. It was decided that it would make more sense to tear down our home and rebuild on the same property. We needed a six month rental during tear down and rebuilding of our home. We found a very nice, clean home in a manned gated community. We negotiated an upfront advance payment of six months rent to reduce the rental charge. The landlord was astonished we would pay six months in advance and when we were moving back to our home we had the landlord do a walk through of the rental home inside and out including the garage. He was completely floored we left the home in better shape than when we moved in. The point is renting should be a two way street. Sadly, from the posts it does not seem that way.
Sep 14, 2013 3:28PM
Addressing Steve's post here, I had, a renter and the continual drug trafficking at all hours. With considerable effort we had them evicted, and the home, after thoruough renovation,  is now owned by an industrious, caring person.
Sep 14, 2013 3:25PM
Before I bought my first house at 25, I rented many places.  I was always careful to take care of the rented place, and often performed repairs, painted, or did other improvements, and the landlords were always happy to have things like that done in exchange for breaks in the rent.  Every place I ever rented looked as good or better when I left than when I moved in.  Not all renters are destructive or irresponsible.  By the same token, not all owners take care of their properties or are good neighbors.  It depends on the person.
Sep 14, 2013 3:22PM
Sounds like those home owners need to do some better background checks on their potential renters. Most renters I know love having a quiet, pretty neighborhood to live in. Single, married, with or without children. Usually the biggest thing I have found is most renters want to be very close to work or at least easy public transportation.
Sep 14, 2013 2:51PM
Would you rather have a renter or an empty crack house next to you ?
Sep 14, 2013 11:35AM
Maybe I didn't read far enough down on these comments, but I'm not seeing anyone talk about the LL's responsibility to check on his own property! Renting out your property is a BUSINESS. You don't just sit home and wait for the renters to mail you a check. You should be doing a drive-by at least once a month. I'm pretty sure most states also allow you to inspect the property with a 24-hr notice to the tenant renters. This way, you see problems before they become BIG ones. With a properly-worded lease agreement specifically stating what can/can't be tolerated (shaggy landscape, more than 2 cars per unit, animals, etc.) you will then have a legal right to evict. It's not always easy to navigate the small claims courts, which is where most of these types of issues end up, but the courts are usually set up with a self-help or assistance division so you can get it done for very little cost. Once you have an order, the sheriff can come and physically escort the people off the property. You wouldn't open up a store, hire someone for $8/hour and then never go in to see what's going on ... Don't do it with your $250k house!
Sep 14, 2013 11:23AM
We have renters next door where we live and we don't like them nor they, us.  On the other side of us is a home owner.  We are good friends.  However, the renters don't bother us anymore since we got he housing authority after them plus the home owners association and now we don't hear a peep from them.
Sep 14, 2013 8:49AM
We live in a community of 115 homes and about 20% are rentals. When it comes to keeping up the yard and the home the worst ones are owner occupied! The worst are ones where the owner is way upside down in their loan and they just don't care anymore. 
Sep 14, 2013 6:08AM
Way to go LPRN. you've managed to identify yourself as the classic slumlord.  You know the one that takes advantage of people who are stuggling in this economy.  And yes even thought the recession ended a year or two ago, two thirds of americans still believe we are still in one. No matter your political party affiliation, as americans, we still struggle to this day. That is of course your someone making less than 100000 per year. Seems the only people feeling the economy turning around are the wealthy. Maybe that's you LPRN. The "i'm priveleged and your a low life" attitude you have is what makes it difficult for people in this country to turn things around and began to live a good life again.You jack your rent up to attract a better class of people. Yea,  we can tell that's been a success. You've had several different renters and repairs. Dork! Maybe if you gave a damn about someone else instead of your  "i'm better than you" self" you wouldn't have to complain about your property. Go ahead pay the mortgage on your empty home with someone elses money. Leave it empty. That's real smart. Or maybe if your married your spouse will get tired of your im better than you attitude and leave you for a caring person and move into that empty home of yours that everybody else has paid for. And by the way, if you asked the people you ripped off instead of helped, I bet they would say you sucked! My guess, along with most people who see this, your spouse and family included, would probably agree. 
Sep 14, 2013 6:02AM

I am surrounded by rental properties (inherited property) except for one other owner. At first the neighbors were "lousy." Have spent a lot of time and energy getting to know neighbors and not hesitant to get police support when there are problems. Have some of the some neighbors at first but some have moved on, and were no loss here.

Have had some (immigrants from South of the border) that kept yard up better than most others.

Its about the individuals and the expectations put on them. When landlords or neighbors 'look down' on others there is a lack of respect. The landlord of 3 properties hasn't kept up his shacks very well, but the other owner has really improved his.

Sep 14, 2013 5:40AM
a lot "owners" are slum lords. they fix nothing and over charge. Combine that with minimum wage jobs or as mit romneys says 9.00 an hour is a good "middle class job. then you get what you reap!
Sep 14, 2013 5:15AM
for most of my life, I have been sheltered from low income folks. A lower income family moved in our neighborhood. At first I didn't object. I still mostly do not but boy are they poorly educated and stupid. One of the new neighbor's comments was "Those managers at grocery stores make a billion dollars a year. The are all 1 percenters." I never realized anyone could be so stupid. I guess I was naive and sheltered. 
Sep 14, 2013 4:15AM

The only way to assure the exterior of the home is maintained when used for renters, is to charge a rent high enough to cover the mowing and landscaping, and have rules right in the contract that nothing can be outside of the home except a well maintained patio set.  No cars, no biles,no motorcycles.  If you can't fit it in the garage, than you can't have it. 

Sep 14, 2013 3:52AM
I have been a renter on and off again for years. I also work in property management. I can tell you from experience that it goes both ways. For me renting is no different than owning. I mow the grass, plant flowers, shrubs, trees, pressure wash, replace light fixtures, etc. Much to my owners delight. It is my home and I want it to look the best that I can make it. Not all renters feel this way and not all owners feel this way. I live in a neighborhood mixed with renters and owners. A lot of the owners are the problem here never mowing, always having tons of cars and making the neighborhood look bad. Some people care and some don't. Don't blame the renters. It is a shared effort I assure you. I have had problems in the past where I owned my home and my neighbor who owned his home would never mow the grass. It got sooooo bad I had to call the county. Keep in mind he was an owner. So ask yourself it is really the renters or are you just pissed because somebody rented the home instead of letting it turn into a mess where no one care
Sep 14, 2013 12:36AM
And in 5 years I will own my 2 houses and otherson here will still be paying monthly rent! How is that getting out of debt and saving money?
Sep 14, 2013 12:32AM

I own my home and the one down the driveway from me. I live in one and rent out the extra one to make the payment every month. I have had 4 different tenants in the last 10 years and all but one of them has been white trash! I give up on screening or checking the background. I even rent it for way more than other homes in my area in belief that I will obtain a better class of renters. There is no such person! What I request verbally or in writing does not mean anything to a renter! In my opinion if you rent you pretty much just suck as a human being! I spend  more money cleaning and repairing the place once they leave than I actually get out of renting it. Even though the owner lives directly in the house behind them they will leave trash all over the grounds and let the yard get grow to the sky before they will mow!  When these idiots move I will let it set empty and make the payment myself before I will deal with what I have been dealing with for the past ten years! I will make the last 5 years of payments and place a "NOT FOR RENT SIGN IN THE YARD"

Sep 14, 2013 12:31AM
My wife and I rent because we don't want the hassle of: Taxes, up-keep, high insurance, slave to a bank for decades, HOA fees, farther drive to come into work from burbs, cookie cutter cheap homes built in 2 weeks...etc etc.  Renting for now is working and saving money...and it's quiet here without issues from neighbors because most of the people here are working adults.  Owning a home isn't for everyone like the supposed "American Dream."  The "Dream" should be to get out of debt and learn how to spend wisely.
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