Letter: The landlord’s perspective

We were disappointed to read the recent Kingston Times article with the city getting behind the Kingston tenants movement with no consideration of the local landlords’ side.

We have a lot invested in our rental properties. We want long-term tenants who take good care of the properties. When tenants take possession, we go over our nine-page rental agreement which explains what we expect so there is no confusion down the line.

If a tenant damages our property, or is noisy to the point other tenants decided to move out, or adopts a breed of dog that jeopardizes our ability to get property insurance, or takes a roommate without going through our process so we have a person on premises who could be a danger to other tenants, or when the tenant does not pay their rent; we should be able to remove that tenant without the current time frame of two to three months and expenses/lost rent/damages of upwards of $2,000.


Rents go up because expenses go up — utilities, insurance, maintenance. Taxes have more than doubled since we bought our first property in 1996. We didn’t then have to pay an exorbitant fee to have inspectors go through the properties. When tenants were allowed to post a notice that they did not want the inspection, most did. Now Corporation Counsel Gartenstein tells us that if the last inspection was a year ago, that is “probable cause” and a warrant can be obtained to check an apartment.  An inspection on our six-unit building costs $450. In 1996 we supplied trash bins. Now we are given one per building and have to pay $450 a year for each additional bin required for larger buildings.

I don’t understand how with mortgages, taxes, utilities, insurance and maintenance, the City thinks local landlords are making so much money.

Part of Rupco’s funding comes from government grants — which means taxpayer funding — to create low-income housing. If 56 percent of the city is living in rental units, perhaps it would be better to focus more on development and attracting better jobs. In our six-unit mentioned above, there are seven occupants. Two have jobs. Therefore our tax money is helping pay for rent, food and medical care for the rest.

We would like the city to work with both tenants and landlords to create a solution.

Mark Berlanga

Marlene Graham, Jeffrey Graham

There are 7 comments

  1. Dave Channon

    Rent and property values are related. Both are influenced by changes in supply and demand. Landlords and home sellers will charge as much as the market will bear. That’s the American way. The popularity of Ulster County is growing faster than wages, so the demand exceeds our local’s ability to pay. We also need more affordable tourist lodging. To compensate for the increase of short term rentals and assure adequate supply of long term rentals, I suggest property tax relief for landlords who rent long term and comply with some form of rent stabilization guidelines. If a landlord evicts a long term tenant for short term rentals, the property taxes would go back up. Making it easy to evict tenants is not a humane way to deal with the problem of poverty and high cost of living.

  2. Sally

    Ah hah, hahaha, hahahahaha!!!! Are the authors really upset that their taxes have risen over a span of almost 25 years? They sound like coal miners! This was the industry you chose to be apart of. Being a landlord is not something you are forced to do. If you don’t want to deal with these issues, sell your property (for quadruple what you paid for it in the 90’s) and get another kind of job.

  3. Tobias F

    l think the price of inspections is too high, and I think they are far too intrusive. They essentially say a renter cannot be trusted to take care of their home, as homeowners do not have the same requirement for inspection each year. Also to make sure tenants are law-abiding citizens and take them down if they are not. I know the City alleges it is to take care of tenants – and as we renters know, Ulster County all around has a tremendous number of slumlords. Ulster County by far is the most obstructive as for having pets – landlords want your 12 or 18 thousand dollars per year, and won’t allow a kitten even with extra security or a dog even with extra rent. It is foul. I think the landlords make up all the fees and taxes in rent – not like they are out any money. If being a landlord were not still one of the best returns on investment going, homes would not be getting more and more concentrated in fewer and fewer names. I am glad we have a tenants union.

  4. gerald berke

    The saddest thing is renting to people who haven’t a clue or an interest in taking care of the property. Starts out really nice, and then gets destroyed. There is no way such tenants could handle the ownership… some people, really good tenants, could handle owndership but choose not to. They respect the property, they are (and this is important!) good neighbors… as a landlord, I felt personally responsibile to the neighbors of the people I rented to: clean, civil, and payment of the rent just kept happening, and when that happened, I lowered the rent.
    Landlord 1) needs to know the history of who they are renting to: no sense at all in reinventing the wheel.
    2) When the tenant violates the lease they need to be gone and quickly!
    3) I the landlord can’t find a good tenant, take the hit, and if you need to, sell the property. Respect the neighborhood: the quality of the neighborhood, that’s what created the value for your property in the first place, don’t bring it down.
    Renting is a business and the city of Kingston needs to treat it that way…. make sure the property is has a very nice appearance to the neighborhood, that the property is clean, and that the neighbors don’t find themselves living next door to people that just ruin their lives. The city could require that rental properties be identified as such and the owner of the property identified with a small sign: this rental property is owned and managed by: name, phone, email.
    Rental properties MUST meet city standards, the business of residential rental MUST be regulated and lousy tenants are the responsibility of social services, not the landlord.
    Residential property is a business, and people in the city have the right to be protected from people that can enter their neighborhood with no more committment than having moved in with security and one months rent.
    As to subsidized rent: that might solve the renter’s problem but it does nothing for the neighborhood or, really, the landlord: prices can in no way be set to deal with lousy, disruptive tenants: that’s where the city and social services needs to take a very active part.
    Renting is a business, not just a place to hold onto property while the property value increases and then you sell. Indeed, you can’t do that at all in Europe. Residential properties are treated as homes, and not a place to speculate on a rising market.
    We’re in that kind of market. My neighbors just got shafted just that way: first a rental increase, followed by no maintenance, no commitment from the landlord, then comes the eviction, some rehab and a huge rental increase. The current tenants are valued neighbors. Soon they will be gone.
    Rentals need
    City of Kingston regulation. Mayor Noble is just the person to get this done right. Please.

  5. Lincoln Steffers

    Do you mean to suggest, sir, that by means of a specious argument and a fantastic arrangement of words, a horse chestnut is a chestnut horse?

  6. JamaicaonHudson AKA Kingston

    Unfortunately, the landlord’s perspective is a tad myopic. First, as a previous poster notes, the rents are determined by “the market”. The market is rarely described but is, essentially, nebulous forces adhering to Pareto’s logic. Market neo-liberalism reigns supreme, and nobody questions the rationale of following an inefficient model reliant on a$$-backwards logic, but I digress…

    Whether or not the aforementioned landlords are as “bad” as others in their profession is irrelevant. In Kingston (and other municipalities), rents are not in keeping with wages. Therefore, simply “creating more jobs” means nothing if those jobs cannot cover your living expenses. Tenants are doublly impacted in a tight housing market, where unscrupulous landlords can arbitrarily assess charges and fees on a whim. Many of these tentants literally cannot afford to complain for fear of retaliatory action. This is the reason tenants’ unions are necessary. It’s not to penalize landlords working accordance to the law(s), but to ensure representation for tentants’ in disputes where that is not the case. This ensures not only the rights of the tenants’ are protected, but also that the housing market isn’t negatively impacted by evictions and high displacement.

    According to the Kingston Tenants’ Union, Kingston has the highest eviction rate in state. That, coupled with the abysmal rate of affordable housing creation, warrants action. Hopefully, the powers that be take notice because this is a defining issue–and on that should be corrected sooner rather than later.

  7. Duncan R

    You want us to feel bad for landlords but your “marketplace” is someone’s home. Your “job” is someone’s safety, where they lay their head at night. You made a choice to enter this market, your tenants did not. Making an emotional plea in this case doesn’t work because you are not the most vulnerable party in this situation, and we must care for our most vulnerable. Investing is a gamble, no matter how you stack the odds in your favor with influence over press and policy, organization, education, etc. it’s still a gamble, and I’m sorry but losing your investment doesn’t compare to someone losing their home.

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