To the Editor:
Gordon Wozniak, Berkeley City Council candidate in the 8th District, certainly has got it right when he says that small landlords can end up subsidizing wealthy renters. Here’s an example. I own a triplex that I live in. I have a couple in each of the other units. In one unit they earn five times what I do and in the other they earn four times as much. Last year we were allowed to raise the rent $8 per unit per month; a total of $16 for the two. At the same time the city raised my monthly costs through annual property taxes and garbage pickup increases that amount to more than $35 a month. Not only do rent increases not even keep pace with the increased costs handed out by the city, but there are increases in everything else: house insurance, water, sewerage, gas, appliances, carpeting, painters, plumbers, electricians, etc. The handyman I use has gone from $15 an hour to $35 during the time that I’ve owned the triplex, for example. While all these costs go up every year, there have been years when the rent board allowed zero rent increase.
While I started out as a landlord in favor of rent control, not only am I now absolutely opposed, but when I do have a vacant unit I try to get the highest rent possible to make up for both past losses and to protect myself against the miserly allowed annual increases. High rents mean a lot of turnover which I’d prefer to avoid, but the city of Berkeley gives me no choice with its thoughtless Robin Hood-in-reverse policies.