As the number of single-family rentals grows across the country, home owners are seeing their neighborhoods changing — and not necessarily for the better.
“When there are fewer home owners, there is less ‘self-help,’ like park and neighborhood cleanup, neighborhood watch,” says William M. Rohe, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who recently conducted research on home ownership’s effects.
Even landlords and tenants of single-family rentals who are conscientious about the home’s upkeep will be less likely to invest in the property than owner-occupants, Rohe notes. “Who’s going to paint the outside of a rental house? You’d almost have to be crazy,” he says.
The issue has sparked a “home owner versus tenant” challenge in many neighborhoods across the country. Home owners are complaining that the growth in rentals in their neighborhoods has put a strain on their relationships with neighbors, made home maintenance a lower priority, and invited in more crime.
For example, a homeowners association in Atlanta is fielding a high number of complaints from owners about new renters moving in. The complaints are over everything from tenants’ loud music and barking dogs to prostitutes in the neighborhood and two tenants who had a murder warrant out for their arrest. The association wants to phase out rentals from their neighborhood, but they realize that will take time.
“You’re caught between ‘I want the dues paid’ and ‘I want a peaceable, nice existence,’ ” says Joi Aikens, the president of the homeowners association.
Investors, however, say that home owners should be glad tenants are there. Investors say they purchased homes in neighborhoods that were plagued by foreclosures and that, by having tenants there, they have helped keep home values up. Otherwise, they say, the homes would stand vacant and left to deteriorate.
Source: “As Renters Move In, Some Homeowners Fret,” The New York Times (Aug. 28, 2013)