If we’re all lucky, it will be the creepy neighbor up the street who gets visited by three ghosts and not us. After all, it wasn’t his active duty as a landlord that started everything, such as Scrooge seeing his friend bearing so many chains in deathThe same could be said for landlords – let’s take a moment to think about what the industry has come from, where it stands now, and what can be expected in the future.
Ghost of the Past
Being a landlord used to be a relatively simple task, even if there were a few bad eggs in the bunch. Not only was it simple, it was sturdy work. As one of the oldest professions in the book, owning land and renting it meant some degree of security as a recurring paycheck that wasn’t likely to ever go away.
Downton Abbey makes it look like a glamorous job up until things start to change. Due to World War I, the landscape of rent began to shift, and between 1919 and 1924 it began to become ‘controlled.’ The larger public ignited this shift, and more rent control laws came into play during World War II. New York began its spiral of rent controls that continues even today, starting with Emergency Rent Laws that began in 1920.
The past century of rental industry history is a weird mix of ‘duh’ moments – such as homes missing their only paid family member due to a massive war needing a rent break – to an excessive sigh as you realize it’s just the start.
Ghost of the Present
2019 has bee a year filled with worrisome laws working to upend the industry. Considering how old the industry is means that property owners have some degree of job security, but recent legislation gives some room for concern.
As linked above, New York City passed a law banning landlords from using eviction records against applicants. Seattle passed laws giving roommates rights when they are not listed on the lease, and California passed rent control. The landscape of the rental industry is shifting, and no one can blame people for being nervous about that – even outraged. Eviction records have been a long-held standard helping to gauge who to rent to. If that isn’t a standard anymore, then what is left is shaky ground with subjective decisions that can lead to bigger issues.
Ghost of the Future
It’s too soon to tell if New York’s latest bid on eviction records will become a trend. Perhaps it won’t, and it’s just a single act trying to get the City that Never Sleeps a new nickname. Ebenezer Scrooge had a clear vision of his future, something that wasn’t so far off considering who he was. The future of renting has a bit less to go on. What we do know is the renting market isn’t going anywhere for a while, seeing as millennials would need to save for over twenty years to buy a condo, so millennials will be renting for quite a while and while Gen Zers are eager to enter the housing market, they have some time to kill before they do.
The future has always been a bit scary, like the childhood fear of the dark covering up for the less tangible fear of the unknown. The best next step has always been to not jump to conclusions, and simply make educated, not emotional, guesses.
How do you feel about the future of the rental housing industry? Let us know in the comments!
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