If you’ve ever lived in one apartment for a very long time and benefited from rent control, you may have suffered through the property owner’s attempts to bring the books up-to-date by driving out less lucrative tenants. Some landlords who do that become defendants in class action suits, but most get away with it and their tenants end up in more cramped conditions and worse neighborhoods.
I went through this in San Francisco, and although it took the landlord, his manager and construction people a few years, eventually they got everything they wanted. Although I’m not aware of structural improvements, they made aesthetic improvements to raise market values. I hope those people who now pay $1,500 or more per month will be safe in the Bay Area’s next big earthquake.
Of all the longtime renters who were driven out, I may have been the one to get a genuinely good deal. I stayed more than four years after all hell broke loose with our living conditions because I didn’t have anyplace else to go. However, in late summer 2010, I was ready to move to a condominium. I got out right before management could act on a flimsy excuse to tear out my shower stall — which I was sure they had no intention of replacing.
At the time I moved, the real estate market was flat, and I got into a studio which was much bigger and nicer than the one I moved out of. It was a buyer’s market, although at that time landlords had the upper hand in Bay Area rental housing — and they still do.
I appreciate my good fortune, and hope the neighbors I haven’t seen in years are okay. I see one occasionally, and believe he’s doing well.
In case you haven’t looked at The Village Voice recently, here’s an article about Jared Kushner — Publisher of The New York Observer, Donald Trump son-in-law and nightmare New York City landlord — making tenants miserable.