Good Landlords and Bad Landlords
Written by NSN Coordinator   

Barbara Lehmann, President of Dodge-Flower Neighborhood Association, has written a letter to Tucson Councilwoman Karin Uhlich regarding the upcoming Mayor and Council Study Session on Landlord Accountability.  This is a very well reasoned statement of neighborhoods' concerns over rental properties and their place in our lives.

"Apparently, the business of owning rental property requires no licensing or accountability except to the Assessor's office - and even that is on the honor system."

Read More, to see contents of letter to Karin Uhlich -->

February 2, 2008
Council Member Karin Uhlich
City of Tucson

Re: Landlord Accountability Initiative

Dear Council Member Uhlich:

Apparently, the business of owning rental property requires no licensing or accountability except to the Assessor's office - and even that is on the honor system.

After researching public records for the owner-occupancy rates of households within the Oak Flower and Dodge Flower neighborhoods, Blanche White, Oak Flower's President, discovered a significant inconsistency between the information the Assessor had and what the 2000 Census statistics indicate. The census records reflect a 70%-80% rental rate in the two neighborhoods compared to the Assessors' records which reflect only about 50%. Obviously not all landlords are notifying the Assessor as required when they convert their formerly owner-occupied single-family homes into rental income property (which make up the majority of the rentals in both neighborhoods).

Due to the lack of landlord accountability, as well as the protection of anonymity, too many rental properties contribute to the overall deterioration of neighborhoods. There are landlords who, whether because of ignorance, greed, laziness, or financial hardship, allow their properties to fall into disrepair. Some landlords live out of town - even as far away as Paris! They never even see their properties or know anything about their tenants. They know only what is on their properties' profit and loss statements. When properties deteriorate, the trashy appearance sends a message that welcomes blight to our neighborhoods. All it takes is one bad property on a block to do that.

We are so very grateful to our responsible and conscientious landlords and property management companies who take pride in their properties and ensure that their tenants are law-abiding and are respectful of their properties and their neighbors. Some create an even greater connection to the community by being involved in their properties' neighborhood associations, participating in community cleanups, supporting and contributing to neighborhood events, and encouraging their tenants to join Neighborhood Watch. They are truly assets to our communities and we're happy to have them in our neighborhoods!

Bad landlords don't care who they rent to, and are only too happy to collect cash from their tenants, so as not to have a paper trail of income to report on their tax returns. Bad landlords rent their single family homes to obviously questionable individuals, but do no criminal or credit background check, thereby showing no concern for how the elderly widow in the house next door is impacted by the problems that eventually develop. They dismiss complaints from surrounding neighbors because they believe that how they operate their "business" is nobody's business but their own. They don't care that they are "taking" from the value of surrounding properties, which for many people is their only and most precious investment. My neighbors and I often wonder if they ever ask themselves if they would want to live next door to their own rental property and have their tenants for neighbors, or if they'd want their family and friends to know what kind of landlord they are.

Since there is usually no accountability on the part of landlords to clean up their properties or evict problem tenants, neighbors feel frustrated and helpless. Most feel their only alternatives are to, 1) move, if they are in a position to do so, 2) secure themselves in their home and avoid their neighbors, or 3) call the police when things get out of control. The sad thing is that we lose, or never even meet, our good neighbors.

All landlords should be held accountable for the conditions of their properties and the behavior of their tenants.

We residents (tenants and property owners alike) should have a supportive City government that we can count on and work with to insure that rental property owners are being held accountable for any negative impact they may have on our quality of life, the value of our properties and the safety and well-being of our family and friends. Thank you for recognizing this problem that has gone too long unchecked, and for drafting the Landlord Accountability Initiative. By initially focusing on the most high profile and offensive properties, word should spread throughout the rental property business community that the City of Tucson is serious about holding problem landlords accountable to the extent that they could lose their properties. Perhaps more self-monitoring will result, thereby reducing the number of problem properties and minimizing the need to spend City resources dealing with them.

It is my hope and that of my neighbors that the Mayor and Council will recognize the need for the Landlord Accountability Initiative and will support it.


Barbara Lehmann
Dodge/Flower N.A.
P.O. Box 57004
Tucson, AZ 85711

Letter in original form  (1.1mb pdf)

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 February 2008 )
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