Tuesday, July 14, 2009

IT'S GOOD TO BE A LANDLORD


By : Mr. Marty H. Landsman, Owner of Seven Choice Apartment Buildings in New York City; Chairman and CEO, Landsman Management Group; Honorary Member, The National Association for the Protection and Dignity of Private Property in America, LLC (a for-profit Association).

It’s good to be a landlord. I don’t pay you; you pay me. It’s not your land; it’s mine. You spend your life working so you can pay me rent. I just sit here and collect your checks. Then I deposit your checks and buy expensive gifts for my relatives before going on vacation. Ah, yes, it’s good to be a landlord. Just say the word out loud: Land Lord. It’s my land. You’re on it. I’m your lord. Pay your lord or get off his stinking land. It doesn’t belong to you.

Yes, I’m your lord, all right. You might think you have some rights against me because you signed a lease before you set foot on my land. You think I’m required to make sure the land is safe. You think that I have to leave you alone while you pay rent. But did you ever stop and read the lease? Guess what, all the obligations are on you, pal. If you don’t pay, I get to charge late fees, penalties and hire a lawyer against you at your expense. If that doesn’t make you cough up what you owe, I can bring over the sheriff to forcibly eject you from my land. After that I can go to court and get a judgment against you for all the money you owe under the lease. Then I can garnish your wages, seize your pathetic household trinkets and take the shirt off your back—all with legal authority. You no pay, you no play. And me get all of your money. Silly tenant.

You think you have power? Think again. You can’t throw me out of my house, but I sure as fuck can throw you out of yours. It’s my land. It doesn’t belong to you. I’m just letting you stay there because I’m being nice and you’re paying for it. But you’d better not forget who holds the cards in this relationship, my friend. You’d better not cross me or forget to mail your check. Because if you do, I’ll sic the law on you faster than you can say: “Oh God, please don’t throw my clothes on the street!” And you thought the law was on your side. Ha ha ha ha ha! You na├»ve little renting person. Here’s a little secret: If you own no property, the law will not help you.

So you think it’s unfair that I get the money and you don’t, eh? Well that’s life. My dad owned this land and he left it to me. Your dad didn’t own any land and now you have to ask landlords like me to rent to you. What can I say? That’s the way the ball bounces, buddy. I am the landlord. You are the tenant. You signed the lease. You owe money. This is the way things are. There’s no sense complaining about it. Look, if you become successful and buy some land yourself, then you can be a landlord, too. So there’s something you can aspire to. You need goals, right? Hey, this is America. You can be anything you want. But in the meantime, send me your goddamn rent checks.

Tenants like you really make me angry. In recent years, you’ve banded together and lobbied lawmakers to impose new responsibilities on landlords. You’ve actually won a few court cases and communist judges have ordered us to keep our land “habitable” and “quiet” for your “enjoyment.” They say that when we accept your rent money, we “warrant” that the ceiling won’t collapse on your renting face, or that flesh-eating worms won’t burrow through the floor and kill your girlfriend when she sleeps over on our land.

This is total rubbish. We believe in contracts. The lease contract says you pay rent and we let you live on our land. It doesn’t say anything about protecting you from falling ceilings, flesh-eating worms or anything else. You’re a big boy. You can defend yourself against these things. I mean, worms move slowly; you can dodge them. It makes no sense to saddle landlords with additional responsibilities when grownup tenants like you are in a much better position to look out for their own safety. If America stands for anything, it stands for responsible, self-aware individuals who are mature enough to understand what they are bargaining for. We don’t “read things into” contracts. We follow them, because they represent responsible, free will. When the law steps in to modify what we bargained for, it assumes we are childish. Oh no we’re not. We know exactly what we’re bargaining for. We bargained to let you stay on my land for one year. We did not bargain to protect your lazy ass against collapsing ceilings or deadly worms. That’s your deal, not mine. My life is difficult enough as it is going down to my P.O. box to pick up checks. I can’t start worrying about worms in your apartment. That would seriously complicate my life; and I wrote the contract so I wouldn’t have to worry about shit like this. God damn judges.

Still, I can’t really complain that much. I don’t lose lawsuits against tenants. They either pay me or I evict them; it’s pretty simple stuff. I just don’t like the idea that the law has recognized some “tenant rights.” I mean, come on, part of the fun of being a landlord is that you get to do whatever you want, even fuck around with tenants without consequence. I mean, we’re land lords, just like the feudal landowners in England who got to snatch peasant wives from their tenants’ homes on their wedding nights. We are the lords; the tenants are our peasants. Since when did peasants have rights against their noble lords? This is just contrary to everything the law stands for. The law is about property, not peasants. We have property and we get to take what we want from it. But now these judges are actually giving rights to peasants? It’s just mind-boggling.

Rent control is the worst thing that ever happened. During the New Deal, State legislatures and city councils mandated that landlords were forbidden to charge more than a token amount for rent. Worse, these laws attached themselves to the property, so that even if a rent-controlled tenant died, the rent control continued for the next tenant. Never before has a law so dangerously impinged on the right of private contract in America. Never before has a law so insolently encroached upon economic freedom as rent control has. Rent control took power away from landlords and put it in the hands of pathetic wage-earners. It forced landlords to forgo potential profits in order to accommodate poor people. It thumbed its nose in the face of free market economics, maintaining artificially low prices even when the market clearly reflected demand warranting higher rents. In short, rent control waged war on contract, freedom and economic empowerment for landlords. And why? To help people “weather tough economic times” and to “make housing affordable for all.”

This is beyond stupid. Real estate markets are no different from any other private market. If a prospective tenant is willing to pay $4,000 a month for a single room, he should be allowed to bargain with me to pay that amount. But rent control laws mandate that I can only charge $50 a month for the property, even if the prospective tenant and I want to conclude a contract for $4,000 a month. This is sheer madness. I did not become a landlord for some lesbian city council commissioner to tell me I can’t maximize the profit I make from my land. It’s mine, goddamn it, not hers. Mine, mine, mine, mine! I have a right to charge whatever the goddamn fucking shit I want for my property. I have a right to make whatever goddamn fucking shit contracts I want with people who have the money to pay what I demand. Yet rent control takes away my freedom, and it takes all the fun out of being a landlord. America is supposed to be about freedom, not “affordable housing for all.” Worse, rent control takes away my freedom to provide “affordable housing” to someone who is willing to pay market rates.

I’m sorry, but this is unjust. It is difficult to pick up checks at the post office and evict delinquent tenants. Rent control adds insult to injury by: (1) Reducing the amount of my checks; and (2) Allowing tenants to more easily meet their financial obligations to me, obviating my right to evict them. I can’t tell you how many times rent control forced me to take a six-week cruise instead of a seven-week cruise, or buy a $45,000 diamond necklace for my wife instead of a $50,000 one. All because these communist laws trampled on my right as an American to charge whatever I want for people to live on my land.

Still, it’s not all bad news. Most State legislatures and city councils have abolished rent control. During the 1980s and 1990s, legislators came to their senses and realized that this country does not stand for “affordable housing.” They remembered that it stands for private property rights. So now I can basically charge whatever I want for my properties, with a few exceptions. I’ll be honest with you: The few old coots who still have rent controlled apartments really put a bug up my ass. I mean, how would you feel if you knew Mrs. Myriam H. Finkelblatt (age 90) is only paying $75 a month for a choice 2-bedroom apartment at 456 Park Avenue, while her neighbor, Mr. Charles G. Witherspoon, Esq. (Age 41), pays $6,700 a month for the same space? If the old hag would just hurry up and die in a pool of her own urine, I’d make an extra $6,625 every month; that’s $75,000 every year. People don’t earn that much slaving away at an insurance company every year, yet I would get it simply if the crone would keel over and exit my building feet first.

Polite society says it’s wrong to wish death on others. But I’m not afraid to defy convention: I wish death on every single last son-of-an-elderly-bitch who has rent control on my property. I hope they all die quickly so I can fill their apartments with young strappers with the money to pay market rates. And they’re out there, too. Demand is up and supply is short. I own the supply. I’m the landlord. You need to bargain with me for something you need. I set the price; you sign the lease.

And there is nothing wrong with this. You wish you could be me, because you’d be doing exactly the same thing if you were in my position. But you’re not, so you need to lick my boots to live on my land. You might complain that the lease is unfair or the rent is too high. Go ahead and complain; it’s a free country. But you need a place to live, don’t you? You won’t get to live on my property if you don’t sign. Don’t want to sign, eh? Then get the hell out, because there’s a guy right behind you with cash in hand ready to go. So would you please make up your mind? You are interfering with my right to contract and you’re really annoying the guy behind you who wants to contract with me. You believe in freedom, don’t you? Then sign or get out of the way.

Don’t hate me because I’m a landlord. I’m just living the American dream. Freedom is a wonderful thing, especially if you own lots of land. Praise the lord… the land lord, that is. And may I remind you that your rent is due on the 1st, no later.

2 comments:

Nothing Profound said...

I laughed so hard from the first line of this piece to the last I almost bust a gut. This is Amazing Writing. I hope you do more with your writing than just post it on this blog. This is satire of the highest order.

I was actually a landlord for six years. I owned a tiny house I couldn't sell, so I used it as a rental property. I only let people I knew stay there, and charged outrageously low prices. I hated the whole business and was so glad when we finally sold it.

Anonymous said...

I love imagining Mr. Landsman saying this... 'Look, if you become successful and buy some land yourself, then you can be a landlord, too. So there’s something you can aspire to. You need goals, right? Hey, this is America. You can be anything you want. But in the meantime, send me your goddamn rent checks."

great post.

Cyrus