I am providing you with a list of four recognizable Lakewood businesses. Once you review the four business names and photos, I will pose a single question.
Harold A. Allen Realtors
Lakewood Villa Realty
Northwest Properties Agency, Inc.
My single question: What two things do these four businesses have in common?
Answer (1) All four business entities are well known, long established and highly respected family owned companies that are in the business of managing large numbers of rental properties.
Answer (2) Our Lakewood City Council is considering a proposal called Rental Inspection Program (R.I.P.) that if inaugurated, will target and victimize these companies. The R.I.P. will create an unfriendly business environment for these and other quality Lakewood businesses.
On the surface, the R.I.P. sounds like a good idea. The stated purpose of this new government bureaucracy is to solve the problem of inadequate housing conditions for renters doing business with slumlords. Everyone agrees that there are bad landlords (slumlords) who rent uninhabitable properties thereby taking advantage of the economically impoverished. No argument. I endorse having our city help these tenants, but accomplishing the end goal must be done in an intelligent and equitable manner.
Articles have been published in The News Tribune and The Suburban Times about the potential negative impact of R.I.P. on good private landlords, tenants and foreign exchange students. No articles have been written about another victim class, Lakewood property management companies.
Let’s take a close look at these companies.
Harold A. Allen Realtors was founded by Harold A. Allen, Sr., in 1940. A third generation family member, Mr. Mike Larson, continues to operate his family business in it’s 76th year. Allen Company manages approximately 500 rental units. Mr. Larson and his company have impeccable reputations.
Lakewood Villa Realty was founded in 1960 and is currently operated by a second generation family member, Mrs. Bridget Upton. The company manages about 200 rental units. Ms. Upton and her company both enjoy a decades long positive reputation.
Reeder Management was founded in 1974 by Mr. Paul Reeder and is currently operated by a second generation family member, Mr. Brian Reeder. Reeder Management is responsible for 4,000 rental units. The reputation of this company is beyond reproach.
Northwest Properties Agency, Inc was founded in 1960 and currently involves both second and third generation family members who continue to run this fine business. They manage 210 rental properties and have an unblemished reputation.
These management companies adhere to the Washington State Landlord Tenant Law. Thus Lakewood tenants already have all the protection they need.
None of these firms manage any properties that would fit the City of Lakewood’s problem property profile. None of these companies will agree to work with a slumlord unless the slumlord agrees to comply with state law. All properties must meet the standard or professional property management companies will refuse to represent the property.
The City of Lakewood takes the position that they have no way of knowing how bad or good rentals are unless they set up the R.I.P. and inspect all the properties. That is what I call a no warrant “fishing expedition”.
My key message is this. These business entities are not a part of the problem. In spite of that, our city is considering victimizing these well run businesses. This amounts to a threat to these business enterprises and the creation of a city induced unfriendly business environment. This unnecessary government intrusion will cost these long term business owners and their property owner clients, time, money and administrative burden without generating a benefit to anyone including the tenants the city wishes to help.
Well, there is one benefit. The R.I.P. can help our local government with empire and revenue building. More government. More expense. No benefit.
The R.I.P. will have no positive impact on properties professionally managed by these Lakewood companies.
Disclosure: My 40+ year background in real estate includes:
- Former personal ownership of residential and commercial rentals.
- Former ownership of a Lakewood property management company.
- Former Real Estate Broker’s license.
- Former real estate developer.
Having retired several years ago, I no longer have a Broker’s license, nor do I own or manage a single rental property. Thus, the R.I.P. will not impact on me directly in any way.
Although I am not a stake holder, I am speaking out because I am obviously qualified to do so and because no one else is standing up to prevent Lakewood businesses from being victimized by the City of Lakewood’s proposed Rental Inspection Program.
If intelligence and common sense prevail, our city council will vote “NO” on this R.I.P. proposal. If our council votes “YES” then that is just another day of politics with unnecessary unintended consequences forcing government interference into the lives of our good business people and innocent tenants.
There are two fallacious principles that may generate council approval.
Principle (1) Problem by a few = punishment for everyone.
Example: Would it make sense to charge bank customers a new $10 fee every time they enter the bank after a bank robbery assuming they did not rob the bank? No. Then it follows that it does not make sense to charge good property owners / managers who are not involved with slum properties a R.I.P. fee when they are not any part of the problem.
Principle (2) Other cities like Bellevue have an R.I.P. so the City of Lakewood should have an R.I.P. too or like our kids say, “Everybody is doing it.” The fallacy of this principle can be quickly detected when we are reminded that prostitution is legal in Nevada. Does that mean we should legalize prostitution in Lakewood? No!
My frank opinion is only meant to be a direct critical attack on the Rental Inspection Program proposal, because it is such an unethical and unfair idea. I am not being critical of our Lakewood City Council. They are all intelligent people and after all are simply considering this proposal. Our city council seeks public opinion. They now have mine. I just hope they are able to make the proper ethical decision.
A public meeting is scheduled on July 5, 2016, at 7:00p at Lakewood City Hall located at 6000 Main Street SW, Lakewood, Washington.