TO RENT OR OWN AFFORDABLE HOUSING -THAT IS THE QUESTION
These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.
This post will discuss whether renting or affordable housing are good housing options for single and low income persons.
- RENTING AS VIABLE OPTION FOR LANDLORDS AND RENTERS
Rental costs from landlord perspective: A review of financial information shows that in order to generate a 5% annual return on a $250,000 rental property with no mortgage costs, the expenses incurred will be as follows:
What Landlords think they need to make renting their spaces a revenue generating business at 5 percent profit in the Calgary market:
rent charged (2 bedrooms) $12,500
condo fees ($325 X 12) $ 3,900
PT taxes $ 1,500
upkeep (paint, carpet, etc.) $ 1,200
extra cost of wear (kids/pets) $ 1,200
TOTAL RENT PER MONTH $20,300 divided by 12 months = $1,700
This does not include costs associated with loss of income when property is vacant, cost of major upkeep such as replacing appliances, cupboards every 5 to ten years, damages incurred from kids and pets, eviction costs, insurance, etc.
Arguments for and against high rental costs from perspective of landlords and renters
A review of an online article “Calgary Landlords war against the poor?” (landlords) shows pro and con comments on why landlords think they need to charge the present rental amounts and why poor are left out because they cannot afford to pay the present high rental amounts. Arguments are also made as to whether or not mortgage payments should be included in the rental costs; if included, then even higher rents need to be collected.
Comments on the side of the poor and low income include:
‘So then I ask you, where are these people supposed to go? No offense, but the “it’s just business, nothing personal” should have no place when talking about human lives.’
‘Gouging is a very common competent of a working free-market. The right (Conservative and like) just don’t want to admit they’re are (…..) for doing it. It is not about right or wrong. The difference between a renter and a landlord is that the landlord has assets. So even if you are living in a home and renting a condo, having to shell out money for repairs doesn’t exactly cost you as much (in the long run) as it would a long term renter. Because eventually you can sell that property and retire in comfort. It is very hard for a person who is just starting out with nothing to build themselves up to your level It is not that we don’t want to be there, it is just that there may not be as much opportunity for us so called “low-lives” as one may think. So when your entire income goes to shelter, food and clothing, there is not much left to save for any sort of down payment on anything…’
‘You are already making money by charging a tenant the mortgage, the land tax and the insurance. The mortgage part is already profit. An accumulated investment Beyond that, maybe a little more, is gouging. These people can’t see that is wrong. If they could charge a million dollars a month they would.’
One of the last reader comments submitted was the following (it is interesting to note that this comment pretty much shut up any further comments being made):
‘When, by gouging people for the necessities of life such as food and shelter, you contribute to the cost of living being higher than a working person can afford. You force me as a taxpayer in a rather high tax bracket, I might add ,to pay for the subsidization required to keep these people from starving or being out on the street or alternatively imprisonment when they steal to live, or more cops to maintain social order with a starving underclass. I’m tired of deadbeat free-riders trying to shuffle the externalities of their greed onto me. It is time for some controls being placed on the ability of landlords to raise rents. Rental increases being limited to 5% or double to rate of inflation annually, whichever is lower, seems reasonable to me.
Some comments suggested that most people should stay away from the landlord game as it is not a profitable business for the lighthearted.
Landlord profile and Financial Planner Advice
Financial profile of a married couple is as follows: Calgary Herald, December 12, 2015 (and Edmonton Journal) Financial Post “Oil Crash Forces Fix for Couple” (edmonton-journal)
This summary is about Gary, 60 and Wendy, 67, an Alberta couple who grew prosperous with Gary’s work as a petrochemical engineer often earning as much as $200,000 a year doing consulting. However, his work is now history as a casualty of collapsed oil prices. Wendy worked as an administrative assistant earning $24,000 a year before she retired in 1990 (well before age 65, by the way). Their income at the present time is $2,175 a month and is $3,240 less than their total monthly expenses of $5,415. (Part of their income is $590 after expenses from their two rental properties.) They say they need to know if they can survive. The article does mention one child is renting one of their rental properties.
- Their net worth is $1,867,238. Their assets include residence $550,000, rental property #1, $460,000, and rental property #2 $430,000. Their investments include Registered Retirement Savings Plan $132,616, USA 401K in Canadian dollars $250,000, Tax Free Savings Account $39,334, non-registered savings/GICs $174,288 and two cars $17,000. Their total liabilities are two mortgages of $186,000 on rental properties.
The profile states the largest problem is that the couple’s income properties, which make up 60 per cent of their invested assets, produce little cash flow. One unit is rented to the couple’s son and its $1,150 monthly rent is below market values. Their other rental property generates $1,300 a month before expenses.
The financial planner makes the argument: ‘When Gary generated an income of $200,000 a year or more, they could afford to ignore investments, rent properties below market value and spend freely’. The financial planner’s recommendation is get rid of money losing rental property, cut expenses and reallocate assets to cut investment costs. It doesn’t seem to matter to the financial planner that this couple has acquired huge financial assets in their rental properties ($700,000+ value).
Conclusions about Renting
Renting income properties from landlord’s perspective is that this is a business and needs to generate a profit even when renting to singles (son in above example)and the poor (many of whom cannot afford $1,700 for rent). In other words, the goal of financial Utopia in a land of ‘milk and honey’ (Alberta) will never be achieved by the landlord with reasonable rents and certainly not by singles and the poor who are renting. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs principle for singles and the poor will also be violated when basic needs of shelter as well as food and clothing will not be realized.
For landlords and families who think singles and low income persons deserve only a single room‘ or ‘should live with someone’ they should read the January, 2009 study “Social Housing Waitlists and the One Person Households in Ontario” (cprn.org) on what it is like to live in these housing circumstances. An excerpt from this study reads as follows:
‘many households turn to shelters or make do with what they are able to find in the private market, often spending more than 50% of their income on rent. The focus of this study is one-person households under the age of 65 who make up approximately 40% of the applicants on Ontario social housing wait lists. This cohort has the longest wait times. How does this demographic cope during these waiting periods? What are their housing experiences? ‘
- AFFORDABLE HOUSING AS VIABLE OPTION FOR SINGLES AND LOW-INCOME
From “Upside-Down Finances re Housing for Singles and Low Income – Part 1 of 3”, November 13, 2015 post (upside-down-affordable-housing), one example of housing shows condos presently being sold as follows: 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condo of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900 and $543 per square foot.. Two patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900.start at $355 per square foot.
Singles and single parent with children are more likely to buy one bedroom housing. Ripple effects are owners of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay since these fees are based on price of property, not square footage of the property. When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?
Financial world for singles and low income continues to be completely flipped upside-down and turned topsy-turvy for housing while the rich and middle-income families pay less and get more.
As in many parts of the world, parts of Canada are heading for a crisis in affordable housing. Different solutions have been proposed to avert this crisis. One is Attainable Housing, (attainyourhome), for example in Calgary, which allows maximum household income of $90,000 for single and dual/parent families with dependent children living in the home and maximum household income of $80,000 for singles and couples without dependent children living in the home. While this method allows singles and low income to enter the housing market with a low down payment, it does not alleviate the problem of insane upside-down pricing of housing as outlined in the example shown above. Another solution that has been proposed is an affordable housing action plan of inclusionary zoning where a certain percentage of new housing units built would be social and community housing partly funded by government programs, and a certain percentage of new housing units would be affordable rental or ownership housing units built by the private sector. However, developers and the housing associations will argue this will not work (as only new purchasers will be participating) and neighbors continue to have a “not in my backyard” mentality (NIMBY). Tiny house NIMBY mentality also extends to homeowners who don’t want tiny houses near their properties.
Calgary Herald “‘Nothing new’ from housing collective” article, December 16, 2015 (calgaryherald) is a 46 – page document – 18 months in the making – and calls on homeless and housing organizations, the development industry and governments to ‘work together differently’ for at least two years, developing ‘Calgary-based solutions with blueprints for action’ and providing support as required. The mayor, in addition to other parties, is disappointed at how long study has taken and states that ‘time for talk’ is over.
Conclusions about Affordable Housing
There is no affordable housing for singles and low income persons when they are forced to pay more for less space with less income than the rich and middle-class families. Inaction and NIMBY continues to be prevailing principle for Affordable Housing.
Conclusion overall for Renting and Affordable Housing for Singles and Low Income
Options for both renting and affordable housing continues to become more and more out of reach for singles and low income.
“Eggleton: Canada needs more affordable housing” September 20, 2015 (eggleton) article in the Ottawa Citizen states:
‘I think we all understand intuitively the importance of having decent shelter. A home anchors a person, anchors a family. It provides a foundation for people to move forward toward greater stability in the workplace or higher educational attainment. Health experts also tell us that adequate housing is a key determinant of health and long-term health outcomes’.
This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.