Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sins Of The Few

The Gazette uses a dramatic pull quote in today's one-sided, front page article about the evil BIG BAD town government making life sooooooo hard for "property managers and renters alike."

Of course they fail to mention the two property managers are also occasional advertisers. 

"But why are you punishing the many for the sins of the few?" asks Pat Kamins of Kamins Real Estate.

Perhaps Commander Spock with his dying declaration had the best answer:   "The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few."  Especially when the few profit greatly at the expense of the many.

The Gazette quotes a couple of renters criticizing the proposed residential rental property bylaw; but neither of them are college students, a demographic that makes up 59.4% of the town's population, and the ones most preyed upon by slumlords.

The sad saga of the attempted cover up at Hobart Lane by a major player in the Amherst rental industry   should stand as a testament to why the free market sometimes needs government regulation.

Yes, it's a very small percentage of landlords who cause problems for the entire industry.  Just as it's a small percentage of party hardy immature college kids who ruin the image for the vast majority of students who are hard working, law abiding, future titans of America. 

Pat Kamins, center. Amherst Town Manager John Musante, right


Anonymous said...

Gee, that was pretty darn biased. You know, we property owners are taxpayers too. We sure aren't being treated like it as everyone is very cavalier about the expenses we bear and make outrageous statements about the money we make. Let me tell you, in all the years I have been a landlord I've never had a single complaint from either a tenant or a neighbor, or anyone. Still ,the attitude about landlords is the same anti-business attitude that permeates the rest of this town. My taxes help fund roads, pay for schools, etc., and I pay a lot more taxes than a single-property owner, yet throughout this process I have been treated like I was a nuisance and a complainer. There are a few bad landlords, but the hundreds of good ones have been treated very poorly in this process.

Larry Kelley said...

Than you sir have absolutely NOTHING to worry about.

And quite frankly neither do Mr. Walczak or Mr. Kamins, because landlords like them are NOT the problem.

Geeze, maybe a slumlord should have been appointed to the Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods Working Group.

Larry Kelley said...

Should have been "Then"

Walter Graff said...

Mr. Spock lived in Amherst? Who knew.


Anonymous said...

Go back to work ɹǝʇlɐʍ.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:11 PM - Homeowners do not want to live next to your teenagers playing house regardless of the lack of complaints you may receive. We do not want to live alongside a house packed to capacity, barely landscaped, certainly never upgraded, and bustling with 10 times the amount of cars of the average owner-occupied home. We do not want to look out to see lawns converted into parking lots - whether in the front or back yard. We did not work our entire lives to purchase a home for our families to live alongside teenagers who are up at all hours of the night. We'd like our children to live among neighborhood children - much as I'm sure yours do. We'd like to know our neighbors for longer than a year or two, so the area has a warm sense of community amongst mature adult home owners who have actual names and jobs. Lastly, this is the single most expensive purchase we will ever make, and we're tired of our home value declining so that you can stuff your pocketbook with rent revenue.

Anonymous said...

Must be another afternoon off for ɹǝʇlɐʍ! I thought he was "getting his rest in before getting down to work" this a.m. ... hmmm...

Anonymous said...

I checked out ɹǝʇlɐʍ's website and I was struck by three things:

a) The amateurish quality of the bits of work we are allowed to see;

b) The ambiguity in ɹǝʇlɐʍ's written commentaries of the examples of work: after reading most I was left wondering, Now wait a minute, was that ɹǝʇlɐʍ's work, did they actually hire ɹǝʇlɐʍ for some job, or was he just there while something was going on, what's the deal here? He's hiding something and padding his resume. There were no real, solid verifiable pieces of work that could be attributable to ɹǝʇlɐʍ. Some of his links were simply to sites of espn, abc news ??

c) The "way-past-anything-any-of-us-can-do-about-it" size of ɹǝʇlɐʍ's ego.

Walter Graff said...

"Homeowners do not want to live next to your teenagers playing house regardless of the lack of complaints you may receive. "

I used to live in the Salem Place complex. Considered one of the 'nicer' places in Amherst. Probably had five full-time residents. The rest were "screened" students. Screened as in ones that didn't cause trouble so I was told.

For the most part the summers were great, no one around. The rest of the year it wasn't crazy but you dealt with 2am talking and laughing outside every night and weekend "deck" parties that went on till after 2am. I rarely saw a cop called but I wouldn't say it was great living.

I certainly wouldn't want to have had purchased a condo in the complex. The place was littered with bottles in the morning. Cars mysteriously hit in the lot. Garbage area a mess.

Bottom line, I can understand someone looking to make the biggest purchase of their lives and hooping for some stability which includes neighbors that you can say hello to every day and a peaceful atmosphere.

I cant imagine making a purchase in areas of Amherst that are noting more than college dorms, some far worse than others. In my case where it wasn't bad it still wasn't a great place to have to deal with all the minor nuisance that went on weekly.

I just couldn't imagine some of the real bad areas. Must be very difficult for the real residents.

Imbecilia Anon said...

Thanks for offering us an glimpse into your thoughts while you take (another) little break from work, ɹǝʇlɐʍ.

What part of the world are you in today??

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time understanding how this proposal will reduce, or hold people any more accountable for the current tenant/landlord problems than the current bylaws do... what am I missing please? Richard Marsh.

Larry Kelley said...

The Nuclear Option baby, the Nuclear Option.

Pull the PERMIT. No permit, no renting.

And like the real nukes, you hope to never use it.

Gives landlords something to lose and they will make far greater efforts to control their tenants.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. What does it take to get to that point Larry, and has that drastic a punishment ben upheld in other municipalities? RM

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, it has been upheld in other communities as we are not trying to reinvent the wheel.

The permit will be exceedingly easy to get and exceedingly hard to lose.

REPEATED violations that endanger tenants and neighbors, attempting to cover up those violations, lying to authorities ... in other words actions that are pretty much illegal now anyway are what bring about suspension of the permit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Larry. There is nowhere els to get this information... at least not without doing all the research that you do. It is appreciated. RM

Larry Kelley said...

No problem. I like to stay informed, and I like to share.

Prediction: it will pass. And this time, it will work.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:11 -

I'm not trying to be a smart a**, but I wonder why anyone would not research an area before buying a property, especially in Amherst. There are certainly many fine neighborhoods in Amherst which are not dominated by rentals. No offense, but the problems associated with students in Amherst is not anything new.

Larry Kelley said...

but it's gotten worse, far worse.

And it's no longer just the streets immediately adjacent to UMass.

The Juggernaut said...

What's the name of the poor homeowner who moved here in 1862, and commented at 3:11?

Anonymous said...

The commentator at 3:11 is exactly what’s wrong with the proposed system. Homeowners are going to use the complaint system to try to dictate what kind of neighborhood they should have in a completely unreasonable way. I am not advocating for living next to abusive students, but in that person’s point of view there should be no students. Instead there should be happy families that the person’s kids can play with. I guarantee you this person is going to file a complaint for every ticky-tacky thing trying to drive out the students. Of course, when their own kid buys a saxophone, and tries to practice it, that screeching noise will be different. So will their kid’s parties. Or when 4 cars are parked in the driveway every night because the teens now drive, that will be different too. Look, you can drive through Orchard Valley and find lots of houses with junk piled high in the yards and theses are owner occupied. It's not just students that make a mess. Lastly, the biggest piece of malarkey is that this is driving down property values. Lincoln Avenue and that area have some of the higher prices in Amherst, not the lowest. Prices have stayed stable because those houses are snatched up like wildfire. I know because I bid on two houses on Lincoln this past year and there were three other offers the first day.

Cinda said...

As a landlord to students, I have to agree that the present rental situation in Amherst is unacceptable. And it's not that responsible landlords aren't trying by hiring private security guards on Thurs/Fri/Sat nights; neighborhood clean up crews the next mornings; having stringent leases and no tolerance for bad behavior. It's all not enough to stop a text message from causing an unplanned party of hundreds.

Residents of Amherst should be able to enjoy their neighborhoods without unreasonable noise, trash, cars parked on lawns, and out of control parties.

While this bylaw does something to address the safety and code compliance of rental houses, it does not address any of the key concerns raised by neighborhood residents: Noise, Garbage; Fear.

I appreciate UMass stepping up with police and financial support to patrol neighborhoods and help with ambulance service. This is the direction I wish this bylaw had gone. How to stop parties from getting out of control; how to clean up neighborhoods; how to hold tenants accountable for bad behavior that leaves neighborhoods in shambles. How to assure that residents feel safe and secure in their houses and proud of their neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...


I couldn't agree with you more. From the beginning this committee has put all it's focus on landlords. Now at the last minute there is negotiation with UMass to implement policies and procedure that could actually have some impact. UMass is the entity with the deep pockets to hire additional police protection, not some property owner that only has one rental house. They are also the entity that is admitting these students without providing sufficient housing. They are the only entity that can give an academic suspension due to behavior. This should have been the focus from the beginning.

Larry Kelley said...

You don't win a war with just your air force ... or navy ... or ground troops.

It's a combination of different organizations all coming together with the same goal in mind:

The common good.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and all parties have to be treated fairly. One part is being asked to absorb all the expense and risk.

Anonymous said...

"We'd like our children to live among neighborhood children - much as I'm sure yours do. We'd like to know our neighbors for longer than a year or two, so the area has a warm sense of community amongst mature adult home owners who have actual names and jobs."

Translation: I would like a land of puppies and unicorns. I would like the downtown to have a hardware store and a general store just like in 1936. I would everyone I meet to be my friend. When I don't get it I will be very, very angry.

Nate Budington said...

I'm in a North Amherst residential neighborhood with a number of student rental houses--four in a row--that are absolutely trashed 24/7. I can't imagine how an adjoining neighbor could sell their home unless it was to the same slumlord wanting another property. How is this happening? Who is protecting our neighborhoods from an absolutely unacceptable way of doing business? No one, it appears. Conversely, there are student rental houses here that are well-maintained and occupied by good kids being good neighbors--they're a welcome addition to the neighborhood. If I were a good landlord (I suspect most in town are), I'd be irritated by the permit system, but what's the alternative? I'm open to anything that fixes a broken system.

Dr. Ed said...

It's all not enough to stop a text message from causing an unplanned party of hundreds.

Cinda, you have identified the problem without perhaps realizing it. I presume you get text messages, what kind of text message would cause you to drip everything and go do something in response?

Why is being at this party considered so important to so many kids?

This is where I say that one has to look at the underlying issues, the unmet social needs, all of it.

As to the larger issue here, the purpose is to drive certain people -- UM students -- out of the neighborhood and that can become a quite dangerous thing to do because not everyone acts rationally.

Anonymous said...

You talk about landlords having more control over their tenants. How? Most of the students are away from home for the first time, so where would they get any info on behavior? Some say, "Well, just evict the troubling tenants". Do you realize how hard it is for that to happen. It's not just a simple matter for a landlord to say, goodbye. The law demands due process, then you have to convince a judge that a noise complaint is a valid enough reason to evict. It's hard enough to try to evict over lack of rent payment. So where does that leave the landlords. With the simple and frustrating threat of "Stop, or I'll say stop again." Give me a break, the inability to look at the problem from where it stems astounds me, for a town so big on being progressive and open, i see nothing but egos and self important ideals. You want answers, you want results, then listen to the ones who deal with this issue everyday. Take from them the insight they have and work together as a town to come up with a plan. Listen, compromise, let go of your egos. The students who are causing this problem are the ones responsible, why hold landlord accountable, sounds like a scapegoat process to me.