Let’s See, Who Hasn’t Been Squeezed and Gouged Yet? Renters!
If you’re renting — better enjoy the fantastic deal you’ve been getting. It might not last much longer.
So far, banks and cell phone carriers have gotten most of the publicity for suckerpunching their customers with hidden fees, and changing the rules in the ninth inning. But other businesses are seeing how lucrative it is to be a sleazebucket, and they’re jumping on the bandwagon.
More and more landlords are using online data searches to find out everything imaginable about their prospective tenants. As the author of this article says: “It begins with a strip-search of one’s personal data.” And the would-be tenant pays for these background checks, regardless of whether he/she ends up getting the apartment or not.
Landlords are also more likely to require their tenants to carry renter’s insurance. This way, the building owners can pass their own insurance costs on to their tenants.
Like every other business, large landlords and property management companies are merging and consolidating and sharing data. This makes the gouging so much easier. A former president of the National Association of Residential Property Managers said: “There are more property managers getting together, we’re seeing where the loopholes are and we’re closing them up.”
Large apartment owners have started doing what hotels and airlines are already doing: using revenue-management software to calculate the absolute maximum rent they can charge right at this exact moment.
M/PF YieldStar is one of these “pricing optimization” services. They have 1.3 million customers now, and they’re hoping to have twenty percent of all apartment complexes on board within five years.
This service (and others like them) enables landlords to be constantly calculating the maximum rents they can get away with — and gouging their tenants accordingly. The president of M/PF YieldStar said: “They don’t have to think about and justify the rent. And they don’t…As you get more and more penetration and more people use revenue management, it’s just going to become the norm.”
And that’s not all. Some landlords are charging so many hidden fees and surcharges, they’re gonna make the credit card industry look like a charity. As the article says: “Application fees, administrative fees, credit-check fees, cleaning fees, move-in fees, surety bond fees, redecorating fees — all nonrefundable.”
A tenants’ advocate says: “It’s gotten really bad. In many instances there’s no accountability and they’re charging far more than their costs…You might actually pay $150 or $200 just for the privilege of moving in. There’s a fee for this, a fee for that. You get a fee for breathing.”
Or as Sam Kinison once bellowed out: “You’re lucky you’ve got air, ASSHOLE!”
And once you’ve moved in, the gouging continues: facility fees, storage fees, parking fees, utility-management fees or business-center fees...
A Houston property owner said: “Let's say you own a 10-unit apartment or a 1,000-unit apartment. If that apartment building is full, how do you make more money? You start by charging fees. These are all revenue enhancers, that’s what they are.”
Revenue enhancers. How quaint. This used to be called theft, gouging, and a bunch of less printable names.
cross-posted at Bring It On!