Curse of the Ruling Class

The median price for a home in Orange County is somewhere around $485,000. While that’s good news for realtors and homeowners, it’s not such good news for prospective homebuyers. In fact, the increase, which shows no signs of slowing, may doom some to a life of rentals, should they choose to remain in the area. Additionally, interest rates continue to climb, further segregating a significant percent of the population.

It appears as though Orange County is on its way to offering housing only to the upper class. And the rest? The rest continue renting. What does it mean to be a renter — a tenant? A tenant lives in a structure that someone else owns — a landlord, a property owner.

So really, the tenant becomes a second class citizen, subject to the whims of the landlord. Some landlords may be just and fair, replacing carpets and upgrading the rental, but others will not.

Should a tenant choose to beautify the structure — plant some flowers, re-stain a deck, change a window screen — they run the risk of having their rent increased. The better the place looks, the higher the rent.

It’s understood, a tenant is renting — there will be no remodeling or structural modifications — but, nevertheless, should a tenant be punished for trying to improve their living environment? Additionally, improvements, such as carpet and painting, are decided upon by the landlord.

A property owner can examine the carpet or the paint and deem it impeccable, not in need of upgrade. And why? Because it’s not financially beneficial for a property owner to give tenants the same upgrades that they would give to themselves in their personal homes. Renting is about money, not people.

California law requires a Landlord to maintain a dwelling so as to keep it in a habitable condition. Habitable simply means keeping the structure free of substantial defects that affect health and safety. By that same law, cosmetic defects generally do not qualify as habitability items, thereby allowing a landlord to decide how a tenant will live.

Even though some landlords may genuinely care about their tenants wants and needs, and care about the lifestyle the tenants would like to live, a tenant remains a second class citizen.

People rent for different reasons, some by need and others by choice, and with the price of homes continually increasing, those in the “choice” category will diminish. While some people may think the rising property values will limit Orange County to an elite upper class, this is not true. To counter the rising prices, more apartments, more duplexes and other rentals will be erected.

Property owners will see dollar signs, not people. But then again, it’s never really been about people.


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