Is Rent Theft?

By: Jeffery S. Watson

Dear Anna,

For those of you who do not learn from history, you will repeat it. In 2016, a book titled Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, a progressive, pro-tenant publication, began circulating and influencing many of the news stories regarding housing being available in the United States.

Then came the Covid Eviction Moratorium, and out of fear, people became desensitized to the loss of property rights when a government agency was allowed to claim it had the legal right to interfere in private, contractual relationships and allow people to live in homes that were not their own for free. Believe it or not, some people are still trying to do that. All of this has spawned the “rent is theft” movement, and we are seeing more and more progressive publications talking about how landlords are greedy and tenants need to be protected from them.

You, as a landlord, have a couple of choices. You can read this, agree in part, and then just stick your head back in the sand thinking, “Well, that’s just the way it is. I can’t do anything about it.” Or, you can share your thoughts and insights with the editors of any publication that puts out those progressive ideas.

After speaking with many landlords and property managers, it’s become apparent that many of them have had to raise their rents in the last couple of years to keep pace with their ever-rising costs for property and casualty insurance (assuming they can purchase it) and the increasing demands of the real estate tax man. I see many landlords who are managing their properties for the purpose of making their debt service, buying insurance, and paying their taxes, and then having little to nothing left over. That doesn’t sound like something I’d sign up for if I were trying to achieve financial independence or escape being stuck to one geographic location or one specific source of income.

If we remain apathetic, it will continue to get worse. I’m currently doing my best to oppose and deny any sort of funding for the current Administration’s Renters Bill of Rights. To date, I have had some significant success, but it is only the beginning of what needs to be done. Here is what I suggest you do:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Administration’s Renters Bill of Rights.
  2. Keep an eye out for publications, news stories, etc., which paint landlords in an unfair and untrue position.
  3. Be ready, willing and able to respond. Perhaps a brief letter to the editor letting them know the real truth and how when a tenant damages your property and doesn’t pay rent for a couple of months, it puts you in a significant hole because you are now paying for someone else to live in your property for free while you still have to pay the real estate taxes and keep the property insured.

I have more information coming and will give you more actions steps that you can take, but now is the time to become aware of how well coordinated the attack is on landlords and their ability to own property and rent it to others.

Your comments and brief questions are appreciated. I read every one and will do my best to briefly respond. If you like this article, please feel free to share it on social media or otherwise and encourage your friends to go to to sign up so they can receive their own emails.

Until next time,

Jeffery S. Watson

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