87 year-old Holocaust survivor faces eviction from Bay Area apartment
August 18, 2019 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Reason? “Desire to lease the unit at a higher rental rate” Musiy Rishin, 87, escaped Nazi bombs in Ukraine, re-settled in Uzbekistan, and fled political turmoil there in 1996, finally settling in Alameda. Now, a property management company wants him evicted so they can have higher-paying tenants in the goldmine that is the Bay Area housing market.
posted by stillmoving (91 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
“I’m not a monster,” said actual monster landlord, then proceeding to demonstrate their inhumanity.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:05 PM on August 18, 2019 [37 favorites]


How is "Would like more money" a legal eviction reason? I don't doubt that it is, otherwise I'm quite sure she'd do what landlords here do, and either renovict, or temporarily move in a family member for the minimum legal time, but I'm really surprised (I'm not sure why) that it's allowable.

Either way, the list of "there's nothing I can do" excuses is appalling. Sure, it's not legally her job to subsidise his rent, but on a building with a single rent controlled tenant it's hard not to see this as anything other than greed and callousness
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:16 PM on August 18, 2019 [11 favorites]


The landlord is indeed a monster. But fuck the politicians who allow this to happen -- renters deserve basic protections.
posted by dobbs at 12:17 PM on August 18, 2019 [16 favorites]




said we're doubling the rent 'cause the building's condemmened you're gonna help me buy city hall

We can! You know we can!
posted by Frowner at 12:24 PM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


what if landlords are bad?
posted by Reyturner at 12:47 PM on August 18, 2019 [13 favorites]


How is "Would like more money" a legal eviction reason?

The Good Cause eviction law would’ve reformed this in New York so “wanting more money” couldn’t be a legal reason and put the requirements for eviction much higher.

It was the only one of the rent reform bills that didn’t pass this summer.
posted by The Whelk at 12:56 PM on August 18, 2019 [11 favorites]


Am I wrong to be annoyed by the "perfect victim" framing of this story? It would be just as bad if it wasn't an elderly holocaust survivor with a dead son.

“I’m not a monster,” said Tam, who is based in Arizona. “I’m not a greedy landlord, but I do want to make money when I’m legally able to.”

Asked why she pursued the eviction while Yaroslav was dying, she responded, “Because somebody’s sick, do you get free rent? We have to do what we have to do.”

She said she could renovate and make significantly more money from his unit, argued that she has no obligation to keep him there, and that Musiy should go live with his daughter: “It’s a sad story. I cannot help him


Is this not enough for people to understand who the bad guy is?
posted by Reyturner at 12:57 PM on August 18, 2019 [47 favorites]


The article mentions that the Guardian had an extended interview with one of the landlords. Can you imagine a major international newspaper interviewing you (as an otherwise anonymous non-public figure) about something you almost certainly are going to look like a complete asshole in, and you not deciding to back down or come up quickly with some conciliatory offer?

Assuming there isn’t some massively mitigating factor the article doesn’t mention, that takes a super special type of “no fucks to give” asshole, or someone with a complete lack of understanding on the fountain of shit they about to bring down on their themselves.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:00 PM on August 18, 2019 [32 favorites]


The landlord isn't a monster, she says, she just wants to charge what the market can bear. We know that the market allocates resources efficiently, so if the market can bear what some people can't, there's just nothing to be done. It's nobody's fault. Some of us just aren't worth the space we occupy.

People made this system, but now that it's made, we just have to sit back and let it make decisions for us.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 1:02 PM on August 18, 2019 [52 favorites]


It's always been legal to discriminate against poor people.
That's why capitalism is bad.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2019 [15 favorites]



Am I wrong to be annoyed by the "perfect victim" framing of this story?

Yes. It helps prevent readers from retreating into their just-world fallacies, and it's an effective way to grab attention for the wider issue.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:43 PM on August 18, 2019 [41 favorites]


Also, the negative attention might make the next landlord think twice if the tenant is particularly sympathetic. That is probably a step in the right direction, even if we obviously would prefer that the landlord have no choice but to be decent.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:46 PM on August 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


Christ, what an ...


Eh, just the usual.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:01 PM on August 18, 2019


If Evil Landlord rents to Tenant A for $2000 a month on a two-year lease and Tenant A pays the rent and abides by the lease, Evil Landlord has to keep Tenant A for the full term of the lease. This is the case even if the New Amazon Headquarters magically wound up in the town and rents tripled, like, in a month and Evil Landlord could now totally get $6000 a month for Tenant A's apartment if Tenant A were just... out of the apartment. As long as the lease has term to run, if Tenant A keeps paying the lease and keeps abiding by the other provisions of the lease, there is absolutely no way for Evil Landlord to get Tenant A out.

This is the protection afforded to Tenant A by a term lease.

However, almost all leases have a fixed term, whether it's six months or a year or two years or five years. Once the fixed term of the lease is up, then (typically) the lease has a provision to revert to a month-to-month agreement that either party can terminate with 30 days written notice. Due to inertia or lack of comprehension or whatever, many tenants are living (knowingly or unknowingly) in the month-to-month provision of their original lease. When this happens, THEY LACK THE PROTECTION OF A TERM LEASE even if they are unaware that they lack said protection.

It is not currently illegal to have leases default to month-to-month after the running of the term. Maybe it should be. Maybe everyone renting an apartment should move in with the expectation of moving at the end of the lease, especially if they fail to negotiate a new term lease before the expiration of the old one. But, right now, the system is built so that a lot of people wind up renting under a month-to-month framework where they have very little (legal) expectation of stability.

So, once Tenant A's two-year lease has run its course and it's in the month-to-month provision, Evil Landlord can say "Look, Tenant A, you've been a model tenant for the last two years but honestly apartments are WAY UP since Amazon moved to town. Can you afford a rent hike to $6000 a month, which is what the market will bear for a unit like this one? No? Okay, then feel free to list me as a reference, I will give you a glowing report, you've been a model tenant. Here is your thirty day written notice, please move out so that I can re-rent the apartment for $4000 a month more than you can pay me."

At that point, Tenant A doesn't have a whole lot they can do about the situation. The term of the lease has expired. The lease is in a month-to-month provision, where all that is needed to end the lease is 30 days written notice. And, if Tenant A refuses to move out and tries to stay in the apartment at the old rent, then Evil Landlord is allowed to pursue eviction proceedings because Tenant A has changed from being a Legal Tenant Under The Term of The Lease to being a HOLDOVER tenant, one who has failed to leave after the lease has been terminated in writing.

This is currently legal. A lot of people who are living in this particular set of circumstances DO NOT KNOW that they are living in these circumstances nor do they understand how little protection these circumstances give them from being thirty days away from having to move at the landlord's whim (or desire for profit).

The article lacked a certain amount of clarity on the landlord-tenant front but hammered pretty hard on the emotions of the reader. Unfortunately, landlord-tenant law does not have provisions for "holocaust survivor" or "dying son" any more than (for examples) one's car payment has a provision for "holocaust survivor" or one's grocery bill has a provision for "dying son". While emotionally compelling, the life circumstances of the tenant, the health of his son, and similar things have absolutely no legal bearing on his rights as a tenant or the strength of his claim to not-be-evicted.

If this is not a workable state of affairs for you, I urge you to lobby your congressional representatives to revise the landlord-tenant laws in your area and/or nationwide. Depending on negative media attention to make landlords "think twice" about being decent is not really gonna get it done when landlords operate in an extremely fragmented and not-particularly-public market.
posted by which_chick at 2:02 PM on August 18, 2019 [18 favorites]


I am so enraged at the California legislature right now. We had a raft of housing bills at the beginning of this legislative session: from upzoning bills to allow a greater number of homes per lot, to rent caps, to tenant protections, to a rental registry (the tool we'd need to enforce tenant protections), and the majority of these bills are deferred, dying or already dead. Not to mention all the bills we need that didn't even get proposed (for example robust funding for public transit as the housing crisis has forced people into distant exurbs and hours-long commutes, or restrictions of new construction in fire zones, let alone anything bold and creative like a social housing funding pilot). Gavin Newsom our (slimy but Democratic) governor who ran on addressing the housing crisis has done zero to champion housing legislation in real terms - a likely pre-requisite for getting the more controversial bills through.

Tenant protections are not an easy thing to pass in our legislature (1/4 of them are landlords themselves!) and upzoning is not popular among already land-owning boomers who hold the power, but come on people, fucking do something.

If this was the only issue that my legislature was pathetic about, that would be one thing, but we have a Democratic super-majority, a Democratic governor and a historic budget surplus and literally NOTHING bold has passed our legislature this year. No single payer (which was at least proposed last session), no California Green New Deal. Fuck these people.
posted by latkes at 2:22 PM on August 18, 2019 [32 favorites]


OHhh, multiple Edward G. Robinson dolls prancing in the landlord dreams:

WHERE'S YOUR GOD NOW.

Having served various court documents, evictions i would not do, attempted to do one and gladly declined the 50$ after I saw a family of five.
posted by clavdivs at 2:44 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


The article lacked a certain amount of clarity on the landlord-tenant front but hammered pretty hard on the emotions of the reader. Unfortunately, landlord-tenant law does not have provisions for "holocaust survivor" or "dying son" any more than (for examples) one's car payment has a provision for "holocaust survivor" or one's grocery bill has a provision for "dying son". While emotionally compelling, the life circumstances of the tenant, the health of his son, and similar things have absolutely no legal bearing on his rights as a tenant or the strength of his claim to not-be-evicted.

The law is not coterminal with our moral sense. Nor should it be coterminal with our desire to shame those who misuse their resources and fail to express human decency.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:50 PM on August 18, 2019 [21 favorites]


The fact that the law does not protect elderly holocaust survivors is a good indication that we should be changing the law. That's why anecdotes are helpful in envisioning better policy.
posted by latkes at 2:57 PM on August 18, 2019 [19 favorites]


which_chick: "Once the fixed term of the lease is up, then (typically) the lease has a provision to revert to a month-to-month agreement that either party can terminate with 30 days written notice. Due to inertia or lack of comprehension or whatever, many tenants are living (knowingly or unknowingly) in the month-to-month provision of their original lease. When this happens, THEY LACK THE PROTECTION OF A TERM LEASE even if they are unaware that they lack said protection. It is not currently illegal to have leases default to month-to-month after the running of the term. Maybe it should be."

Yikes, that's not how transitioning to month-to-month at the end of a fixed term lease works where I live (Ontario, Canada).

Here, once you're on month-to-month your landlord can't evict you unless it's a) for cause (eg. failing to pay rent, damaging the unit, disturbing other tenants, illegal activity in unit), b) the landlord is doing renovations (that require a permit) that can't be done while the unit is occupied*, c) the landlord or an immediate family member is moving in to the unit, or d) the unit is being sold and the new landlord or immediate family member will be moving in to the unit. And there can be fines if a tenant is evicted for renovations or landlord occupancy and the renovations or occupancy don't happen. It's still prone to abuse, but it's sure a heck of a lot better than the no-holds-barred 30-days-notice craziness you've described. Wow.

* In many circumstances the tenant is supposed to have right of first refusal on the unit once the renovations are completed, with the same rent as before.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 3:03 PM on August 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


Secret Sparrow, where I live, that's often referred to as "Just Cause Eviction," and some cities in California (and maybe other US states IDK about that) have it, like Oakland, but most do not.
posted by salvia at 3:31 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Yikes, Secret Sparrow, that sounds pretty shitty. What's the point of calling it month-to-month if there's no way to dislodge someone? Seems like a raw deal for the landlords.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:37 PM on August 18, 2019


At the state level, California (where the subject of this post lives) requires 60 days notice if the tenant has been living there over a year. Otherwise it is much as which_chick describes.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:38 PM on August 18, 2019


I'm not greedy, I just want more money at other people's expense.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:40 PM on August 18, 2019 [10 favorites]


Hal, why dislodge a good tenant who pays their rent, takes care of the unit and doesn't disturb the neighbours? It's month-to-month* for the tenant, who isn't locked in to a fixed term lease.

* 60 days notice to terminate, I believe.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 3:44 PM on August 18, 2019 [9 favorites]


The rate at which Bay Area rents have gone up is insane. It's fast enough that I and all my neighbors saw our landlord trying to illegally raise our rents beyond rent control limits, because he was (in one sense) losing money on keeping us as tenants vs. getting new tenants on new leases. Of course, I found out after I left that the whole building will be razed and turned into luxury condos next year anyway. Guess we were lucky to be there while we could!

I think the "sympathetic Holocaust survivor" angle is good, because this is the kind of shit that's been happening to pretty much everyone I know in the Bay Area, and nothing changes. Maybe an extreme example like this (shamelessly throwing an old man on the street for no other reason than greed) will better illustrate for the broader public how fucked up Bay Area housing is. I wouldn't count on it, though; for all the area's professed progressivism, I still see a lot of shrugging from homeowners there.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:50 PM on August 18, 2019 [9 favorites]


Yikes, Secret Sparrow, that sounds pretty shitty. What's the point of calling it month-to-month if there's no way to dislodge someone? Seems like a raw deal for the landlords.

If the lease was worthwhile for the landlord going in then they'll still be doing fine when the term becomes month to month. Once the tenant has moved out the landlord is free to increase the rent as high as they want for the next tenant.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:51 PM on August 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm a small-time landlord in Ontario -- because I didn't know if my move to Ottawa would be permanent, I rented out my condo in Toronto instead of selling it -- and the rental protections here are causing me a fair number of problems because now I do want to sell my home. I also know other Ontario landlords who have some difficulties as a result of the tenant protections.

That said, this is really only because I'm not property developer who owns a bunch of apartments and so I'm more personally affected and don't have a lot of flexibility in how I can deal with things. It's not just one unit among many for me, it's my entire life savings being caught up by the regulations. I fully support the protections that exist in Ontario, I just wish there were more exceptions for non-corporate landlords who only have one rental unit.

Ontario allows only limited increases in rent during the lifetime of a tenancy, but they can be increased at will between tenants, so strong anti-eviction regulations are required to keep landlords from simply evicting tenants in order to raise rents, contrary to the rate protections that exist.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:42 PM on August 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Seems like a raw deal for the landlords.

Good.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:37 PM on August 18, 2019 [32 favorites]


If this is not a workable state of affairs for you, I urge you to lobby your congressional representatives to revise the landlord-tenant laws in your area and/or nationwide....

Yes, lobby away re revising landlord-tenant laws, since apparently the current situation exists because no one has ever tried this approach.

In the meantime, do what you gotta do, including bringing negative media attention to make landlords "think twice" about being decent.
posted by she's not there at 5:42 PM on August 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


if this landlord truly believes what she's doing is fair I hope she's at the mercy of someone with the same ideals as her some day. I feel like if you're a Bay Area landlord and you're not already making such a fucking wild killing that a couple hundred bucks from a sick and dying family is going to make a difference then you might as well give up like what are you even doing out here I dunno.
posted by bleep at 5:43 PM on August 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


It's not just one unit among many for me, it's my entire life savings being caught up by the regulations. I fully support the protections that exist in Ontario, I just wish there were more exceptions for non-corporate landlords who only have one rental unit.

Hey, so, I'm a lifelong renter. I doubt I will ever own property, even in a rural, LCOL area. I do understand how people who rent out properties they own have a lot going on as well, especially if they're not big corporate owners. It sounds like you are feeling a pinch and worry that those of us in tighter financial circumstances without the ability to buy/sell property experience as more immediately dire and potentially life-threatening.

I'm middle-aged, and my life savings are like, 10k Canadian, if I liquidated everything, and I'm doing a lot better than most people--even a lot of people in the Toronto area. I mean, I'm not going to knock you for having more value in your life savings than that, because I hope you don't feel that sort of precarity in your life.

Still, given the topic of this thread, I would like you to get a feel for at least one reader who is coming from a different set of perspectives than you, and put real numbers down for you to read.
posted by Laetiporus at 5:56 PM on August 18, 2019 [11 favorites]


I mean if you want to put yourself out there as a business person why can't we say if you're not good enough at this to make a profit while meeting some basic standards then maybe you're just not good enough at it. If you don't think people are entitled to shelter why do you think you're entitled to do something you're not good enough at for a living?
posted by bleep at 5:58 PM on August 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


Yikes, Secret Sparrow, that sounds pretty shitty. What's the point of calling it month-to-month if there's no way to dislodge someone? Seems like a raw deal for the landlords.

It's month to month for the tenant (or the landlord if they have one of the allowed eviction routes). BC has all that plus a cap on annual rent increases (one increase annually only) to a specified rate linked to inflation.

It should be very difficult to evict someone from their home without cause. A place which determines where their kids go to school. A place they probably chose because of proximity to work or vice versa. A place where they will have choosen a close doctor, dentist, insurance agent, community centre, and/or church.

Unregulated landlords have absolutely all the power. As a sometimes landlord and sometimes renter I have absolutely zip sympathy for actual rent seekers. Don't like it? Invest in something else; these rules have been in place for decades. I'm radical enough that I think the province should be able to defacto set rental rates by owning and managing sufficient rental stock that government housing would always be an option effectively setting a cap on month rents. It would help out single home owners as well.
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 PM on August 18, 2019 [26 favorites]


Claims to be a 'liberal' 'progressive' city. Nice courts there; pfff.
posted by buzzman at 7:29 PM on August 18, 2019


Last month, I was about to get evicted even though I had paid rent on time every month for three years. I lived in a college town where all the leases end July 31st and start August 1st (although in practice a lot of tenants have to couch-surf a couple of days in the transition); when I graduated I was sure I'd have a job by then, but it kept not happening. And that's the alternative I was up against: sign a new 12-month lease (which I wasn't about to do because I knew I wouldn't find a local librarian job) or get evicted. I pleaded for them to make an exception. I cried in their office.

I got a job offer on July 18th, which was cutting it waaaaay too close for my own comfort.

Anyway, just-cause eviction laws look pretty good from where I'm standing.
posted by Jeanne at 8:25 PM on August 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


is it ethical to be a landlord.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:04 PM on August 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


Claims to be a 'liberal' 'progressive' city. Nice courts there; pfff.

This is the Bay Area in its essence. You have a history of a few pockets of real progressive activism and then an overwhelming majority of some of the most self-obsessed people on earth with “save the planet, eat organic” stickers on their Porsche Cayennes buzzing cyclists when they run red lights who think that they’re not part of the oppressive machinery of capital because they bought their house in Berkeley in the 70s. No joke, I ended being talked at by a white guy at a bar one time who is a landlord in Berkeley, who had been homeless earlier in his life (take that as you will given what’s coming) who was ranting about Las Vegas shipping their “trash” here, by which he meant that the city was purchasing homeless people there bus tickets to the Bay Area. I don’t get the sense that that’s an uncommon ideological trajectory here, considering that Libby Schaff is still mayor of Oakland.
posted by invitapriore at 9:14 PM on August 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yikes, Secret Sparrow, that sounds pretty shitty. What's the point of calling it month-to-month if there's no way to dislodge someone? Seems like a raw deal for the landlords.

Why should you be able to dislodge someone without cause?

I live in Ontario as well. I've lived in the same loft for 14 years and my rent goes up about 2.9 percent every January (the maximum allowed by law). However, when a tenant leaves voluntarily, the landlord may raise the rent to whatever they wish, and in fact there are people in smaller units in my building paying a third more than me and tenants in the same size unit as mine paying more than double.

But unless I fail to pay my rent, or do something else that betrays the landlord-tenant act laid out by the government, I'll be here 'til I die or decide to leave. My landlord deciding she wants more money is not a justifiable reason for putting me on the street.

Laws like this are possible and citizens should do what they can to get them passed.
posted by dobbs at 9:18 PM on August 18, 2019 [26 favorites]


I am the Lord. This is my Land. I am the Land-Lord. Bow down before me or suffer my Wrath. Hey, you knew you were going to this place called America before you chose to be born here, right? Isn't that what y'all Bay Area people believe? As your Lord I have to say, "Shut up and grovel already!" And begone by the First of September, which appropriately falls on the Lord's day this year.
posted by kozad at 9:19 PM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Do you want to make more money? Sure, we all do!

But that doesn't mean you got to be all evil about it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:58 PM on August 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Laws like this are possible and citizens should do what they can to get them passed.

The bizarre thing is that the City of Alameda does appear to have a Just Cause Eviction and rent control ordinance. I wish the article had addressed this.
posted by salvia at 11:22 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


IIRC, the fine for violating the eviction is not high enough to stop landlords from evicting anyway. It’s seen as the cost of doing business.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:55 PM on August 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


@ which_chick ‘If this is not a workable state of affairs for you, I urge you to lobby your congressional representatives to revise the landlord-tenant laws in your area and/or nationwide.’

Spoken like a lawyer and politician. I’m certainly not a radical anti-government but case, but I think your speaking of the normative and general case. This article is speaking not just about the ‘particular’ case, which is often used as a tactic to generate confusion in the general case. No. This is an extraordinary case. It’s a plea for compassion for this man, who is a living witness to genocide. And if such a human being can find no compassionate relief, what hope do any of us have?

I understand the point—don’t be surprised, but you too could be on your arse right quick, because your lease could be month to month. Month to month, year to year. What’s the difference? Not like the renter’s market in SF Bay Area is going to cool off in 1,3 or 5 years. The market will still be high. Even if it’s cooling off, rent will be too damn high. There would need to be an extraordinary level of vacancy before a renter could leave one place and pick up elsewhere, and not have to move further from the Bay, or face grossly high monthly rent.
posted by xtian at 4:01 AM on August 19, 2019


Is anyone getting together some campaign to pressure this particular landlord? I know there are a lot of emergencies out there, but this is the one in front of us. If there's a phone zap or something, I would want to know.
posted by Frowner at 5:48 AM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Shit. I live in Alameda. I've also been a renter in the Bay Area. This is shameful and typical of landlord behavior in the Bay Area.

The Dunes already had some bad Yelp reviews before this news broke.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:21 AM on August 19, 2019


As much as I hate to say this, or feel that it should be otherwise in some magical utopian world, being a Holocaust survivor does not guarantee you housing.

The Tams are douchebags who lack even a shred of empathy. I'm pretty sure they're equal opportunity douchebags. They'd be douchebags whether or not the tenant was a Holocaust survivor, or anyone else. They should really be raked over the coals for harassing a terminally ill man. The one silver lining of this story is that whenever they go to a cocktail party and tell the people they're having a conversation with "I'm the landlord for _______," they'll say, "Oh... you're the douchebags that evicted the elderly Holocaust survivor and drove his terminally ill son to an early grave!"

May this article be the top of the search results whenever someone googles the names of Margaret Tam and Spencer Tam.
posted by prepmonkey at 7:44 AM on August 19, 2019


>Asked why she pursued the eviction while Yaroslav was dying, she responded, “Because somebody’s sick, do you get free rent? We have to do what we have to do.”

You can tell when someone's chosen to be a Capitalist over being a Human. Of course if someone is sick they should get free rent, we should bend over backwards to ensure every single person is housed regardless of whether they are a billionaire who "works" or whether they are too poor to not live in the streets -- and everyone, EVERYONE in between.

Had I my way, it would be illegal to be a landlord.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:54 AM on August 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


Had I my way, it would be illegal to be a landlord.

Leaving aside the grotesque injustice of this particular case, there really isn't a very good case for landlords.

I mean really, I would much prefer a society where it's all smallholdings, the nonprofit land-trust kinds of co-ops and state-owned and everyone has a guaranteed right to decent housing. I own a house - an old, cheap house, and I was lucky to get it - and it's a fucking hassle. It's like the tax system and the medical system, something which could be run very simply and decently which the profit motive turns into a complicated morass - and of course, small landlords who try not to be terrible are still pressured to be terrible, because after all they have to make a living in a ruthless system.

A friend of mine lives in a very small condo in a very small building. It's not fancy, but the building tends to skew social-justice-y and while there's a little bit of board drama it's a decent place to live. There's no reason most housing couldn't be run the same way, with enough local control for it not to be faceless and soulless but no big profit motive. A strong social safety net or just some kind of "the state guarantees housing but it's run in a devolved, local way" situation would make sure that no one gets kicked out.

We're not in the position of the USSR in 1920, coming off of a devastating war, a peripheral economy with a housing shortage, etc. This is a rich country with more real estate than we actually need. There's no reason that we can't have good housing for everyone.
posted by Frowner at 8:07 AM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


is it ethical to be a landlord

The Tams are douchebags who lack even a shred of empathy...They should really be raked over the coals for harassing a terminally ill man

>>>Disclaimer, landlord

(1) I agree with the first half of prepmonkey's comment
(2) The second half of his comment sounds kinda medieval. My probably unpopular opinion is that we're getting a little too comfortable on mefi invoking past practices of torture and capital punishment. We shouldn't become the worst shades of our class enemies, right?
(3) Connecting the 2nd cite above to the first, do people here consider this from the anecdotal perspective or the systemic one? I hear enough of the latter that I'm going to say that we should absolutely address issues of systemic injustice and take steps, but what are those steps? If you haven't looked into how well public housing might serve here, I warm you that it's actually a fascinating, but also deeply problematic option. This is what they call a 'hard problem'.

(4) Given the current set of laws and the capitalist property rights regime we're in, I, as a landlord, would be upset and feel wronged if The Guardian and maybe a digital mob came after me for legally operating as a landlord.

Sure, but that just proves I'm being a 'capitalist over being a human being'. Where does it begin/end? What if Musiy is just some bloke, and I'm trying to capture market rates to get medical care for my child? Did the reporter bother to find out? Are the legal rights of landlords voided in the courts of public opinion simply because they're the owner class? If so, does that extend to anyone who owns stock? ...Or anyone who's 401k does?

"Morning, boys, how's the water?"

So much of our discontent across any number of issues come from being immersed in this system, but the line taken in the story above doesn't seem like it's really looking for a solution. Maybe the Tams are shitty landlords on top of being unempathetic, but that's just still not a good enough reason for me to go after them.

I'd direct at least as much ire at the centrist dems in CA. They at least have the power to enact change and don't.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:13 AM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Community Land Trusts and residency requirements could do a lot to squash this insane speculation bubble where landlords want a rate of return that the average commodity broker would kill their own pets to get.


But at the last crash, when we could’ve fixed this cause the government temporarily owned all the underwater mortgages, rather then void the debt and sell them to the owners at greatly reduced rates (or convert s bulk of them to public housing) they ....sold them off to private equity funds like Blackrock who turned them all into rental units so they can just keep pumping our profit cause you need a house to life. It’s pretty low on the Maslow pyramid of needs, you know?

My current fear/prediction is that in the near future a lot of us will be taking in formerly “secure” parents and grandparents (or move in with other family members) cause they won’t be able to sell their house to fund their retirement , indeed no one will ever retire ever again, they’ll just be unemployed. The majority of people under 40 have not recovered from the last recession, and any gains will be wiped out but the next one. Even people who paid off thier homes might not be able to make tax payments if they lose a source of income. Houses will sit empty while we double up in bedrooms and there will be (as we saw in the U.K.) a sharp, sharp spike in elderly poverty.
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 AM on August 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


Anyway, people die because of a lack of stable housing and many more re going to die because of people like Tam.
posted by The Whelk at 8:34 AM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Social housing is fraught in the US because its often been designed to isolate the recipients away from the "good people" (plus TAXES!!!!! and all the morality plays that happen with any government program for poor people). There are other models such as the British or Hong Kong systems (not without it's problems but much better than projects or Section 8).

Cribbing heavily from Wikipedia: half of Hong Kong residents live in social housing. Indonesia since 2015 is building one million units of social housing annually with 70% dedicated to low income residents. This is something that the 11th richest country on earth should be able to manage much better.
posted by Mitheral at 8:41 AM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


The most insidious thing about the commodification of shelter and home ownership being the defacto method of building generational wealth is that it allows the moral calculus of exposing people to the elements (and the threat of the same) to be clouded in a way that allowing people to starve or die of preventable diseases or go without education is not.
posted by Reyturner at 8:45 AM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


The generational wealth that exists, the kind that was built up in the post war period, is going to vanish for all but a very small minority of people in the next decade, completing the project to undo the 20th century.
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 AM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Reasonably Everything Happens: The second half of his comment ["They should really be raked over the coals for harassing a terminally ill man"] sounds kinda medieval. My probably unpopular opinion is that we're getting a little too comfortable on mefi invoking past practices of torture and capital punishment. We shouldn't become the worst shades of our class enemies, right?

"Rake over the coals" is a common English language idiom; it just means to reprimand, rebuke or scold someone. No actual desire for medieval torture is implied.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 9:09 AM on August 19, 2019 [14 favorites]


To give some context:

The first letter on 14 August 2018 said the landlords, Margaret Tam and her son Spencer Tam, would be increasing their rent by nearly $700 (from $2,520 to $3200).

I guess it's expected that the rents would be insane from bay area prices, but my sympathy is a lot less for people who can afford to pay $2,520 a month to live anywhere.
posted by Veritron at 10:58 AM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


If this is not a workable state of affairs for you, I urge you to lobby your congressional representatives to revise the landlord-tenant laws in your area and/or nationwide.

Under current California state law, revising the landlord-tenant laws as you suggest is not possible.
posted by Lexica at 11:02 AM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Veritron: I guess it's expected that the rents would be insane from bay area prices, but my sympathy is a lot less for people who can afford to pay $2,520 a month to live anywhere.

A.) He’s Section 8, which means his rent is subsidized. That’s a big part of the reason the landlord wants to get rid of him, because landlords don’t like dealing with Section 8 tenants if they don’t have to.

B.) If you don’t live in the Bay Area and don’t have to live with the realities of this market, bringing in your expectations of what rent should cost isn’t useful, especially when it comes to judging how “sympathetic” someone should be. I rented a two-bedroom apartment in north San Jose for $1850 a month from 2009 to 2012. We left when the rent went up to $2100. Today, that apartment rents for $3300 - and that’s actually not the most expensive at all for comparable units in the area.

Getting another apartment for less than $2300 a month anywhere near Alameda that will accept Section 8? Enjoy your waiting list, which will most likely be longer than the man has left on Earth. It’s obscene, but saying “fuck it” and just up and moving your entire existence to another state isn’t exactly free, either. And at 87 years old? Crap, I feel old and tired just thinking about moving again, and I’m less than half his age.
posted by Meghamora at 11:40 AM on August 19, 2019 [8 favorites]


I'm in the prime of youth, health, and employment and I still am not materially able to get out of the Bay Area because it's incredibly difficult and expensive, so excuse me if I don't give a fuck if you don't find an ill, elderly survivor of genocide sympathetic just because they were previously managing to get by, Jesus Christ.
posted by bleep at 11:43 AM on August 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


(4) Given the current set of laws and the capitalist property rights regime we're in, I, as a landlord, would be upset and feel wronged if The Guardian and maybe a digital mob came after me for legally operating as a landlord.

Is this how you would like to be treated when you're old and out of options? If so then I guess you're free to think this is fine.
posted by bleep at 11:47 AM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think in more sensible times this landlord would be stripped of all property rights and put at the same station as those she's fine tormenting. What's good for the goose and all that.

Though the same could be said of any American who earns passive income from property. Property investments in the U.S. are theft, or the continued laundering of said theft (elsewhere also, for sure, but in the U.S. without debate). Articles like this just highlight the moral repugnance of the launderers.

Deferring to laws for guidance is looking at shared agreements made by landowners (read: thieves, murderers, and complicit launderers). They were bad people from the start. Not a good place to discern right/wrong.
posted by avalonian at 12:17 PM on August 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


(4) Given the current set of laws and the capitalist property rights regime we're in, I, as a landlord, would be upset and feel wronged if The Guardian and maybe a digital mob came after me for legally operating as a landlord.

Well, you would be wrong for feeling that way. Protecting the vulnerable from those with power over them is one of the best possible uses of shame and social punishment. "It's legal" is not a moral argument. Nor is it a total exception from social norms. If it bothers you that people have strong feelings about housing, you know, a human necessity, then go invest in something else.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:28 PM on August 19, 2019 [14 favorites]


Really, every time a landlord complains that they might be expected to consider the needs of the people who pay their bills, I wonder why they got into a business where they are so directly responsible for the well-being of others. It's sort of like a doctor complaining that their patients get sick at night, or a lawyer complaining that they have to wear a suit when they go to court.

The reason you, as a landlord, make money is because the state will literally use people with guns to support your ability to make money off of your ownership of a human necessity. This means that you have an incredible amount of power over your tenants. You thereby are able to extract a good chunk of cash from them, likely earned by their labor, meaning that they dedicate a large number of their waking hours to your profit. Again, they must do this because if they don't, eventually people with guns will render them homeless.

Given that you have all that power, to then complain that you might be expected to feel even the tiniest twinge of moral concern because, after all, the legal system is 100% on your side so it's unfair that you should take anything else into account is...it's borderline sociopathic, to tell you the truth. It's ass-backwards. When the legal system is on your side; when you have more resources; and when you will ultimately win any given conflict, you should care even more about being fair, not less!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:41 PM on August 19, 2019 [19 favorites]


Am I wrong to be annoyed by the "perfect victim" framing of this story? It would be just as bad if it wasn't an elderly holocaust survivor with a dead son.

Ah but you see in American there has to be some sort of reason to not treat someone terribly. If you can't come up with some sort of Kickstarter style charitable-funding social media type appeal then you are not worthy of.....well anything.

In America you cannot have decent social programs because ordinary everyday people are treated like shit. And if ordinary people are treated like shit why should anyone else be treated better than shit?

And thus we become a monstrous society filled with petty monsters who feel justified doing monstrous stuff.
posted by srboisvert at 2:01 PM on August 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


“Median rent in BK hit $3000 a month in July, a new record. $3500 in Manhattan.” - WSJ
posted by The Whelk at 3:39 PM on August 19, 2019


I moved to Alameda in 1999 and paid $800/mo for a huge (600ish) studio apartment; the one-bedroom in the place was too rich for my blood at $950/mo. It's mindblowing to see what that same apartment goes for now -- $1900/mo. Rent for that place has literally doubled while the average household income has not kept pace . In fact, it's dropped -- the average household income for Alameda in 2000 was $89,700 and now it's $89,000 (when adjusted for inflation).

The island is undergoing a massive culture shift, has been since the last real estate upswing, as more people get priced out of rentals and a growing number of people renting property on the island don't live here. We had a fairly anti-renter mayor until very recently, and our city council is only now beefing up tenant protections. The Alameda Renters Coalition remains extremely active and committed to change.

What's been discomfiting is hearing neighbors say, "That man's had a Bay view for free for years." These are the same people who resent "newcomers" pricing their kids out of the housing market. It's chilling to realize how many people I share a zip code with have the attitude, "Privilege for me, but not for thee."
posted by sobell at 4:05 PM on August 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


A distinction needs to be drawn between massive companies with tens of buildings and hundreds of units vs "renting out the bungalow my mum left me". And man oh man, some renters can be destructive assholes. But speculation in the form of real-estate investments is not a God-given right which outweighs the basic survival needs of millions of people, and currently the people in charge of society are protecting the former to the detriment of the latter, which is wrong, period.

"I'm not a greedy landlord, but I do want to make money when I'm legally able to." Cry me a goddamn river. Sure, charge what the market will bear, but don't expect us to pretend that you're selflessly providing some sort of public service while you're at it.
posted by peakes at 4:24 PM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Under current California state law, revising the landlord-tenant laws as you suggest is not possible.

That just means any law making has to be at the State level. Technically not impossible (politically no idea) just different players.
posted by Mitheral at 4:30 PM on August 19, 2019


Almost everyone I know says Alameda is the Ohio of the Bay Area. It skews corporate-conservative compared to the rest of the region.

The article doesn't even hint at (because the landlord may have been too cagey to mention) whether they want to evict the Section 8 tenant to convert one or more units to Airbnb rentals rather than leases.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 6:04 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]




We bought our 1,004-square-foot Alameda Craftsman house in 2009 for $500,000. If you had me when I was younger I'd be living in a half-million dollar house one day, I'd picture more of a Scrooge McDuck lifestyle. Our house would sell for considerably more than that now, but we couldn't afford to buy another house in Alameda, which is the only place in the Bay Area we could afford that has decent schools.

Almost everyone I know says Alameda is the Ohio of the Bay Area.

That's not true. Everyone knows Ohio is round at the ends and high in the middle, and Alameda is flat.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:46 PM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


“Sorry Luke, just doin’ my job. Y’ gotta appreciate that.”

“Callin’ it your job don’t make it right, boss.”
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:12 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Almost everyone I know says Alameda is the Ohio of the Bay Area. It skews corporate-conservative compared to the rest of the region.

I’ve always heard “Mayberry by the Bay.” Not in a flattering way. But it’s changing — thank you, punk rockers. What’s been novel is having not one, but two, different sets of neighbors move away because the island has gotten too queer and too diverse. (The things white people will admit to other white people ...) Good riddance, says I.
posted by sobell at 8:28 PM on August 19, 2019


> Mayberry by the Bay.

cop island.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:29 PM on August 19, 2019


My Fellow Californians:

There is something you can do tomorrow morning to help get us more affordable and subsidized housing across the state!

Call your state rep - or the geographically closest state rep who has not yet put in their vote on ACA-1 and ask them to VOTE YES.

Right now California has a shitty, racist law called Article 34 that requires a super majority vote for local municipalities to build subsidized housing. Crazy, right? ACA-1 will lower the threshold to a 55% vote. Pressure your reps to vote yes on this tomorrow! We need 8 more YES votes for it to pass.

(If you are mad in this thread and you live here, please do this little thing!)
posted by latkes at 9:29 PM on August 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


(The measure did not pass today but if the sponsor hears there are enough yes votes that it could pass it can come back in September before the end of the session so make those calls!)
posted by latkes at 9:41 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure that outrage at the landlord will improve things.
Maybe on a small scale, if the landlord can be shamed into backing down. Or if other landlords think twice about behaving like shitty assholes out of fear of being shamed publicly.

But really, is this how you want the system to work? That your best shot at tenant protection is by shaming landlords?

I mean, rent was raised by 700$ or so and then an eviction notice given on the grounds that the landlord wants to make more money. How is that even legal? (Note: If it isn't, then the article is a big nothingburger, because Mr. Rishin can stay where he is and everybody can calm down.)

So, rather than directing the outrage at the landlord, it should be directed at those who enabled such shitty laws and failed to enact tenant protection.

Just for comparison, other countries have rules on how much rent can be raised for per year (sometimes coupled to objective standards like inflation), or on what grounds you can evict people (hint: usually not just to make more money). This is called REGULATION. Keep that in mind whenever someone calls for DEREGULATION. It usually means a call for being able to treat other people like shit.

I'm also ambivalent about the holocaust survivor and being sick angle. I even think that the landlord had a teeny, tiny bit of a point when she asked why she should be required to give a tenant a free pass just because he's really sick. Think of the consequences: If landlords are required to give sick or old people a free pass, it means that it's riskier to rent a place to sick or old people. This, in turn, means that it's economically sensible for a landlord to discriminate against sick and old people. Do we really want that? Rather, I do think that sick and old people should get a free pass (= assistance), but not from their landlords, but from society at large, in the form of insurance, pensions and other assistance, so that they can afford to lead a life in dignity.
posted by sour cream at 1:42 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Is this how you would like to be treated when you're old and out of options?

Absolutely. Here's why: I don't look to contractual partners to ensure my safety and make moral stands on my behalf. It would be nice. It would be a sunnier world, but I'd be a fool to expect it.

People above are confusing a lot of basic things in the service of outrage, and I really expected better here. Morals aren't ethics, inflation adjusted isn't nominal, your landlord isn't your family.

Now, I'd like to see better moral consideration from my government. That's what I wanted to talk about and I was pretty clear about it, but no one seems to think that's the problem.

Sour cream gets it.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:08 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Almost everyone I know says Alameda is the Ohio of the Bay Area.

How many of the people saying this have ever set one damned foot in Ohio?

It skews corporate-conservative compared to the rest of the region.

Is this supposed to serve as the basis of the Ohio comparison? Because Ohio is cheek by jowl with Michigan, and call me when Ohio elects someone as odious and rightfully reviled as Rick Snyder.

rather than directing the outrage at the landlord, it should be directed at those who enabled such shitty laws and failed to enact tenant protection

Oh, you mean landlords? These laws don't get passed in a vacuum. I know they didn't cover this in Schoolhouse Rock, but the government doesn't actually care what little people want.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:22 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


So, rather than directing the outrage at the landlord, it should be directed at those who enabled such shitty laws and failed to enact tenant protection.
That you live in a shitty system that makes shitty behaviour permissible does not absolve you of the behaviour being shitty. It's impossible to make ethical choices under blah blah blah, whatever. Too often that's simply an excuse to not even try to act ethically, and my patience for it is long since exhausted. There was a great episode of The Agenda a while back on the subject of small landlords and housing, where we learned things like rent is going up in Ontario by 11% a year, but wages aren't really going up at all. Are mortgages for those landlords going up by 11% a year? They are not. Additionally, there seemed to be--and seems to be in this thread, although not in exactly these words--the argument being put forward that small landlords are really "amateurs" and as such should have more relaxed standards than big corporate landlords. And frankly, that's bullshit. It's maybe a stopgap or a hobby to you, but it's someone's home, someone's security, and essentially the basis on which someone else is allowed to participate in our society. If you aren't ready for that responsibility, then you should go into a different business. When relationships have a significant power imbalance--and the landlord-tenant relationship has such an imbalance--greater responsibility and therefore greater restrictions must be placed on the party with more power to prevent them from unjustly (even by accident) harming the party with less power. There are always anecdotes about problem tenants and folks delinquent on rent and on and on, but in Ontario at least the landlords' own lobbying group places fewer than 1% of tenants in that category (see video I linked to above). I wonder what percentage of landlords fall into the "problem" category?

I'm okay with public shaming and pushing hard on an individual landlord to do the right thing despite the system permitting them to do the asshole thing; the perfect should not be the enemy of the good, and public pressure on individual problems can both expose systemic issues and create movement towards fixing them. Can everybody be helped in this exact moment? Not really. Can this person? Yes. But where does it end, where does it end, where does it end? It ends with people being housed with dignity, and fuck your extra 11% a year.

edit: this is the "royal" you, I guess.
posted by Fish Sauce at 6:42 AM on August 20, 2019 [8 favorites]


So, rather than directing the outrage at the landlord, it should be directed at those who enabled such shitty laws and failed to enact tenant protection.

As a former Bay Area resident, believe me, I've got more than enough capacity to be outraged at both.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:48 AM on August 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


That you live in a shitty system that makes shitty behaviour permissible does not absolve you of the behaviour being shitty

The corollary to this is:

That you want basic needs met for you due to what you feel is a moral claim is a non-sequitur in a system that is absent of ethical, legal or market incentives.

Listen, I want the 'right' people to win too. I feel for this guy; it's terrible. But how do you do it?

This is my problem with many progressives. They're inappropriately occupied with being 'right' and assuming that this either helps or even ensures that they 'win'. The truth couldn't be further from it. "...No one gives it to you. You have to take it."
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:12 AM on August 20, 2019


I thought "This shouldn't be legal" was so obvious it went without saying. I'm not really directing outrage at the landlord here, I'm directing outrage at folks who think it's ok to take advantage of people if the law says it's ok, even though we know the laws are for shit. But again I also think it's fine to say you want to take advantage of people as long as you know the shoe will be on the other foot some day. I think we both agree that the system is corrupt and you can't expect it to protect you in which case we have to go back to thinking of each other as human beings and looking out for each other no matter what the law says. Go ahead and charge literally whatever you want for a studio apartment for literally anyone else, there is no one stopping you.
posted by bleep at 8:24 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Should" is exactly your problem.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 9:26 AM on August 20, 2019


The upside to this nonsense is that since homeownership is going to become impossible for the majority of Americans/be seen as a burden rather then a virtue, we have the best chance to uncouple homeownership as the only asset a family has and the commodity market in general while also having an easy way to explain the difference between personal property and private property.
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on August 20, 2019


Actually living under a tarp by the freeway is going to be my problem as soon as I get an RSI and can't come up with an infinite salary anymore.
posted by bleep at 10:55 AM on August 20, 2019


I'm having trouble reconciling this Reasonably Everything Happens who says that the problem is that progressives are focused on "should" and "right" when they should be focused on "[taking] it", with the one whose first comment here was about how talking about "raking" a landlord "over the coals" was too medieval.

What it actually sounds like you want is for people to stop pointing out that being a landlord is a fundamentally exploitative and arguably immoral activity, possibly because it challenges the cognitive dissonance you've ensconced yourself in.

So let's be super clear here: stop telling people that it's fruitless to talk about how fundamentally screwed up this system is unless you have an actual solution to the problem that you are *actively enacting.*

The system IS screwed up. It IS failing people. Landlords acting in their own rational best interest in a capitalist system ARE fundamentally exploitative.

And the first necessary step to making change in any unjust system is necessarily rhetorical: we need to talk about it in order to figure things out, to organize, and to decide what to do. So we will discuss it. And if it makes you uncomfortable to see the content of that discussion, perhaps you should stop and wonder why that is.
posted by bluemilker at 1:11 PM on August 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


I was a landlord for 2 years. I hope I was a good one, my tenants were fantastic. I was a landlord because I got a job in another city and my house wasn't selling, but my realtor had a family that needed a place to rent for a bit while they looked for a house. I'm proud of 2 things from my landlord times:

1) I was very forgiving. I had arguments with my then husband whenever they were going to be late on the rent (they always gave us notice). He said we should charge them the late fees like in the rental contract because no one ever gave us a break. And I always said wouldn't things have been easier for us if someone had given us a break at some point. Same argument when they broke the lease 6 months early, and we never ended up charging them the extra fees.

2) It was an African-American family in an 80% white area (one of the best elementary schools in the country!). I know at least two of my secretly racist neighbors were seething about that. And we ended up selling the house to a different African American family. (Of course we had no idea beforehand, not that it would have changed anything but it was a nice little bonus fuck you to the neighbors). Just doing my part to increase diversity, even though I didn't actively do anything besides sign papers.

I apparently wasn't good at being a landlord because I made repairs when I was notified of them and didn't try to extract every fucking cent I could. I was incredibly lucky with amazing tenants who essentially helped me hold onto the house until the market went back up. After repairs and all the other costs associated with home-ownership, I actually lost money by having them rent, I should have been charging about $300 more per month to cover everything.

But maybe that was a different situation because landlording was not my primary source of income. It was a real hassle and I would not recommend doing it on your own from across the country.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:30 AM on August 21, 2019


I'm having trouble reconciling...focused on "[taking] it", with..."raking" a landlord "over the coals" was too medieval.

(1) That's fair, but it's also not hard to do this; let me help: The irish immigrants referred to in The Departed are not bloodless, but they're not fascists or torturers* either. If you can stomach how the Kennedy family came to power then I think you'll come around to what I'm saying. It's pretty obvious to anyone who's paying attention that the Democratic Party as a vehicle for social change is fundamentally flawed (now, but maybe always). Different tactics are needed and I can't see how anyone who cares and shouts in the other big #Politics threads about how we keep losing doesn't see these forests/trees.

sounds like you want is for people to stop pointing out that being a landlord is a fundamentally exploitative and arguably immoral activity

(2) I can't make people pay attention to words, but I'll sure try. People keep confusing ethics and morals. I'm not saying being a landlord is moral. And my experience is that it is morally fraught in many ways. I try to follow LizBoBiz's approach, but I'm sure some of my tenants may feel differently. However, naturally, there are ethical ways to be a landlord. I'd bet dollars to donuts that the average tenant would prefer LizBoBiz or I to the Tams, etc. And, in fact, one of the strategies in my approach to radicalism is exactly to get a foothold in the capitalist system from where I can build leverage (among other more typically progressive activities).

first necessary step to making change in any unjust system is necessarily rhetorical

(3) I'm actually with you in a big way here. But I'd caution that while rhetoric is an important part of informing and galvanizing a political energy, I think there's a double edge where the talk becomes the walk and people feel that's good enough.

But certainly Mefi was crucial to my moral and intellectual development, and I support the need to inform folks that don't understand yet the moral peril of property relations. I just hope it doesn't stop there.

I've made my piece and will now bow out of the thread. Good talk, folks.




*I know my English idioms, thank you Secret Sparrow, but you basically prove my point with your link that shows the etymology to be from real torture. My general point, because I think torture-mongers are rare on these boards, is that we're thoughtlessly adopting a language of torture and violence, which is playing into exactly what our opponents want.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:16 AM on August 21, 2019


I’m trying to keep reading but the assumption that people literally arguing that landlording should maybe be illegal are attached to the Democratic Party is...not sure you’re talking to who you think you are.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:16 AM on August 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


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