Sin City: How Apartment Managers Can Avoid Crime, Disrepair

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 12:00 am  

For example, Little Rock’s Metropolitan Housing Alliance fired its executive director, Shelly Ehenger, in August after numerous accusations of nepotism and document falsification. The help landlords get from the organization often depends on the people running it.

“It’s a real political game you play [with] them; they can fail or pass your house based on their personal agenda with you,” Haas said. “It’s pretty wild.”

“There are a number of landlords who refuse to take Section 8,” Warren said. “When you get into the complexes that start taking Section 8, they statistically have more crime, the rent is being paid at a lower rate, quality of the payer is less, and therefore good tenants don’t come there. It’s a vicious, downward cycle.”

From there, it’s a long fall to the bottom.

“It can be a snowball effect,” Haas said, “especially if the management company doesn’t have any money to do renovation and repairs.”

“Unfortunately, as you go down the economic ladder, you have more troublesome tenants,” Warren said.

“I’ve heard a lot of folks talk about the broken window policy,” Bolden said. “If you have one broken window on a street, you might have a problem. That’s all it takes. Once you have one property starting to have a problem, it can pull a whole neighborhood down. That’s magnified in an apartment complex setting.”

The Turnaround Potential

But it doesn’t always have to end like it did for Sin City.

“The biggest thing to do, especially in that scenario, is you want to renovate, to get people out who are the bad apples,” Haas said. “You’ve got to eliminate them completely. I mean, completely.”

Then, Haas said, renovations need to happen, and management should be extra strict when letting new tenants in.

“That doesn’t mean you have to raise your rent or anything like that,” he said. “It all comes back to the quality of people renting, and also the quality of the management company that’s there.”

Bolden said turnarounds like this are not as rare as one might think.

“The transition happens regularly,” he said.

“At some point, people run out of money. The banks work through a short sale, new management comes in that really understands what needs to happen and those communities can be turned around. I have no doubt that any of those properties struggling now can be turned around.”



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