Letter: Town’s Housing Policies Will Drive Away Small Local Landlords And Favor Big Companies

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The following letter was sent to the Building Commissioner, The Amherst Town Council and the Clerk Of Council on February 28, 2023.

I am writing to express my frustration with the way the Town of Amherst has been dealing with housing. I am a responsible and present landlord who is a member of a low income, bilingual, bicultural, multiracial family and have been in this community for over 30 years. More and more this town is pushing away landlords like me (as well as tenants like me) via policies, taxes and/or fees. My own children would not be able to afford residing in this town on their own and building their own wealth here. I see expensive buildings going up, charging exorbitant rent and paying either low or no fees compared to myself, who currently offers below market rent for similar properties. Look at UMass, for instance: their new ‘student dormitories’ will rent between $2200 for a studio and $2800 for a 2 bedroom without any RA’s to supervise them since an OUTSIDE private company will run it. Their own staff and professors can’t afford those! CRC seems to be unsure if they will be inspected and pay fees or not. Other buildings get away with not offering parking even though their rent is also exorbitant and are counting on residents to pay for UMass lots, which is unacceptable. Unless there are public streets where to park legally (covered by the high taxes we all pay), those companies should provide parking.

More and more cumbersome processes, hoops to jump through, and expensive fees WILL drive away small local landlords in favor of big companies with legal and administrative staff at their fingertips. Any combined inspection/registration fee above $100/year is a burden for landlords like myself. Yearly inspections are also unnecessary and burdensome for properties the town is trying to define as ‘good’. There is no more affordable housing in Amherst and it will only get worse. At the moment, I am lucky to have good and long-term tenants, but if I am unlucky to have yearly turnovers because of bad tenants, because Amherst rent is unaffordable or for any other reason, would my property be penalized and be inspected yearly instead of every 3-5 years as it seems to be suggested?

A huge property tax increase is looming because of our new elementary school building. Amherst has already one of the highest property taxes around. Shouldn’t the town have saved a little over the last 30 years from our yearly rising taxes knowing those projects are unavoidable?

Now, on top of that, the Town Council is looking to impose a 2% fee on property transfers. If I sell my rented property and have some capital gain due to a high market, on top of paying the IRS, the State, and extra federal taxes over yearly depreciation (which must be depreciated no matter what), I now have to also pay Amherst even if I transfer it to my children, since it is an ‘investment property’. How much sense does this make? I might as well sell to an LLC with big pockets and negotiate for them to pay those fees. They will then raise that rent and be absentee landlords reducing everyone’s quality of life and opportunity for small landlords to pass on a family business to their children or make some extra money for retirement. I will probably not be able to afford retiring in Amherst. 

Amherst has always been a great town, but so much recent “smoke and mirrors” on paper and “equity” committees, talk and talk trying to appear politically correct is only that: empty talk. A sad state of affairs.

Thank you for listening,

Renata Shepard

Renata Shepard is a resident of Amherst.

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2 thoughts on “Letter: Town’s Housing Policies Will Drive Away Small Local Landlords And Favor Big Companies

  1. Thank you Renata. This is so well said and so needed. Let’s hope members of the Council read it.

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