Often I have been asked what we as a property management company do in the City of Antioch to ensure a clean city. I moved to the City of Antioch when I was two years old. I have seen many changes over the years, which have not always been positive, especially with rental homes. I have lived in rental properties, in fact when we moved to this city our first rental was on John Glen Court. Over the years I have seen the decline in the condition of so many properties that it disgust me.
What happened to the city where I grew up? Why did so many properties appear in terrible condition? And why did it seem as though little was being done about it?
I started managing my own properties in 2007, expanding over many years and building a property management company in two counties. My wife Kristine and I would drive around the city after Saturday morning coffee and could not believe what we were seeing. In many neighborhoods, home after home were becoming eyesores with trash, weeds, and car repairs in the front yard, not to mention the condition of the actual homes themselves. We saw peeling paint, structural issues, graffiti and some owners and tenants that genuinely didn’t care.
I remember the morning where we had left Starbucks and were headed downtown, driving around just looking at homes. I turned to her and asked, “What the heck are we still doing living here?” However, I remembered that this is where I grew up and I wasn’t ready to walk away. After all, I raised my kids here and chose to open my business within the city, not to mention the memories as a young boy, getting up and riding my bike all over the town and playing grasshopper baseball at the City Park. It just seemed that things were getting worse, and that many owners and tenants had stopped caring. There were a lot of out of town owners that bought properties here but rarely set foot in or cared about our city.
I told Kris that I was going to implement a policy in our property management company, that monthly an employee was to drive every property, photograph the exterior, and send it to the owner and the tenant with a report card on the condition. If the property was in need of repairs and in violation of the lease, the tenants would immediately get a notice to repair the eyesore. If they refused, we would have the option to proceed with action against them. Also, any property that happened to be on government assistance would be held to the same standards as any other tenant. As always, owners would be responsible for repairs that were beyond the tenant’s control, and if they neglected this, we did not need to manage for them. This policy became something we told every owner that was new to our system, as we were tired of seeing substandard housing.
We implemented this throughout the City of Antioch and at first we got some resistance from tenants. However, over time we started seeing a change in the exterior condition of the properties we managed, and neighborhood complaints became less and less. So many tenants were used to absentee landlords and we wanted to send a message that absentee was not our style. Ultimately, we implemented this policy for every property under our control as property managers throughout all of Contra Costa County and then into Solano County. It has seemed to work in most cases, at least with the properties that we manage.
I’m sure we all see that there are still some owners and tenants out there just don’t care, and that needs to stop.
We are often asked how the residents of this city can get rid of Section 8. Many people do not realize that the governor signed a statewide law last year that requires owners to consider a Section 8 tenant, and prohibits the rental advertising to state “No Section 8.” Now more than ever we need property managers and owners to step up and do the right thing. We tell every owner asking about Section 8 that all tenants, Section 8 or not, should be held to the same standards as any other tenant, including screening and the condition of the home. It’s not about just getting a government check.
If nothing else, our goal was to make a change in our little piece of Antioch, at the very least the homes that we manage. We can only hope that other owners and property managers will follow suit. Little by little we can all change this city.
Blue Line Real Estate & Property Management