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Property Management Brainstorm Podcast

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Episode 61: Changing the Narrative

Bob Preston - Monday, September 20, 2021

As a landlord or property manager, do you ever feel like the word “landlord” comes with a negative connotation? The word has been in use for over 1000 years, dating back to an Old English concept, in which tracts of land were owned by a single person who came to be known as a "lord", and those occupying the land became bound and dependent on their lords for protection and of course obligated to pay rent for that privilege. Even though our culture has moved well beyond this ancient system, the lingering negative essence of the word "landlord" remains for many. For some in the industry, we need to change the narrative away from the term 'landlord" with a preference for "housing provider".

On this episode of Property Management Brainstorm, Bob's guests are Mark Scott, of Encore Realty, in Bonita, CA and Danielle Rogers, of All Seasons LLC,  in Colorado Springs, CO. Both of our guests are involved in national, state, and local government affairs and action committees and have been advocating such a change in terminology
Topics Covered

[3:10] Mark and Danielle introduce themselves, tell us about their companies, and what they are doing to advocate changing this narrative from landlord to housing provider.

[5:15] Mark explains his inspiration behind writing his recent article in Residential Resource magazine about this topic.

[8:20] Is there a stereotype that landlords are bad guys and where does that come from?

[10:55] Might this perception of landlords change now that the CDC has backed off on the eviction moratorium?

[20:10] Should we as property managers and housing providers be more involved at the local level with our city councils and local leadership?
[29:40] Mark and Danielle share their closing thoughts and how you can reach them to learn more.

Connect with Mark Scott

Daniel Rogers

Connect with Bob
Property Management San Diego

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Transcript of This Episode 

Bob Preston (01:07):

Hello, and welcome to all you brainstormers who are listening in today. Do you ever feel like the word landlord comes with a negative connotation? The word has been in use for over a thousand years, dating all the way back to an old English concept in which tracks of land were owned by a single person who then became to be known as a lord. And those occupying the land became bound and dependent on their lords for protection, and of course, obligated to pay rent for that privilege, even though our culture has moved well beyond this ancient system, the lingering negative essence of the word landlord remains for many personally, apart from the term being used in our California lease. I don't like to refer to myself as a landlord, nor do we care for the word tenant with a preference toward the word resident or occupant on the show today, I have two wonderful guests who are at the top of their game as property managers and members of the National Association of Residential Property Managers, NARPM. Mark Scott of Encore Realty in Benita, California. He's very involved in the NARPM organization at the national state and local levels and is a member of the NARPM government affairs committee. And as a NARPM PAC trustee also with us today is Danielle Rogers of All seasons, LLC, a property management company in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is a NARPM MPM, current chair of the state and local government affairs subcommittee and a founding member of the Colorado landlord, legislative coalition. Hey Mark, Danielle, welcome to the show. It's so great to have you both here with me today and good place to start on. Every episode is if you could each introduce yourself and a bit about your property management business and Mark, how about we start with you?

Mark Scott (03:15):

I am Mark Scott with Encore Realty. We manage about 200 units in South San Diego County in California.

Bob Preston (03:23):

You're pretty involved in some of the NARPM stuff yourself. Right. Mark, what roles do you play within NARPM?

Mark Scott (03:28):

Super involved politically from the start when I joined about three years ago, became state chapter president, our local chapter president. I sit on the government affairs PAC committee with Danielle and others and involved with the realtors on their government affairs program as well.

Bob Preston (03:50):

Awesome. Yeah, very involved. It sounds like, especially at the legislative level, Danielle, how about you?

Danielle Rogers (03:55):

Danielle Rogers with All Seasons LLC CRMC in Colorado Springs. We manage about 340 properties and benefit business for over 32 years. And I've been a property manager for about 15 of those. And as far as my involvement with NARPM I really actually, I, when my first position with All Seasons is just as the controller, still my position today, but I wanted to get my license and become a property manager so I can help, you know, collect rent and talk to negotiate and everything. And so that led me to do it. And through there I've set on our local board several times in different positions and I became a member of the governmental affairs committee and have been on that committee for, I think maybe 10 years or so. And I'm currently the chair of the state and local subcommittee.

Bob Preston (04:47):

Now you run your company with your husband, right? Oh, man. More power to you. I don't think I could pull that one off. How does that go?

Danielle Rogers (04:54):

It goes, well, we share an office and we're together all the time and actually works out really well for us. We bounce things off each other all day long. And you have to have that support network, I think, in property managers.

Bob Preston (05:05):

Yeah, for sure. No, I'm just kind of kidding around. That's fantastic that you do that. So we have two great guests here who are very qualified to talk on this topic. And I think it's a really good one today. So Mark, you wrote an article and the June, 2021 NARPM magazine, which is called residential resource and the name of that article was changing the narrative. So I saw it and it caught my eye right away and kind of, well, I wonder where he's going with this. And it was specifically pertaining to the use of the term housing provider as an alternative or in lieu of the term landlord sort of an interesting perspective. So let's start with you. What was it that inspired you to write that article? And can you just kind of share your opening thoughts on this topic?

Mark Scott (05:43):

Yeah, so a couple of things first Danielle and I sit on the local government issues committee and she started using housing provider and speaking about it. And then I'm a member of the Southern California rental housing association. They've started incorporating the term and they kind of happened at the same time and meeting with elected officials especially here in California, they seem to hate landlords, but no one hates housing providers. We all need our housing provider. Our residents love us and we take care of their maintenance issues. So we took what, what historically maybe has been a negative term and turned it into a positive one, which is housing providers. So Danielle helped inspire me. I called her to ask some questions about more about how she came up with housing provider and then also meeting with the Southern California rental housing association and incorporating it into our local association of realtors. So they all kind of happened in and around the same time and just kind of a fortuitous events there.

Bob Preston (06:59):

So Danielle, how about you, it sounds like you started using the term housing provider. What was the inspiration or the, what precipitated that?

Danielle Rogers (07:05):

Well, and I can't take full credit of it because I heard it from the attorney for the Colorado association of realtors said at first in a meeting that I was attending, but it really struck me because throughout the pandemic, one thing that was resonating with me was the negativity surrounding landlords in the media and just on social media. And it frustrates me because we're human people doing the job and we're being villainized and stereotyped. And so it was, it was just very discouraging. And when I heard that phrase of housing provider and changing, you know, the, kind of the idea of changing the narrative of how society looks at us I really took that to heart and said that that's something that, that we need to do and that's something that I can get behind. And so I just started trying to spread that message whenever I speak to groups.

Bob Preston (07:57):

That's really interesting, I think even before the pandemic or some of the new legislation and we'll touch on the new legislation here in a minute, but it seems like to your point, Danielle, there's this, there is this kind of stereotype, right, where landlords have often been portrayed, even an old sitcoms and TV shows where the landlords are kind of villains or, you know, mean people, right. Who come every month to collect the rent and really don't do much, you know, kind of show up in a white tank, top shirt with their handout. Right. So where does that come from? I mean, what is that? Is there still a stereotype for the term landlord and what does that stem from? Is there some historical perspective on that?

Danielle Rogers (08:28):

I don't know if they're, I don't know a lot about the historical perspective about it, but what I did is last night, I was trying to prepare for this meeting. And so I was, I was trying to kind of look at your question and, and know if where it came from and what kind of the status is right now. And I'll tell you, I went down a rabbit hole of negativity and it was really disappointing to see how landlords are perceived as parasites or immoral. And it was very man, it was disheartening. So I don't know where it, I mean, I know where it comes from essentially as far as being you know, the land holder and, and that kind of thing, but I don't know why we have such a negative stereotype and I'm really just want to focus on how to make that change and how to humanize us and show people that we're just people doing a job.

Bob Preston (09:15):

Yeah. Mark. I mean, you probably agree with that too. I mean, there are some bad apples out there. I have no, no doubt about it, that there's some slumlords and people who are, you know, kind of, agregious really taking advantage of, of tenants, but for the most part, you know, especially a sniper members, I mean, we're in this to be helpful to people and provide a service. Do you agree?

Mark Scott (09:31):

Yeah, I do. And I do think, and this is anecdotally meeting with our local elected officials, as well as some national and state officials. I think the perception is most landlords are super rich billionaire type hundred millionaire type and entitled, and that that's just not been my experience my entire life. Yes. We've run into the occasional jerk landlord, maybe the stereotypical landlord, but I, I do think that's the minority, but it seems that that's, what's portrayed in movies and TV. The landlord is always the devil in the show. And so but, but that's not been my experience. We care for our residents greatly without their success, our owners and housing providers. Can't do what we do, which is provide housing to people in an affordable price.

Bob Preston (10:33):

Yeah, absolutely. And it seems like that anti landlord sentiment may have gotten worse during the pandemic, right. With some of the legislation that has come up and maybe brought this sort of anti landlord agenda further into light. I know, as you mentioned, you're both involved at the legislative level and both of your states and at the national perspective. So do you think this is going to start to ease up a little bit now that the Supreme court has stepped in and is backed off on the CDC eviction moratorium?

Mark Scott (11:00):

So two, two things there in our state in California, no, we have a bunch of laws and, and that really superseded most of the CDC. I do think nationally that helped ease things and be able to start defending the housing provider's loans and, and their loan payment not have to use savings to pay those mortgage payments. And so I think depending on where you are geographically in the country, I'm afraid that it may exacerbate some laws and local jurisdiction and ease in other states where they're a little bit more housing provider friendly.

Bob Preston (11:48):

Well, you're very much on top of this. Some of the California legislation is set to expire at the end of September. What's your insight? Do you think that it will be extended because of the Delta variant that surgeon, or do you think they'll California state will let it expire?

Mark Scott (12:00):

So that, that's a super great question. I thought they'd let it expire a couple of times and then they've extended it. And we have a recall election on Tuesday, September 14th, that's ending. And I'm super afraid that if our current governor wins the recall election and survives that that will go down one set of a rabbit hole that I hate. I'm maybe a little fearful that he won't survive the affection and we'll go down a different rabbit hole. So I, I don't know. We, we started passing rent control measures using the pandemic as a reason to, to put forth an agenda that three times in the last six years voters have rejected rent control in the state of California. Our legislature decides, oh, we need some, some type of rent control or rent restriction, rent increase restriction measures in, in one instance, two months after our popular vote, that voted down a similar measure. So so I do think that different jurisdictions are going to start implementing some rent control measures eviction control the city of San Diego is looking at a vacancy tax for people who don't rent their second home or third home out. And I think we, that we've used this pandemic to further some agendas that have been hard for some of our electeds to put

Bob Preston (13:45):

Very interested in California. Danielle, how about you from a Colorado? I know that's where your company is or national perspective has what the Supreme court's done in terms of backing off on the CDC, eviction moratorium. Do you see that easy in any of this tension between tenant-landlord relationship?

Danielle Rogers (14:00):

It's a little too early to tell if that's going to make a difference in, in my personal opinion, is the damage has already been done. And that that negative stereotype has, has been really pushed into the spotlight. And so I think we're, we've got an uphill battle to try to change that narrative. And, and I think we're, we're behind on that and we need to get working on how we can change the way people are viewing housing providers and, and how we can humanize us and show people that, you know, kindness is really all it takes.

Bob Preston (14:32):

Yeah. That's an interesting way to put it that we're behind, behind the curve. Right. But I think to your point, there needs to be more than just referring to ourselves as housing providers. That's just kind of changing how we call ourselves. And I know that that's kind of an in thing now to change some of these terms. So beyond just the changing narrative or the changing term, are there other actions that we need to take perhaps behavioral, right in the way we run our business or the way we interact with tenants or perhaps professional standard changes, right. Through an AARP or other organizations that we should be advocating among our peers to kind of change this perception

Danielle Rogers (15:03):

Positively actions speak louder than words. So the first thing that we need to do is make sure that we are demonstrating that we're professionals and that we are taking good care of our tenants and our clients, and that we're morally and ethically acting as an in our profession. And so that's the first step. And then you can further that by joining NARPM and getting additional education and getting designations and things that can further your knowledge of what you're doing as a, as a professional and, and also encouraging others to do the same. And I think that is very important in the, and definitely the first step. I'm also going to sidestep here and say that there's other things that, that we can do as well in Colorado. A couple of members of the of NARPM decided to go outside of NARPM and we formed the Colorado landlord, legislative coalition.

Danielle Rogers (15:55):

And so we not only are a coalition of property managers, but we're also a call a coalition of just landlords. We were looking for small landlords mom and pop landlords to join us in our coalition so that we can get together. We hired a lobbyist and we're trying to make our voice heard at the Colorado legislator. And I think that any other states that can do that and they can get together and form a coalition so that they can have a voice is going to make a difference in the long run.

Bob Preston (16:24):

That's pretty interesting, mark. I'd like to hear your perspective on that too, because as an organization we're talking about the property managers, but the vast majority of rental properties are still managed are still self-managed by individual landlords, right. Individual property owners. So how do you kind of bring those people into the fold of changing this narrative and changing this perspective?

Mark Scott (16:42):

Yeah. Yeah. I do think that that's an important part of this because they don't know that, oh, I should have written rental criteria, so they're not violating fair housing laws. And I, I do see that anecdotally where people in all best intent and up violating certain laws here or there, I had a conversation with an agent slash tenant yesterday whose landlord was kicking her out. We're going to raise rent, you know, 30%. And because of our state of emergency, we're only allowed to raise rent 10% above whatever the last tenant was paying regardless of what you do. So there's an, I don't think that, that her owner was a bad guy. I think he just is ignorant and didn't know the law. And so how do we reach those people get to be get to be the challenge. But it does help the elected officials say, oh, and maybe the public there are terrible landlords out and they're slumlords. And and they do perpetuate that stereotype unfortunately. And so it's on us to start educating even people that we don't end up signing up. We, we ought to educate them on some of the things that they may be violating that they're unaware of.

Bob Preston (18:08):

Yeah. Even people that are in our portfolio, some of our property owners sometimes, you know, they want to not fight with us, but they, you know, we have to have these long conversations about what you can and can't do, especially I see mark juggling of nodding. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've had that conversation before. Right. And so sometimes these are challenging where you have to, you know, sit an owner down or virtually or whatever on the phone say, Hey, no, you can't do that. And here's why our objective is to keep you, you know, totally compliant. You ever had tough conversation like that, Daniel?

Danielle Rogers (18:34):

I think everyday.

Bob Preston (18:36):

All the time. Yeah. Right.

Danielle Rogers (18:39):

Yeah. Positively. Well, that's our role as their property managers. That's, that's part of our job as, as their agent is to make sure that we're directing them and, and, and following the laws and educating them as well. So the more that we can educate the public and the, and, and single landlords, individual landlords, I think the better off that we are doing.

Bob Preston (18:59):

Yeah. It seems like NARPM national could play a big role in this too campaigns that promote this concept of, Hey, we're the good guys. We're the, we're the housing providers who know the laws. We know how to be in compliance. We know how to manage your properties. Use us, you know, keep yourself out of trouble. Don't be this evil landlord, be a good landlord, you know, use an RPM, a member. I mean, that seems like that could be a pretty effective campaign.

Danielle Rogers (19:21):

I would love to see that I would love to see a campaign that NARPM could put forth that shows I, what I'd like to see it's who is your landlord? Like, I would love people to see that, oh, my landlord is a member of our military that has been deployed and needs to rent out their home, that they're going to return to you or my landlord. It is a retiree who is just you know, re surviving on the rent that they're receiving. And this is part of their retirement process. So I would love to humanize us and show kind of the world what type of person their landlord is, so that we can try to change that stereotype of the wealthy, just rolling in dough person. So I would love to see something like that from, from national.

Bob Preston (20:04):

Hey, Mark, in your article, you mentioned meeting with elected officials, and I think you mentioned it even at the top of the episode here, and I suppose that's to kind of discuss housing shortage, maybe measures that could produce and build more affordable housing. Should we be more proactive in our local markets, all of this, right. With our involvement at the community level,

Mark Scott (20:23):

Th this is a great question. And one that another government affairs committee has started to address of fairly recently of we seem to be reactionary right now, and we go and meet with him because a bill has put forth where, where I am only bad bills for housing providers and some of the regulations that are, are being put on us. Maybe I should support because an owner can't keep up with what we can keep up with. But I, I just so against the attack on private property ownership that I do think we need a proactive approach of, Hey, here's a bill that might help provide more affordable housing. I, I do think that we're a little narrow sighted on providing like low-income housing. That's only for rent. And now we're, we're creating a pool of voters that are only going to be renters that will vote for every anti-landlord, anti-housing provider, bill that comes forth.

Mark Scott (21:29):

So if we did have some type of low-income product that can get them out of being renters, and this goes back to address some of the historic wrongs that have been done in housing with red lining and some of those things that, that took place years ago, hopefully they're all gone. But I do think we need to be more proactive in it. Let's come up with a solution and get with those, those parties that are in power and get them behind a solution that, oh, wow, this would really help my constituents. And at the same time not hurt the housing provider. So, so I do think we ought to be more proactive.

Bob Preston (22:13):

Danielle, how about you? Like, what other steps should we be taking, right. Should we be out there advocating more, maybe doing more at the state, local, even national level, bringing more visibility and importance to, you know, what we do is housing providers are perhaps getting involved, you know, helping advocate that

Danielle Rogers (22:28):

Absolutely the more that we are setting ourselves as the experts and as the professionals in the industry, the better that we are going to represent us and the better the viewpoint of housing providers is going to be. And so communicating with your legislators and, and meeting with them and helping them to understand also what we do and how some of the laws that they put forward affect us. And they, the unintended consequences that those laws can have are important. So anytime you can communicate with a legislator and, and let them know this is, you know, our point of view and our perspective, I think it's going to make a stronger end result, because what we want to see is that it really is a symbiotic, symbiotic relationship between housing providers and tenants. And so we need to have balanced laws so that we can be serving both sides, because we also, we want to serve our tenants and we want to serve our housing providers, and we need it to be balanced. And the more we can project that and educate people, I think the better outcome will have.

Bob Preston (23:34):

So the three of us are all involved in NARPM at the state and national level. Right? All of us have served in some capacity in both, right? So we have that perspective, but what about the individual landlord? We have a lot people that listen to the show who are individual landlords, do it yourself, self-managing, or small property managers in a locale. What can they do? Like, should they be advocating or should they be getting involved or are there things they can do at the local ordinance level? For example, with our city councils, Mark you're in Benita, I'm in Del Mar in San Diego, Danielle, Colorado Springs, whatever, wherever you might be, what can those people do?

Danielle Rogers (24:08):

And my first answer would be to make friends with your local elected officials, because that, that's where it starts. It starts with those relationships. So you don't learn to know these people and let them know you. And that will be the starting point.

Bob Preston (24:23):

Yeah. Mark, you mentioned too, like some of the city ordinances supersede, even the CDC eviction, right. In San Diego county has done some stuff. What have you seen in that? Have you made an outreach and try to get involved at the city of San Diego level or the county level?

Mark Scott (24:37):

Yes, I speak frequently at the board of supervisors. We meet with city council members and really the local official is fairly easy to meet and get to know, you know, they'll go to lunch with you frequently. And and certainly you can go and give your two or three minutes before a city council meeting. Anytime you just fill out a speaker card, it's super easy. And then what I've started doing NARPM has a call to action that we send out our local association realtors. Do I send those to our owners and the ones that I want are resident tenant involvement. I call my tenants residents. And I think that humanizes our resident the same as we want to humanize the landlord. Let's humanize the resident because without them really, what do we have? So so I send out emails all the time to my portfolio of, Hey, here's this call to action.

Mark Scott (25:36):

You ought to take your audit, take action, whether you agree with it or not, here's my position. And here's why, but if you're against me, change the letter and, and submit also, I think active engagement in the process is important and having difference of opinion amongst you know, property owners. We can agree to disagree on that issue, but, you know, in the big picture, I bet most of us agree on most things. So, so getting that word out starts, you know, incrementally. And then my hope is that owner will send it to their friend who is not being managed by someone and they'll, oh, maybe they'll get engaged as well. So I think it starts with us. And, and to go back to your, your previous question, how do we get more global involvement? Nationwide is each of us mean to invite someone to a NARPM meeting and get them engaged in your local NARPM chapter, state chapter. And, and then we can grow this so that our 6,000 members become seven and eight and 12 and, and 50,000. And before, you know, it we're as powerful as the national association,

Bob Preston (26:47):

You know, it's interesting, you mentioned, we try to be educational with our owners. We have a monthly newsletter. We send out, we try to educate them on all these different California laws and ordinances and eviction, moratorium, and whatnot. But I like your idea of promoting action, what that group of people, Danielle, I see you nodding, maybe you've done this kind of thing. And sometimes I think we tend to avoid political matters, especially in this time of kind of political polarization, but have you done some of that outreach to your owners, Danielle?

Danielle Rogers (27:16):

Yeah. Positively. Anytime that there is a call to action, that's going to affect my housing providers. I do send that out to them and ask them to take action as well. I've also invited them to join my coalition, the landlord, legislative coalition, and invite them to become a part of that as well, and to invite their friends. And so I do reach out to that community to help us when we're trying to activate against a particular law or just to get politically involved. It is hard because you do want to kind of avoid being political in your, in your business. But at this time in this state that we're in it's necessary.

Mark Scott (27:56):

And Bob, I did that on a whim one day, I just got a wild hair. I said, I'm going to send this out. And I didn't think anything of it. It was a wonderful marketing piece, maybe the best I've ever done. And it was a happy accident. So none of my owners and some of them disagree with me, but none of them were upset. They were happy that I was involved in trying to look out for their best interests. So first sign up for those calls to action. And then it's so easy to push a button. You enter your zip code and address, and it, it sends it directly to your elected official. There's a letter already written, you can change it or not. I think they put the nose in one pile and the yeses in the other, and oh, wow. We have more nos than yeses or more yeses than nos. And I think that does influence them. And, and so use it as a marketing piece, if nothing else and you can keep it pretty vanilla. You don't have to tell them and get all emotional over it. It's, Hey, here's a housing bill. And we think you ought to be engaged.

Bob Preston (29:05):

That's really awesome. We did that in late October, we had the California election and there were several bills that were on the Del Mar checklist that are on the ballot that could impact housing providers. And we did kind of what you said, we sort of kept it neutral, right? In terms of the analysis, Hey, here's the pro here's the cons, here's our position. Do what you think is right. But here's the way, you know, we're endorsing a yes. Vote or we're endorsing a no vote on these particular. And we got some really good feedback on that. Hey, this has been a great conversation and episode today. Thanks so much to both of you for coming on the show. I'd love to keep going here, but in the interest of time, we need to wrap up Danielle any last words for our listeners today. And if also, if someone wants to learn more about you and All Seasons, LLC, and CRMC, what's the best way to get connected with you guys.

Danielle Rogers (29:49):

You can find us on our website at, or you can email me if you'd like to reach out. And today, I just want to say let's you know, with all of the negativity out there about being a housing provider, don't apologize for what you're doing. We do a good honorable job. And so let's stand up and be proud of that. And let's show the world that, that housing providers are good and necessary and that, and that we are serving a purpose.

Bob Preston (30:20):

I love it. Mark. How about you? Any last comments and if someone wanted to connect with you?

Mark Scott (30:24):

Yeah. Ultimately I'll just second. What Danielle said, I agree with her and you can't make it any better. So I'm Mark Scott with Encore Realty where it that does take you over to our company website, but spelling that website it's way harder than

Bob Preston (30:44):

Oh, Hey, to our guests. Mark. Danielle, thanks so much for coming on the show today. Great episode. Thanks, Bob. Thank you so much. As we wrap up today, I'd like to make another quick plug to our listeners to please click on the subscribe button and give us a like also please pay it forward with the positive review to help encourage more guests to come on the show. And that concludes today's episode. Thank you for joining us. Catch you next time.

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