In many parts of the US the financial crisis has led to more houses being rented rather than bought by the people who want to live in them, according to an article in today’s NY Times, titled “As Renters Move In and Neighborhoods Change, Homeowners Grumble”.
Now, this might seem like a good thing, given how many families and overextended themselves financially to invest in real estate. But if you think that, you are forgetting renters are a bunch of thieves and drug dealers and all around no-goodniks. Why are they occupying single-family homes among nice Americans? Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
The Times reporter Shaila Dawan visited a neighbourhood of Memphis, TN called Hillshire.
On a recent evening, parents pushed strollers and lawn mowers droned, children played on a tire swing and in one driveway, a longtime resident and his grandson tinkered with the fat tire of a slick red drag racer.
But there was a seedy underside. Jimmy Fumich, a homeowner and air-conditioner repairman, said he had been in court that day as a witness in an animal cruelty case against a neighbor, a renter, who had left a dog chained to a stop sign in the heat. She was already in trouble, he said, for breaking into an empty house on the block. Mr. Fumich… mentioned a couple of meth houses and one that had been used as a brothel. All were rentals.
A renter mistreated an animal. Others ran a brothel (in a rented house). Or did they just have too many visitors? Mr. Fumich complains further that the renters don’t join the neighbourhood watch.
It almost seems irrelevant when the article adds, parenthetically, that “Police department records show that major crime in the area, which does not include drug offenses, has actually gone down.”
But it’s not just the homeowners who hate the renters. The renters hate themselves:
In a small cul-de-sac near Hillshire… Rusby Amador cooked dinner for her three sons while waiting for her husband, a tile layer, to get home. One son was hosing off the walkway of their rented home. Two prodigious Boston ferns hung in the entry, and at the curb a colorful ceramic urn sat atop the mailbox.
“When the people buy a house, the people’s more nice,” Ms. Amador said. “Renters, they don’t care about neighbors. We don’t know who’s going to move in. We worry all the time because we don’t know. I have children.”
So, neighbours are good, but new neighbours are instruments of the devil. Unless you know who is going to move in which, in my experience, is not usual.