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Fighting the rent squeeze

One landlord urges keeping rent low
Posted at 7:54 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 22:58:42-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Rents for apartments and homes are soaring. That’s attracting out of state investors who see strong profits from buying rental properties. They can run rents to high for low-income Tucsonans.

It can be tough if you need to rent a place to live. Landlords, especially out of state investors, are raising rents out of reach for some people.

So what’s the solution? Is it a matter of law, or humanity?

“When you get into the property owning business, especially when you get into the low income property business, you are your brother's keeper,” shared Stephanie Zill.

Zill says she owns about a dozen rental units and keeps the rent to $400 or $450. She's alarmed to watch investment groups, often out-of-state investment groups, buy up properties, push up rents and turn away tenants who can’t prove monthly incomes at least two and a half times the rent for one month.

She said, “It's impossible for people who make $750 a month on a fixed income to rent a place that costs $650 and up. It leaves them nothing to live on.”

Tucson City Council Member Steve Kozachik says owners have a right to a fair return on their investments, but they’re pushing way past fair and pricing people into homelessness.

“There’s a sense that that whole dynamic becomes predatory and when we are creating a new demographic of homeless, that is people who are 65 and up, people who are disabled, veterans, seniors. That’s simply wrong,” Kozachik expressed.

He says the city is investing in housing to offer at lower rents.

“That takes money away from police and fire and roads and parks, and so we're really counting on landlords to grow a heart and understand that just because you can doesn't make it right,” he added.

Stephanie Zill says she breaks even with the rents she charges and property appreciation leaves her ahead in the long run.

She wishes more landlords ditched professional managers and managed apartments themselves so they’d see how their prices affect their tenants.

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Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. Craig enjoys the way reporting can be a passport to interesting experiences. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand and his work has been recognized with numerous awards. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing craig.smith@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.