COMMENT OF THE DAY: RENTING AFTER HARVEY “What if a rental tenant brings to the attention of a landlord that the sheetrock and flooring need to be replaced in order for the home to be habitable. Then, the landlord agrees and ends the lease, deems the costs associated with repair to be uneconomical and tears down the house. The family living there has no place to go as every rental property in the same price strata has been leased. What then? This is not a rhetorical question. I have TWO close friends with young children in this situation. Landlord wants to tear down the homes because repairs too costly. Both families have money to pay rent, but can’t find a home to rent. Advice is welcome.” [Nice Neighbor, commenting on A Flood of Eviction Notices; Meyerland, Before and After; Here Come the Mosquitoes] Illustration: Lulu
THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH WHERE THE INCOME IS TOO DAMN LOW Inspired by a report from Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies that compares household income to the percentage of income used to pay rent for various income levels, Chronicle biz reporter Lydia DePillis charts similar stats for Harris County. “Houston is slightly less cost burdened than the national average,” she concludes, “with 46.7 percent of its renter households paying more than a third of their income on rent.” According to her analysis of Harris County data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, “the disparity between high and low-income areas is still present: In the third of ZIP codes with the highest median household incomes, 31 percent of renters pay more than 35 percent of their income on housing. In the bottom third of ZIP codes, the share is 49 percent.” Her graph, shown above, plots median household income (on the X-axis) against the percentage of people paying more than 35 percent of their incomes on rent — for every Harris County Zip Code. [Houston Chronicle] Image: Houston Chronicle/Lydia DePillis
NEW MONTROSE APARTMENT LISTING SERVICE ON A LEASH Interested in seeing what kind of only-a-sign-in-the-yard rentals are available in Montrose, but don’t have time to walk the neighborhood with your dog to find them all and scoop up the phone numbers? No problem! Montrose Corgi Lady is doing it for you, and posting all the yard-and-sign pics she comes across (“Rentals I find while I’m out walking my dog”) on her new Tumblr. [Walkabout Rentals, via Reddit] Photo of 2501 Whitney St.: Montrose Corgi Lady
COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR INNER LOOP NEIGHBORS “Who wants to buy a house in the innermost area of Houston when you never know what horrible thing is gonna sprout 25 stories in the sky butted up next to your charming house and garden you spent so much time on? Renting is the only quick easy escape. Of course then your landlord sells the vintage apt bldg, gives tenants notice and the new owners tear it down. I feel sorry for my old neighbors, they’re about to have a colossal monstrosity next to them, after they put up with the banging and the big trucks and the port-a-potty that sits in the yard for 6 months. [Bethsheba, commenting on The First Look at That 25-Story Residential Highrise Hines Might Build in the Museum District] Illustration: Lulu
COMMENT OF THE DAY: NEIGHBORHOOD UPGRADES “. . . right now we have policies that are actively working to get rid of our affordable housing in Montrose (and other places as you point out). They’re just disguised as ‘registration’ and ‘certification’ to make sure places are ‘safe.’ That whole process should be scrapped. If someone has a run-down property people will either 1) not live in it, or 2) decide to live in it because the rent is conducive to the building quality. A ‘smart’ property owner might decide to upgrade the place to raise up the rents, whereas another owner may want to keep his place basic and get lower rents. Renters will decide where they want to go.
It’s not the government’s right to force someone to pay more rent because they don’t feel something is at a given level. I’ve said it here before: Almost every building we’ve upgraded and raised the rent on gave us new tenants simply because the previous tenants couldn’t afford it. So who really benefited by our upgrades? Most of our upgrades were done by us outside of government interference (we don’t need to be told to fix things that are obviously not right about the property, our renters, banks, insurance company, etc. do a good job at that) but there have been plenty of times where we’ve done things per city demand that have raised rents and driven current tenants out. I’m sure they’re really stoked that our hand rails in Montrose are now 36″ high vs. 32″ while they now are living in 5th ward rather than the neighborhood they loved and were priced out of . . .” [Cody, commenting on Comment of the Day: Saving Houston for the Next Generation of Newcomers]
A REPRIEVE FOR THE ALMOST AFTON OAKS APARTMENTS? Here’s more from the reader who a week ago predicted the demise of the recently sold “very well-made” 1955 apartment building at 4724 Oakshire Dr., shown here under the glimmering purview of the Williams Tower: “Well, now the latest rumor is that the new owners are not going to demo it (at least not right away) and tenants will have the option to do month-to-month renting with them (haven’t seen anything in writing yet, but the month-to-month thing doesn’t sound like they intend to keep the current complex in the long-term . . . .” Calls to the agent for more information haven’t been returned. [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot] Photos: Gary Greene
Back in 2010, Skanska said it was going to build and finance an office building in the Galleria all on its own. Swamplot showed you the first and second Kirksey-designed renderings. This one’s the third. And there’s another detail to add to the story: Skanska announced today that Datacert will be the first tenant. Though the planned 20-story, 300,000-sq.-ft. building at 3009 Post Oak is still under construction, Skanska says that Datacert should be able to move in on the 10th and 11th floors later this summer. Right now, the 15-year-old “enterprise legal management solutions” company is headquartered in a building a few doors down at 3040 Post Oak.
Rendering: Swamplot inbox
CLEAN YOUR OWN DAMN TOILET The rent ain’t so bad — just $350 a month for a 600-sq.-ft. single-bedroom house steps from Heights Blvd. and I-10. But you’ll be renting this place “as-is,” and these pics are here to help you figure out what that means. [HAR, via Swamplot inbox]
Fox26’s Isiah Carey reports that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be investigating a Royal Oaks resident’s complaints earlier this week — that security guards at the west-side neighborhood’s front gate had been refusing entry to visitors who were black. David Williams, who’s been renting a 3-bedroom home on Stuart Manor in the northern reaches of Royal Oaks, says he saw a note in the gatehouse informing security guards that “David Williams . . . is not allowed to have any company,” and that a guard told him “We personally don’t have a problem with you, but we’ll lose our jobs [if we let your friends in].” Williams also says that a group of people in a golf cart banged on his garage door on Memorial Day, used racial epithets, and said “You’re not going to move into our neighborhood.” Williams’s African-American guests have been getting through more recently, but community officials at Royal Oaks still have not returned Carey’s phone calls.
Ah, there’s no rest for a hardworking interior designer, even on vacation:
Each summer I go through a little drill when we arrive at our rental: I walk through the unit and hide all the pillows, accessories, paintings, fake plants, area rugs and assorted clutter in the guest closet. I can’t do anything about the paint job, so I just pretend it’s not there. Over the years I have accumulated an assortment of ready made slipcovers for the rentals, along with throw pillows, drop cloths, and Indian bedspreads which make great cover ups for nasty condo furniture. The picture above is off the rental web site – isn’t that couch a beauty?
And presto! What’s the scene after Joni Webb’s little annual adventure in summer rental redecorating?
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Communications director Vance Muse tells the River Oaks Examiner‘s Michael Reed that the foundation’s board won’t replace the bargain-rent Richmont Square Apartments in a way that’ll change the character of the Menil campus:
“It’s on our mind that we could, in a low-key Menil way, build a (residential) property along Richmond Avenue,” he said.
Apartments at Richmont Square range from $650 for one-bedroom, one-bath units of 575 square feet to $955 for two-bedroom, two-bath units of 1,064 square feet. Deposits are between $250 and $300.
Asked about the possibility of the Menil plan including dwellings that are priced similarly to what would be replaced, Muse said specifics have not been discussed yet.
“We’d like to keep it bohemian, if at all possible,” he said. “There has always been a commitment (by Menil) to offering a break.”
Photo of Richmont Square parking lot, 1400 Richmond Ave.: River Oaks Examiner
HOUSTON RENT DEALS A broker tells reporter Amy Wolff Sorter that no new multifamily apartments — beyond the 14,000 units currently “in the pipeline” — are likely to be built in the Houston area until 2012. MPF Research says the multifamily occupancy rate for this area is hanging at around 89.7 percent, not too far from where it was last year: “. . . rents continue to hold steady and concessions aren’t being jacked up in response, though they do exist. [MPF’s Greg] Willett points out that about 38% of the product on the market today has some sort of concession, with the typical giveaway hovering at a 9% discount, which translates to a little more than one month of free rent. Still, ‘that really hasn’t moved,’ Willett remarks. ‘We’ve been at that 9% figures for awhile.’ Both [Apartment Realty Advisors’ Matt] Rotan and [CB Richard Ellis’s Craig] LaFollette say that the infill locations are faring better than the outer submarkets, which are giving away up to two months free rent.” [Globe St.]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: KICKING BACK ON WASHINGTON AVE. “I live in the Core (since October 2008), and I’m certain that there are no plans to extend this complex across the street. The Core is a great place to live, but like every other large inner city complex, they’ve been slow to fill vacancies here. With that said, it would be foolish for them to even consider expanding. The last I heard, there were plans to put a small two story shopping strip there similar to the one on the other side of the Core. Still no solid plans though from anyone. By the way, if anyone wants to live here in the Core, put me as a reference and you and i both will get cash back.” [Hector Garcia, commenting on Washington Ave.: Extending The Core?]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: INNER LOOP RENTS, HARD AND HIGH “I have to disagree with rents being soft in the inner loop. I just relocated here in January and, unless things have changed, I found rents exceedingly high and availability low. Granted, I did not want a cookie cutter apartment, but I was blown away by the prices. I looked at the new Gables property on Kirby and they were $2,500 minimum a month for a two bedroom. The kicker was that they’d only accept a 18 month lease. I thought that was crazy. The Alexean on Westheimer was a little cheaper at $2,000 per month but it didn’t seem well built. I preferred condo’s or houses to apartment complexes and most of them were in the $2,000 plus range. Those under $2,000 that were nice rented almost immediately after coming on the market. I wound up in a two bedroom house in Montrose for $2,600 and everyone I talk to seems to think I got an ok deal. I have to concur that it seems more expensive to rent than buy. I certainly could have bought for less in this market but, being new to town, didn’t want to dive in to home ownership immediately. Anyone that says Houston is cheap hasn’t looked at inner loop real estate.” [Charlie, commenting on Where Rents Have Dropped]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE UPPER LIMITS OF INNER LOOP RENTS “The reason the inner loop is ‘soft’ is simple math. A tiny apartment is now something like $1,200 per month. Meanwhile, my mortgage on my inner-loop house is just over $1,300.” [me, commenting on Where Rents Have Dropped]