Archive for the ‘Renting’ Category

Service of a Well-Meaning Initiative That Creates More Problems than it Solves

Thursday, April 27th, 2023

Image by Stanly8853 from Pixabay

As a person blessed with many advantages, I’m all for leveling the playing field. I have for years supported college scholarship initiatives for example and charities best I can.

Yet so many negative thoughts or images came to mind when I heard about the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s changes that kick in May 1 that will impact mortgages. I think that while the agency attempts to help some, it will result in creating resentment and more divisiveness between people of different income levels than already exists. I struggled with economics in college. If the finest financial minds came up with this initiative, it’s clear I’d have similar problems were I to take the course today. It’s counterintuitive.

What am I rambling on about? “A new federal rule could raise the monthly mortgage payments of buyers with good credit scores by over $60 a month, while riskier borrowers will get more favorable terms because their fees will be reduced,” Katherine Fung wrote in Newsweek.

The parable of the prodigal son came to mind and while I know I should root for him, I have always empathized with the hard-working older brother who wasn’t celebrated. Next, I envisioned the child who gobbles his ice cream cone while a parent demands the other kids give him a few licks from their treats that remain only because they have taken their time to make theirs last.

Fung reported: “Only about 25 percent of homebuyers with Federal Housing Administration loans are people of color, according to the White House. Black and Hispanic people, on average, have fewer savings to use as a down payment on a home and tend to have lower credit scores, according to David Stevens, former CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and a former FHA commissioner during the Obama administration. The current policy is being rolled out by the FHFA.”

She wrote: “The effort to get more low-income Americans and Americans of color into homeownership is essentially being subsidized by borrowers who have better credit scores and can contribute more to their down payment, Michael Borodinsky, a vice president at Caliber Home Loans, told Newsweek.”

I want to know: Why is home ownership the Holy Grail? To maintain a home costs a lot of money. The down payment and mortgage are only the beginning. If the furnace, roof, washing machine and dryer hold together one year, the plumbing, lawnmower, chimney, or deck can give out the next. Like a fur coat or printer, the initial cost is just the start: One needs to pay for cold storage for the former while the latter devours costly cartridges.

I am an anomaly. I’ve been equally happy in the home and apartments I’ve owned or rented. I’ve maintained and respected each one. After a wonderful superintendent left my first Brooklyn apartment—a rental—he was replaced by a slob. Before my dinner company came I’d shine the brass elevator doorknob in the lobby and on my floor.

The only answer I can come up with to level the mortgage playing field is to endorse an initiative that removes the stigma about renting an apartment or home and stop glorifying home/apartment ownership. Owning a home is not necessary as is a chicken in every pot. And we have hardly solved the hunger problems here.

The government is putting out mixed signals by punishing those who have worked hard to maintain their credit ratings and have saved to accumulate a substantial down payment.

Is it mean to wonder whether a family that’s unable to save a substantial downpayment and pay bills on time will be able to maintain their home and pay their mortgage?

What ideas do you have that might give a leg up to some while not penalizing those who did things according to Hoyle?

Image by Hans Benn from Pixabay 

Service of Home or Hotel for Vacation

Monday, September 26th, 2022

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Long before Airbnb existed my dream was to rent a Paris apartment for a few days so I could play house, buy amazing breakfast and lunch goodies at the local grocery store, say “bonjour Madame” to the concierge and pretend I lived there.

An acquaintance rents one of her homes in season and charges for maid service which worked perfectly for years until this particular guest visited. The tenant’s family trashed the house which resulted in additional hours for the cleanup crew to restore it for next guests. They also ruined a carpet. You wonder how some people live. The tenants will not see a penny of their deposit nor this house again

Which brings me to Preetika Rana’s Wall Street Journal article,  “Welcome to Your Airbnb, the Cleaning Fees Are $143 and You’ll Still Have to Wash the Linens–Growing to-do lists despite soaring charges stress travelers; ‘This kind of changes the whole vibe’”

The reporter wrote about one frequent participant who became anxious about the list of “to do’s” she faced on the last day. For starters they went from laundering sheets and vacuuming to washing the dishes. Her Airbnb “had an exhaustive list of cleaning requirements and she wasn’t going to let her guest rating dip over it……’You don’t want to wake up at 6 a.m. to do chores when you’re on vacation,'” said the guest. She found it all “stressful.”

As a result Rana reported, “Some are switching back to hotels to avoid the hassle and the clean-up fees that can be hundreds of dollars.” Because there was no trash pickup, one guest had to take hers with her when she left. I want to know: What would you do with the garbage if you’d flown to the destination and rented a car?

How does Airbnb suggest that hosts handle maintenance? “‘Would you like guests to load dirty dishes into the dishwasher or strip the bed linen before checkout? If so, consider charging a very minimal cleaning dishwasher fee—or no fee at all.’”

One Airbnb host, according to Rana, doesn’t approve of the lists of chores as he feels it pushes potential guests to hotels.

In addition to respecting the furniture and fixtures of a home or apartment you’re renting–which would be true of furniture and fixtures at any hotel as well–how much cleanup are you willing to do while on vacation?

Image by Peggy from Pixabay

Service of Give Me My Money Back

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Under what conditions should people ask for their money back these days and when should a company, person or organization comply?

A friend’s summer tenant at a weekend home tried to wiggle out of his commitment saying he didn’t know, with quarantines and shelter at home ordinances, if he’d be able to get there for the time he’d reserved. She isn’t giving him his money back and her contract backs her.

I heard of a person who asked for a deep discount on her rent–which her landlord granted because there were no washing machines on premises and the local laundry businesses closed–after she left NYC for a family member’s weekend home.

Parents are asking for their money back for dancing school classes their children can’t attend and organizations worry that annual fee-paying members will want refunds because meetings, networking opportunities and educational events are cancelled.

Universities, colleges and private schools might be parrying parent and student demands for reimbursement. Food, book and flowers-of-the-month clubs that can’t meet delivery commitments might be hearing from customers.

Theater owners have given back money to friends with advance tickets.

What about gift card holders for restaurants, hair stylists or gyms that aren’t open and may not reopen? The phone bill for an office you’re not in and the rent for the empty space? The list never ends.

Many have proved that a contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and that clever lawyers can always find a loophole. Have you run into this if you’re a landlord, business owner or association executive? Do you plan to ask for reimbursement for anything? What about the person or organizations holding the bag–where do they go if they’re not paid? Is everyone being too hasty?

Service of It’s New to Me: Sharing Luxury Watches & Eyewear & Clever WC Access

Monday, August 7th, 2017

I appreciate learning about fresh business practices and ideas. Here are three that were new to me.


We were at a tea shop in the Village the other week and discovered a clever way to control WC access for customers only. The login number to open the door on a lock system similar to the one above was printed on our receipt! Another customer had to point this out to us.

Rent Luxury

The next two examples relate to rentals. Most know that you can rent art, jewelry for posh events, movies, furniture, housing, cars, gowns, tents, tableware, tables and chairs for parties. I didn’t realize that there are businesses that rent high-end watches and designer eyewear!

Oh and today, what for years was called renting is today often called “sharing.”

Tick Tock

I heard about Eleven James from an acquaintance who recently started a job at “your annual membership club for luxury timepieces.” Its fees range from $149 to $800/month. Founded by Randy Brandoff in 2014, reporters Dennis Green and Hollis Johnson said his inspiration for the concept came from his former employer’s clients. As a NetJets executive he observed that the wealthy clientele of that company–that sells part ownership or shares of private business jets–loved luxury watches. Brands in the collection, according to the article, are new and vintage models of “Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, IWC, Tag Hueer, Tudor, Breitlig and more.” They are said to be worth “in the eight figures.”

On its website Eleven James promises to check, clean, resize and if necessary service every watch that members return. Members keep them from three to six months and collect points by treating them with care. The points allow them to upgrade their memberships and gain equity toward purchases.

Brandoff told the reporters that his customers fall into the “try before you buy” category; millennials discovering watches–they depend on their phones to tell time—and want to test what they think about wearing one before spending $thousands as well as recipients of corporate gifts.

I Can See Clearly Now sent me a press release in an email. On its Facebook page it describes itself as “a designer eyewear rental platform. You pay a monthly subscription and get unlimited pairs of sunglasses and optical wear [includes lenses & shipping].” According to their press release, members can “swap out pairs as desired and keep the ones they love for less than retail price.” Founded by Rida Khan, members have access to brands such as Tom Ford, Balmain, Jimmy Choo, Philip Lim and Versace.

According to the release, “Eyedesired offers both prescription glasses and sunglasses for men and women. The company carries frames from more than 100 fashion designers and brands in thousands of different styles. A basic subscription starts at $45*** per month and gives subscribers instant access to designer frames that retail from $200 to upwards of $1,000. Free single-vision lenses and shipping are included for optical rentals.” ***The website notes that unlimited sunglass rentals cost $29/month.

In addition to housing, what have you rented? If luxury watches and eyewear are your passions and money is no object, would you consider renting either or both?

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