Letter to the Editor: Paul Kenny

Township resident offers missive in favor of local, non-corporate landlords.

To the Editor, 

Ma and Pa landlords, also called small landlords, are average middle-class people.  Ma and Pa landlords are the largest providers of affordable housing in New Jersey. For those people looking for affordable housing they are most likely to be renting from a landlord that has between one and several rentals. Ma and Pa landlords are not rich, just hard working and they make sure their bills are paid on time, which usually means they have good enough credit to buy a rental property. Rentals are a business, and being a small landlord pretty much is being a business manager.

These Ma and Pa landlords are our affordable housing providers. Oftentimes they will buy a damaged, unlivable house and rehab the house to restore a neighborhood and then create a home for someone to rent for a very reasonable price. Renting from these kinds of landlords is usually less money than having to rent from a corporate office. 

There have been many who stereotype the small landlord as “slumlords,” not that there is any evidence that the rental is a slum or in a slum, 

Popular media usually vilifies the Ma and Pa landlord.  But, many times, it’s the landlords who will invest in a slum and fix up the houses in a neighborhood, so their properties are part of a neighborhood revitalization. 

As said before, the small landlord is the most likely to provide affordable housing. But the perception, often reinforced by popular media, is that all landlords are rich. While property investment is a path to wealth, the small Ma and Pa landlord is not rich.  The rich do not bother with affordable housing because it is management intensive and, being rich, they don’t need the hassle. Mostly, the affordable housing investment properties are part of middle-class retirement nest eggs, or a means for financing a child’s college, or both. 

Ma and Pa landlords are not the enemy. 

Paul Kenny

Cherry Hill, N.J.