Homes get decorated for the holidays. Car companies, carpet cleaning companies, mattress companies, and everyone else are now using Santa Claus in their advertisements. We put on our snow tires and write our end-of-the year letters to friends and families.

So, here is mine:

Thank you. I have had a great 2 year run as your Rental Housing Alliance Oregon President. And now it’s time for a change.

The new in-coming President is Ken Schriver. I introduced him in a letter last year. Although he has only been a RHA Oregon member for a little more than a year, in my opinion, he is the most qualified person to take the helm at this time.

Ken’s status as a small landlord, his background as a retired physics professor and the unwavering support he has shown by attending nearly every City Council and Residential Services Commission meeting in Portland for the last year has demonstrated his commitment to improving our organization. He will excel as an advocate, instructor and champion of landlord rights.

From my point of view, it does feel a little like all the tenant/landlord drama that had been brewing for the last 20 years erupted on my watch, but that’s not exactly true. Past presidents including John Sage and Phil Owen have both spent countless hours addressing the Tenant Landlord Coalition and testifying in front of housing commissions over the years.

Our organization has changed and evolved. When Liz Carpenter was President, we re-branded because she recognized that we were more than the “Rental Housing Association of Greater Portland .” By becoming Rental Housing Alliance Oregon, we firmly (re) asserted our position as having a statewide influence.

We have many members who joined our organization when we were the Oregon Apartment Association; a name that no longer seems to identify us well at all.

The French say “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.” As I say my farewell, I can see much more change ahead. Though I would like to say, “that volcano has erupted”, I can’t – as it is sure to spew again in February when legislators return to Salem. Last week, our Lobbyist Cindy Robert and I gave a dinner presentation about the effects of this November’s election where the Democrats got their “grand slam” of a Super Majority in the state capitol.

I offered the “Cup ½ full” theory to say there is a lot we can do as rental property owners to prepare for what’s coming.
I will share those thoughts with you here, with my acronym C.U.P.:

i. C – Clean your house
1. Take time and money to invest in your property:
a. Fix mold, safety and drainage issues, update the mechanicals.
2. Have a 3rd party do your inspections and seek independent feedback.
3. Clean up your finances:
a. Make sure your security deposits are accounted for.
b. Increase all of your maintenance reserves.
ii. U – Update your tenancies:
1. Toss out old forms and eliminate old clauses and outdated policies.
2. Create a communication plan with tenants.
a. Not your 24 hour mobile number.
b. Repairs, rent payments, and walk throughs need to be documented.
3. Stop having “relationships” with them:
a. Respect their privacy, individuality, and don’t do drive bys.
iii. P – Participate in your organization:
1. Go to classes – again! Go to meetings – and talk to more people!
2. Network and use the vendors – recruit your team of professionals.
3. Join the board, or a committee and be involved in your industry.
4. Contact your Representatives (they’re published in the RHA Newsletter).

In closing, I hope we can all do what we can to improve our businesses, by improving our businesses, and represent each of ourselves as Good Landlords. (Nothing new with that message, right?)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Ron Garcia, RHA Oregon President