Back to School

Ah – September. The days are not quite as long, our mailboxes (or inboxes) are full of Labor Day sales ads, and millions are gearing up to go back to school. When my wife and I first became landlords, we both worked full-time jobs at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. This time each year marked a bittersweet shift in our lives as we returned from our relatively unstructured summer schedules to the routine of teaching classes, advising students, and serving on committees. Our primary tenant base comprised of mostly graduate and professional students, so we often also had turnovers at our rental properties. September was a busy time.

Today, I look back with some amazement at how we were able to balance all the demands of our time at our “day jobs” and still manage our rental properties. How times have changed. The rapidly changing environment for housing providers here in Oregon, and specifically in Portland, has significantly increased the time I spend on property management issues; it is only because we don’t both work full-time that we are able to hold on to our property rental business. I suspect this is true for many RHA members; regulatory changes in our business have far outpaced the ability of most of us to keep up.

So, as the yellow buses return to the roads, and the crossing guards return to the crosswalks, take a moment to consider your personal back-to-school strategy. Are you up to date on this year’s statewide law covering rent-control and no-cause terminations? If you have properties in the City of Portland, are you fully familiar and compliant with the (now permanent) relocation ordinance? Are you ready for the new screening and security deposit regulations coming March 1?

If you have mastered all these topics, congratulations! If you haven’t, you might consider going back-to-school yourself and enrolling in some classes offered by RHA Oregon this fall. We will be covering these topics regularly as part of our introductory and special topics classes. You might also attend one of our dinner meetings: this month features Adam Abplanalp of The Cobalt Group, a Portland accounting firm that has many landlords as clients. As you may have discovered this past April, the 2018 Tax Cuts and Job Act had several consequences for housing providers. Adam will be speaking on “Tax and Accounting Strategies for Landlords,” including a review of new Oregon tax laws, the TCJA, and what you can do this year to maximize tax savings. I hope to see you there.

Also, September is FEMA National Preparedness month. This isn’t just about hurricanes on the Eastern Seaboard – we here in Oregon should also prepare for the various possible disasters that may affect our properties and our tenants. Whether you are renting out single family homes or multiplexes, I hope that at least one of your tenants knows where the fire extinguishers are located, and how to turn off the water, gas, and electric supplies to your property in the event of an emergency.

Finally, a HUGE thank you to the many affiliate and dual members of RHA Oregon that sponsored our annual picnic last month. You will find them listed elsewhere in this issue. While there are many topics we can master through ongoing education and experience, some things are best handled by other professionals. Please look first to these service providers when you are looking for help with your property management.

Ken SchriverRHA Oregon President