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RHINO members speak out

More comment and analysis from RHINO members
Bob Montgomery offers comments on the conflict of interests when service providers are also housing providers
",,,as a provider who is engaged in a firewall situation and operates some rentals in another I can say this. It is certainly easier for the provider when the dual responsibility doesn’t exist. However, in cases we are both provider and landlord we are far kinder and liberal in many cases than other landlords are. We provide a haven for people who other landlords have evicted and who have real difficulty finding housing on the open market. Some of these folks have not been able to do independent living in other environments." June 14, 2016
Bob is a social service housing provider in SE Ohio

Mary Clark reacts to Building Scrutiny  

You have to wonder which lender has offered these slum lords loans and what other sources of funding these investors use to obtain buildings in Cincinnati. Was the due diligence done for these larger loans? Was there private funding used instead?

Absentee and other local slum lords and Cincinnati have a long history together. Lack of maintenance is one of the most important reasons investment properties fail, along with a lack of experience in screening rental applicants and in running buildings. Managers can be licensed agents with or without experience, employees of owners with little experience, the investors themselves with little or no experience--Ohio has existing loopholes in management. Any so-called manager may be managing hundreds of units, almost alone and with little resources. Maintenance may consist of untrained, temporary contractors.

Utility costs have skyrocketed. Cincinnati is not an affordable place to live and given our usual low pay rates, especially for women and single heads of households, many rentals will continue to be out of reach for working families who typically live in these substandard rentals. That is costing all of us who live here.

Market rate rentals also can be sources of problems for communities and have similar issues. We somehow don't seem to be able to communicate standards and to enforce them, subsidized or market rate. While luxury development is common here, often using taxpayer dollars, we rarely hear facts about the need for affordable housing.We have heard about housing courts before. Proposed solutions like housing courts (tried before and found ineffective) are always done with taxpayer funds.

We are all paying the costs for these investors, over and over again. These are not responsible investors and they likely never were. We never seem to look at what we can do to prevent more of these building failures. As an agent with a background in rental housing, especially multifamilies, I have always wondered what we can do to bring standards to investment and how to mandate some kind of education for any entity or person planning on purchasing rental housing in Ohio. This is a complicated situation but the lack of education for prospective investors seems to be an important aspect which is overlooked. Mary Clark        January 17, 2016
Mary is a rental property manager in the Hamilton County area.

Mary Clark responds to Brown Brothers conviction in Cleveland.

Thanks for letting us all know. We never hear about these cases in other cities. As an agent who works in rentals, I can tell anyone that there are no words to fully describe what these criminals really are.

It sounds as though these chronic slum lords got what they deserved. Enforcement is crucial and I hope these two longtime criminals are forced to pay as the court intended. Maybe 4 million will put them out of business. As long as they own rental property, they will be causing problems for everyone else. You have to wonder who else is still on their payroll, doing what and under what names.

In Cincinnati, we had the Jimmy Mitchell case back in the market bubble days, 2003-2004. He became famous for rapes of over 30 women and thefts of utilities in the tens of thousands of dollars. I had dealt with Mitchell in a severe manner when he refused to reimburse $99 to my approved tenant for her deposit and I was beyond thrilled when he finally got caught. Mitchell was also a liar, through and through. My tenant was honest, single, young, poor and could not afford Mitchell's theft of her deposit.

We had no idea exactly what he was doing in Cincinnati. Mitchell finally went to prison for his crimes. It took 13 women out of the original 30 to convict Mitchell. They were mostly afraid to testify since they expected retaliation for daring to speak out about this Mitchell creature; "retaliation" would mean never getting another rental since they went up against a landlord. We have a lot of slum lords in Cincinnati and always have.

When women have records, they find it hard to find rentals. They can become prey for these kinds of criminals since we don't have rentals which are safe and affordable for everyone. Jimmy Mitchell preyed on women who could not find housing. He harmed a lot of people before he was finally caught. To my knowledge, Mitchell kept ownership of his own buildings even after conviction here in Cincinnati. Mitchell was supposed to be from Virginia.

These kinds of slum lords need to be forced to sell and forced out of rental housing. They will offend again. If these criminals are part of another investment LLC, they will simply hide behind the new name, go on breaking the law and costing taxpayers a ton of cash. If we ever had sufficient law to go after these slum lords and force improvement on a mass basis, Ohio would save a lot of money. The blight caused by slum lords harms whole communities, besides the tenants who endure an absolute hell.

Some out of town investors also hire local scum to get cash from their very bad quality properties. Qualified managers refuse to do what some of these out of town investors demand so they will get rid of the better manager and sign on with the Jimmy Mitchells of the rental world. These criminals offer to manage properties and end up causing failures after failures for everyone involved. These individuals prove to be terrible managers and lose money, too. It turns out that these criminals are also lousy in real estate--they just can't work.

I am so happy to hear of this case. Let's hope it forces these individuals out of business. We don't want this in real estate.  Mary Clark January 16, 2016 
Mary is a rental property manager in the Hamilton County area.

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