Stereotypes of apartment renters

Americans who are homeowners, whether they own single-family homes, condos, and townhomes, are typically regarded as respectable, hard-working, and upstanding citizens who have sought after the American Dream. But there are different opinions regarding those who rent apartments. Here is an example from Manteca, California:

You rarely see landlords for single family homes that stringent and quite frankly, not all homeowners could pass such muster.

That is why it is a tad absurd that a number of homeowners when confronted with news that someone is proposing a $30 million apartment complex in their neighborhood believe it will be allowed to be occupied by rowdy, inconsiderate slobs, who will park cars all over the adjoining neighborhood and pursue a lifestyle that will drive home prices down.

If you want to see such behavior, there are plenty examples in Manteca neighborhoods – including those built since 2000.

No one is debating that there aren’t examples of somewhat trashy older apartment complexes that let everything go to hell. In Manteca, though, they are fairly rare due to the aggressive stance the city has taken. And in fairness to many owners of smaller and older apartment buildings in town where rents definitely are more affordable they are doing a good job of keeping their complexes in shape and devoid of problem tenants.

To go after single family homes whose tenants create such problems is much more difficult as often a landlord will have only one or two homes and live out of the area.

It is also true that the much more stringent construction and development standards of today make it next to impossible for rents for new complexes to be relatively low. That is why Paseo Apartments starts out at $975 a month for a one bedroom and one bathroom apartment.

In my research on suburban development, I found a number of examples where suburbanites were opposed to apartments because of the type of people who live in apartments. One complaint was about the transient nature of apartment living. The assumption was that single-family homeowners are more rooted in a community while apartment dwellers move more frequently and care less about individual municipalities. Having too many apartments would mean that a greater proportion of residents wouldn’t really care about the community. This was commonly tied to the disruption of a community’s single-family home character

But a second complaint included thoughts about low-income residents and seemed tied at times to race and ethnicity. Since these suburbs were heavily white, apartments were seen as places where less wealthy and non-white residents could live. Such residents might engage in more uncouth behavior, sullying the reputation of idyllic, white suburbs. Apartment complexes are viewed as crime magnets because lower-income, non-white residents are assumed to be more prone to crime.

It sounds like both issues might be taking place in Manteca: even nicer apartment complexes with high rents and amenities are not granted the moral equivalency of a nice single-family home neighborhood. Additionally, the author tries to point out that there is anti-social behavior in single-family homes as well as apartment complexes but this isn’t often recognized.

With all of the talk about more multi-family housing construction, these issues will need to be overcome in many communities.

(Side note: a third complaint about apartments I found is the argument that apartments don’t generate enough tax revenue for the services that will be required. This commonly is tied to school funding as apartments, depending on their price and size, might attract more families who will overburden the schools. So senior apartments might be more likely to be approved than three or four bedroom apartments that will likely draw families to the community.)

4 thoughts on “Stereotypes of apartment renters

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