Monday, January 19, 2009

for_rent.gov


Forgive me if this is a bit of a ramble, and forgive me if I sound a very shrieking Cassandra, but...

When I gingerly dipped my toe in the pool of housing management, I'd no idea I was embarking on a career in a growth industry. Actually, I didn't expect anything which might be deemed a career here, but so it seems to have turned out.

I have long suspected that property taxes were a disincentive by the powers that be for individuals to own land and the improvements (structures) thereon. If I purchase a piece of land, I have no problem with paying a one-time tax at the time of purchase for the transfer of title, etc. I recognize there is infrastructure provided by the city/county/state/utilities which make my land usable for whatever service I should require from roads to utilites. Why can I not pay for the particular services/repairs to my property on an as-needed basis? Rather, however, than have a tax on actual usage, these taxes are often bundled together in the form of annual tax on the property which are monolithically levied against all private property owners. If I fail to pay taxes on a property I legally own, the government can legally take it from me. In other words, by virtue of what they term taxes, I am permanently renting my land from a government which has the final say in its value, disposition and monies owed.

I am not saying that I will never again own property, but I will be paying annual taxes on same begrudgingly. Such arrangements make very long leases from private interests sound more appealing by the minute.

Come to that, as more and more residential properties revert to banks who hold the mortgages, and as more and more of these banks are owned by the federal government, I see in the road ahead a tipping point at which our government will become residential landlord to millions in fact. After all, people need to live somewhere, and houses left empty fall apart and lose their value more quickly than houses which are occupied. The compromise of renting out the millions of empty houses will be the only real option for the government to protect their "investment" in these structures, with the toothsome fringe benefit that the government will have even more purview over the people who live in those houses. Remember that a landlord has a fiduciary duty to protect the interests of the property owners they represent, and if you read your residential lease carefully, you will see that at any time, the landlord or property maintenance can legally enter your residence for any reason which may involve concern for proper mechanical or systems operation in your apartment/house. I'm not saying the powers that be would have their landlords and ladies misuse that right to enter a private residence, but I'm also saying that until the powers that be have an actual face, name and mailing address, I'm not going to ascribe to them the moral high ground when it comes to respecting the right to privacy of every American citizen. Call me cynical.

All the while I'm asking myself who are the powers that be I am also wondering how do they benefit from a mere lowly person like myself being financially compromised? Why do I have a staggering fraction of my paycheck confiscated and then I have to pay additional taxes from the change that's left over from the dollar I bloody well earned through my own sweat and ingenuity?

More rental houses mean more landlords and landladies. Considering the necessary degree of strict regulation (in other words, no real opportunities to manage and make decisions, coupled with the possible horrid potential for violaiting the rights of others), I'm guessing Landladies of the Electric variety need not apply. Not that an Electric Landlady would want the job.

Oh well. Time for a change, anyhoo.

10 comments:

alan said...

I hadn't considered that possibility, Phlegmmy. Pretty scary.

Anonymous said...

Screw all of this, call me Mrs. Grizzly Adams. -A

Old NFO said...

Well Said Phlegmmy... Only problem is, the government couldn't even run a whorehouse and make a profit... Howinthehell do you expect them to actually do anything more than take our money for nothing?

The whorehouse was Mustang Ranch in Nevada, taken for lack of payment of taxes...

g bro said...

"Electric Landlady?" Wasn't that a Hendrix album?

You are right about renting from the government. It would be better if I could see more for my money. Almost half my taxes go to the school district, which has many of my colleagues living in the 'burbs to avoid sending their children to HISD.

night lightning woman said...

Excellent post. I agree. As government does more and more, property taxes go up and up, and others added on. Not to mention some of the nit-picky city code regulatons that bring in additional revenues in fines and increasingly dictate what our properties must look like, no matter what.

Buck said...

Interesting line of thought (gub'mint as land/slumlord), Phlegmmy, and NOT beyond the pale. I'm hoping you're wrong, tho. We'll just have to wait 'n' see, eh?

Becky said...

I hadn't really thought of the connection between the government-owned banks and the property taxes. One thing that drives me crazy here in WA is that since we don't have a state income tax, they often get a lot of the funding they need from property taxes, despite the fact that EVERYONE can benefit from the improvement (like fixing up Pike's Place Market). Our sales tax is already at 9.5%.

Zelda said...

Be careful there, Phlegmmy. You are coming dangerously close to questioning.

DirtCrashr said...

Property is Crime therefore you must be Taxed!
We tried to kill Property tax increases with our Prop 13 that indexes tax costs with purchase price and date - and the Teacher's Union who drive the majority of the Districts and benefits, and then passes those on to their favorite politicians, is furious. They will not be denied.

Miz Minka said...

Excellent post. For once I'm glad I'm only renting anyway, 'cause my ex got all the property.