By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Housing is complicated.
It’s been a century or two in dog-years since I’ve been a renter.
And being a home-owner is complicated, expensive and stressful enough for any person or family.
When you own a home, you get to pay for every little thing that breaks, leaks, gets clogged, wears out or explodes.
And yes, I’m speaking from experience.
You ever notice that plumbing explodes or disintegrates (or both) only on Sundays or holidays?
And the first principle of home ownership is that you get to fix everything – or pay someone else to fix it.
Yes, it is “yours” – but if it really “yours”, you will never stop paying for it.
Or worrying about it.
Owning a house is like adopting – or being a adopted by – a child that never lets go. And never grows up.
But there is an alternative
Renting is, or at least once was, a temporary, and necessarily affordable housing alternative to home ownership.
The last time I rented a place, rent was cheap, deposits were few (most just a security deposit) and, at least among the places I rented, the owner was nearby and responsive.
I’ve never lived in an apartment complex with distant corporate owners – which seems to be the model or only alternative for most renters now.
And instead of a single deposit, there are security deposits, pet deposits, cleaning deposits and damage deposits, among others.
Taken individually, these are largely reasonable and are used to cover any damages or amounts owed by the tenant when they vacate.
In buildings of hundreds of units, these deposits become ever more essential.
The purpose of a deposit is that it should ensure that landlords are covering themselves against any risk and potential losses when renting to a tenant.
For single-family homes, a deposit of one month of rent is fairly common to protect against any possibility of unpaid rent.
Apartments generally, or at least in the past, have had much lower deposit requirements.
As in every other area, that was then and this is now
According to research conducted by RedFin, rents in the US jumped 14% in 2021.
But it’s not just rents that have gone up.
Deposits and complications (and stress levels) have gone up at least as much.
One renter with a solid income and good credit, posted his account of an apartment that required 6 months rent in advance, along with a security deposit of $3,100, adding up to a total deposit of just under $12,000.
And, no, that’s not a mistake.
You can see the gruesome details here: www.boredpanda.com/landlord-huge-apartment-deposit-jeong-park/?.
If you are interested in how this situation is spread around the USA in more than 350 metros and all 50 states, take a look here: https://www.stessa.com/blog/american-cities-with-highest-rents/.
As you might guess, some are higher than others. Arkansas is the most affordable state for rent at $881 per month—approximately one-third of the median rent cost in the most expensive state, Hawaii.
Fun fact; in yet another case of how expensive it is to be poor, many near-luxury apartments charge far lower deposits.