If you want to rent in the Hancock you might be out of luck or on a waiting list after next months Condo Board Meeting for the John Hancock Condo Association. It appears that the board has decided to vote on a measure to limit the number of rentals the building may have. Currently the building is comprised of 705 residential units, 142 of which are currently rented. The condo board seeks to cap rentals at 145 units, an action which 2 residents say violates the condo board bylaws. Such a measure, according to the 2 residents’ attorney, must be put t0 a vote by the entire association and a 2/3 majority would need to be reached in order to pass.

The question remains however, is it healthy for a building to limit the number of rentals? Most owners don’t want renters in their building because they claim it “changes the lifestyle and brings down the value of the building.” While this may be true in some cases, there is actually a bigger concern which is the finance-ability of units. When a building has a large number of rentals, the risk is inherently higher for a lender, therefore many lenders have specific requirements which state the building cannot have the number of rental units exceed 20%, 25%, etc. The thought behind the “rental cap argument” is simple – limit the number of renters, keep the quality of the resident high, the ability to finance to remain stable and therefore we will preserve the value of everyone’s units.

Here is the problem with this thought. Imagine you have just received a new job offer in another state, or perhaps you just lost your job and can no longer afford your mortgage payments. What do you do? Well, if your building allows you to rent out your unit you have the option: Either Sell or Rent. In this current marketplace is it not advantageous for many owners to sell, especially if they bought or refinanced in the past decade. If you need to sell NOW, meaning in the next 60 to 90 days would you price your home to get the price you WANTED? Or would you price it below everything else (that is comparable to your unit) in the building in order to ensure that your unit sells in the next 60 days? You would price it low; plain and simple.

The problem with limiting rentals is exactly what I stated above. For those who need to get out of their unit, they are no longer left with the option of renting, they must sell. This can increase the supply on the market in a specific building. Furthermore, such desperate sellers will NEED to lower their price in order to move their unit quickly, thus pulling down the values in the building. Even though other sellers may not be as desperate a precedence has still been set by the other units that sold quickly. Buyers who will be looking at the building will say “Unit 5507 sold for 550k, therefore I’m not going to pay more than that for 5407 which is on the market at 625k.”


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