BRATTLEBORO — I have been following the letters and public hearings and coverage regarding the proposed amendment to the Brattleboro Town Charter relating to evictions of housing tenants.
What BSAG Realty has done to tenants at Westbrook Court is, I believe, an example of why some persons and entities choose to be absentee owners: so they do not have to even see the faces of the people whose lives they are completely upending.
I am also convinced, however, that we have many good landlords in Brattleboro, partly because they are not absentee and partly because they have values that lead them to provide people with quality housing and a decent housing experience. Because of that, I believe the proposed charter amendment is not a good fit or fix for our community.
While some parts of the amendment attempt to make the eviction process fairer, it will also make it more bureaucratic and lengthier.
What will happen if it passes? In my opinion, it would result in a worse situation for other tenants - including quite possibly more crime next door to them - because it will be so time-consuming to get rid of problem tenants. In my opinion, it would make our current local landlords less willing to continue being owners in Brattleboro - let alone develop badly needed new units.
The proposed amendment is certainly well intentioned. Some of its more limited proposals, like its 12% cap on yearly rent increases, strike me as fair. It will not, however, solve (and may exacerbate) the shortness of housing supply that is allowing high rents to begin with, and it will not solve (and may exacerbate) the issue of unruly (and sometimes criminal) tenants.
I am not a landlord, but I am firmly with them - the local ones - on this one. They should be proud of the service they supply, and we should make them feel appreciated for investing in our community.