The Scumbag Landlord


G’day Barefoot,
My wife and I are very lucky. We own two investment properties that basically pay for themselves. Trouble is, we live in another state and rent ourselves. If we sold our two rentals we could afford to buy a family home for cash — but we feel obligated to our tenants. Both rentals have long-term tenants and we charge about $50 a week less than market to help them out. If we sold, they’d be out on their own and unlikely to be able to afford to rent anywhere nearby, and their kids would have to change schools and I’d feel like a scumbag capitalist. What should we do to not make two families homeless but get ourselves into our own home?

Hi Brendan,
You sound like the sort of bloke I’d like to have a non-alcoholic beer with.  
As a renter yourself you understand just how absolutely bonkers things are right now:
The national rental vacancy rate sits at just 0.9%, according to SQM Research. Meanwhile, rents have rocketed up 20.1% in the last 12 months alone!
I have never seen anything like it.
It’s a terrible situation, and one that I’m glad I don’t have to grapple with … as a renter, or a landlord.
After all, my share portfolio doesn’t have feelings (nor does it suffer burst water pipes at 3am), and my dividends just magically appear in my bank account a couple of times a year.  
That said, if I were in your shoes I’d sell the properties and buy your own family a home. That’s not because I’m a scumbag capitalist, but because your first responsibility is to your family.
Besides, there are other ways to help struggling people in your community than renting out a few joints slightly below the market rate. You could volunteer at a local food bank, or you could donate money to the Financial Counselling Foundation, who help and fight for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.


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