Milford landlords are working out how they’ll handle a new $50 fee on each property they own.


Milford landlords are working out how they’ll handle a new $50 fee on each property they own.

The first bills have gone out, for $50 per rental unit – which brings the total to four-digit levels for some landlords – and they’ll be due this January.

For many renters, it’s going to mean a higher bill each month, as landlords start charging an extra $50 a year.

“It’s really kind of like when the school district raises taxes; they all realize it’s ultimately going to be reflected in their rent,” said Randy Marvel, owner of Marvel Agency and through it one of the larger collections of rental homes and apartments in Milford.

But in the end, that decision is up to individual landlords. Some, especially those who don’t own many properties, are paying the fee themselves, without increasing rent. That includes both council member Irvin Ambrose, who was one of the law’s main supporters, and Lincoln resident Spyro Stamat, one of its most outspoken opponents.

“I’m kicking around the idea of lowering my rents by $25 a month instead,” Stamat said. “It would hurt me, but it would send a message that I don’t want to lose my tenants.”

“You have to provide a balance, where it’s a good rent for your tenants,” said Craig Jaffey, who manages Parson Thorne Apartments. “No matter what your expenses are, you want to set it at a point where the tenant can pay it.”

Others are taking the hit not out of generosity, but because they can’t raise rents under the terms of the leases they’ve signed with their tenants. Many contracts say that the rent can only increase a certain number of times per year, or can’t increase at all for the first year of the lease

“Ultimately we will pass that fee along to everyone, but with our tenants, they all have leases, and their rent can only be raised once per year,” Marvel said. “If we have someone who moved in during November, that rent can’t increase until 2009…Until then, we just deal with it.”

The fee is expected to raise over $60,000 for the city next year. That money will go to pay the salary of a new code enforcement officer, whose job will be to keep watch on residences – both rentals and permanent homes – to make sure they’re up to code.

“We have to hope this new person is going to make a difference,” Stamat said. “We need to get something for all this money.”

Exactly how much it will end up costing renters is still up in the air.

“This is going to become one more expense that you put into the scheme of things,” Jaffey said. “With taxes, maintenance, improvements to the complex, staffing. It all adds in.”

“We also have to look competitively at what everybody else is charging, to make sure our rents are in line,” Marvel said.

Even if every landlord in Milford were to raise the cost of every rental unit in town by $50 a year, they’d still lose money. That’s because they still have to pay the fee for every unit they own, whether or not somebody lives there. And by definition, there’s no rent coming from a vacant home.

Marvel said that isn’t part of his calculations. 

“We just have to eat it. It’s the same thing with taxes or other expenses – there’s a certain vacancy percentage you just have to factor in.”

Local representatives of larger apartment complexes, including Silver Lake Estates, said their management companies had not yet worked out plans to deal with the new fee.

For many renters, it’s going to mean a higher bill each month, as landlords start charging an extra $50 a year.

“It’s really kind of like when the school district raises taxes; they all realize it’s ultimately going to be reflected in their rent,” said Randy Marvel, owner of Marvel Agency and through it one of the larger collections of rental homes and apartments in Milford.

The first bills have gone out, for $50 per rental unit – which brings the total to four-digit levels for some landlords – and they’ll be due this January.

In the end, that decision is up to individual landlords. Some, especially those who don’t own many properties, are paying the fee themselves, without increasing rent. That includes both council member Irvin Ambrose, who was one of the law’s main supporters, and Lincoln resident Spyro Stamat, one of its most outspoken opponents.

“I’m kicking around the idea of lowering my rents by $25 a month instead,” Stamat said. “It would hurt me, but it would send a message that I don’t want to lose my tenants.”

Others are taking the hit not because they’re being generous, but because they can’t raise rents under the terms of the leases they’ve signed with their tenants. Many contracts say that the rent can only increase a certain number of times per year, or can’t increase at all for the first year of the lease

“Ultimately we will pass that fee along to everyone, but with our tenants, they all have leases, and their rent can only be raised once per year,” Marvel said. “If we have someone who moved in during November, that rent can’t increase until 2009…Until then, we just deal with it.”

The fee is expected to raise over $60,000 for the city next year. That money will go to pay the salary of a new code enforcement officer, whose job will be to keep watch on residences – both rentals and permanent homes – to make sure they’re up to code.

“We have to hope this new person is going to make a difference,” Stamat said. “We need to get something for all this money.”

Exactly how much it will end up costing renters is still up in the air.

“We also have to look competitively at what everybody else is charging, to make sure our rents are in line,” Marvel said.

Even if every landlord in Milford were to raise the cost of every rental unit in town by $50 a year, they’d still lose money. That’s because they still have to pay the fee for every unit they own, whether or not somebody lives there. And by definition, there’s no rent coming from a vacant home.

Marvel said that isn’t part of his calculations. 

“We just have to eat it. It’s the same thing with taxes or other expenses – there’s a certain vacancy percentage you just have to factor in.”

Local representatives of larger apartment complexes, such as Silver Lake Estates, said their management companies had not yet worked out plans to deal with the new fee.