When Shiral and Jaime were teenagers, they never imagined being able to one day afford to purchase a home of their own – let alone two additional rental properties in Burbank.
“My husband and I were teenage parents,” said Shiral. “By the time I finished college, and we were on our feet – we fell behind. We were behind in our careers, because we were raising a child.”
But Shiral, who grew up with parents who owned rental properties, never gave up. Today, she and her husband own two rental properties in Los Angeles County.
“My parents, when they bought their home, they didn’t realize the other two next door were on the same lot – so they came with their house,” said Shiral, who – like many other property owners in Los Angeles County – is a minority. “So they had those two rentals. They didn’t want them at first, but it ended up being really good for them.”
Shiral grew up helping her dad maintain the family’s two rental properties, and that experience taught her how to be a good landlord. As a property owner, she said, the most important thing is to maintain positive relationships with your tenants.
“For me, pride of ownership is building positive relationships with our tenants, and maintaining those relationships as well as keeping up with those maintenance requests whenever they say something is wrong,” she said. “It’s important to me to be a good landlord, because we don’t want to be in a position where every year you’re raising rents. We go to our buildings and our tenants want to hug us.”
One of the ways Shiral and Jaime maintain positive relationships with their tenants is by charging them significantly less rent than what is market value. The reason behind this is to reduce turnover. The cost of having a vacant unit – when you consider the painting and cleaning and other repairs you have to do – can be significant. Plus, she said, you’re not earning any income when a unit is vacant.
However, if the family’s properties were subjected to rent control, they would be forced to charge much higher rents. “With rent control, you’re almost forced to raise rents every single year,” she said. “Because if you don’t, you’re not building up your reserves to take care of future repairs. Corporate companies have other means of income to do these repairs, but mom-and-pop owners don’t.”
This is one of the main reasons Shiral, and many others, are against rent control. It simply doesn’t help tenants, she explained, and it doesn’t work to help solve the housing affordability crisis that hinders so many Los Angeles County residents. Indeed, rent control is the wrong solution for Los Angeles County, but a more sensible solution – or common-ground on rent control – is what Shiral and other property owners want.
Shiral has dedicated her life to being a good landlord and property owner. The money the family has earned from renting out properties helped not only propel them out of poverty, but also raise two children. Now that their children are grown, she said, the couple is now able to start saving for retirement with the proceeds from their real estate business. “It goes back to the way I was raised, and it goes back to being teenage parents and being poor – and never forgetting where you come from,” she said. “Owning rental properties really changed the direction of my life.”