Should Landlords Feel Guilty About Raising Rent Prices? – Analyzing Public Records

Last month I said I had hoped to stop talking about Lampo (d/b/a Ramsey Solutions). I'm not going to talk about them as an employer, I hope I am done with that. What I do want to talk about is this video that has been circulating over Twitter over the past week, titled "Should Landlords Feel Guilty About Raising Rent Prices?". The clip is actually from Monday, January 3rd, 2022, but it seemed to gain momentum online on Thursday. (I would just embed it, but seeing that guys face on my website feels wrong).

There was a lot of criticism of Dave's answer to the question, and maybe that is merited. I have not had to think about this particular question, since I have no long-term plans on being a landlord. There has been some good exegesis about it though online, and I hope to study that further.

Enter Public Records

What I do know how to do is look up assessor data, so I was curious to see how it lined up with what Dave said on the show.

Finding the LLCs that Dave has used for his properties and then cross referencing those on the Williamson County, TN assessor website is fairly easy to do. Then, using Zillow, you can get a feel for what the properties rented for, at least if the rental listing was ever public.

In the 20 minutes it took for me to build the table below, I was able to find 22 dwellings spread across three LLCs (in fact it was faster to look them up than it was to slap this post together over my lunch break). Most are single family homes, though there are a couple townhomes in there. One of them, in Nashville, is a single home divided into three apartments - maybe for students of one of the local colleges. Only 6 of them did not have published rental prices.

They are all nice looking homes from the outside, and are all in established, "nice" neighborhoods. For those in the area, the largest single cluster of them are within about half a mile radius of 96 and Mac Hatcher on the East side of Franklin.

I'm keeping the addresses and LLC names out of here. If a credentialed journalist wanted to dig into this story, I can point them to the data.

The LLCs are named after catch phrases you might hear at the Lampo office and after firearms.

LLCCitySale DateSqFtBedsBathsMax Rent
#3Unincorporated Williamson2/20142,77643.00$2,600

A Tale of Two Rentals

I think some people on Twitter think he must gouge the price of his rentals for existing tenants. Has he displaced tenants who couldn't afford to pay? Does he require that the tenant be living with their opposite-sex spouse, or promise to live by "Traditional Judeo-Christian Values" like his employees? Are the rentals so cheap because they are not well maintained (see this tweet)? Maybe so, maybe not. I can't speak to how he (or Winston C / Emily G) are as landlords. But at least from the public rental prices, they seem to follow the market.

Property 1, Franklin, TN. 4 bed, 2.5 bath, ~3,000sqft
Property 2, Brentwood, TN. 4 bed, 3.5 bath. ~3,000sqft

Here are the Zillow price / rent histories for two properties. I'm friends with a relative of one of the renters of these properties, and they were able to verify that the rent matched what they knew from conversations with the tenant.

I am not here to defend the practices of Dave, especially as an employer. But, when critiquing a public figure to see if what they say matches what they are doing, and facts can be established, those should be acknowledged.

For rental 1, from 2013 to 2014, the rent went up 8.7%. The next year it went up 4%. Then four years later, in 2019, the price went up 11.5%. It didn't stick, so it was lowered by 6.9% to $2,700.

For rental 2, it rented in 2013 for $2,950. A year later an, 8.5% increase (similar to rental 1). But, it looks like for over 8 months that price was not being accepted by the market, and finally the listing was removed at $2,750 ($200/mo less than it rented for in 2013). Three years later, in 2018, it was back on the market for $3,900. That price did not stick either, and the final listing was for $2,400. In 2019, it came on the market again for 10% more, and the market seemed to accept that price.

For reference, I also knew someone who lived a few houses down from rental #2. He moved a few years ago, and his house was bought by a rental company. Currently is renting for $4,850. Looking at the interior photos, it has a much more modern facelift, but spec wise is about the same - similar square footage, beds and bath.

Just my $0.02

Critique the advice, and the theological ramifications of it.

This might be a case of where the advice is actually worse than what the speaker actually does in practice.

I'm personally a bit more bothered by George's statement near the end about for the renter, "it is not their home".

It is their home - it is the place that they sleep, where they cook meals, where they stay when they are sick, where babies are conceived and taken care of. I've been a renter from faceless corporations, to a lady that owned a complex of 20 row homes, to a family that was renting out their former townhome and it was their only rental. Were these places my permanent home? No, and as a Christian I could quote a song "this world is not my home, I'm just a passin through."

There is a certain relationship that exists between landlord and tenant, one where a good landlord (and I would hope one professing Christ is more than just "good") understands they are entrusted with maintaining a safe place for their tenants to dwell, be it a week long AirBNB stay or renting for multiple years.

Random Observations

  • The real estate listings prior to 2014 were listed as "The Lampo Group, Inc." That was the umbrella company that I was an employee of. I had no idea that Lampo was managing personal rentals. In 2014 the company rebranded as Ramsey Solutions, and maybe that coincides with the rentals being moved under Capital Realty Group.
  • There are six properties for which no rental history is available on Zillow.
  • These homes are all relatively large. These are not the type of rentals that a couple with no children would likely rent, at least not in Nashville. They are all in relatively nice neighborhoods.
  • Capital realty also manages at least 3 commercial office buildings. Those were excluded.
  • Across the properties I could find (excluding the office buildings), Capital Realty is only bringing in about $500,000 per year in gross rental income, not a whole lot when you consider Ramsey Solutions has publicly said they are a $200M (or was it $300M) company. Most, if not all, business units within the company likely make more than that.

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