Rents rising in Cedar Rapids

Some owners of rental properties in Cedar Rapids, Iowa are citing supply and demand as a rationale for raising rental prices. Disgusting. The soul of capitalism is revealed within the midst of a tragic situation. Cedar Rapids, Iowa flood survivors’ need for housing is turned into the “market’s demand”. Heinous.

A post-flood housing shortage in Cedar Rapids is driving up rent for everyone as displaced families look for places to live.

Some 3,900 homes in town were damaged by the flood. Many continue to be uninhabitable. In Iowa City and Coralville, about 800 homes were evacuated.

Josh Pierce and his wife and three children had been looking for a house to rent for about a month. They’ve outgrown their small apartment in northeast Cedar Rapids, where they’ve lived for about a year.

A home at 938 38th St. SE caught their eye and on June 9, the Monday before the flood, it was listed at $645 per month by Equity Realtors, a company owned by Bob Miell.

A week later, the same house was listed online at $845 per month. Pierce called Miell’s office.

“‘Supply and demand’ — that’s all they said,” Pierce said.

Miell did not respond to requests for an interview.

I would hope that this type of activity falls within the rubrics of Iowa’s price-gouging policies…

Iowa’s anti-price-gouging rule is in effect in every county where there is a disaster declaration, including Linn, the state Attorney General’s Office says.

“There’s no bright line that automatically defines it,” said Bob Brammer, spokesman for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

Price increases after a natural disaster are not necessarily price-gouging, he points out. But when a landlord or business owner doubles or triples a price, that’s when the attorney general’s office really begins to pay attention, Brammer said.

Keith Smith is a scumbag. On one hand he is stating that his priority is to get people into homes and then on the other, he has no trouble with saying that “supply and demand” justifies rental increases. If Keith Smith, as the president of Landlords of Linn County, sets the tone for Linn County landlords, then I hope that the Iowa Attorney Generals Office is intensely watching rental prices in Cedar Rapids.

It would have been refreshing to have Smith say something along the lines that personally he would not raise rents and take from people who have already had a lot taken from them… I guess that’s too much to ask.

Keith Smith, president of Landlords of Linn County, said his first priority is getting flood victims — particularly low-income residents — into homes.

Chances are good that more landlords will eventually raise rents, because their property is more valuable now than it was before the flood, he said.

“There’s more demand than supply, and prices go up,” he said. “Personally, I know I can raise my rent and get what I’m raising, because the market’s demanding it right now.”

via the Cedar Rapids Gazette