BOISE — Parklane Property Management, the owner of nearly two dozen apartment complexes mostly located in Boise, is pursuing rent increases later this summer when restrictions on rent increases for low-income tenants expire.
According to internal company emails obtained by the Idaho Press, the property management group plans to resume rent increases starting Aug. 1. This will include tenants who have Section 8 vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as those who are renting Section 42 units funded by federal tax credits, which restrict rent based on the tenant’s income.
“Rent increases raise the prospect of an increase in move-outs, although I certainly would not expect much of an uptick,” Parklane owner Ken Howell said in a June 17 email to staff. “Moving is both a hassle and expensive, so most people don’t want to move, and most will not move for a modest rent raise, particularly if they are unable to find a similar apartment for less money.”
Parklane owns 23 apartment complexes of varying sizes, with all but four located in Boise. In Howell’s email, he said the company would be calculating the rent increases for apartments not regulated by the government with a formula that increases the rent to the mid-point between the current average rent and “the highest rest.” If the formula produces an increase larger than 10%, the increase will be possibly split up into two increases spread out over time.
Howell said in an email to the Idaho Press his decision to increase rents was influenced by a June 1 market report that showed very low occupancy rate and rent levels at “record highs” in Boise. He also said the company had not increased rents on any tenants since COVID-19 came to Idaho and has been lenient with tenants who are experiencing issues with employment, which leads to a higher-than-normal rate of delinquent payments. Howell also touted a “loyalty program” for longtime customers that reduces their rent.
The company had $328,064 in unpaid and overdue rent from residential customers on June 18, according to an internal document from Parklane obtained by the Idaho Press. The Quail Park Apartments in Northwest Boise has the highest amount of unpaid and overdue rent with $47,398. The Magnolia Apartments in the same area follows closely behind with $46,289 unpaid and overdue rent.
A Parklane employee who spoke to the Idaho Press on the condition of anonymity criticized the move to increase rent amid a massive economic crisis.
“They are exploiting the lack of choice in the economy,” they said.
Jesse Tree Executive Director Ali Rabe said her nonprofit has been hearing from more and more people in need of rental assistance now that their rents are being increased on top of issues with loss of income due to the economy. She said many of her clients are having to move to Canyon County to find a place they can afford, even though they work in Boise.
“If you live in an affordable rental here in Boise and rent has increased, it is incredibly difficult to find another rental that is affordable,” Rabe said. “That’s been a challenge for us too because so many people are looking for new places to live within their budget, and they’re just not open.”
Many of Parklane’s units are not subsidized by the government and are not subject to any regulations related to rent increases, but the Idanha Apartments and the Hillcreek Apartments were partially funded by low-income housing tax credits from the U.S. Treasury.
These two properties have a total of 43 units in the Section 42 program, which requires tenants to have a certain income level, and rents cannot exceed a maximum amount determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rents can be increased under these programs, but only by a certain amount determined by HUD that depends on how much the average rents for the rest of the area increased as well.
It is unknown how many tenants in Parklane properties have Section 8 vouchers, which calculates rent based on a tenant's income and the rest is paid by the federal government.
Rent increases were restricted by the federal government at the start of the pandemic for tenants benefiting from both of these programs. According to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, which manages the Section 42 program, all rent increases at low-income housing tax credit properties were suspended until the end of July.
The Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority, which manages the Section 8 program, will also begin processing rent increases on Aug. 1. Jillian Patterson, the housing programs director, said although they are processing rent increase requests, the agency is closely analyzing the requests to make sure the rent would be closely in line with similar properties and would not be burdensome to the tenant.
“In the beginning (of the pandemic), we had several households who reported a decrease or loss of employment income, so approving rent increases from owners was not considered an essential service for our agency to focus on,” she said. “We were focused on adjusting rents for those who were financially affected by COVID 19, and doing anything we could to help get people housed.”