The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929


Might doesn't make right


January 31, 2018


One thing that drives me crazy is when government or large companies do something – not because it’s the right thing to do, but because they can. I love Sweet Home and appreciate all the city does to keep our community healthy and growing, but a decision they recently made just leaves me shaking my head and I believe is very unfair and just wrong.

I am a landlord and have multiple rentals in Sweet Home. We do our best to have nice homes in nice areas and work hard at keeping our places up. We work equally hard at renting to respectable tenants that are going to treat our homes with respect, have good references and have no criminal background.

However, even as much vetting that we do, this does not keep us from getting burned by tenants who trash our houses, leaving us with a huge clean-up inside and out and often have caused massive damage that cost thousands of dollars to repair. By the time we can force them out through the court system, which takes a couple months, they now often owe two to four months back rent, which we never will get back.

Add to that loss the cost of cleanup and repairs, new flooring, a new paint job inside, it easily exceeds anything we have made on that rental for the last two or three years. I know what you’re thinking, “Why are you still a landlord?” And that is exactly what my wife says.

The city of Sweet Home has recently decided to add to the cost and loss of being a landlord in Sweet Home with their decision to make the landlord pay the renter’s water bill on the property before it can be rented again.

All our tenants are responsible for their own utilities, so they are the ones who have entered into a contract with the City of Sweet Home to pay their water and sewer bills. But somehow, not because it’s right but because they can, the council has passed a code that the landlord is ultimately responsible for the water bill. Keep in mind that the tenants have signed contracts or agreements with PP&L, CenturyTel, Comcast, Sweet Home Sanitation, Northwest Natural Gas and possibly others, and no one would consider coming after the landlord for a tenant not paying their bill.

Why not? Because it’s not right, that’s why! It makes no sense for a company that has made a contract with an individual to hold their landlord who never made a contract with them, responsible for the bill.

It used to be that the water bill would stay on the books and if that individual wanted water service again, they had to pay the past due bill to get their water turned on and the city would be made whole. But now I am forced to pay that for them.

So, what is the incentive to pay your bill? The kind of people who already have trashed their credit and my house do not care about paying that bill unless they must; now they don’t have to. Here is another corker: The city is not only telling me I am responsible for my renter’s water bill, they are also charging me a whopping 35 percent interest on the unpaid balance! How is this right or even legal? I wonder…

The solution is relatively simple I think: If the tenant does not pay their bill, turn their water off. But instead of doing this, the city lets them go month after month, owing on their bill. One tenant’s water bill I am currently stuck with is over $400, another $250 and another $200 – most way over their $100 deposit.

The city has gone back several years, and they now tell me I owe over $1,500 in past-due water bills I never signed up for. I didn’t let it get to $400 or $200 – they did, and now they have put a lien on my property until it gets paid by me. Unbelievable!

Again, they do this not because it’s the right, but because they can.

Our City Council told them they could.

Dan McCubbins

Sweet Home


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