Landlord Kenyatta Moore says only the City of Philadelphia can save him.

It is almost like City Council is confessing to killing off affordable rental housing in Philadelphia.

At least, that’s how Hapco Philadelphia member Kenyatta Moore sees the release of a recent study from the Urban Land Institute.

The report was commissioned by the city’s housing department and urges city council to view small mom and pop landlords as small business owners when rental housing laws and fees are enacted.

“I have all the expenses that a small business has but without the financial help and guidance that they get,” says Moore, who owns two rental properties in the Olney section of Philadelphia.

Moore bought his affordable rental properties with the intention of being a landlord for ten to twenty years.  But he finds the COVID-19 pandemic, endless eviction moratoria, and city emergency tenant laws are forcing him to sell out.

“One of my tenants stopped paying rent during the pandemic and refused to apply for emergency rental assistance.  Eventually, I got a lockout, and the tenant broke in and changed the locks again.” 

Moore says the city seems to assume that all rental property owners are large, wealthy landlords who can absorb every cost.  He says they need to realize there is a big difference between  affordable rental housing and market rate properties.

“City Council lumps small and large landlords together.  They should pay attention to us mom and pops and the rental demographics of the city.”

The Urban Land Institute study says defining small and large rental property owners is one of the keys to keeping affordable housing from disappearing altogether.

Moore would like to see more financial help and education from the city for small landlords and their tenants.  He would also like the city to connect mom and pop rental property owners with small landscaping and handyman businesses to help maintain low to moderate income properties.

“The city tends to favor the tenants over the landlords and some tenants know that and game the system,” Moore says.  “Tenants feel protected no matter how much the renter is to blame for their situation.”  Moore says the city has a responsibility to educate tenants that they are partners with their landlords, not adversaries.

Kenyatta Moore says if he is forced to sell his rental properties, that’s four more low to moderate income apartments that disappear from the market.  “Who’s going to replace those units?” he adds.

“We all play a role in saving affordable housing in Philadelphia,” Moore notes.  “I just hope City Council gives me a fighting chance to save mine.”