Eds. Note: One of the reasons that I was glad that Dr. Rent decided to come aboard the Wausaublog is that rental housing is a vitally important aspect of city life. Whether you live in a rental or next to one, the quality of both the landlord and the tenants can have a major impact on your quality of life, and the look and feel of the city as a whole.
By Dr. Rent
Trade Associations are quite common. A Trade Association is when competitors in a single industry unite for certain, specific reasons. One of the largest and most well known is probably the Realtors®, which is an association of over 1 million real estate agents. Almost every industry has a Trade Association, and landlords are no different.
Trade Associations exist at the local, regional, state, national and international levels. At the local level, the Wausau Area Apartment Association (WAAA), represents landlords. I am a past president of and had been a member of for many years. But I have not yet decided if I will be a 2007 member. The WAAA is associated with a state organization (Wisconsin Rental Coalition, WRC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA) as well.
The purpose of the WAAA (as I see it) is to: 1) lobby on behalf of the real estate investment industry at all levels of government; 2) improve the industry through education of its members; and 3) remove the bad “karma” that tends to be associated with apartment owners (or landlords). People may think that these Associations get together to set prices, etc. This is not the case. It is actually illegal for an association to even discuss pricing issues as this would be a Sherman Antitrust Act violation.
The WAAA consists of about 40-50 Wausau Area landlords. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of landlords in the Wausau Area, but these member landlords tend to be the ones who want to do the right thing, want to understand the rules to play by, and want to ensure that being a Landlord is a noble profession (after all, we are housing providers, we provide homes for about a third of the population).
So, if this is such a good thing, why am I looking at not renewing? It comes with the lack of direction, the lack of purpose. The WAAA was nearly 100 members strong not that many years ago with most of the biggest players in town all members. So many things have led to a lack of interest. Two of the biggest was problems with the State’s largest apartment association, the Wisconsin Apartment Association (WAA) that we used to be a member of and a local issue that splintered our group.
However, every time the WAAA is weakening, the City of Wausau has helped to bring us together. After nearly falling apart, Mayor Lawrence’s CARE effort (which did not at first include the input of landlords) got our attention and got us involved. We are again lacking clear direction. Should WAAA stay affiliated with the NAA? Should they re-establish their affiliation with the WAA? Are they better off going it alone? The reason I am backing away: Most of these answers are not being approached as to what is best for our industry or members, they are being addressed with what is cheapest for our members.