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for stowing it. I pay over $11 for coal and 75 cents for stowing it now. Two years ago I paid
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Coal is cheaper now than a year ago.
Mr. WILKERSON. Yes, sir; this year. I can show you my bills. I have got them all here to show you, if you want to see them.
Representative HAMMER. We know about the price of coal.
Mr. WILKERSON. This year is the first year we had a reduction in coal worth speaking of.
Senator Jones of Washington. You have all your apartments rented now?
Mr. WILKERSON. Yes, sir; but all my expenses are increasing. As I said, I paid $5 for a plumber in 1918 and am paving $16 to-day. Everything is in proportion. I can show you the bills here showing what I have paid on this property.
I want to get rid of this Rent Commission. If the bill should pass, I want to get rid of the apartment. I do not want it; I would not own it, although I built it for a home and expected to die there, but I would not stay there. I can put my money out and get 8 per cent.
Representative STALKER. If we did not have the Rent Commission, what net return on your investment would you be satisfied with?
Mr. WILKERSON. Ì think around 7 per cent. If I could get 7 per cent, taking out the expenses, I would be satisfied, but on property, as it depreciates and when you consider the things you have to do with it, I think as this other gentleman said, and I think he was right, it ought to be about 8 per cent.
I have a little plan here whereby I can alter this piece of property and make a three-room apartment and a five-room apartment. There is a large porch there which I can turn into a regular living room. I can fix it with glass and have it to all intents and purposes a room by putting heat and everything in it.
Representative STALKER. To what extent do you believe that rents would be raised if the Rent Commission were abolished ?
Mr. WILKERSON. According to my opinion, it will be according to supply and demand. If the supply keeps up the way it has, it will regulate itself just the same as it was a few years ago. The more you build the more it will regulate itself, and it is the only thing that is going to regulate it, too; but I for one would not turn around and put a dollar into property any more. I have stocks that are paying me 10 per cent. Why fool with property? There is nothing to it.
Representative HAMMER. You said you got $41.50. When was that?
Mr. WILKEPSON. About seven or eight years ago.
Mr. WILKERSON. Up until about, I think, July, this July coming two years ago.
Representative HAMMER. Then you got $50 up to when?
The CHAIRMAN. That first increase you had was made by the Rent Commission?
Mr. WILKERSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. WILKERSON. I was hoping to get a little bit of it; jes, zir.
Representative HAMMER. Well, then, you had a suit before the Rent Commission, didn't you? [After a pause.] No; you issued a notice to quit?
Mr. WILKERSON. No.
Representative HAMMER. Didn't you have a notice served on another tenant?
Mr. WILKERSON. This Mrs. Hyde. I gave her notice the last of December,
Representative HAMMER. And that was an increase of 211/2 per cent over what she had been paying?
Mr. WILKERSON. You are speaking about the amount of money I should receive?
Representative HAMMER. No; I am talking about what increase you asked her when you issued the notice to quit. You issued a notice to quit. That is contained in this report of Mr. Sabine, that you issued notice to quit.
Mr. WILKERSON. Well, I did not figure out what the increase was, but I am saying this, that, considering what I am making there, looking at the property itself, you will see whether I am asking enough for it.
Representative HAMMER. That is all.
The CHAIRMAN. We will have to give the tenants that came at least an hour.
STATEMENT OF MR. C. C. MAYER
(The witness was sworn by the chairman.) Mr. MAYER. In regard to the 8 per cent return
Representative HAMMER (interposing). What is it that you represent?
Mr. MAYER. No. 1820 K Street.
In regard to the 8 per cent return, the banks are charging 8 per cent on short-time paper, and if you are a bondholder they expect you to leave a reasonable part of your loan in the bank. That is one of the leading banks.
Representative STALKER. I see advertised in the paper to-day Gffers to loan at 51/2 per cent.
Mr. MAYER. Not on second trusts.
Mr. Mayer. You pay 25 per cent on second-trust money, and there is no regulation requiring the money lender to accommodate you at 8 per cent. The banker wants you to leave $500 out of $1,500 in his hands. They did properly raise the rate from 6 per cent to 8 per cent, making 8 per cent legal, and at that rate you are paying 12 per cent for all money.
I do not see why the Government does not provide the money to build the homes of the people to accommodate them, and run hotels,
but they are very anxious to get out of the hotel business. They have been trying to get rid of the Government Hotels for years.
I am also a builder. I built a four-room cottage this past year, 22 by 24, for a little less than $2,000, with a fire place in it, but no electricity. You could put electricity in for probably $50. Likewise, there were no plumbing connections. I put in a septic tank for $100. I could make a right comfortable home for $2,500, but the tenants who want four-room-and-bath hotel accommodations would not live in it, that is, they would not go in the outskirts of the city to live where rent is cheap. They all want to live downtown. I do not blame them. They want to press a button and have a bath in a hurry and fall out of the bed and roll out of the apartment and be to work in a very few minutes. They do not want to sacrifice their time or put up with any inconveniences that their ancestors put up with. They would not live under conditions that they lived under 30, 40, or 50 years ago.
I think the modern bath is a matter of the last 60 or 70 years. They had ordinances against using baths in Philadelphia some 50 or 60 years ago during the cold weather. Doctor Copeland tells us to use it every day. He also tells us to see a doctor whenever we have any suspicion anything is wrong. They have rates here in Washington, which they announced in the paper awhile ago, of $3 if they look at your tongue and give you a cathartic.
Senator Jones of Washington. I would suggest you get to the rent proposition.
Mr. MAYER. Yes, sir; it is all on the same basis. It all depends on what a fellow is entitled to earn on his money. The bank wants you to pay 12 per cent on short time money and the second trust lender wants to take 25 per cent and rent the commission wants you to take 6 or 8 per cent and lose your property. There is nothing fair or equitable about it. You can increase the taxes
Representative HAMMER (interposing). You are not complaining about $1.40 a hundred?
Mr. MAYER. No; we are not complaining on the tax rate. That is very fair. It might be more, but if it is increased and with serr. ice costs increasing, rents will have to increase.
This Rent Commission law provides that the commission may sue for the tenant but does not provide any legal funds to sue for the owner and protect him. It is sort of a restraint of trade. A man can not handle what belongs to him. He must have undesirable tenants on his premises and his hands are tied.
If you are going to regulate rents, why not regulate bread! I believe there has been some effort looking toward that end. The Quartermaster's Department at Boston makes bread at 2 cents a pound, a 16-ounce loaf. I believe we pay 10 or 12 cents here in town.
Representative HAMMER. They can not make it out of flour at that price.
Mr. MAYER. Yes; and they sell gasoline at 13 cents a gallon and lubricating oil at 33 cents a gallon.
I am in sympathy with the tenants. Anybody who has to rent has my sympathy, but if they do not want to go to some little trouble they can not get rid of these conditions. I have lived out of town, in the country. I found a place out of the city, near Rock Creek Park. I got a place to accommodate my family, four rooms,
at $20 a month, and later I moved over to Falls Church. I was looking over toward Fairfax and I found a place over there for $25, a big house containing six rooms. There are places to be found if people put themselves to the trouble.
I will build homes that are decent, warm, and can be made comfortable for less than $3,000 if they want to do a little pioneering, as it were, or go back a few years and live under conditions 10 years ago.
Representative STALKER. Would that be in the District ?
Mr. MAYER. In the city limits; if they will provide the lot. I will build them a house for $2,500 that ought to be good enough for
white man. The CHAIRMAN. Now, are there any tenants present who came to-night to testify on the understanding that this would be tenants' night?
Mrs. Brown. Mr. Ball, there was such a misunderstanding about this that the tenants, unorganized tenants, expected to be heard to-morrow night.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, that is our understanding. The papers stated that they were to be heard to-night, and if there are any who came here through that misunderstanding we will hear them.
Mrs. Brown. May I say just a word in regard to the last witness who came before you?
The CHAIRMAN. You had better wait until we hear those who came here to be heard.
Representative HAMMER. There will be time left, when we will hear you.
Mrs. Brown. I wanted to state, Mr. Ball, that I speak as an individual mot connected with the Tenants' League in this case. I have some direct testimony.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any property owners who have not testified yet, who came to-night with the understanding that they were to have the time? If not, Mr. McKeever wants to make a statement.
Mr. Low. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Baskin has made up a statement which he asked Mr. Blanton to submit and it did not get in, but he had a concrete suggestion in connection with any bill that might be passed which I thought might be of interest, and I hope you won't think it is facetious, for it is serious. He states:
I wish to state that if the present law
He means the Whaley bill, as proposedis to be enforced seriously at any time, the Rent Commission should be provided with a staff of managers to take charge or to be ready to take over all rental properties, since there is no doubt but that under the Whaley bill as framed the owners and their agents as appointed by them will have at best to spend all their time in the offices of the Rent Commission, or in court, or in jail. Unless, therefore, the commission takes charge of the operation of the buildings during their absence, conditions may arise, as in present-day Soviet Russia, where from all reports available in large cities houses are inhabitated on the second floor only, while the first floors of the buildings are used as sewerage outlets for the upper floors. These advantages have accrued in Russia which differ in no essential way from those proposed in Washington.
The CHAIRMAN. I said last night that Mr. McKeever would have an opportunity to state into the record just what he said at the
Hamilton Hotel, as it has been questioned. He asked for time to read that into the record.
FURTHER TESTIMONY OF MR. ROBERT L. McKEEVER
Mr. McKEEVER. Mr. Chairman, if I may request it, I would like to have this follow right after the quotation from a newspaper article which was given last night by Mrs. Brown, so that the record may be perfectly clear on the matter.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, the reporter will insert the quotation again at this place and then follow with your reply.
(The quotation read from the Washington Post is as follows:)
The Washington Association of Building Owners and Managers has been organized for a little less than two years. At present it has 25 members, controlling approximately $35,000,000 worth of property. The principal work this organization has accomplished has been defeating the Lampert bill in Congress last year, and holding the extension of the Ball Rent Act down to one year. Members put in weeks of their time in fighting this bill.
Mr. McKEEVER. Mrs. Brown quoted from a newspaper article of a statement made by me on October 20 at a luncheon of the Washington Building Owners and Managers Association, at which meeting Mr. Lee Thompson Smith, the president of our national association, and Col. Gordon Strong, the past president of our national association, spoke. At that meeting, due to the fact that these outof-town men were there, we had invited several of the property owners, and the statement that I made is as follows:
The advantages of organization and cooperative effort are well known to you men. If, in other cities, organizations of property owners and managers have been able to pay from five hundred to four or five thousand per cent dividends on the investment represented by the dues paid, we can do the same thing here in Washington.
What is being done and what has already been done in the National Association of Building Owners and Managers, plus what we can do locally, will accomplish the desired result, namely, more efficient operation and management and greater dividends for the property owners. In Cleveland this year the Association of Building Owners and Managers has saved the property owners over $1,000,000 in cold cash by securing a reduction of over $50,000,000 in the new proposed assessed valuation of their properties.
The possibilities of saving through cooperative buying must be evident to all. A small item, but which is costing the owners of apartment houses and office buildings thousands of dollars annually, is the item of ashes. The District of Columbia hauls ashes from private residences without charge, but in apartment houses and office buildings owners are denied this service by act of Congress, notwithstanding the fact that they pay the same rate of taxes and should be entitled to receive the same kind of service.
Is this fair?
This is one of the many matters an organization such as ours can and will work out.
How many of you men know of the Tenants' League of the District of Columbia ; what it is and why it is? Let me read from one of their pamphlets some of their purposes and reasons for being in existence.
Now, I have been unable to locate my pamphlet, although I did find my original notes and statement, so I will have to skip the reading of that pamphlet. It is not important anyhow.
Frankly, my guess is that the Tenants' League is being organized to stir up strife, trouble, and hatred between the landlords and tenants; that it is fostered and supported, locally, at least, by certain members of the Rent Commission who, in their endeavors to hold their jobs, are willing to go to almost any lengths. I believe that the recent publicity given the Tenants' League