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Promise Should Be Honored

August 27, 2000

Housing is a human necessity. It is not an optional commodity. It is therefore unconscionable for owners of rental units, who are de facto providers of indispensable shelter, to treat their properties simply as investments that serve only to maximize profits.

In "How to Handle the Touchy Issue of Raising Rent," Aug. 6, Robert Griswold and Ted Smith encouraged the landlord to break his word and to raise his tenant's rent based on the socially corrosive premise that real estate is an investment and nothing more.

Although landlords who operate on this premise may blind themselves to the consequences of their actions, they nonetheless are providers of shelter, and their actions greatly impact the quality of life of their tenants, including whether these tenants can afford to continue their tenancy or not.

For landlords to go on increasing rents just because the market will bear it illustrates the need for government regulation, which will allow everyone access to affordable, decent housing.

Neither Griswold nor Smith even considered the breaking of one's word worthy of debate. Whether the landlord's assurance that she or he would not raise the rent constituted any sort of actionable oral contract or not, it certainly constituted a promise made by one person and relied upon by another, the breaking of which is at least an ethical breach.

TAMARA S. NAMAY

Los Angeles

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