Rental Owners Association, Lane County is a non-profit association that is managed by members who volunteer their time and expertise to serve on the board of directors to address matters important to the association and its members. Board members are confirmed by the general membership for two year terms. The board elects officers from within its group.
Jim Straub - President
Michael Steffen - Vice President
Scott Smith - Secretary
Patrick Costello - Treasurer
Biographies of current officers and board members are provided below. Individual board members may be reached by telephone or email through the ROA office.
Jim Straub – President
Jim Straub comes from four generations of rental industry experience owning and managing single and multi-family rentals, apartment complexes, timber and ranch properties. In fact, early in his career and prior to becoming a property manager, Jim built homes from the ground up. He built houses for both sale and in order to build his and his family’s portfolio of rental properties.
As a Licensed Property Manager, Jim decided to expand his services to the general public and made a conscious decision to form a small company focused on the maintaining excellence through individualized customer service. He now owns and is the principle property manager at Acorn Property Management, a company that offers property management, eviction services, landlord support consulting, and real estate consulting services.
Jim’s many accomplishments mean ROA members can rely on a depth and diversity of rental housing experience.
These accomplishments include:
President of the Rental Owners Association
Legislative Director - Oregon Rental Housing Association. The ORHA is a state-wide trade organization representing more than 4,500 landlords in Oregon and is the Rental Owners Association’s umbrella organization
Consultant – Rental Owners Association’s member support telephone “Helpline”
Oregon Rental Housing Association’s “Rental Owner of the Year” 2007.
Co-Chair - City of Eugene Rental Housing Department Advisory Committee (RHDAC)
Licensed contractor in the state of Oregon
Journeyman carpenter in the state of Oregon
As a result of this experience, Jim has developed a strong foundation of practical hands-on experience combined with a deep understanding of local, state, and federal landlord-tenant, rental property and fair housing laws. As a Licensed General Contractor and journeyman carpenter in the state of Oregon, Mr. Straub personally oversees the care and maintenance of his clients’ rental and investment properties.
values his roles as ROA’s President and ORHA’s Legislative Director and the many ways in which they have enriched his life. He fully supports the mission of the ROA and its goal to share problems, solutions, and ideas with other landlords in the rental housing industry.
Michael Steffen - Vice President
Michael Steffen became a member of the ROA after purchasing his first rental property in 2003 and joined the Board of Directors shortly thereafter. He currently serves as Vice President of the ROA Board of Directors and President of the ORHA Board (Oregon Rental Housing Association).
Steffen has worked at a variety of positions in general manufacturing, from shop floor to engineering to management. He founded and operated a software development, distribution and consulting company in Minneapolis MN, providing software support to a variety of manufacturing, distribution and retail companies nationwide. With a business degree from the University of Minnesota, Steffen also provided accounting, bookkeeping and business support services as part of his general consulting services. He continued his consulting work upon moving to Eugene in 1998, operating a small software consulting business in the downtown area. Steffen recently accepted a position as Director of Information Services with a privately held flavor and fragrance company. He has also served on the board of various small non-profit organizations.
Michael finds his association with Rental Owners Association to be a valuable tool for keeping abreast of the rules and regulations associated with managing rental properties. “Before my involvement with ROA, I had no idea of the potential pitfalls associated with owning rental properties. The education I have received concerning the rights of tenants and the obligations of landlords is exceptional and the advice from members is invaluable. I can only imagine the difficulties I might have encountered had I chosen to manage my properties myself without the assistance provided by the ROA. I look forward to my continued association with the organization.”
Scott Smith - Secretary
Scott began actively managing residential rental property in 1996. He works from his home office on-site in a subdivision of 44 of the 70 units he manages. Scott is involved in all facets of property management: marketing, showing, screening of applications, bookkeeping and all phases of maintenance. He handles all tenancy issues including the occasional court eviction and collections.
“I find property management to be an interesting business because on the one hand we must encourage tenants to be in compliance with minimum standards (pay rent, get along with neighbors, take reasonable care of the home), but we are also effectively closing a sale every month that the resident chooses to stay instead of giving notice to move. There is an ongoing element of salesmanship of the property and my service. I enjoy the fact that I am directly assisting people by providing a basic need of shelter, and I take pride in offering good service for well-kept properties. I strive to set the market rents in the neighborhood, because it is a challenge to me to provide a nicer, cleaner home and better service than my competitors. I have also found that upper-scale rents typically go hand-in-hand with responsible, quality residents. Further, the value of the property I manage is increased through keeping rental rates at the top of the market.”
Scott is active in the hobby of collecting and enjoying early heavy diesel trucks from the 1940’s and 50’s, is on the board of the Pacific Northwest Truck Museum in Brooks, Oregon and is the regional vice-president for Oregon of the American Truck Historical Society.
Scott feels that everyone benefits when landlords and property managers are well informed and practicing in accordance with the law and the ethical standards of our industry. He has gained much useful knowledge and many valuable connections through the Rental Owner’s Association of Lane County and he hopes that others can benefit as he has from this group.
Patrick R. Costello - Treasurer
Costello bought his first investment property in St. Louis in 1980, and with his current business partner, Norton Cabell, now owns and manages 42 apartment units in Eugene. He has served as a Director and the Treasurer of the Rental Owners Association (ROA) since 2000. He is a Vice President of Business Lending at SELCO Community Credit Union, and is actively involved in the financing of real estate including rental properties from 1 to 100+ units as well as commercial and industrial properties.
He represents the ROA at Eugene Chamber of Commerce events and has been active with Eugene Springfield Commercial Brokers. With an MBA in Accounting & Finance from the University of Chicago, he spent twenty years in the retail and commercial lending sides of banking before leaving to start two retail stores in Eugene and Medford and rediscovering that rental ownership and management is a much better business opportunity.
“I am pleased and proud to be associated with the ROA. It is a terrific organization that helps new as well as experienced landlords to do a better job, resulting in more satisfied tenants and higher returns. ROA provides the opportunity for networking with other landlords, regular training seminars, monthly meetings with topical speakers, forms and law books that are regularly updated based on Oregon law changes, and a helpline to deal with the urgent and most difficult questions. And it is a bargain to boot; annual dues are often less than a half hour billing from many lawyers”.
Dennis Casady developed an early interest in residential income property because his parents had a couple of rentals which he helped clean and paint. In 1972, while attending the University of Oregon and still living at home, he purchased his first two rentals. Upon graduation in 1973, Dennis moved into one of them and purchased another that fall. Borrowing his down payment from the credit union, he always had more than one mortgage payment.
Dennis joined the Rental Owners Association in the late ‘70’s and has been a board member since about 1985. For ten years, he put together the newsletter on his living room floor, cutting and pasting articles and advertising, until the ROA office opened in 1998.
After 20+ years as a truck driver for a national freight company, Dennis has “retired” and now manages his rentals in his “spare” time.
Dennis has served on the ROA Board of Directors for over ten years, including a stint as secretary. He also represents ROA of Lane County as a delegate to the state association (ORHA), where he has served as President, and currently is on the executive board, serving as Past-President.
He and his wife have been landlords for over 25 years, becoming members of ROA of Lane County shortly after moving to Eugene 16 years ago. Being a landlord is his part-time job. Dennis works as a Tool and Die Maintenance Supervisor for a local manufacturing company that specializes in precision metal stampings for the medical, electronics and aerospace industries.
“Being a member of ROA and serving on the local and state boards of directors has contributed greatly to my education, knowledge, and professionalism, as well as the forming of many friendships.”
Devin Gates is a native to Eureka, California having moved to the greater Eugene/Springfield area in 1999. A couple months later, he purchased his first duplex immediately throwing himself into the world of landlording.
After several years of work, Devin transformed a formerly rundown property into a premium quality rental. Like many landlords, it took an experience with a progressively worsening tenant for Devin to become involved with ROA. Shortly after joining ROA he began duties on the board with the purpose of rental management education, further involvement in the rental market scene, and the possibility of being part of the legislative process at the city/county/state levels.
Devin is currently an electrician and a general contractor. Having launched his new business in 2009, All Around Town Property Solutions, Devin often finds himself doing work for ROA members. Hobbies include backpacking, swimming, biking, home-brewing, designing/building and working in the yard.
Eric and his wife Paula, both became interested in property management back in 1990, when they became licensed with the state as property managers and managed for their first client and landlord 7 apartment units, 3 duplexes, and a single family dwelling. After a brief hiatus from the rental property market, they have several houses they currently rent, as well as 15 executive office suites. While their business, Centerline Properties currently only manages their own properties, Eric's architectural business, Eric Hall Architects, Inc., has done a number of residential, high efficiency dwellings, apartments, and SRO's (single room only).
Eric brings to the board almost 25 years of experience in residential and commercial architecture, as well as five years of construction estimating and construction project management experience. In the increasingly complex regulatory environment that we live in, the impact of building code and land use laws continue to grow as a factor in the rental property arena. "It is nice to be in a position to share some of our experience with our board and membership, so that they can avoid some pitfalls, or at least enter the fray with their eyes wide open."
Eric finds the opportunities to continue the seemingly never ending learning cycle a treat while in the company of some of the best our profession has to offer within the local community. "It is always a joy to talk with people that really know their stuff." Beyond the world of managing a 15 person architectural firm, and managing properties, Eric enjoys raising grass fed Belted Galloway cattle. “It's been a lot of work getting things going, but there is something nice about knowing that they’re out there eating and growing even when I'm not around.”