Appalling: a new law in Seattle aims to strip property owners of all choice among tenant applicants, requiring them to take the first comer who meets their preannounced guidelines. Does it violate the Constitution? The Pacific Legal Foundation intends to find out on behalf of Chong and MariLyn Yim. [Daniel Beekman, Seattle Times] When the law was under consideration, a council member objected — on the grounds that the city should instead consider requiring the owners to institute a lottery, rather than a first-come-first-served rule. Part of the rationale of the law is to combat “unconscious bias” [Ethan Blevins, PLF] More: Jeb Kinnison in August.
The legal hassles that face landlords in New York City and California are well known, but saying goodbye to an unwelcome tenant can bring its share of drama in Ohio, too, given all the different grounds for complaint [Bert Stratton, City Journal]
- Group letters by law professors opposing nominees should be treated with the respect due, normally zero [John McGinnis, Michael Krauss, Paul Caron/TaxProf with links to columns by Stephen Presser, Scott Douglas Gerber, and James Huffman]
- USA, courthouse to the world for compensation claims, even 100+ years later [Guardian on suit in Manhattan federal court by descendants of atrocities committed by Germans in what is now Namibia in early 1900s]
- Marvels of NYC tenant law: “Couple renting Chelsea pad hasn’t paid rent since 2010” [New York Post]
- Election results could mean 11th-hour save for embattled cause of consumer arbitration [Liz Kramer/Stinson Leonard Street LLP]
- Baltimore policing, family leave in Montgomery County, Uber/Lyft fingerprinting, getting money out of Howard County politics, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup at Free State Notes;
- Speaking of ridesharing and regulation: “Without Uber or Lyft, Austin Experiences Skyrocketing DUI Rates” [Brittany Hunter, FEE]
Charles Sykes reviews the much-praised new Matthew Desmond book “Evicted,” based on observation of poor persons’ housing problems in Milwaukee, which advances the notion of a right to housing and (relevant to our Civil Gideon coverage over the years) a right to free anti-eviction lawyers [Commentary; more on the current full-employment-for-tenant-lawyers push]
He came to stay: “A Telegraph Hill resident who was squabbling with his building co-owners allegedly duped them into renting him their unit by using a false identity on Airbnb, according to a complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court. Then, after two months in the apartment, he claimed he qualified for tenants’ rights and said he planned to stay indefinitely.” [San Francisco Chronicle, earlier in series]
- Under HUD deal, “Dubuque must now actively recruit Section 8 voucher holders from the Chicago area,” 200 miles away [Stanley Kurtz/National Review, Deborah Thornton/Public Interest Institute, July]
- Mandatory rental inspections: Can City Hall demand entrance to a home with no evidence of violations? [Scott Shackford] Nuisance abatement laws: “NYPD Throws People Out of Their Homes Without Ever Proving Criminal Activity” [same]
- Data point on scope of regulation: online marketing of sink faucets “seems targeted at assuring potential purchasers of regulatory and legal compliance,” both ADA and environmental [Ira Stoll]
- Public interest litigators’ “right to shelter” created today’s hellish NYC homeless program [NYT on murder at Harlem shelter, background at Point of Law]
- Flood insurance: “$7.8 Million Fee For Lawyers, 7-Cent Check For One Lucky Class Member” [Daniel Fisher]
- On eminent domain, some lefty lawprofs suddenly turn all skeptical on whether courts can fix injustice [Ilya Somin] Prof. Purdy defends the Kelo v. New London decision, but Prof. Kanner would like to correct a few of his facts;
- “The San Francisco artist who is being kicked out of his apartment after 34 years is a perfect example of why rent control is awful” [Jim Edwards, Business Insider] “Big-City Mayors Think They Can Mandate Their Way to Affordable Housing” [Matt Welch, Reason]
I’ve got a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post. An excerpt:
The Dec. 11 Metro article “Baltimore eviction rate among highest in nation” reported on advocates’ efforts to change eviction procedures to allow Baltimore tenants to stay longer in rental housing even when they fail to pay their rent. One effect, of course, would be to make it even less attractive to offer and maintain rental properties in the hard-hit city.
Before going farther down such a road, it would help to review failures of existing Maryland housing policies….
And then I talk about Maryland lawmakers’ having enacted various legal changes to slow down foreclosures, and the unpleasant aftermath, a story told here. Why would a state want to go through a very similar wasteful, blight-encouraging exercise for rental property? (cross-posted from Free State Notes)
The insanity — and the 10 to 20 year waits — of housing regulation in the Swedish capital [Alex Tabarrok]
If you rent out one or a couple of living units at your home and are interested in liberty under the U.S. constitution, a non-profit legal group that works to combat government overreach would like to hear from you. At issue are the rights of resident small landlords — specifically, persons who live in a building themselves and rent out a living space or two (but not more than three) on the premises. Without getting too specific about the details, the federal government is asserting a constitutionally dubious power to regulate on certain questions that are of practical importance to many home-based landlords, but aren’t related to hot-button areas like race or sexual orientation.
This isn’t a project connected with the Cato Institute, by the way; I just offered to spread the word because I think these are lawyers who 1) do good work and 2) have identified an important issue. If you’re interested in learning more, email editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com.
“The administration [of Mayor Bill de Blasio] is planning to select and pay four health-advocacy groups $9,000 apiece to pressure landlords and developers to prohibit smoking in their apartment complexes so neighboring tenants don’t inhale secondhand smoke.” [Carl Campanile/New York Post]