Friday, October 3, 2008

Schwemm on Landlord Discrimination

Robert G. Schwemm (University of Kentucky) has posted Why Do Landlord Still Discriminate (and What Can Be Done About it)? on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This Article deals with the problem of racial discrimination in rental housing in the United States and the role of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 (“FHA”) in addressing this problem. National testing studies show that the levels of rental discrimination against blacks and Hispanics have remained virtually unchanged for the past three decades, despite the FHA having had the most effective enforcement system of any of the Nation's civil rights laws for most of this time. By now, it is clear that FHA litigation has failed to put a dent in rental discrimination based on race. Something new must be tried.

This Article is an attempt to start a new conversation about this issue. Part I reviews the evidence for the ongoing nature of rental discrimination in the United States. Part II surveys the record of the legal “cure” for this problem (i.e., enforcement of the FHA), particularly in the two decades since the FHA's 1988 amendments strengthened its enforcement provisions. Part III provides an overview of the rental housing market in the United States, which shows, inter alia, that minorities make up an ever increasing portion of this market. Part IV reviews what we know – and don't know – about race discrimination in housing rentals. A lengthy concluding Part V tries to identify some lessons from other fields, such as economics and psychology, that might help guide the effort to achieve better FHA compliance in rental opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

October 3, 2008 in Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kelly on Neighborhood Revitalization

James J. Kelly Jr. (University of Baltimore) has posted Refreshing the Heart of the City: Vacant Building Receivership as a Tool for Neighborhood Revitalization and Community Empowerment on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Vacant Building Receivership is a building code enforcement tool that dispossesses and forecloses on owners of vacant buildings who are unwilling or unable to bring their derelict properties into basic conformity with basic building codes. This article examines vacant building receivership as a tool for ensuring the renovation of vacant buildings and as a means by which communities can develop increased confidence in and control of residential development in their neighborhoods. After discussing the need for a vacant house strategy tailored to support mid-level urban neighborhoods, the article, in its second section, will analyze how Baltimore's vacant building receivership remedy succeeds in situations that defy resolution by more conventional means. The third section studies the implications of vacant building receivership for empowerment of community organizations to coordinate and shape local housing investment, drawing upon examples from the experiences of a particular Baltimore urban neighborhood.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

October 3, 2008 in Land Use, Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Einhorn on Slavery

Robin Einhorn (UC Berkeley) has posted Slavery on SSRN.  Unfortunately, it is not a free download.  Here's the abstract:

The history of slavery cannot be separated from the history of business in the United States, especially in the context of the relationship between public power and individual property rights. This essay suggests that the American devotion to sacred property rights stems more from the vulnerability of slaveholding elites than to a political heritage of protection for the common man.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

October 1, 2008 in Property Theory, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lewinsohn-Zamir on Identifying Intense Preferences

Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir (Hebrew University - Faculty of Law) has posted Identifying Intense Preferences on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

People's preferences vary in intensity: some are relatively strong while others are comparatively weak. Information regarding the strength of preferences is essential for legal policy making for reasons of both efficiency and fairness. However, the identification of intense preferences is no easy task. Individuals may strategically misrepresent the intensity of their preferences to improve their position. In recent years, the Law-and-Economics literature has largely focused on one aspect of this issue: the case of owners' subjectively high valuation of land. Several scholars have proposed various techniques to detect people's true preferences, relying on self-assessments. These techniques require case-by-case inquires, involve monetary payments, and employ sanctions to ensure truthfulness.

This Article argues that the land-valuation problem is but a specific manifestation of a much broader concern. The need to identify intense preferences arises in all fields of law and with respect to all types of entitlement. More importantly, fundamentally different methods can be used to detect strong preferences. Identifiers may be generalized rather than case-specific, entail burdens in-kind rather than monetary ones, and adopt non-penalizing rather than penalizing approaches.

Legal rules, as this Article demonstrates, can employ generalized and non-penalizing (GNP) devices to identify intense preferences. Such identifiers include: use value vs. exchange value, possession, declining marginal utility, redemption and reasons-requirement. These identifiers tacitly underlie a large variety of rules governing such diverse issues as rights of first refusal, takings compensation, self-help remedies, children's adoption, secured transactions and conscientious objection.

The Article further argues that GNP identifiers are superior to alternative techniques. It compares GNP devices to four other methods: "Mouth" (reliance on people's verbal statements alone); "Mouth and Purse" (verbal statements backed up by monetary sanctions); "Generalized and Penalizing" (generalizations that utilize willingness to bear in-kind sanctions); and "Case-Specific and Penalizing" (case-by-case detection via readiness to incur non-monetary burdens). GNP techniques score highly on all parameters of evaluation. They treat people with dignity and respect, afford equal treatment to their preferences, do not favor the rich, and at the same mitigate the risk of lies. In addition, GNP methods entail relatively low administrative costs and can contend with objectionable preference-intensities.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 30, 2008 in Property Theory, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Willis on The Mortgage Crisis and Eminent Domain

Lauren E. Willis (Loyola LA) has posted Stabilize Home Mortgage Borrowers, and the Financial System Will Follow on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

To halt the Great Depression, the federal government nullified all clauses in contracts that pegged debt to the price of gold. By taking these contracts off the gold standard, debts were reduced by roughly 40 percent. Economist Randall Kroszner, now a governor on the Federal Reserve Board, examined the effects of this sweeping debt reduction and found that both stocks and bonds responded favorably. Investors and creditors decided that the elimination of debt overhang and the avoidance of threatened corporate bankruptcies more than offset the cost to creditors of receiving 60 cents on the dollar. And the taxpayer did not pay a penny.

This trick could only be performed once, now that gold clauses are out. So is there a way to eliminate today's mortgage debt overhang, staunch foreclosures, and restore liquidity and stability in our financial markets? Yes. We have not yet used our most potent weapon against the crisis: eminent domain.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 30, 2008 in Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)