Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Odinet on Virtual Property and Secured Credit

Odinet Photo (Jarreau)Chris Odinet (that's me!) (Southern) has posted BitProperty and Commercial Credit (Washington University Law Review) to SSRN. Here's the abstract:

In the past several years the growth of virtual property in today’s economy has been explosive. The everyday use of virtual assets ranging from Twitter and Facebook to YouTube and virtual world accounts is nearly absolute. Indeed, by one account Americans check social media over 17 times per day. Further, a growing number of savvy virtual entrepreneurs are reporting incomes in the six and seven figure range, derived solely from their online businesses. Nevertheless, although the commercial world has come to embrace these newfound markets, commercial law has done a poor job of keeping up. Scholars have argued that laws governing everything from taxation, to bankruptcy, to privacy rights have not kept pace with our ever-changing virtual world. And nowhere is this truer than in the law of secured credit. Doubtlessly virtual property has come to represent significant wealth and importance, yet its value as a source of leveraged capital remains, in large part, untapped. This unrealized potential is not without good reason; the law — specifically Article 9 of the UCC and the law of property more broadly — suffers from a number of deficiencies and anomalies that make the use of virtual property in secured credit transactions not only overly complex and expensive, but almost entirely untenable. This Article shines light on these shortcomings, and, in doing so, advances a number of guiding principles and specific legislative recommendations, all geared toward a reformation of the law of secured credit in virtual property.

September 13, 2016 in Articles, Intellectual Property, Law Reform, Personal Property, Property Theory, Recent Scholarship, Recording and Title Issues, Virtual Property | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Zasloff on the Clash between Land Use and Fair Housing

ZasloffJonathan Zasloff (UCLA) has posted The Price of Equality: Fair Housing, Land Use, and Disparate Impact (Columbia Human Rights Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

What happens when local government policies run head-on into federal civil rights laws? Nowhere does this question assume greater importance than with land use and fair housing, yet in the nearly half-century since the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), courts and commentators have skirted the question. With the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Inclusive Communities Project v. Texas, the most significant fair housing decision in the nation’s history, they can no longer do so. This Article represents the first sustained effort to show how the FHA affects land use, the most important power that cities have under American localism. The Supreme Court held for the first time that the FHA allows disparate impact liability, and outlined when such disparate impact cases can be brought. But it left many crucial questions unanswered, and this Article attempts to fill the gap. It concludes that when cities restrict affordable and multifamily housing, which often has a disparate impact on people of color, zoning ordinances must withstand intermediate scrutiny in order to be sustained. Courts must balance local policies with demands for inclusion: sometimes those policies will triumph, but in many instances they will not, for they rest on weak empirical or legal foundations, or they can be addressed in less restrictive ways. The Article sets forth a series of the most common scenarios and justifications for exclusionary zoning, and seeks to show that such justifications have far less purchase than is commonly supposed. The FHA comes nowhere close to abolishing zoning, but it does insist that local zoning must no longer exclude racial minorities, and the Court’s decision makes clear how fair housing advocates can and should use the law to fight such exclusion. If localities no longer have the discretion to exclude people of color, then that is the price of equality.

September 11, 2016 in Home and Housing, Land Use, Real Estate Transactions, Recent Cases, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 9, 2016

RPTE Professor's Corner: Regulating Short-Term Rentals

RPTE

Professors’ Corner

FREE monthly webinar featuring a panel of law professors, 

addressing topics of interest to practitioners of real estate and trusts/estates

Members of DIRT are welcome to register and participate

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

12:30 p.m. Eastern/11:30 a.m. Central/9:30 a.m. Pacific

Emerging Legal Issues in the Sharing Economy:

Regulating Short-Term Rentals

Speakers:

  • Jamila Jefferson-Jones, Associate Professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • Stephen R. Miller, Associate Professor, University of Idaho College of Law

Moderator:

  • Christopher Odinet, Horatio C. Thompson Endowed Assistant Professor, Southern University Law Center

Like network transportation companies and employment matching sites, sharing economy short-term rental (STR) companies are rapidly restructuring the American experience.  That these sharing economy STR companies – which are typified by entities such as Airbnb and VBRO – have such impact and market share at a time during which much of their business model remains, at best under-regulated and at worst illegal, makes it one of the most important emerging areas in American law.

Our panelists will discuss recent cases and emerging issues that examine the tension inherent in regulating sharing economy STRs as cities and states grapple with issues such as: whether STRs cause gentrification and escalation of rents in highly-coveted neighborhoods; whether or how these companies should be subject to the payment of transient occupancy taxes, as well as impact fees and exactions associated with STRs; day limits on STR market use; use definitions that define STRs; licensing and permitting; forced information sharing; the application of anti-discrimination laws; takings and inverse condemnation litigation; rent control and subletting provisions in leases, as well as other litigation that will certainly arise and develop in the near future.  Professors Miller and Jefferson-Jones are the authors of The State & Local Government Sharing Economy Manual:  Strategies for Regulating and Managing On-Demand Services, an ABA publication forthcoming in 2017.

Register for this FREE webinar at http://ambar.org/ProfessorsCorner

September 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Map of the Day -- America's Artistic Divide

The Washington Post ran an interesting article on Monday about a North-South "artistic divide" in America, with some discussion as to its causes. Although I personally live in a bit of counter-culture Idaho that has adopted the slogan "Heart of the Arts," I was surprised to see the dark colors in the Northern Rockies. I wonder if fly tying counts?

The stunning geographic divide in American creativity

 

September 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Stein on Chinese Real Property Law and Practice

Stein-GregGregory Stein (Tennessee) has posted Chinese Real Estate Law and the Law and Development Theory: Comparing Law and Practice (Florida State Journal of Transnational Law & Policy) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

China did not adopt a modern Property Rights Law until 2007, which means that most modern real estate development occurred before there was a comprehensive property law to govern it. Moreover, business conventions in China frequently diverge from published laws, and the rules that professionals follow do not always comply with legal requirements. This article addresses how real estate professionals in China contend with these legal inconsistencies and uncertainties. It also asks whether China is disproving the traditional law and development model, which holds that transparent property and contract laws are a prerequisite to robust economic development.

Part II introduces some of the common Western misconceptions about Chinese real estate law and business. Part III presents examples of how three specific Chinese business practices have come to differ in significant ways from Chinese real estate law. Part IV concludes by noting the ways in which China calls into question the widely accepted model of law and development.

 

September 6, 2016 in Articles, Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Alexander on American Property Law Doctrine

Bio_Alexander_Gregory_gsa9_B&WGregory Alexander (Cornell) has posted Five Easy Pieces: Recurrent Themes in American Property Law (University of Hawaii Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

The title of my article, "Five Easy Pieces," may not resonate with those of you who are too young to remember Jack Nicholson as a budding young movie star cut out of the James Dean mold. For those who do remember, it is, of course, the title of one of Nicholson's early (and, to my mind, greatest) movies. Jack's five easy pieces were piano pieces, easy for him to perform, less so for others. There was a certain irony about the word "easy" in the title. The irony lay not only in the fact that just about everyone else consider those pieces difficult, but, more deeply, because those piano pieces were the only pieces of the life of Bobby Dupea, the character whom Jack portrayed, that were easy for him. Life as a whole, the big picture, was one great, almost impossible challenge for him.

My five easy pieces have their own ironic twist. They are rather different but equally challenging in their own ways that first-year law students here will readily recognize. My pieces, this piece, is really aimed at them. The pieces I will discuss are five recurrent themes in American property law, leit motifs, to continue the metaphor from the Nicholson movie, that run throughout American legal doctrines. These themes provide a way of structuring all of property law, adding coherence to what so often appears to law students as an unintelligible rag-tag collection of rules and doctrines that defy any attempt to construct an overarching framework for analysis. I have given five simple labels to these recurrent topics: "conceptualizing property," "categorizing property, " "historicizing property," "enforcing property," and "de-marginalizing property." We begin with how we conceptualize property.

September 5, 2016 in Articles, Law Schools, Property Theory, Recent Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Illegal Property Tax Foreclosures in Detroit

Atuahene_Bernadette_portraitCheck out this really fascinating (and disturbing) article about research conducted by Bernadette Athene (Chicago-Kent, currently visiting at Chicago) on illegal property tax foreclosures in Detroit:

This week was the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Over the years, many have said that Detroit is experiencing a hurricane without water.

Like with Katrina, the property tax foreclosure crisis in Detroit has wiped out entire neighborhoods inhabited by poor and working-class black people. From 2011-15, the Wayne County treasurer foreclosed upon approximately one in four Detroit properties for nonpayment of property taxes.

In fact, Detroit has one of the highest number of property tax foreclosures any American city has had since the Great Depression. Most important, once foreclosed properties are vacated, they are often vandalized, burned down or stripped of all valuable materials, creating a flood of blighted properties that decimate communities by reducing property values, attracting crime and causing those who can to evacuate.

There is a debate about the origins of Detroit’s property tax foreclosure crisis.

Popular narratives have focused on a culture of lawlessness in which property owners have cheated the city by not paying their property taxes and then devising ways to avoid foreclosure.

Some have welcomed the record number of property tax foreclosures as a sign that Detroit, at long last, is establishing law and order. But, I recently co-authored a study titled “Stategraft” that demonstrates that Detroit’s unprecedented property tax foreclosure rate is indefensible because property tax assessments in Detroit are, in fact, illegal.  

Michigan’s  Constitution clearly decrees that a property’s assessed value cannot exceed 50% of its market value. In our study, we find that Detroit’s assessor is flagrantly violating this vital state constitutional provision. Consequently, contrary to popular narratives, it is the city that is stealing from Detroit property owners through illegal assessments and inflated property tax bills, and not the other way around. And while the city has reassessed properties during the last two years, those actions have not been enough to bring most assessments in line with the Michigan Constitution. 

To investigate whether property tax assessments in Detroit are illegal, we use citywide property sales and assessment data for 2009-15. As required by Michigan case law and statute, we included only arm’s length transactions in our analysis, and we find that, in 2009, 65.5% of the properties sold violated the state constitutional assessment limit.  In subsequent years the numbers were equally shocking: 2010 (84.7%), 2011 (54.6%), 2012 (71.4%), 2013 (78.2%), 2014 (83.2%), 2015 (64.7%).

The property tax assessments were not only above the legal limit, but they also exceeded it by a substantial sum. For instance, in 2010, assessments were, on average, 7.3 times higher than the legal limit. In 2015, assessments were, on average, 2.1 times higher than the legal limit.

In all years studied, the illegality was most pronounced for lower-valued properties. That is, the city is more likely to assess modest homes at illegal levels than it is more expensive homes, leaving the most vulnerable homeowners drowning in injustice. 

Detroit’s mayor, Mike Duggan — a former prosecutor — acknowledged that “for years, homes across the city have been over assessed,” and tried to remedy this in 2014 and 2015 by implementing assessment decreases for most of the city, ranging from 5% to 20%.

Our study shows that illegal property tax assessments nevertheless persist for lower-valued properties despite these reductions. For example, in 2015, properties with the lowest values were, on average, assessed at 4.8 times the legal limit, while properties with the highest values were, on average, legally assessed.

Both before and after Duggan’s assessment reductions, those who can afford only modest properties have been subject to the most severe illegality and forced to endure the consequences of Detroit’s broken levees.

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the law firm of Covington & Burling filed a class action  alleging that the unprecedented number of property tax foreclosures in Detroit is unlawful on several counts, including the fact that the property tax assessments systematically violate the state constitution and the Fair Housing Act. The findings of "Stategraft" strongly support this claim.

The end goal of the class action is to stop all property tax foreclosures that are based upon illegal assessments. As an interim measure, the legal team recently filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that would place a moratorium on property tax foreclosures of owner-occupied properties in Detroit and throughout Wayne County.

To be sure, by reducing city revenues, a moratorium would further wound a city that has been in economic decline for decades and is desperately trying to emerge from the shadow of the largest municipal bankruptcy in our nation’s history. But, just as we do not allow homeless people in desperate need to burglarize homes, we should not allow the City of Detroit to use unlawful assessments and inflated property tax bills to steal money from Detroit property owners. Additionally, the requested moratorium is narrowly tailored so that it protects only vulnerable homeowners and not investors. 

Given the mortgage foreclosure crisis, water shutoffs and historic bankruptcy, the people of Detroit have already had to weather several devastating storms. Now that they are facing a hurricane without water, the federal government cannot leave Detroiters stranded.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch must ensure that the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Department of Justice opens an official investigation, which will supplement the ongoing class action and begin to quell the tides of inequity.

Bernadette Atuahene is a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School and a research professor at the American Bar Foundation.

September 2, 2016 in Articles, Home and Housing, Mortgage Crisis, Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship, Recording and Title Issues, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of Florida Law School Celebrates 100 Years of Zoning: Schedule of Events

Levin_UF

This just in from Michael Allan Wolf (Florida) on UF's semester-long series of lectures and events on zoning:

UFevents

September 2, 2016 in Conferences, Land Use | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Map of the Day -- Craigslist U.S. Rental Listings

A very belated first post from me – this map of the day is less striking than the Nature Conservancy – UW map of climate-induced migrations that Jerry posted earlier this week, but I’ve found it’s already proved a useful teaching tool.

01-craigslist-rental-housing-listings-us-map

This map, and the underlying recent work by Geoff Boeing and Paul Waddell, produced in connection with UC Berkeley’s Urban Analytics Lab, is a great way to get students engaged in differences in rental markets and housing affordability issues across the country.

All well worth a read, and this excellent short summary from Kelsey E. Thomas at Next City might be the best place to start students with the semester underway at most schools and the holiday weekend coming up.

Thanks to Steve for such an amazing long run with the blog – it’s been such a wonderful resource for so many people. And thanks to Chris, Sally, and Jerry for everything over the past few months. It’s a privilege to join you all!

September 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Map of the Day -- Climate change induced migrations

The Nature Conservancy and the University of Washington put together a map depicting how animals might migrate in response to climate change. One interesting aspect is the limited migration capacity of amphibians in the West, due (I assume) to limited habitat availability.

 Migrations in Motion

Migrations in Motion

August 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

CFP: Wealth Transfer Law in Comparative & International Perspective @Iowa

This just in from Tom Gallanis (Iowa):

Call for Papers

Wealth Transfer Law in Comparative and International Perspective

Friday, September 8, 2017

The University of Iowa College of Law and The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel’s Legal Education Committee are organizing the 7th academic symposium financially supported by the ACTEC Foundation.  The symposium, Wealth Transfer Law in Comparative and International Perspective will be held at the University of Iowa College of Law on Friday, September 8, 2017.  The keynote address will be given by Professor Lionel Smith of McGill University and King’s College London.

Among the objectives of this symposium are:

            (1) To bring together prominent and up-and-coming scholars for the discussion of important issues in wealth transfer law from a comparative and international perspective;

            (2) To spur leading-edge research on wealth transfer law, looking beyond the borders of any one jurisdiction;

            (3) To encourage U.S. professors of trusts and estates to incorporate comparative and international perspectives into their scholarship and teaching; and

            (4) To promote collaborations and exchanges between U.S. and non-U.S. scholars.

Papers presented at the symposium will consist of papers selected from this Call for Papers and papers from invited speakers.  The papers will be published in the Iowa Law Review.

If you would like to be considered to present a paper, please submit an abstract of your paper to Professor Thomas Gallanis by email (thomas-gallanis@uiowa.edu) by November 1, 2016.  The Iowa Law Review will notify individuals chosen to participate in the symposium no later than December 1, 2016.  Symposium speakers will be required to submit a draft of their papers by August 1, 2017, so that the panel commentators will have sufficient time to prepare their commentary.

Symposium speakers will be reimbursed for their travel expenses (economy airfare, the cost of ground transportation, and up to two nights’ hotel for speakers within North America and up to three nights’ hotel for speakers from beyond North America).  Speakers will be invited to dinner on the evenings of Thursday, September 7, and (for speakers staying Friday evening) Friday, September 8. 

Breakfast and lunch will be provided to speakers and attendees on Friday, September 8, courtesy of the ACTEC Foundation.

Questions about the symposium or this call for papers should be directed to Professor Gallanis at the email address above.

 

August 30, 2016 in Conferences, Estates In Land | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mandelker on Zoning and Alternative Housing

 Mandlekerd4Daniel Mandelker (Washington University) posted Zoning Barriers to Manufactured Housing (The Urban Lawyer) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

Manufactured housing is a major affordable housing resource for millions of people. Restrictive zoning barriers limit its availability, even though studies have discredited myths, such as objections to its safety and quality. A national statute, the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act, authorizes building code standards that address all aspects of safety, durability and quality, and that preempt state and local codes that deal with this problem. The Act does not preempt restrictive zoning, and Congress should amend the law to cover zoning restrictions. Judicial control of zoning barriers to manufactured housing is unsatisfactory and requires statutory change. Courts accept unequal treatment that applies restrictive zoning only to manufactured housing, though some statutes prohibit discrimination. The cases uphold exclusions from residential districts if manufactured housing is allowed elsewhere. Some statutes prohibit exclusion by requiring manufactured housing as a permitted use in all residential districts, or allow a community to decide what residential districts must accept manufactured housing. Courts uphold aesthetic standards, such as roofing and siding requirements, and some statutes authorize them, though limitations are needed to protect manufactured housing from exclusionary treatment. Communities often require approval of manufactured housing as a conditional use, and approval as a conditional use is often denied. Courts have upheld conditional use denials, and statutory protective standards are needed that will prevent abuse of the conditional use requirement.

August 27, 2016 in Home and Housing, Land Use, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Eagle on Oceanfront Property and Takings

JeagleJosh Eagle (South Carolina) has posted Taking the Oceanfront Lot (Indiana Law Journal) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

Oceanfront landowners and states share a property boundary that runs between the wet and dry parts of the shore. This legal coastline is different from an ordinary land boundary. First, on sandy beaches, the line is constantly in flux, and it cannot be marked except momentarily. Without the help of a surveyor and a court, neither the landowner nor a citizen walking down the beach has the ability to know exactly where the line lies. This uncertainty means that, as a practical matter, ownership of some part of the beach is effectively shared. Second, the common law establishes that the owner of each oceanfront lot holds easement-like interests in adjacent state-owned land; and, the state holds similar interests in the oceanfront lot. For these two reasons, the legal relationship between the oceanfront owner and the state is more interdependent than it may seem at first. It is much more than the usual neighbor relationship.

Disputes over oceanfront property are often framed as cases of wrongful taking under the Fifth Amendment’s Just Compensation Clause. The Supreme Court has historically applied its standard takings test for determining whether or not a state is liable for the impact of its rules on a landowner’s rights. This Article is the first to examine the question of whether use of this standard test is optimal, or even logical, in cases between states and the owners of oceanfront land. Given the fact that climate change impacts such as sea-level rise are likely to increase rates of conflict along the legal coastline, the potential benefits of a test that takes into account the special relationship between these parties are significant. Support for an alternative test can be found in two sets of common law property rules, the upland rights and public trust doctrines, as well as in a mechanism that nineteenth-century courts used to resolve similar disputes.

August 22, 2016 in Land Use, Recent Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eagle on the Socioeconomics of Affordable Housing

EagleSteven J. Eagle (George Mason) posted Conflation, Intractability and Affordable Housing (Fordham Urban Law Journal) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

This Article examines the varying and often-conflicting views of “affordable housing” of different social and economic groups. It asserts that attempts to deal with affordable housing issues must take into account the shelter, cultural, and economic needs of those populations, and also the effects of housing decisions on economic prosperity. The article focuses on affordable housing goals such as making available an ample supply of housing in different price ranges; attracting and retaining residents who contribute to the growth and economic prosperity of cities; ensuring that neighborhood housing remains available for existing residents, while preserving their cultural values; and providing adequate housing in high-cost cities for low- and moderate-income persons and the overlapping concern for “fair housing” for families of all races and backgrounds.

Thereafter, the Article examines the benefits and detriments of various means of providing more affordable housing, including fair-share mandates, rent control, and inclusionary zoning (including whether that leads to impermissible government takings of private property). It then briefly considers the merits and demerits of federal subsidy programs.

The Article briefly considers conceptual and practical problems in implementing the Supreme Court’s 2015 Inclusive Communities disparate impact holding, and HUD’s 2015 regulations on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” Finally, it discusses how the concept of “affordable housing” conflates the separate issues of high housing prices and poverty, and how housing prices might be reduced through removal of regulatory barriers to new construction.

Throughout, the Article stresses that advancing affordable housing goals have both explicit and implicit costs, and that goals often are conflicting. To those ends, it employs economic and sociological as well as legal perspectives.

August 22, 2016 in Home and Housing, Law & Economics, Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

#LouisianaFlood: Property Law and Consumer Protection After a Natural Disaster

La.flooding
(Photo Credit: The Millennium Report)

As national news is just getting around to reporting, Baton Rouge and its surrounding areas recently experienced tremendous flooding. Large portions of southeast Louisiana were (and many remain) underwater. Our tax law friends over at the Surly SubGroup, specifically Phil Hackney (LSU), summarize the situation nicely:

The devastation stretches from around the Louisiana-Mississippi border all the way over to Lafayette -maybe 100 miles across. This story does a nice job explaining the weather phenomenon that caused this massive flood event. Neighborhoods that have never flooded before in our recorded history are under 4 -6 ft. of water, and some higher than that. Almost the entirety of certain cities are submerged. The last data I had for my area is that 20,000 were displaced and 10,000 in shelters. I expect that number to go up over the week. Even though it has stopped raining, the flood waters cannot drain because the rivers are too high and cannot take runnoff from tributaries.

For those who may find this helpful, this short post talks a little about the property law (specifically related to home mortgage obligations and homeowners’ insurance) that victims of natural disasters like the Louisiana flooding should keep in mind.

MORTGAGE LOAN OBLIGATIONS

After a disaster like the flooding in Louisiana it is important to get in touch with your bank or mortgage servicer to obtain relief. The reason for this is because even if your property is destroyed and/or you can no longer live in the home, the mortgage debt does not go away. It is still owed even if the improvements on the real estate are not longer habitable. If contacted, however, sometimes the mortgage company will give you more time to pay your monthly note and even dispense with late fees or penalties. Also, if the home has been lost due to substantial or total destruction, you’ll want to talk to your mortgage servicer ASAP to prevent or postpone foreclosure on the property. For private loans (i.e., not government-backed) it will be up to the lender and you to work out those details. Be aware that even if the lender gives you a forbearance for a period of time, you will still have to make up those payments later.

For those loans that are FHA-backed, borrowers are sometimes eligible for resources that allow them to remain in the home. The FHA has a disaster relief policy pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act where, if (1) you or your family live in a federally-declared disaster area; (2) you are a household member of someone who is deceased, missing, or hurt because of the disaster; or (3) your ability to pay your mortgage is significantly impacted by the disaster, then your lender cannot foreclose on its mortgage for a 90-day period. The FHA also strongly advises its participating lenders to work with mortgagees who are affected by natural disasters (for example, by taking a deed in lieu of foreclosure if appropriate or allowing only partial payment for a period of time). This is why it’s so important that homeowners in these flooded areas contact their mortgage servicers and let them know that they qualify for FHA Disaster Relief. For additional help in this process, HUD has a counseling hotline to call at 1-800-569-4287 or you can contact HUD's National Servicing Center.

PROPERTY INSURANCE

With regard to property insurance, dealing with your insurer can be a long and complicated process after a natural disaster. The important part is knowing what your declaration and your policy states, and whether flood insurance is included (i.e., for damage caused from rising waters). A general homeowner’s policy only covers damage caused by wind, rain, hail etc. Flood damage is insured separately. The exclusions portion of the policy will help in making this determination.

When it comes to actually getting money for lost or damaged property, different insurance policies take different approaches. You can either obtain the replacement cost value of the property (which means the insurance company will give you funds necessary to substitute the damaged or lost property with comparable property) or actual cash value (which is where you receive the cash value of the property that was lost or damaged, minus depreciation over time). The insurance policy will reveal to which you are entitled.

In the case of personal property losses specifically, this is generally referred to as the insurance of “contents” of the home. Documenting these losses are particularly important (so don’t start throwing things away too quickly). Keeping receipts are also critical to submitting a successful claim.

Another important aspect of property insurance is the fact that you are not the only person insured. Your mortgage bank is also listed as an insured on your policy, which means that when the insurance company send the check the bank will also be listed as a payee. Usually your residential mortgage contract requires that you send the check to the bank and then, through an escrow and release process, the funds will be distributed to you to pay contractors to repair the home in tranches. This means that you and your mortgage bank will have to work together to get the repairs completed and your contractors paid. Another option can be to actually pay off the mortgage debt altogether (if there’s a sufficient amount), but that is a decision that the mortgage lender gets to make. As a homeowner you should try to find out how the mortgage lender will use the insurance proceeds because if the mortgage debt is paid off that leaves you with no money to make repairs to your home.

August 17, 2016 in Home and Housing, Land Use, Natural Resources, Personal Property, Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Transactions, Recording and Title Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Meier on the Rule of Capture

MeierLuke Meier (Baylor) recently posted Teaching Pierson v. Post on SSRN. Here's an excerpt:

I have now taught Pierson thirteen times. I love the case. (My former students would confirm this statement.) After experimenting with different ways of teaching Pierson, I have developed a unique approach that (I believe) accomplishes many of my pedagogical objectives for the first week of class. The students also seem to enjoy it. This article explains my approach to teaching Pierson v. Post.

August 16, 2016 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Posner & Weyl on Private Property and Resource Allocation

Eric Posner (Chicago) and E. Glen Weyl (Yale/Microsoft) posted Property is Another Name for Monopoly Facilitating Efficient Bargaining with Partial Common Ownership of Spectrum, Corporations, and Land on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

The existing system of private property interferes with allocative efficiency by giving owners the power to hold out for excessive prices. We propose a remedy in the form of a tax on property, based on the value self-assessed by its owner at intervals, along with a requirement that the owner sell the property to any third party willing to pay a price equal to the self-assessed value. The tax rate would reflect a tradeoff between gains from allocative efficiency and losses to investment efficiency, and would increase in line with expected developments in information technology. The legal and economic implications of this system are explored.

 

August 15, 2016 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Registration Open: State & Local Government Law Works-in-Progress Conference

Houston

The University of Houston Law Center will be hosting the 5th Annual State & Local Government Law Works-in-Progress Conference on Friday, October 7, 2016 and Saturday, October 8, 2016.  Scholars and practitioners writing in areas related to state and local government law are invited to attend and/or present works in progress. Participants can register and obtain hotel information here.

Please register for the conference by September 9, 2016.  Participants will have the option of either presenting a full draft or an early work-in-progress/abstract.  Drafts/abstracts will be due September 26, 2015.  Questions should be directed to Kellen Zale at kbzale@central.uh.edu.

August 8, 2016 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Hiring Announcement: California Western School of Law seeks 2-3 tenure-track faculty members

Cal_western

This just in from from Laura M. Padilla at California Western for anyone on the market this year in property law:

Do you value diversity? At California Western School of Law, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our student body.  This year, around 50% of our incoming students are from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  We are committed to having a faculty that reflects our student body and our community.  

Do you want to influence legal education at an established but innovative law school?  California Western recently celebrated its 90th anniversary - but we have never been stale or ordinary.  We were on the forefront of innovative, experiential education three decades ago.  As a result, our graduates have a reputation for being uniquely practice-ready.  California Western continues to rethink the status quo in legal education – balancing a rigorous practical education with cutting edge scholarship and community service.  

Who are you?  We are seeking candidates with an entrepreneurial spirit who are eager to put their own stamp on a law school with an expanding faculty and many growth opportunities.

What do you want to teach?  We can prioritize your teaching preferences regardless of subject matter. 

Where do you want to live?  California Western is in downtown San Diego, California, literally overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  A city of breathtaking beauty, we have perfect weather, miles of beaches, and nearby mountains.  We are a family-friendly, diverse city with small city traffic and walkable neighborhoods. 

If you are excited about teaching a diverse student body, shaping the next iteration of an innovative and successful law school, and living in “America’s Finest City,” we want to hear from you.

Candidates should email their materials by September 30, 2016 to Professor Ken Klein at kklein@cwsl.edu.  Candidates are encouraged to submit a statement to our Appointments Committee addressing how they can contribute to the goal of creating a diverse faculty. 

August 5, 2016 in Law Schools, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

DNC Party Platform on Housing/Property Law

DNC
(Photo Credit: BizBash)

Now it's time to dive into the 2016 Democratic Party Platform. Here’s what the Democrats have to say about housing and property law:

Expanding Access to Affordable Housing and Homeownership

Whereas the Republican Presidential nominee rooted for the housing crisis, Democrats will continue to fight for those families who suffered the loss of their homes. We will help those who are working toward a path of financial stability and will put sustainable home ownership into the reach of more families. Democrats will also combat the affordable housing crisis and skyrocketing rents in many parts of the country, which is leading too many families and workers to be pushed out of communities where they work.

We will preserve and increase the supply of affordable rental housing by expanding incentives to ease local barriers to building new affordable rental housing developments in areas of economic opportunity. We will substantially increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund to construct, preserve, and rehabilitate millions of affordable housing rental units. Not only will this help address the affordable housing crisis, it will also create millions of good-paying jobs in the process. Democrats believe that we should provide more federal resources to the people struggling most with unaffordable housing: low-income families, people with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly. 

We will expand efforts to address the lingering effects of the foreclosure crisis through programs like the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. We will also expand programs to prevent displacement of existing residents, especially in communities of color; create affordable and workforce housing; and preserve neighborhood-serving nonprofit organizations and small businesses. We will reinvigorate housing production programs, repair public housing, and increase funding for the housing choice voucher program and other rental assistance programs. And we will fight for robust funding to end homelessness in our cities and counties once and for all, through targeted investments to provide the necessary outreach, social services, and housing options for all populations experiencing homelessness. We will engage in a stronger, more coordinated, and better funded partnership among federal, state, and local governments to end chronic homelessness for millions of Americans. We will build on and expand President Obama's promising initiatives to end veteran and family homelessness in our country.

We must make sure that everyone has a fair shot at homeownership. We will keep the housing market robust and inclusive by supporting more first-time homebuyers and putting more Americans into the financial position to become sustainable homeowners; preserving the 30-year fixed rate mortgage; modernizing credit scoring; clarifying lending rules; expanding access to housing counseling; defending and strengthening the Fair Housing Act; and ensuring that regulators have the clear direction, resources, and authority to enforce those rules effectively. We will prevent predatory lending by defending the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These steps are especially important because over the next decade most new households will be formed by families in communities of color, which typically have less generational wealth and fewer resources to put towards a down payment.

Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights

***We will also fight for comprehensive federal non- discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, to guarantee equal rights in areas such as housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, jury service, education, and federal funding.

Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind

***We will expand and make permanent the New Markets Tax Credit. We will improve safety by repairing crumbling infrastructure in communities that need it most as well as on tribal lands. And we will make investments in affordable housing near good jobs and good schools.

Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas

***We will provide resources to help overcome blight, expand Community Development Block Grant funds, provide more housing support to high-poverty communities, and build more affordable rental housing units.

Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations

***We will strengthen the operation of tribal housing programs, and reauthorize the Indian Housing Block Grant Program. We will increase affordable and safe housing and fight to significantly reduce homelessness on and off Indian reservations, especially among Native youth and veterans.

Pursuing Our Innovation Agenda: Science, Research, Education, and Technology

Democrats value American innovation and believe it is one of our country’s great strengths. We will protect the intellectual property rights of artists, creators, and inventors at home and abroad. The entire nation prospers when we promote the unique and original artistic and cultural contributions of the women and men who create and preserve our nation’s heritage.

Democrats will fight against unfair theft of intellectual property and trade secrets. We will increase access to global markets for American intellectual property and other digital trade by opposing quotas, discriminatory measures, and data localization requirements.

Now let me make a few general comments and observations. First, the affordable housing plank talks about combatting “the affordable housing crisis and skyrocketing rents in many parts of the country.” I wonder if this means rent control legislation. How would they suggest we push back against rising rents? No doubt this is a huge problem, but some additional specifics would have been useful.

As to increasing the affordable housing stock, the platform says the party wants to “substantially increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund to construct, preserve, and rehabilitate millions of affordable housing rental units.” Obviously this means more federal spending on housing, but what else? I noticed that a lot of the housing/property policy positions (more below) are about increasing funding. That's great but does that mean new spending or does that mean cut-backs in other housing (or non-housing) programs?

Also, regarding the goal of addressing “the lingering effects of the foreclosure crisis” I was curious to get more specifics. The HAMP program was pretty unsuccessful in refinancing the debt of many underwater American homeowners. Most people lost their homes in the wake of the crisis (when Democrats were in control of the White House and both houses of Congress), so what new programs would be offered? And…isn’t it a little too late?

The party also says it wants to “make sure that everyone has a fair shot at homeownership” but is short on details. The platform talks about “preserving the 30-year fixed rate mortgage” (is anyone suggesting that it’s going away?) and “putting more Americans into the financial position to become sustainable homeowners.” Credit is still tight since the crisis – and black and Hispanic borrowers are really feeling the credit squeeze. I would have liked to know more about how the party would reconcile the desire to provide access to credit with the need for mortgage lenders to utilize prescribed underwriting criteria. Also, noticeably absent from this discussion is anything about the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. How can anyone talk about housing finance and homeownership and not discuss the GSEs and their perpetual conservatorship? This is a noticeable absence from the party’s platform paper (and a real weakness in my view).

Also, it appears that we can look for gender identify and sexual orientation to be added to the Civil Rights Act and related federal statutes, as the party says they will “fight for comprehensive federal non- discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans.” This will, of course, include housing discrimination.

In the "Ending Poverty" section I found it somewhat strange (although perhaps it was implied) that although there was mention of expanding the New Market Tax Credit program (which is geared toward creating or expanding business opportunities in low-income communities) there was no mention of the federal housing tax credit program (LIHTC). I suppose the statement about making “investments in affordable housing” might arguably include that program, but if you’re going to mention one tax credit program by name why not mention the other if you’re talking about affordable housing.

When it comes to building/rebuilding communities, the platform says the party will "provide resources to help overcome blight, expand Community Development Block Grant funds, provide more housing support to high-poverty communities, and build more affordable rental housing units."Again, this is a little light on details and heavy on aspirations. The most substance here is that funding will increase. Perhaps the “build more affordable rental housing units” is meant to capture the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program’s expansion? Will CDBG be made more flexible in terms of how it can be spent?

Lastly, the most substantive comments in the intellectual property rights section have to do with “opposing quotas, discriminatory measures, and data localization requirements.” As I mentioned in the RNC post, I would have liked to have seen more discussion of the digital economy here and the emerging challenging that those markets and innovations present.

As a final note, another item that featured prominently in the RNC's platform, but was completely absent from the DNC's, was any talk about eminent domain/the Takings Clause. In other words, discussion of the sanctity of property rights was not a main focus here (although I think you could say that, taken together, the property/housing platform for the DNC broadly includes that notion).

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

August 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)