Although we call it “rent control,” the key thing it controls is often not so much what you can charge for a lodging as whether you can ever reclaim it. This recluse successfully held out for $17 million to relinquish his moldy, squalid rented lodging at what is now 15 Central Park West. [New York Post]
P.S. But at least the U.N. likes the idea. While on the subject of legal insanity in NYC real estate: Andrew Rice, New York mag, “Why Run a Slum If You Can Make More Money Housing the Homeless?” I wrote about the epic New York City homeless-rights litigation in Schools for Misrule, and more links are here.
Some “affordable housing”/squatting enthusiasts in San Francisco are encouraging the stratagem of renting someone’s apartment for a night or two on AirBnB, declining to leave, and settling in for what might prove a prolonged process of eviction under the city’s highly pro-tenant landlord-tenant laws. [San Francisco Bay Guardian, with comments questioning whether even San Francisco's law would actually reward such a ploy, via @marketurbanism]
Judge Frank Nervo in Manhattan used phrases like “simply intolerable” and “gross overreaching” in denying Mayer Brown’s “request for more than $126,000 in attorneys’ fees in a lawsuit over a $6,400 security deposit. Judge Nervo added that the firm spent ‘a grossly unnecessary amount of time’ on simple tasks, including ‘research on the most basic and banal legal principles.’” [Clozel v. Jalisi, Above the Law]
London real estate values have soared, and a furor has broken out on the Left over one large landlord’s announcement that it no longer welcomes government-assisted tenants (related story on U.S. Section 8). According to at least one professor of law, international human rights treaties require the United Kingdom to take affordable housing steps [Aoife Nolan, HuffPo U.K.] Good to be aware of these things before we start ratifying any more of them…
Suit charges Brooklyn woman covered up aunt’s death so as to live in rent-stabilized apartment [NYPost]
A South Carolina jury awarded the default judgment against a now-defunct property management firm that had called with an eviction threat over two-months’-behind rent; the tenant in a deposition “said she had asked the manager to refrain from speaking with her mother because of her fragile health.” [Charleston Post and Courier]
Douglas Hsiao in the Washington Post on the legal hazards of renting out an apartment under the laws of Washington, D.C., which make it suspect for a landlord to put ceilings on the number of tenants (that might constitute “family discrimination”) or inquire into whether an applicant is earning money at a legal trade (“source of income” discrimination):
And finally, this: I asked my property manager whether we could meet with potential tenants and interview them. She told me that, as a general rule, she does not like to meet any potential tenants. Why? Because if you never meet them, you cannot be accused of discriminating against them. It would be funny if it were not so Kafkaesque.
Since the Brooklyn loft space is out of compliance, the New York courts have decided, its owner is entitled neither to reclaim the space from its tenant nor to collect rent from her [NY Times and more via Kanner; ABA Journal]
A Bronx nonprofit that’s gotten $240,000 from taxpayers teaches followers how to squat in city buildings. “It’s breaking and entering for dummies.” [NYPost]
KickEmOutQuick evictions and collections, based in Ogden, Utah [Natasha Lydon, Above the Law]
“A gipsy family accused of making life a misery is using legal aid to fund a human rights challenge in the European courts for being evicted – from a travellers’ camp.” [Telegraph]
Well-written article about the lengthy career of one pro se litigant in Newark who has been tying up landlords and others in court for years; it took a fair bit of gumption to publish, given the tendency of many litigious persons to sue those who would expose their litigiousness to public notice. Worth careful study for the light it sheds on the difficulty our legal system so often has in bringing down the curtain on determined perennial litigants [Barry Carter, Newark Star-Ledger]
Matthew Heller at OnPoint News has been digging further into that Chicago landlord-tenant fight that culminated in a cause celebre lawsuit over a posting on Twitter (earlier). More: Marc Randazza.
Readers may remember Cyrus Sanai as the litigant with the big grudge against Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski who proceeded to launch a campaign trying to destroy Kozinski’s career (with some help from the Los Angeles Times). Now a California appeals court has issued the latest ruling in Sanai’s decade-long dispute with the owner of a Newport Beach apartment he once rented. Shaun Martin at California Appellate Report has details on the ruling, which sends the fight back to the lower courts. Martin calls it “a tale of litigation run amok. A tale that explains, in part, why some people hate lawyers; and, in particular, engaging in transactions with them.”
P.S. Sanai, in our comments section, says we’re wrong: for one thing, we described him as having sued the owner of the apartment he once rented when in fact “the complaint at issue is against UDR’s successor in interest, First Advantage Corporation, and UDR’s owner, Harvey Saltz”.
Note that the proposal here is not to provide free lawyers in cases where careful case-screening establishes a fair argument that the eviction is in some way legally wrongful or unjustified. It’s to use taxpayer money to make sure that tenants who’ve trashed the apartment or stiffed the landlord on months of rent are also assigned a lawyer who will predictably use all the procedural leverage available to stall things out further, extract a payment as a condition for the tenant’s leaving, and so forth. NYU’s Brennan Center is pushing the scheme, which has 22 sponsors on the New York City council. (Manny Fernandez, “Free Legal Aid Sought for Elderly Tenants”, New York Times, Nov. 16). For more about “Civil Gideon” schemes, see this post (scroll) and this one (David Giacalone: “Attorney Employment Assurance Plan”).
P.S.: To clarify matters: for now, the program would apply to elderly tenants (which doesn’t mean all the occupants of the apartment will necessarily be elderly).