Posts tagged as:

real estate

NYC’s rent control laws “disproportionately benefit the well-to-do, who are more likely than the poor to remain for decades in apartments that become increasingly underpriced as the years go by. … The 220 affordable apartments [in a new West Side development responsive to subsidy incentives] will be split up among households of four earning no less than $50,300 and no more than $193,000 per year —- or nearly four times New York City’s median household income.” [Jim Epstein, Reason]

“Hundreds of home builders in the Pacific Northwest have been put on notice that if they use a dehumidifier to dry rain-damaged projects, they are infringing on a patent recently issued to a father and son who claim they invented the process.” [Legal NewsLine] (& Coyote)

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Speak not of walkability

by Walter Olson on March 25, 2014

“From a realtor: ‘Regarding the Metro, I never putting “walk to..” on my listings because when I took my GRI classes they warned us that “walk to” might trigger a complaint of discrimination against people with disabilities.’ Sigh…” — David Bernstein, law professor and author of “You Can’t Say That! The Threat To Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws

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A New Jersey woman is claiming in a lawsuit that “who sold her the unit [in Mays Landing, N.J.] ‘knowingly concealed’ that a ‘dangerous individual’ would be her future neighbor, which she alleges is material misrepresentation and fraud, according to the lawsuit filed last week in Atlantic County Superior Court of New Jersey.” [ABC News]

August 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 16, 2013

  • As football helmet makers come under litigation pressure, one company’s label simply advises not playing football [New York Times, ABA Journal]
  • D.C. Circuit: Obama administration has broken law by stalling action on Nevada nuclear site [AP/ABC News, In re Aiken County (PDF)]
  • Unexpected venue? Writer in National Review suggests legalizing prostitution [Charles Cooke]
  • Eight reasons New York City rent is so ridiculously high [Josh Barro]
  • “How much is a life worth?” [Kenneth Feinberg profile in National Journal]
  • Ed Markey vs. amusement parks [Elie Mystal, Above the Law]
  • How easy is it to pull real estate deed fraud? You (and the owners of the Empire State Building) might be surprised [Now I Know]

“There is no reason in the world for a case to be tried 20 years after it was filed,” said Judge Deanne Wilson, who said she knew of nothing matching the case in the New Jersey courts. The judge was highly critical of the conduct of the defendants, a real estate family led by Minnesota Vikings owner Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf, which she found had misappropriated funds owed to longtime business partners. [Ben Horowitz, Newark Star-Ledger, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and more, Field of Schemes]

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Using outdoor recreation as a jumping-off point, Warren Meyer compares construction that genuinely conserves inputs over the long term with the sorts of fussy, maintenance-intensive designs that tend to win architectural sustainability awards, “which generally means they save money on one input at the expense of increasing many others. … I briefly operated a campground that had a rainwater recovery system on the bathrooms, which required about 5 hours of labor each week to keep clean and running to save about a dollar of water costs.”

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May 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 31, 2013

  • The American Illness: Essays on the Rule of Law, new book from Yale University Press edited by Frank Buckley, looks quite promising [Bainbridge]
  • So the New York Times gets spoon-fed “confidential” (and disappointingly tame) documents from the old Brady Campaign lawsuits against gunmakers, and then nothing happens;
  • IRS commissioner visited White House 118 times in 2010-11. Previous one visited once in four years. Hmmm… [John Steele Gordon, more] (But see reporting by Garance Franke-Ruta and commentary by Yuval Levin.) Did politics play role in 2011 Gibson Guitar raid? [IBD]
  • Supreme Court of Canada: “Judges may ‘cut and paste’ when writing their judgments” [Globe and Mail]
  • Lack of proper land title and registration holds Greece back [Alex Tabarrok]
  • I try not to clutter this blog with links to memoir-ish personal pieces of mine, but if you’re interested in adoption, or in how America manages to be at once the most conservative and the most socially innovative of great nations, go ahead and give this one a try [HuffPost]
  • Big Lodging and hotel unions don’t like competition: New York City’s war against AirBnB and Roomorama [John Stossel, Andrew Sullivan]

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Back to the gravel walk? A new environmental program pressures populous Maryland counties to levy assessments on property owners based on their square footage of impervious surfaces such as roofs, patios or driveways that prevent rainwater from sinking into the soil [Blair Lee, Gazette; Maryland Reporter; Frederick News-Post; Anne Arundel County]

P.S. While some of the Maryland commentary has treated the idea as new and experimental, thanks to commenters for pointing out that it’s already a familiar part of the scene elsewhere.

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In the 1948 case of Shelley v. Kraemer, the U.S. Supreme Court held that racially restrictive real estate covenants, once a common practice, were not enforceable in court. Since then old covenants of that sort in title deeds have been a dead letter, but court clerks continue to copy them over as part of the historical transcription of title language that occurs in many real estate transactions. Now a couple described anonymously as John and Jane Doe, represented by attorney Zachary Gottesman of Cincinnati, have been suing county recorders around the state of Ohio asking for “an injunction requiring recorders to ‘sequester’ the offensive documents or, for those documents that have to be published, to redact the racially-offensive portions. They also ask for their attorney fees to be paid, punitive damages and any other relief the court deems just.” A lawyer representing the county clerks says they are legally obligated to copy, transcribe or otherwise make available the deeds as they find them, and that the anonymous filing of the lawsuit is improper. “Defendants,” argues the brief on their behalf, “cannot be held liable … in the same way a library or museum cannot be held liable for hate speech for maintaining a display of offensive historical documents,” he wrote. Please, don’t give the plaintiffs ideas for more suits. [Zanesville Times Recorder]

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Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on March 26, 2013

  • Doughnut oil and the environment: NYT misses a story of unintended consequences [Ira Stoll, SmarterTimes]
  • N.C.: “Guy Who Runs Wilderness Camp Told to Install Sprinklers, Use County Approved Lumber” [Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • “With Proposed Policy Change, EPA Fully Embraces Role of ‘Environmental Justice’ Advocate” [Cory Andrews, WLF]
  • “While the taxes… are irritating, what has really killed my interest in expanding in California is the regulatory burden.” [Coyote on SLOLeaks blog; another California Coastal Commission horror story]
  • Natural crop breeding = safe, biotech-assisted breeding = unsafe? Tale of the toxic potato teaches otherwise [Maggie Koerth-Baker, BoingBoing] (broken link fixed now)
  • Peak Oil? Welcome instead to Trough Oil, as titanic new fossil fuel supplies begin coming online [Andrew Sullivan]
  • Deregulation of accessory dwellings is a reform both free-marketeers and New Urbanists in search of density can get behind [David Alpert, Greater Greater Washington]

“California Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, has introduced a bill to make it illegal for people to smoke in their own homes — if they live in an apartment or a condo or a multifamily home.” [Debra Saunders, syndicated/RealClearPolitics]

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In Fairfax County, Va., outside Washington, a court-ordered trustee has ordered the sale of the Olde Belhaven association’s “pleasant square, with its trees and benches, [which] had in better times been the site of community picnics and Christmas festivities.” The association was put on the road to ruin by a dispute that began over a complaint that a sign in a homeowner’s yard was 4 inches too high. It escalated into costly litigation, and “as the case ground on, the HOA increased dues from $650 a year to about $3,500, mostly to cover legal fees.” Courts sided with the dissident homeowners, and hundreds of thousands in legal costs sank the association’s finances. [Washington Post]

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January 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 16, 2013

  • Woman embroiled in neighbor dispute claims disability bias based on depression, but now faces $107,000 award of legal fees [Buffalo News]
  • B.C., Canada: “Law Firm Unsuccessfully Seeks Fees From Their Own Insurer’s Negligence Payout” [Erik Magraken]
  • “Worst case a client has ever asked you to take” meme reaches ABA Journal [earlier]
  • Hans Bader on re-election of “legally insane” Chicago judge [CEI "Open Market", earlier]
  • Far-fetched theories of constitutional tax immunity claim more victims, this time in Canada [National Post]
  • Law geek alert: Prof. Green will be blogging key federal courts decision Erie RR v. Tompkins (1938) daily through the month [Prawfs]
  • Appreciations of the late political economist James Buchanan [David Boaz, Alex Tabarrok, Tyler Cowen and more, Arnold Kling, Radley Balko]

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…and how he spends his Unruh Act windfall results in — did you guess? — more legal complications. [Gendy Alimurung, L.A. Weekly via @andrewmgrossman; Nowell's earlier legal battles here and here]

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Protectionism for real estate agents [Coyote]:

In legislation that reminds me of stuff from the 1990s when businesses tried to fight Internet-driven disintermediation, Hawaii is proposing to force non-Hawaiians to use a local broker to list their rental properties. Apparently local residents can still list their properties on low-cost Internet sites, but folks on the mainland (also known as “the United States”) must use a high-cost locally licensed broker, who typically charge 50% of rental fees as a commission. … Only by structuring this law to apply to those annoying out-of-staters could it ever be passed.

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October 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 18, 2012

  • In Motor City of “Detropia,” sole remaining industrial-scale activity is the grinding of axes [Asron Renn, Urbanophile]
  • Challenge to independent-contractor status: “Strippers Win $13 Million Class Settlement” [Courthouse News Service]
  • “Homeowners Who Spent $220K in Legal Fees to Fight $2K HOA Lawn Bill Win Court Case After 11 Years” [ABA Journal]
  • Logical skills no prerequisite for brief-drafting job with Florida attorney general’s office [Volokh]
  • Death of officer in high-speed chase leads to notice of tort claim against NJ town [South Jersey Times]
  • “Man Who Made Fake Dead Cat Insurance Claim to Be Sentenced; May Have Tried Same Stunt with Fake Dead Parrot” [Seattle Weekly]
  • Dallas lawyer who sued TV station over not passing along referral calls is now in another spot of bother [SE Texas Record]

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Maryland roundup

by Walter Olson on August 14, 2012

I’ve been writing more lately on policy issues arising in my adopted state, such as the boat tax and Baltimore’s fight with liquor stores, and you can keep up by following my local Twitter account @walterolsonmd:

  • If you think the current federal crusade on disparate minority school discipline rates is unreasonable, check out the Maryland state board of education’s even loopier plans for racial quotas in discipline [Hans Bader and letter, Roger Clegg/Center for Equal Opportunity] “However, there’s no plan for gender balance in school discipline.” [Joanne Jacobs]
  • After the state’s high court stigmatized pit bulls as distinctively dangerous, the state legislature has (as warned of in this space) reacted by extending liability to owners of all dogs, “first bite” or not [WaPo] “The trial lawyer’s expert just testified he sees dogs as a man or woman’s ego on the end of a leash.” [Mike Smigiel]
  • A Washington Post article asks: “Is the ‘nanny state’ in Montgomery working?” (No, but it makes councilors in the affluent liberal redoubt feel good about themselves.) And even in Montgomery, councilman George Leventhal (D-At Large) spots a Laffer Curve [Dan Mitchell, Cato at Liberty]
  • Also in Montgomery, county slates vote next month on union-backed bill to require service contractors to take over employment of displaced workers for 90 days [Gazette] Leventhal is caustic: “I do not only work for SEIU 32BJ. My colleagues may feel they do.” [Rachel Baye, Examiner]
  • Despite its solicitude for the SEIU, the county’s concern for low-income workers has its limits, as when property owners seek to increase the stock of affordable housing near jobs by dividing one-family residences into two-family [Ben Ross, Greater Greater Washington]
  • “Doctors, hospitals concerned about hefty malpractice awards” [Baltimore Sun]
  • MD public pension planners whistle through graveyard [Hayley Peterson, Washington Examiner, Tom Coale/HoCoRising, Ivan Osorio, CEI "Open Market"] The state still hasn’t shaken its AAA bond rating, but Annapolis lawmakers are working to change that by unionizing more state workers [Washington Times]

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