Stories beneath the headlines rhino!UP for May 8, 2022.
Beneath the news of war, courts, and midterms, some interesting rental housing stories have gone underground. This week rhino!UP digs them up for you.
Roommates barred! The Kansas City Star reports: Co-living rentals banned in this Johnson County city after unanimous council vote. "On Monday, a Johnson County city unanimously voted to ban a living arrangement aimed at helping tenants decrease the amount of rent they pay. The Shawnee City Council voted 8-0 to ban co-living, becoming among the first Kansas City area municipalities to prevent the practice, which has gained popularity in recent years as rent and home prices have soared. The new ordinance defines a co-living group as a group of at least four unrelated adults living together in a dwelling unit. The ordinance stated that if one adult is unrelated to another adult, then the entire group will be classified as unrelated." More here. Exclusionary zoning in single family small towns and suburbs is a common, if subtle, form of discrimination. If single family home owners can't prevent an influx of new people into the US, at least they can keep them out of the neighborhood by restricting occupancy.
Echos of a rhino!UP story Organize to Own from January, 2022. The New York Times (via Yahoo News) reports: A Landlord ‘Underestimated’ His Tenants. Now They Could Own the Building. Facing gentrification of their Bronx apartment building, a diverse group of tenants is on the verge of buying their apartment homes. "A nonprofit organization paid the landlord $2.6 million for the property in February and plans to eventually hand it over to the tenants, who will be able to buy their apartments for $2,500 each. Over the past five years, only 11 rental buildings have converted to this type of limited equity co-op, called a Housing Development Fund Corporation co-op, where tenants buy their apartments at prices set by the city and can sell them for a limited profit." It's important to note that the tenants benefited from an outside organizer to hold the group together and a non-profit organization to provide financial assistance to make the transition a reality.
How will higher interest rates affect rents? It's easy to understand that higher mortgage rates will cut into single family home purchases. But since the emergence of corporate homeownership of the Single Family Rental (SFR) market, the impact of mortgage rates is harder to predict. Under the simple laws of supply and demand, many first time buyers will be looking for single family rentals. With much of the SFR market controlled by Wall Street landlords, rents get a double whammy. There's more demand from wannabe home buyers and higher financing costs for corporate landlords who need to show a profit every quarter. Rents go up!
At the other end of the economic spectrum, low and moderate income homeowners who have not recovered from the Pandemic Recession are increasingly at risk of foreclosure. ATTOM reports: "States with the highest foreclosure rates were Illinois (one in every 791 housing units with a foreclosure filing); New Jersey (one in every 792 housing units); Ohio (one in every 991 housing units); South Carolina (one in every 1,081 housing units); and Nevada (one in every 1,090 housing units)." An increase in foreclosure will bring more rental homeseekers into an already overheated market.
Build Back Better could have made a difference and speedy action by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (Regulating Housing Investors Feb 22, 2022) could have capped corporate speculation a year ago, but here we are now. Is there any wonder why many voters are in a "throw the bums out" mood?
Will eviction reforms keep eviction rates lower than before the pandemic? Right now there's a catastrophe chorus of articles about the next impending eviction crisis. Remember the early days of the pandemic, before there was rental assistance and everyone was predicting an eviction avalanche or tsunami? RHINO wonders if housing reforms adopted in anticipation of the 2020 eviction tsunami, might now mitigate an eviction surge back to pre-pandemic levels. Innovations like Pay to Stay, Right to Counsel, and rental assistance suppress the number of involuntary displacements. These pandemic innovations have also made many courts more sensitive to the economic and social impacts of involuntary displacement. And, finally, the pandemic innovations have given tenants hope that offering a defense can reduce the worst impacts of eviction.