A while back I wrote about a law adopted in Seattle that forces residential landlords to rent their properties to the first minimally qualified applicant, regardless of other factors. I pointed out that such a requirement would likely lead to a reduced supply and higher prices for rental housing.
Now comes word that a Washington Superior Court judge has invalidated that law, on the ground that it deprives property owners of the right to freely dispose of their property, which the court recognized as a fundamental attribute of property ownership.
Nobody is suggesting that a property owner should be free to refuse to sell or rent property based on the prospective buyer/tenant’s personal characteristics. The problem here is that in an effort to prevent any possible discrimination, lawmakers are taking away a basic liberty that should be enjoyed by everyone. If I choose to eat at one restaurant over another because the wait staff at the first restaurant treats me better than the wait staff at the other restaurant, shouldn’t I be free to make that choice?
Now, why isn’t the District of Columbia law that mandates a right of first refusal for residential tenants when the landlord wants to sell his or her property, invalid for the same reason that the Seattle law was found to be invalid?
I was surprised, and mildly interested, to learn that Arizona is one of the five states with the lowest first time pass rates for its bar exam. The rate is under 65%, lower even than California, which I would have guessed would be the lowest just because it has a reputation for having a low pass rate, and a high number of applicants.
The five states with the highest first time pass rates have rates of almost 84% up to almost 87%.
I think the 65% pass rate for Arizona (that’s for 2017) is lower than it was when I took the bar exam over thirty years ago. I wonder why it’s lower now, and why it’s so low overall?
I don’t get what’s going on with residential landlords and tenants in Washington DC. I don’t get much of anything that goes on there, but this is something that I thought I knew something about. There’s a law on the books there that requires a residential landlord to give a tenant a right of first refusal if the landlord decides to sell the property. The law seems to be predicated on the notion that the tenant’s right to remain in the property can be terminated by a change of ownership.
But that’s not how it works, at least in jurisdictions like Arizona where common law property rules still have some vitality. If I rent my property (whether it’s residential or commercial) to you under a lease for a term of months, you have the right to stay in the property for the length of that term whether I continue to own the property until the end of the term or not. I can transfer ownership of the property to someone else if I want to, but that ownership is subject to your lease until the lease expires. Once the lease expires, however, I can terminate your occupancy whether I want to move into the property myself, sell it to someone else who wants to occupy it, or lease it to someone else.
Nice try, attorney representing a town that tried to silence a critic. Unless the law in your state is vastly different from the law everywhere else that I have ever heard of on this topic, slander of title has a specific meaning: doing something that affects title to or an interest in a specific parcel. Negative comments that allegedly diminish the value of all property in a municipality do not constitute slander of title, unless the municipality owns or has a mortgage on all the property within its boundaries. The fact that the municipality taxes all property within its boundaries based on the value of each parcel doesn’t give the municipality an interest in the property.
That’s without even mentioning the obvious violation of the critic’s First Amendment rights.
I think it’s way too soon to come to any conclusion as to fault in, or to gauge the potential effect of, the tragic accident in Tempe earlier this week involving a self-driving car, but if you want to know more about what might have been involved, the Antiplanner has a post that provides a good look at the scene of the accident.
NEW ARIZONA LAW WILL PREVENT INDIVIDUAL LOCALITIES FROM IMPOSING EXTRA TAXES ON PARTICULAR FOOD ITEMS
The legislation is being described as a ban on sugary drink taxes, but it’s actually much broader than that. HB 2484 provides that any tax imposed by a city or town on the retail sale of food “must be applied uniformly with respect to all food, and an additional tax or fee differential may not be assessed or applied with respect to any specific food item.” That means no sin taxes on hamburgers, or pizza, or ice cream (just to name a few possible examples), either.
In Oakland, California, nearly a year after a tax was imposed on “sugary” drinks, the city government has yet to figure out how to spend the revenue collected, which was supposedly to be used for “health related purposes, even if that wasn’t written into the [legislation].”
Another Pigouvian tax success story.
STRANGE THAT I SAW NO MENTION WHATSOEVER OF THIS WHEN IT WAS ANNOUNCED: SENATE DEMOCRATS HAVE PROPOSED AN ESTATE TAX INCREASE
I didn’t learn about it until this morning when I read the estate planning update that I receive weekly from Thomson Reuters/RIA. According to that update, Senator Schumer introduced on March 7 “a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal, to be financed by tax increases, including, among other things, elimination of the increased estate tax exemption under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017."
The update from Thomson Reuters/RIA links to a subscription only service, but I did find a story about it that elaborates on the proposed tax increases, which would apparently reverse many of the cuts that were just enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.