Apartment Rental News Weekly Roundup: June 3, 2008

This week’s top stories include an apartment rental survey that details the consumer side of the rental industry, a recent court case that deals with renting apartments to illegal immigrants, some updates on the federal housing bailout and a rundown of local ordinances affecting college students and their apartment search.

Apartment Rental Market

According to a recently released survey commissioned by the National Apartment Association, (NAA) not only has the migration rate from renting to owning dwindled, but many surveyed renters (50 percent) plan to stay at their current apartment rentals over the next year.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic from the survey, however relates to sentiment regarding the rent vs buy debate. 71 percent feel that there are advantages of renting an apartment over owning a home given the current state of the market; 48 percent cite financial reasons, rather than the traditional responses such as amenities or mobility.

This is definitely an example of how the current housing troubles have caused a paradigm shift in attitude toward the fiscal wisdom of renting an apartment. In a previous rent vs buy article, we examined how two of the seemingly most basic investment doctrines can, for many families and individuals, be at odds with each other.

How can one diversify their portfolio when they have spent half of their paycheck on a mortgage?

Court Strikes Down Town’s Apartment Rental Ordinance

A city ordinance that banned apartment owners from renting to illegal immigrants in Farmers Branch, TX was struck down last week by the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas.


U.S District Judge Sam A. Lindsay wrote in his decision that the suburb of Dallas had created its own immigration classification and by doing so did not defer to the federal government for immigration matters, which is unconstitutional.

The Court’s ruling overturns the referendum, which residents passed in a 2-1 landslide, on a local government ordinance to restrict illegal immigrants from apartment rentals.

The suit was filed by a group of apartment owner’s, residents and advocates, who alleged that the ordinance’s ambiguous language was burdensome and haphazard.

Political Corner

Matt Carter over at Inman News highlights an interesting development in the federal housing measure that we have been tracking for the past month.

Former Federal Reserve governor and economic advisor to President Bush Lawrence Lindsey, in this week’s Weekly Standard, endorsed Congressman Barney Frank’s proposal H.R. 5830 as “the best thought-out bill in Washington.”

Though he does not consider it a cure all for the housing crisis, he believes that it will help mitigate the housing crisis by reducing the inventory of empty houses by helping people stay in their homes.

As such he argues against the classification of FHA expansion as a federal housing bailout of speculators. We know that the folks over at AngryRenter.com feel differently.

Residential developers are obviously feeling the pain of the market, as one construction company is offering a 2 for the price of 1 sale.

Off Campus Apartments

And finally, we would like to bring attention to all the college students who are subjected to local ordinances that restrict their abilities to find affordable apartments for rent near their campuses. We have seen college students at Boston College and Colgate University
taking the power back and filing lawsuits.

The city of Williamsburg has an ordinance that restricts the number of non-related renters in a home to 3 and has called on the College of William and Mary to build more dormitories.

Boston students are combating a similar roommate ordinance that puts that number at 4. Duluth, MN has taken a different approach by instituting a 300 foot rule that seeks to decentralize the number of houses for rent in certain neighborhoods by requiring that rental homes must be 300 feet apart. That law is now being re-examined and considered for repeal.

Feel free to send us interesting articles and comments!

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