Apartment Rental News Weekly Roundup: May 14, 2008

Each week, MyNewPlace provides a compendium of news articles on apartments for rent, the rental market and interesting apartment features. We also track legislation that affects the rental market, highlighting new features for apartment owners and renters, and taking a look at notable apartment trends.

Court Rules in Favor of Multifamily Developer

In this week’s top story, apartment owners, builders and architects may rest a little easier following a May 12 ruling by the U.S Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit.
See our previous article, Apartment Owners’ Liabilities Under Review, for the facts of the case.

This decision sets an extremely important precedent by ruling that complaints regarding Fair Housing accessibility must be filed within two years of when the last certificate of occupancy is issued.

The plaintiffs sought a statute of limitations that would allow a suit to be filed within two years of the discovery of building features that don’t accommodate handicapped people. Such a ruling would hold apartment owners, builders and architects liable for violations for an indefinite amount of time.

Political Corner

We’ve been keeping our eye on legislation affecting the housing market as Congress scrambles for ways to ameliorate the mortgage crisis. We’ve been covering a proposed federal bailout of banks and homeowners and featured summaries on the roundups from April 21st, April 28th and May 8th.

There has been no new action on H.R. 5830 as it waits to be considered by the Committee of the Whole.

A related measure, H.R. 3221 is currently in conference, where legislative leaders from the House and Senate will attempt to reconcile the discrepancies between their respective versions. According to Multi-Housing News, the bill includes GSE (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and Federal Housing Authority reforms and $11 billion in tax-relief.

So far, 3 major amendments have passed the House, though how and if tax breaks are paid for is predicted to be a major obstacle.

The Shadow Market

According to an article from GlobeST.com, the recent spring conference of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, hosted a panel of industry experts who discussed how the “shadow market” has increased the supply of rentals in the market and will affect apartment rental markets.

In San Francisco, for example, a $2,400 3 bedroom apartment will now compete with single family homes now being rented out for about $1000 less per month.

In Southern California, an area that has been one of the hardest hit by the constriction of liquidity, short sales are driving prices down quicker than in other regions as lenders put homes at deflated prices back on the market. Some renters who may have been priced out of the market before are now cautiously creeping back into the housing market.

Renters of single family homes, however, should be wary, as “shadow market” homes may be more prone to foreclosure and could result in the eviction of tenants. One woman in Philadelphia, Alice Mills, returned home from a hospital stay to an eviction notice.

Check back with us each week to get the latest from the apartment rental industry.

As always, feel free to send us links to stories that you find interesting.

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