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Anti squatter laws in the US expanding

Anti squatter laws in the US expanding
by Brad Cartier, posted in Newsletter

Anti-squatting legislation is growing among various states, starting with Florida and Alamaba. According to Charles Creitz of Fox News, a rare bipartisan bill was recently passed that significantly reduces the lengthy civil court eviction processes for squatters and allows police to arrest squatters who fail to prove a lease or payment of rent.

Similarly, Cynthia Gould of ABC News reports on Alabama’s proposed anti-squatting legislation, which would expedite the legal process of removing squatters. Under the bill, “a homeowner wouldn’t need an attorney. They would give notice to the squatter, sign an affidavit with the district attorney or law enforcement, and law enforcement could remove the individual in 24 hours.”

Jill Seider of State Affairs reports on Georgia, where the General Assembly passed a law criminalizing squatting. The law would be punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1000 fine. Like other state legislation, the bill would also significantly speed up the legal process of removing squatters.

Erin McConnell of Yahoo! Finance reports that real estate investors are encouraged by this series of legislative support. “Aside from having their property hit by a natural disaster, most real estate investors will tell you that the scariest scenario they can imagine is having their property occupied by a squatter. The Florida law closes many of the loopholes that squatters have historically exploited to remain illegally in possession of a property by giving landlords the ability to have squatters quickly removed. It also establishes criminal penalties for squatters.”

Marcia Kramer of CBS News describes the situation in New York City (NYC), where squatters take advantage of laws allowing them to live rent-free while awaiting the lengthy court eviction process. “The problem isn’t limited to Queens. It’s citywide, impacting apartment owners, homeowners, people who leave their homes unattended during vacations and retirees who are afraid their investment income might not come through.”

As such, NYC Mayor Eric Adams is discussing a new City Council bill that will seek to change squatter’s rights in the city, according to Charlene Charles of Yahoo! News. According to Mayor Adams: “I don’t believe a person should be in someone’s home and stay there without contributing to what it costs to be in that home…I’m going to look at the bill, but in concept, I think they’re moving in the right direction.”

Blowout jobs report

Josh Schafer of Yahoo News! reports on the new jobs data released last week which surprised everyone on the upside. The economy added 303,000 jobs, surpassing expectations by 100,000, and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8%. In addition, the workforce participation rate increased.

Jobs growing

Source: Yahoo! News (April 2024)

“It’s the latest in a recent string of positive economic news. Earlier this week, data showed the manufacturing sector has entered expansion territory. Meanwhile, the hiring rate is at a steady pace seen prior to the pandemic and layoffs have held in a low range, signaling no sign of a slowdown in labor market activity. This comes as labor productivity is picking up for the first time in 15 years.”

Fannie Mae reports on the jobs data, highlighting that employment growth was well above expectations, leading to a robust labor market that will mean the Fed is unlikely to rush into rate cuts this year. This will keep mortgage rates elevated for the foreseeable future.

Hannah Jones of comments on the strong labor market, noting that the top industries that added employees were health care (+72,000), government (+71,000), and construction (+39,000).

Unemployment lowering

Source: (April 2024)

“Average hourly earnings increased 4.1% annually in March, outpacing the most recent inflation level of 3.2%, meaning consumers have seen their spending power improve. However, shelter costs outpaced wage growth, growing 5.4% in February. The housing market is eager to see mortgage rates ease as rates have spent nearly a year above 6.5%, and have most recently been hovering above 6.7%. However, mortgage rate relief is dependent on falling inflation and cooling employment growth. Though mortgage rates will likely ease by the end of the year, housing will remain relatively expensive and present a challenge to many buyers.” 

Robert Dietz of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) comments on the addition of construction jobs, highlighting that although jobs are being added, the long-term trend is toward more and more job openings in this sector. “The number of open construction sector jobs increased for the most recent data, rising from 425,000 in January to 441,000 in February. The count was 409,000 a year ago during a period of weaker home construction…[but that the] increasing trend for unfilled construction jobs indicates an ongoing skilled labor shortage for the construction sector.”

Construction job openings high

Source: NAHB (April 2024)


Debra Kamin of the New York Times reports on how the Justice Department will reopen an antitrust investigation into the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The investigation centers on whether the NAR’s rules inflate the cost of selling a home. It follows a recent court ruling that overturned a previous decision to deny the Justice Department’s request for information about broker commissions and real estate listings marketing.

Brooklee Han of HousingWire reports on the story, noting that the three-judge panel for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled on the case reopening. In the court filing last week, Circuit Court judges Florence Pan and Karen Henderson ruled that the “settlement agreement reached by the DOJ and NAR in November of 2020, does not prevent the DOJ from reopening its investigation into the trade group’s Participation Rule and Clear Cooperation Policy.” 

Here are a few additional comments from Judge Pan:

“As framed by the parties, the issue before us is narrow. DOJ argues only that the plain language of the closing letter does not bar it from reopening its investigation and issuing a new CID regarding the Participation Rule and the Clear Cooperation Policy. We agree.”

“We discern no commitment by DOJ — express or implied — to refrain from either opening a new investigation or reopening its closed investigation, which might entail issuing new CIDs related to NAR’s policies. Put simply, the fact that DOJ “closed its investigation” does not guarantee that the investigation would stay closed forever. The words “close” and “reopen” are unambiguously compatible.”

Katy O’Donnell and Josh Sisco of Politico report on this story, highlighting that the ruling adds to NAR’s ongoing legal troubles following the $418 million commissions lawsuit settlements last month. According to the authors, this new ruling clears a path for a more wide-ranging DOJ investigation of the trade group.

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