Goodbye Squatters, Hello Airbnb

Radio Law Talk Segment

Goodbye Squatters, Hello Airbnb

 

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All are found at: http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/real-estate-law/

 

INTRO: How to Evict or Oust a Squatter on Your Property?

            Welcome to the dark side of land lording. The horror of having a squatter trespass onto your property long enough to gain title is a nightmare that can actually be a reality thanks to adverse possession laws. While it is difficult, it can happen if landlords are not careful. A squatter is a person who unlawfully occupies property you own, and the best way to prevent this is to be aware of your local laws.

 

TIPS

  1. Local Laws
    1. Some jurisdictions are very squatter friendly- such as San Francisco which has a tenant union that assists squatters in staying on a landlords property.
  2. Legal Implications
    1. Many jurisdictions provide legal protection for squatters
      1. For example, if a squatter is actually a renter who has stayed beyond the terms of their rental agreement, the formal eviction process will likely be required to remove the squatter.
    2. Allowed Action by the Landlord
      1. It is best to act with the assistance of the court, law enforcement, or at least an attorney to avoid a civil suit for wrongful eviction
      2. Self-help is limited, and a landowner can be liable if they take drastic measures. So be sure you don’t turn off the power or change the locks. Even having someone scare the squatter away can get you in legal trouble.
    3. Legal Process
      1. It is best to always discuss each particular situation with an experienced, local real estate attorney
      2. In some cases police can arrest for trespassing, but for those smarter squatters out there, the landowners will need to use the court system.
    4. Court Ordered Eviction
      1. Good news for the landlord- unlawful detainer actions can move quickly, unless you have a skilled tenant who can outsmart the system
      2. Laws are often tenant friendly, so even a minor mistake by the landlord can make the case fail.

MEDIA

           

Intro: Top 3 Legal Questions if you Rent Your Airbnb Home:

            Renting your home or apartment whether through Airbnb or other means can bring with it some heavy legal liabilities to be aware of. What might seem like a quick way to earn some extra cash, could lead to financial consequences and persistent legal troubles.

 

TIPS: How to avoid the legal and financial consequences of short term renting?

  1. Check local laws to ensure you can rent out your rental on Airbnb
    1. Local laws, as well as the agreement with your landlord will determine ability
    2. If you own your own home, condo, or duplex you may have HOA limits
    3. Local lays may limit the number of days or require permits
    4. Examples:
      1. New York City prohibits short-term rentals of less than 30 days
      2. San Francisco requires Airbnb users to register with the city
    5. Beware if the renter dies
      1. There may be liability for the owner if a renter of an Airbnb dies
      2. Generally, renter providers are required to ensure the property is safe
        1. If it is dangerous, they will be liable
      3. Airbnb does provide limited insurance, but supplementing is smart
      4. Renters agree that Airbnb will not be liable for injuries, leaving the host open to be sued for injuries or death.
    6. Issues selling your home if someone is renting it
      1. Current renters can limit your ability to show the property, as well as control the interior appearance.
      2. The value of the home may be affected subject to the rental agreement’s terms.

 

INTRO: Can Religious Communities Limit Who Lives in a Neighborhood?

An ongoing case in Michigan is highlighting the fine line between church and state, and asking an important question: can a community tell you that you can’t buy or inherit a home because you aren’t the right religion, or religious enough? In 1875 Bay View Association was founded in Michigan, under the State’s Summer Resort and Assembly Associations Act, which allowed for groups to be occupied for religious purposes. Over time the “camp” because heavily affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The requirements of owing or inheriting a home on the property are that a person must be of “Christian Persuasion” demonstrated by a church leader. While some argue that it is a private, voluntary organization and therefore has the right to set religious specifications, there is a debate because it is under a government act, and therefore required to follow federal and state anti-discrimination laws. The lawsuit is claiming violation of the First Amendment, Federal Fair Housing Act, as well as Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

 

ISSUES

  • Is restricting home sales to certain people based on their religious beliefs allowed under the Constitution and the Free and Fair Housing Act?
    • YES
      • The Constitution allows for free practice of religion, not that we must be secular or free entirely of religion
      • The aims of the camp are clearly fulfilling what is set about by the statute and therefore should be allowed
        • The statute allows for: “the formation of corporations of the purchase and improvement of the grounds to be occupied for summer homes, camp meetings, meetings of assemblies or associations and societies organized… for the promotion of the cause of religion and morality.”
      • It is privately owned
    • NO
      • Bay View is an entity invested with powers and duties of government and therefore is required by Constitutional and statutory prohibitions against establishment of religion and against religious discrimination.
      • Bay View was organized under a unique Michigan law that delegates substantial governmental powers to the entity
      • Bay View is given governmental authority to amend and enforce laws or regulations enacted by the community, and is delegated the power to deputize a marshal
      • Bay View’s bylaws take full advantage of the delegation of public functions to summer resorts by the Act
      • Relying on so much government authority and power places Bay View within the requirement to abide by the Federal anti-discrimination laws

LAW

  • First Amendment of the US Constitution
    • Forbids the “Establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
  • Fair Housing Act of 1968
    • Prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, sex, national orgin, or religion and applies to federal, state, and local agencies, as well as corporations, partnerships, and associations.

 

 

FULL STORY

Bay View started as a place for retreat and religious sanctuary. It started with the bylaws that an applicant be of “good moral character” and 21 years old. However, over time, Bay View has aligned itself with and endorsed and promoted the Christian religion, even as it maintains and uses State-delegated Police Power. So while Jews and other non-religious families once owned homes in Bay View, in 1942 they created a new bylaw saying no one should be allowed unless they were of the white race and a Christian. By 1959 the race requirement was eliminated, but religious test remained. By 1986 Bay View instituted a bylaw requirement that would-be members now provide a minister’s letter establishing active participation in a Christian church, a change which excluded “unchurched” Christians from cottage ownership for the first time in Bay View’s then 11 years of existence. Between 2007 and present, Bay View’s leadership had attempted to align Bay View formally with the United Methodist Church- a process that has been met with resistance by Methodists who also cherish civil rights and religious freedom. Bay View has repeatedly tried to change their Articles in order to allow the United Methodist Church to have control. A lawsuit brought against them challenged the unlawful policies and practices of Bay View, based on that Bay View is not a church and is not the property of any church.

 

 

 

INTRO: When A Renter Can Legally Withhold Rent

            Sometimes people have horrible landlords. Sometimes they are great. And sometimes there are problems and issues that arise in a rental, and it may be necessary for a tenant to withhold rent until the problems are corrected. When a renter is faced with a situation where they need to withhold rent, it is crucial that they follow the state and local laws, as well as provide ample notice to their landlord.

 

TIPS:

  1. First and foremost, renters need to check the laws
  2. Avoid these potential consequences:
    1. Getting evicted by failing to pay rent
    2. Getting arrested by refusing to leave after an eviction
    3. Legal trouble by failing to inform landlord of problem and allow time to fix it
  3. Process to follow
    1. Check the lease to make sure it allows you to deduct/withhold rent for particular repair, maintenance, or other issues
      1. If the lease does not allow it, get permission in writing from your landlord
      2. If they will not comply, seek an attorney.
    2. When withholding, conform to state and local laws depending on where you live
      1. Often if there is a habitability issue such as a broken staircase or a rodent infestation that the landlord is aware of and does not fix in a reasonable time, you can withhold
      2. Some places will require the rent to go into an escrow account and the landlord will receive the funds when they comply
  • Check to see if a local agency will help, if not seek legal advice.
  1. Deducting
    1. The landlord refuses to make repairs so the tenant may be able to hire professionals to make needed repairs and deduct the amount from their rent

 

 

INTRO: Can You Put Conditions on a Home Sale?

You are selling your home. Somewhere you have lived for years and spent time and money making it special. So when you go to sell it, can you possibly make sure the new buyers don’t tear down that sentimental treehouse? The answer is generally, no. Once you sell your home, the buyers are free to do what they please with the property. However, there may be some instances where it could be possible to place some conditions or restrictions on the home sale.

 

TIPS

  1. Seller’s Conditions
    1. You can have conditions/contingencies on the home to do with the sale
      1. For example: request a deposit on the home, that a certain amount of the purchase price be placed in escrow before closing, etc.
      2. Although, the court will not void the sale if a buyer knocks down that trusty treehouse.
    2. Neighborhood Control
      1. Neighborhoods and Home Owner’s Associations have the easiest time controlling home owners
      2. Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions they create that owners must follow
        1. Found most commonly in planned developments such as gated residential areas or condominiums.
      3. CC&R’s can cover basically anything, from what trees are planted to the home architecture and these are enforceable by the court.
    3. SO before you put your house up for sale, be sure you are ready to see that treehouse come crumbling down.

**Radio Law Talk does not guarantee the accuracy of all detail research.Above is the written research performed prior to one of the latest shows. Neither Radio Law Talk nor its hosts guarantee its complete accuracy as it is a “working script” only and as such is used as a base foundation of the legal topics discussed. Many additions and changes made during and before the broadcast.” This is for informational purposes only and not to be relied upon as all of the issues or law for the subject topic. Seek legal counsel for all your legal needs.