A total of 15 requests were processed and approved during the 1st quarter of 2019. A noteworthy trend, no requests for review of local short-term rental regulations. This is notable because in the first quarter of 2018, there were nine requests for this issue. Environmental related issues came up in Sandwich, Massachusetts with proposed beachfront regulations. And in Birmingham, AL a storm water management ordinance was reviewed. Several requests were made by state REALTOR® associations for example, land bank legislation in Nevada, housing transfer agreements in New Jersey, solar systems and restrictive covenants in Delaware.
In Somerville, MA, located northwest of Boston, a “Condominium Conversion” ordinance was introduced that would significantly alter the rules regarding condo conversions and specific tenant notifications, tenant or city ability to purchase, relocation costs, and obligations of a landlord to find comparable housing for elderly, disabled, or low/moderate income tenants. The analysis provided by Robinson & Cole focused on the provisions that would make condo conversions unreasonably difficult, if not infeasible (ii) vagueness of a Review Board’s authority to deny or impose conversion permits (iii) tenant notice and relocation requirements (iv) the unintended consequence of discouraging the production of rental housing and (v) a flat fee for relocation benefits.
Two projects of note
Land Installment Contracts in Youngstown, Ohio: What is a land installment contract? A company (vendor) retains title to property as security for buyer’s (vendee) obligation. A vendor is defined as “any individual, partnership, corporation, association, trust or any other group of individuals however organized making a sale of property by means of a land installment contract.” The Youngstown Columbiana Association of REALTORS® is working with the City to change the ordinance that has been termed “predatory.” Companies offer land installment contracts to people as an alternative to traditional financing (bank, credit union, mortgage company). Once the agreement is in place, the company retains all property rights while the buyer has to make all payments, property improvements, etc. with vague protections and high risk of default.
Right to Survive Ordinance in Denver, Colorado: Ballot measure would create an ordinance that would establish rights for all people in public spaces. While the initiative is intended to address homelessness it does not take into account the root causes of homelessness. The ballot measure would establish five “rights” to rest and shelter in public spaces for all people whether or not they are homeless or visiting the city. The analysis provided by Robinson & Cole focused on the challenges and applications of the proposed measure.