There is a lot happening in the recent edition of Rent Free. Some of the week’s stories include zoning reforms in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City that allow for more housing in existing neighborhoods. Democrats in Congress are working to ban investor-owned rental homes, which could lead to gentrification. There is also a look at the housing policies of potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates.
One of the lead stories focuses on housing court dysfunction in New York. The system is so broken that tenants who stopped paying rent in 2020 are still living in their homes. One landlord, an emergency room physician’s assistant, had to move out of her own home due to her nonpaying tenant’s harassment. New York’s housing court takes over a year to process a simple nonpayment case, leaving landlords in a state of limbo.
To alleviate the backlog in housing court, a landlord’s association has proposed a voluntary eviction diversion program. This program would require tenants and landlords to meet with a financial planner before an eviction is filed and try to reach agreement that would keep the case out of housing court. The program has seen success in other cities, but legal aid groups in New York are against the idea.
The article also discusses zoning reforms in Austin and Salt Lake City that aim to allow for more housing in existing neighborhoods. Austin’s reforms allow for three-unit homes to be built on all residential lots, while Salt Lake City’s reforms allow for four-unit homes in all residential zones with affordability requirements. Despite these reforms, there are concerns that the affordability requirements in Salt Lake City may deter development.
Overall, the situation with housing court and zoning reforms highlights the need for better systems and policies to address housing challenges.