CDC Issues Order Halting Residential Evictions Through Year-End

Yesterday, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the issuance of an order temporarily halting all residential evictions in the United States through December 31, 2020.  The CDC indicated this action was being taken “to prevent further spread of COVID-19”.

Details of the order….

Under the order, a landlord or other owner of residential property, “shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies during the effective period of the Order.”  So, it’s pretty simple, if you own a residential property in the U.S. that has a tenant in it, this order applies to you.  The only exception is the American Samoa, which, at the time of the order, had not cases of COVID-19 reported.

Tenants are still obligated for rental payments…

The order makes it clear that it does not remove the tenant’s obligations to pay rent, nor the landlord’s ability to charge late fees, penalties, etc.  Specifically, the order states:  “This order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.

Tenants must submit a declaration form to take advantage of this protection…

According to the order, for a tenant to receive the protection under this order, an executed copy of a Declaration form must be submitted to their landlord, owner, or property manager.

See the entire order here.

Download the Declaration Form for tenants here.

St Louis Area Vacant Property Rate and Zombie Foreclosure Rate On The Rise

Zombies are on the rise in St Louis! I’m referring, of course, to Zombie foreclosures and not the spooky creatures from scary movies.  A zombie foreclosure is a property that is in “pre-foreclosure” meaning it is in the foreclosure process but has not been yet foreclosed upon and is vacant or abandoned by the current owner.  We saw the levels of zombie foreclosures rise significantly after the housing bubble burst back in 2008 but then fall around 2012 as the market began its recovery.  For the 3rd quarter of 2020, according to ATTOM Data Research, 10.8% of the homes in pre-foreclosure were vacant or otherwise known as “zombies foreclosures”.  This is a fairly significant increase in the zombie rate from the prior quarter when 7.79% of the pre-foreclosures were vacant.  A year ago, during the 3rd quarter of 2010, the zombie foreclosure rate was 7.77%.

St Louis vacant property rate rises during 3rd quarter as well..

As the table below also illustrates, 2.95% of the more than 1,000,000 residential properties in the St Louis MSA were vacant during the 3rd quarter of 2020 which is an increase from 2.88% for the 2nd quarter of 2020 as well as an increase from a year ago when the vacancy rate was 2.86%.

  

St Louis Area Vacant Homes and Zombie Foreclosures

St Louis Area Vacant Homes and Zombie Foreclosures

 

St Louis Rental Vacancy Rate Hits Lowest Level In Over 15 Years!

The St Louis MSA rental vacancy rate during the 2nd quarter of 2020 was 4.4%, the lowest rate in over 15 years, according to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  During the 2nd quarter of last year, the St Louis rental vacancy rate was 7.6%..


  

St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates – 2005 – Present

(click on table for complete data from 2005 – present)
St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates - 2005 - Present

 

Flipped Houses In St Louis Jumps Nearly 14 Percent During First Quarter

There were 542 homes “flipped” in the St Louis metro area during the first quarter of 2020, or 8.5% of the total number of homes sold in the St Louis metro area during the quarter, according to data just released by ATTOM Data Solutions.  This is an increase of 13.8% from the prior quarter and is a decrease of 2% from a year ago.  The median gross profit was 52,900 a 60.8% gross ROI.

Definition of a  “flipped” home…

For the purposes of this report, a flipped home is considered to be any home or condo that was sold during the first quarter of this year in an arms-length sale that had previously had an arms-length sale within the prior 12 months.  Since homeowners don’t tend to buy a home only to turn around and resell it within a year, when this does occur it is typically the result of an investor buying a property, renovating it, then reselling it.

  

St Louis House Flipping – 1st Quarter 2020

St Louis House Flipping - 1st Quarter 2020© 2019 – St Louis Real Estate News, all rights reserved

Bernie’s Plan For Housing Likely To Negatively Impact Investors

Let me begin with this is not a political statement and the purpose of this site is not about politics but about real estate.  Having said that, this morning I came across the plans for the housing market that Bernie Sanders is proposing if he is elected President which I had not seen before.  Upon reviewing his plan (it is on his official site) I realized that while many of the components of it sound good (like “End homelessness and ensure fair housing for all”) many of his promises in this area sound like things that would negatively impact investors and the housing market as a whole.

The following are the Key Points to the Bernie Sanders housing plan from his website (I have included the complete list):

  • End the housing crisis by investing $2.5 trillion to build nearly 10 million permanently affordable housing units.
  • Protect tenants by implementing a national rent control standard, a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, and ensuring the right to counsel in housing disputes.
  • Make rent affordable by making Section 8 vouchers available to all eligible families without a waitlist and strengthening the Fair Housing Act.
  • Combat gentrification, exclusionary zoning, segregation, and speculation.
  • End homelessness and ensure fair housing for all
  • Revitalize public housing by investing $70 billion to repair, decarbonize, and build new public housing.

Under the “When Bernie is president, he will” section are some of the things he plans to do to accomplish the above goals (this list is rather extensive on his site so I have only included a sampling of the items that appear will negatively impact investors and homeowners):

  • Enact a national cap on annual rent increases at no more than 3 percent or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index (whichever is higher) to help prevent the exploitation of tenants at the hands of private landlords.
  • Allow states and cities to pass even stronger rent control standards.
  • Implement a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, which would allow a landlord to evict a tenant only for specific violations and prevent landlords from evicting tenants for arbitrary or retaliatory reasons.
  • Place a 25 percent House Flipping tax on speculators who sell a non-owner-occupied property, if sold for more than it was purchased within 5 years of purchase.
  • Impose a 2 percent Empty Homes tax on the property value of vacant, owned homes to bring more units into the market and curb the use of housing as speculative investment.

Again, this is not a political piece, but given the strong housing market we have enjoyed over the past several years, which has helped many Americans build equity and recover wealth lost during the housing bubble burst of 2008, I think it’s worth noting proposed plans, by any party or power, that could negatively impact the market. Also, these are just talking points from someone running for office, so whether it’s Bernie Sanders or any other candidate, or even the current President, Donald J. Trump, they can all have ideas but getting them implemented takes cooperation of Congress and that is not always so easy so it doesn’t mean any of their plans ever actually come to fruition.

 

 

Why I’m Bullish On Real Estate For 2020

As you may have noticed, I’ve been pretty optimistic about the outlook for the real estate market this year however, that is not always the case as I call it like I see it.  The reason for my optimism is based upon what a true data geek like myself would base it upon, data!  So, what’s the data that has me believing 2020 will be a good year for the housing market in St Louis and beyond?  Several things:

  • As I have been reporting here for the past couple of years now, mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates have continued to decline which show the strength of the economy as a whole as well as the housing industry.
  • As the US Economic Indicators charts below show, since peaking around 2010, the unemployment rate, 30-year mortgage rate and mortgage delinquency rates have all steadily declines to either record lows or at least the lowest rate in recent history.
  • As the St Louis unemployment, home prices and rent chart below shows, unemployment in St Louis has fallen to the lowest level in decades and the relationship between home prices and rents show home prices lagging behind rents indicating that we’ll likely see continued, good housing appreciation rates.
  • As the 30-year fixed rate mortgage chart below shows, mortgage rates are at near record low rates giving buyers much more buying power.  In my market update video I shared here a day or two ago I illustrate just how much more buying power this translates into.
  • As I reported last week, St Louis home sales last year managed to top the prior year slightly, in spite of the low-inventory market we have been stuck in.  This shows the demand that is out there.
  • As I reported earlier this week, the home sales trend for 2020 in St Louis is in positive territory has well.

Proposed St Louis County Ordinance Would Require Landlords To Accept Section 8

A bill introduced by St Louis County Councilmember Lisa Clancy would require landlords in unincorporated St Louis County to participate in the Section 8 program as well as pretty much any other rental subsidy program.  St Louis County bill number 102 (see complete bill at bottom of article), introduced by Councilmember Clancy, if passed, would amend the existing St Louis County “Fair Housing Code” ordinance adding “lawful source of income” to the list of things that a landlord cannot discriminate based upon.

The St Louis County Fair Housing Ordinance (section 717.020) currently makes it unlawful for landlords to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or familial status.  Currently included in the protected classes under St Louis County law, which are not included in the Federal Fair Housing Act, are “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”.  In addition, St Louis County has “gender” as a class instead of “sex” as is in the Federal Fair Housing Act.  If St Louis County Council bill 102 passes and becomes an ordinance, then “lawful source of income” will be an additional protected class and will be another one that is not in the Federal Fair Housing Act.

There are other municipalities, counties, and states around the country that have passed similar legislation as well. As to be expected, legislation like this has been met with a mixed response.  

Is it discriminatory for a landlord to refuse to accept Section 8, Vouchers and the like? Continue reading “Proposed St Louis County Ordinance Would Require Landlords To Accept Section 8

St Louis Rental Vacancy Rate Rises For First Time In A Year

The St Louis MSA rental vacancy rate during the 1st quarter of this year was 8.1%, an increase from 6.6% the prior quarter, according to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Given that for 2018 the median rental vacancy rate of 6.8% in the St Louis MSA was a 13 year low, it’s not surprising we may see an uptick in vacancies.

As the table below shows, the rental vacancy rate for the St Louis MSA for the first quarter of 2018 was 9.6% and then fell to 5.6% during the 2nd quarter so perhaps we’ll see a repeat of that this year as well but time will tell.

St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates – 2016 – Present

(click on table for complete data from 2005 – present)

 

St Louis Rental Vacancy Rate In 2018 Hits Lowest Level In Over 13 Years

The median rental vacancy rate for the St Louis metro area during 2018 was 6.8%, according to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  This rate marks the lowest annual median rental vacancy rate for St Louis since the U.S. Census Bureau’s reports which began in 2005.

As the table below shows, the vacancy rate for the 4th quarter of 2018 was 6.6%, down from 6.9% the quarter before and down from 9.2% a year ago.

St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates

St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates

 

St Louis Rental Vacancies At Lowest Rates In Over A Decade

The vacancy rate for rentals in St Louis during the third quarter of this year was 9.8%, significantly lower than the median vacancy rate of 11.5% for that quarter since 2004.  The year to date median vacancy rate for 2017, through the first 3 quarters, is 8.1% which is tied with last years rate, the lowest in more than a decade.  So it’s a good time to be a landlord in St Louis!

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Rental Vacancy Rates In The St Louis Metro Area – 2015 – 2017

(click table below for complete data going back to 2005 as well as rental rates)

Rental Vacancy Rates In The St Louis Metro Area - 2015 - 2017
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau – Copyright 2017 – St Louis Real Estate News – All Rights Reserved[/caption]

Are Landlords and Tenants Bad People?

My headline is a rhetorical question and I personally don’t think landlords and tenants are bad people but, after seeing so many municipalities work so hard over the past few years passing ordinances that, in many cases, in my humble opinion, tramples the property rights of landlords as well as the rights of tenants, one would have to believe that landlords and tenants must be some pretty bad people.  After all, if not, why would some municipalities work so hard to discourage them from entering their cities and work hard to chase them out?

For example, the most recent egregious example of this comes from the north-county city of Berkeley, where, last September, the city council passed an ordinance (#4320-bill can be seen at bottom)  that put a “30-percent limitation of single-family rental homes per residential block“.   Bill number 4456, which was the bill introduced that became the ordinance, gave the purpose of the new ordinance to be:

“The City (Berkeley) seeks to create a positive impact in city neighborhoods by creating an atmospher for residents to enjoy a good quality of life by creating a 30-percent limitation of single family rental homes per residential block”

Since the city of Berkeley seems to equate “a good quality of life” with a “limitation of single family rental homes‘ I think, by negative inference, we can come to the conclusion that Berkeley is saying rental homes, and I would guess either the people that own them, or the tenants that live in them, must negatively impact, or run counter to, “a good quality of life” in their neighborhoods which now brings us back to my initial question, are landlords and tenants bad people?

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Landlords Get Best Return With Rentals In City Of St Louis

Investors that rental property may find their best returns, relative to the price of the homes they buy, in the City of St Louis, according to some county-level rental data compiled by MORE, REALTORS.  As the tables below illustrate, over the past 12 months the median price of homes sold in the City of St Louis was $106.57 per square foot and the median annualized price per foot homes lease for was $11.04 which works out to a gross annual return on investment of 10.4% in the City of St Louis, the highest of the four St Louis area counties we looked at.  The next best return is found in Jefferson County with a 9.8% return, followed by St Charles County at 9.3% and finally, St Louis County, at 9.1%.

Data limitations…

There is an excellent source of very accurate market data available with regard to prices of homes sold, that being the REALTOR MLS which is where our sold data comes from.  One of the reasons this data is so accurate is because the lions share of homes sold in St Louis are done through REALTORS and the data that is reported on those sales to the MLS is subject to strict guidelines and rules to insure accuracy.  When it comes to rental and lease data however, the data is much harder to assimilate.  This is because the majority of rentals are leased without the assistance of REALTORS and therefore the lease data does not make it’s way to the MLS and there really is no other reputable data source available for it.  When it comes to rental data for larger apartment complexes and the like, there is such data available, but not for single family homes.  Therefore, we have worked to produce rental data from the leases that are handled by REALTORS.  As you can see from the tables below, the number of leases reported in the MLS is much smaller than sales (1,283 vs 13,330 for St Louis County for example) however, there are enough reported I believe to make the data statistically significant.

We can drill it down more…

We can drill down the data to a more local level, such as at the school district, city or zip level, and do this for our investor clients, but what I’ve compiled here gives an overall view of the market at the county level.  Another thing I suggest investors evaluate as well before investing their money, is the appreciation rate of homes in that area.  This is data we also compile and, when you put the rental return rate data next to the price appreciation data you get a pretty good picture of the areas that make the most overall sense to invest in.

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St Louis Rental Vacancy Rate Rises In 3rd Quarter But Still Down From A Year Ago

The rental vacancy rate in the St Louis MSA the U.S. during the third quarter of this year rose to 9.5 percent from 5.5 percent the prior quarter, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is worth noting though that the 5.5 percent vacancy rate seen during 2nd quarter was, as the historical table below shows, the lowest quarterly vacancy rate for the St Louis MSA in well over a decade and 9.5 percent for the 3rd quarter of 2016 is still much lower than the 13.9 percent vacancy rate we saw for St Louis during the 3rd quarter of last year.

 

 

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City of St Louis Makes List of Top Millennial Rental Meccas

The city of St Louis is one of the “Top 17 Single Family Rental Millennial Meccas“, according to a report just released by Attom Data Solutions.  As the interactive info graphic below shows, St Louis joins the likes of Baltimore Maryland, Milwaukee Wisconsin and El Paso Texas, along with others, as a place that is ripe for investors to rent homes to millennials.  For the report, millennial were defined as people born between 1979 and 1993.  According to the report, investors that purchased rental homes in the city of St Louis during the first half of 2016 saw a gross rental yield of 12%, nearly 50% higher than the national average of 8.7%.  In addition, millennials make up nearly a third of the population of the city of  St Louis (29.3%) and 29.8% of the city is rental property, making for a solid rental market.  On the downside, the average wages in the city of St Louis is down 2% from last year.

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New Landlord-Tenant Bill Make Force Missouri Landlords To Use Property Managers-UPDATED Feb 3, 2017

UPDATE February 3, 2017 –

Representative Gary Cross has introduced HB 705 which would repeal this legislation.  Ironically, Rep Cross is the representative that first introduced the original legislation, HB 1862.  I’m guessing he has come to realize the problems this legislation has caused, which I believe were unintended consequences, and has chosen to fix the issue which I praise him for!

##

This legislative session, the Missouri State Legislature passed HB. 1862, which modifies provisions relating to the existing landlord-tenant law in Missouri, specifically, it repeals sections 534.350, 534.360, 535.030, 535.110, 535.160 and 535.300 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri and replaces them with five new sections as described in the bill.  The bill has been delivered to Governor Nixon and, if signed by him, will go into effect August 28th of this year.

Why This New Law May Force Landlords (even licensed real estate agents) To Use Property Managers:

While this bill has some good things in it, such as establishing some reasonable procedures and time lines for a landlord regaining possession of a property as well as doing a little housekeeping with regard to what can be deducted from a security deposit, the bill also makes, what I believe to be, a very damaging change to the law with regard to security deposits.  With regard to security deposits held by landlords, the bill changes section 535.300 (2) to read (emphasis is mine):

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HUD Issues Directive Warning Refusing To Rent Based Upon Tenants Criminal History May Be Discrimination

Earlier this month, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance on the “Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transaction“.  This guidance has caused concern among many landlords as many, in an effort to assure safe housing for their tenants, do criminal background checks on prospective tenants and have a policies against renting to applicants with a criminal background, a practice that, according to this guidance, may very well be considered to be discriminatory now.

Do landlord have to rent all all convicted felons?

While the guidance does not appear to remove a landlord’s ability to establish some restrictions on who they rent to with regard to prior convictions, however does say:

“But housing providers that apply a policy or practice that excludes persons with prior convictions must still be able to prove that such policy or practice is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.”

The guidance goes on to make it clear that a blanket prohibition against any person with any conviction, is not going to fly:

“A housing provider that imposes a blanket prohibition on any person with any conviction record – no matter when the conviction occurred, what the underlying conduct entailed, or what the convicted person has done since then – will be unable to meet this burden.”

So, as is often the case, there is a lot of gray area here.  Below I have the entire guidance letter which goes into much more detail.


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Florissant City Council Passes Ordinance Increasing Landlord License Fees By Nearly 1500 Percent

Last night, the City Council for the City of Florissant passed bill number 9135 which, if approved by voters in April, will increase residential rental real estate license fees.  In addition to increasing the rental real estate license fee from $15.00 to $50.00, this ordinance also changes the calculation of the fee from a “per owner” fee to a “per unit” fee.  A memorandum from the Pubic Works Department distributed with the bill indicates that, under the current law, there were 1,475 rental licenses issued during 2015 generating a total of $22,125 in fees, and, under the proposed new law, there would be approximately 7,000 licenses issues (one per unit instead of one per owner) and would generate approximately $350,000 in fees, an increase of nearly 1,500 percent (1,482%)!

Subject to A Vote by “Qualified Voters”…

Proponents of this outrageously large fee, which will no doubt lead to increased rents for tenants, may defend the action by saying it is subject to a vote of “the people”.  Unfortunately, as the ordinance reads, it will be submitted to the “qualified voters of the city of Florissant” which will most likely, not include the majority of the people impacted by the tax, the landlords.  Given that, according to the latest census data, 73.4 percent of the residents of the city of Florissant are homeowners and homeowners will not be negatively impacted in any way by the tax (but will receive benefit in terms of the additional revenue to the city) they have very little reason NOT to approve the tax.  In addition to the people affected being the minority of the population (tenants and landlords) the majority of the landlords won’t even have a vote given they don’t live in the city of Florissant.

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Requiring Adult Supervision Of Children At An Apartment Pool-Fair Housing Violation?

Today most, if not all, landlords are aware of the Federal Fair Housing Act with regard to making various types of discrimination illegal when it comes to housing and, even if they don’t have a thorough understanding of all of the nuances of the act, at least have a basic understanding of it.  However, today, a lack of a thorough understanding of the law, as well as the risks associated with violating it, or even being accused of violating it, can be quite costly to a landlord.  Therefore, if you are considering becoming a landlord, or perhaps are already in the midst of building your real estate empire, spending time studying and understanding the Federal Fair Housing Act and how it applies to you would be time well spent and it would also be a great move to align yourself with a real estate professional with a good understanding of it that can help you navigate the regulatory waters a landlord must navigate today.

The Case of HUD vs Pebble Beach Apartments –

In July 2013 there was a fair housing violation complaint filed against the owner and manager of the Pebble Beach Apartments alleging they discriminated against a tenant based on familial status in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The Allegations made by HUD after an investigation: (the numbering corresponds with the complaint itself)

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Rental Vacancy Rate In U.S. During 2nd Quarter Hits Lowest Level In Over 10 Years

The rental vacancy rate in the U.S. during the second quarter of this year was 6.8 percent, the lowest level in over 10 years, according to data just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  This was a decline of over 9 percent (9.33%) from the 2nd quarter of 2014 when the rental vacancy rate was 7.5% and is the lowest level the rental vacancy rate has been at in over 10 years.

As the chart and table below shows, the U.S. homeowner vacancy rate also declined during the 2nd quarter of this year to 1.8 percent which ties the lowest level the homeowner vacancy rate has been at in over 10 years as well.

St Louis Rental Vacancy Rate Increases During 2nd Quarter-

As the table below shows, rental vacancies in St Louis increased slightly during 2nd quarter rising to 8.7 percent from 8.6 percent the previous quarter.

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St Louis Rental Vacancies Increase In First Quarter – Still 3rd Lowest Level In 6 Years

St Louis Rental Vacancies remain at historically low levels in spite of a slight increase in the first quarter of this year to 8.6% from 8.5% in the 4th quarter of 2014.  The St Louis vacancy rate for first quarter of 2015 was also up significantly from the first quarter of 2014 when the vacancy rate for St Louis stood at just 7.2% although, as the table below shows,  we have to remember that was the lowest vacancy rate we had seen in over 10 years.

On a national level, the rental vacancy rate has declined as well, down to 7.1% for the 1st quarter of 2015, down from 8.3% for the 1st quarter of 2014.  As the chart below illustrates, all four regions in the U.S. have seen a decline in rental vacancy rates from the 1st quarter of 2014 to the same quarter in 2015.  This, coupled with the facts that St Louis has a higher vacancy rate for 1st quarter 2015 than that of the region, as well as has seen an increase in rate from a year ago while the region saw a decline, may be a warning sign that the St Louis market, while performing well, is not keeping up with the region and the nation.

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Only About One Third Of Low Income Missourians In Need Receive Federal Rent Assistance

Within the last few days, STL Today published an article titled “The affordability crisis in the St Louis rental market“, based upon a study recently released by the Urban Institute, revealing that “there is literally no affordable, non-subsidized housing available to St. Louis low-income families.”  While the focus of the article was non-subsidized affordable rentals, it also discussed the increasing number of extra-low-income families forced to pay over 50% of their income on rent.  I was surprised to hear this as I know federal spending on assistance programs has increased significantly over the last decade and I keep hearing that the economy is improving, unemployment is down, etc, so I would have expected a better report.  This prompted me to look into it a little further.

Missouri’s Low-Income Families and Rental Housing-

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Landlord Charged With Discrimination Over Cat

Paula Anderson, a landlord who owns a two-bedroom home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was charged with discrimination by HUD after HUD’s investigation revealed that there was cause to believe Anderson had violated the Federal Fair Housing act as follows:

As described in paragraphs 7 to 25 above, Respondent Anderson violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1) and (f)(2) as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B) because she discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of Complainant’s tenancy and made her dwelling unavailable by refusing to allow Complainant to live with her assistance animal and daughter at the subject property when such accommodations were necessary to afford Complainant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy her dwelling. 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1), (f)(2), and (f)(3)(B); 24 C.F.R. §§ 100.202(a), 100.202(b), and § 100.204(a). 

The interesting thing about this case is that the “assistance animal” is a cat and while many landlords may be familiar with service dogs, particularly as used by visually impaired people, the claim by a tenant that a cat is a service animal may seem like a stretch and not be taken serious by a landlord but this case proves that it needs to be taken seriously.

Read the entire case here – The Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development vs Paul Anderson

The Rights Of Missouri Landlords Are About To Be Trampled On Again

Section 347.057  of the Missouri Limited Liability Company Act states “A person who is a member, manager, or both, of a limited liability company is not liable, solely by reason of being a member or manager, or both, under a judgment, decree or order of a court, or in any other manner, for a debt, obligation or liability of the limited liability company, whether arising in contract, tort or otherwise or for the acts or omissions of any other member, manager, agent or employee of the limited liability company.”  So, like a corporation, LLC’s provide protection to the individuals, (or other LLC’s, or corporations) that own the LLC from personal liability for business conducted by the LLC.  Without the ability to protect one’s personal assets from liability from business operations, many businesses wouldn’t exist nor would the products and services they provide.  For example, would you be willing to buy stock in a company such as Ford, or Johnson and Johnson if you were going to be personally named in all the lawsuits brought against those companies?  I doubt it.

Landlords, rehabbers, developers and speculators often own and operate their real estate inside of LLC’s for many reasons including for liability reasons, tax benefits as well as to sometimes conceal or protect the identity of the individuals or companies involved.  All of these things (including concealing the identity of the members of the LLC) are lawful purposes of the LLC and have legitimate purposes.

Proposed legislation could strip protection away from property owners in Missouri:

House Bill 864 (bill contents below), introduced by Representative Sheila Solon from District 031 Continue reading “The Rights Of Missouri Landlords Are About To Be Trampled On Again

St Louis Ranked As One Of Top 50 Markets To Rent To Millenials

The city of St Louis made the list of the top 50 markets to rent to Millenials, published by RealtyTrac.  In determining the best markets in the U.S. for renting to millennial (most of whom are in their 20’s or early 30’s), RealtyTrac looked at rental markets where the gross annual yield on rentals was at least 9 percent, where Millenials make up more than 22 percent of the market (the national average) and where the Millenial population had increased at least 5% from 2007 through 2013.

For the city of St Louis, as the table below shows, the Millenial population grew 18% from 2007 to 2013 and in 2013 accounted for over 28% of the market.

St Louis One of the best cities to rent to millenials

Source: RealtyTrac

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HUD Releases Fair Market Rent Amounts for 2015 For Missouri

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released it’s Fair Market Rent amounts for 2015 which are used for several purposes including computation of section 8 rents in a given area.  The table below shows the fair market rents for 2015 for all Missouri Counties as well as Missouri Metropolitan Areas.

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Best College Towns For Renting and Flipping Property

If you are one of the many parents of college-bound kids that is considering investing in a property to provide housing for your college student rather than waste money or dorms or rent, then this newly released info will help.  Below is a list of the best college towns for renting property as well as the best college towns for flipping property, as compiled by RealtyTrac.  St Louis didn’t make either list, actually nothing in Missouri did, however, many of the colleges and universities listed have plenty of kids attending from this area.

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Find the value of any home in any of these college towns online in under a minute.

Want to find homes or condos that are available in college towns or get more detailed market information on one?   Contact us and we’ll  get you everything you need!

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Fair Housing Act Violations Cost Landlord $550,000

Today, the owners and operators of the Alger Meadows Apartments in Grand Rapids, Michigan, agreed to pay $550,000 in damages as well as terminate their property manager to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed against them by the U.S. Department of Justice.  

With the increasing popularity of rental property as an investment, there are many new investors and landlords getting into the business and they need to realize the importance of being familiar with the laws and regulations that may affect them and their business in order to avoid problems.  Even though, according to the press release issued by the DOJ, the property manager is the one that was alleged to have committed the sexual harassment, the DOJ also included the owners of the complex and alleged they were liable for the property managers actions.  So, just because you, as a landlord, may use a property manager, that does not necessarily mean that you are in the clear or not liable for what goes on in your behalf. Therefore, the better informed you are as an investor and landlord, they better off you will be!

I have bought and sold 2,000 homes and have owned and managed apartments and rental homes and enjoy using this experience to help new, as well as seasoned, investors not only find good deals to invest in, but get educated on the things they need to know about such as Federal Fair Housing Laws.  If I can help you, please contact me.

 

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Rental Vacancy Rate Falls To Lowest Level In 20 Years

The rental vacancy rate in the U.S. was at 7.5% for the 2nd quarter of 2014, down from 8.3% the quarter before and at the lowest level in 20 years, according to data just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The U.S. rental vacancy rate has not been this low since the 4th quarter of 1994 when the rate was 7.4%.

Here in the Midwest region of the U.S., the rental vacancy rate was 7.5% during the 2nd quarter of 2014, the lowest rate in 16 years!  The last time the Midwest Region of the U.S. saw rental vacancy rates as low as this was back in the 2nd quarter of 1998 when the vacancy rate fell to 7.3%.

Perhaps it’s time to expand your rental portfolio or, begin building your portfolio?

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The Best Place In St Louis To Buy Rental Property

I’ll begin with a disclaimer. I realize this is a VERY subjective topic and there are about a hundred different criteria one may use to determine the best area to invest in rental property however, having said that, I attempted to do a broad brush analysis from 30,000 feet. I decided to look at which area, in general, offers the best return on investment when it comes to rental property. For the sake of my analysis, I looked at single family homes as rental properties since they are the most common investment by individual investors.

To determine the best rate of return I looked at the median rent for the area as well as median vacancy rate of rentals and median home price. I then determined a rent/value ratio and the area with the highest ratio determines the area with the best potential return on investment.  In computing the ratio I multiplied the median rent by 12 to get the annual rate, then reduced that amount by the vacancy rate and divided the result into the median property value.

As the table below shows, the city of St Louis came out on top with the highest rent to value ratio, 6.48% followed by St Louis County with a 5.45%.

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Update on St Louis County Residential Rental Property Licensing Ordinance

Last month I wrote an article about a residential rental property licensing ordinance that was proposed in St Louis County by Councilman Michael O’Mara which I felt was a bad piece of legislation and an  egregious violation of the private property rights of property owners.  I heard from many readers that felt the same way I did and in fact, many of you turned out at the County Council meeting earlier this week to voice your opposition to the bill.  I’m happy to say that the ordinance, which was on the agenda to be perfected, was in fact not voted upon by the council and therefore did not become law, yet.  Hopefully, the outcry of opposition from the public as well as from organizations such as the St Louis Association of REALTORS and the  Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council, has convinced the members of the council to no longer pursue passage of bill 73.  

See below for public comments that were made at the council meeting in opposition to the ordinance, as recorded in the St Louis County Council journal for the meeting of April.

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