“Wealth is the Vector.”

Rich people will get a lot of the blame…..

“Wealth is the vector.” That’s what sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom tweeted last week, in reference to the spread of COVID-19 across both the globe and the United States.

Wealth is not the cause of every concentrated outbreak dotting the United States. But it’s the common denominator of so much of its spread outside of major urban areas. It’s the reason why so many of the coronavirus hot spots in the Mountain West — Sun Valley, Idaho; Gunnison County, Colorado; Summit County, Utah; Gallatin County, Montana — overlap with winter playgrounds for the wealthy. The virus travels via people, and the people who travel the most, both domestically and internationally, are rich people.

A party in the tony bedroom community of Westport, Connecticut, all the way back on March 5, became what one epidemiologist referred to as a “super-spreading event,” with infected attendees dispersing throughout Connecticut and New England, and one party-goer falling ill on a plane ride back to South Africa. In Idaho’s Blaine County, home to Sun Valley, more than half of the residential properties are second homes or rental properties, and more than 30,000 people fly into the regional airport during ski season alone. As of March 31st, 187 people in the county of 22,000 have tested positive, including local emergency room physician Brent Russell. Two people have died. The town’s small hospital has two ICU beds and a single ventilator.

“People come here from all over the world,” Russell told the Idaho Statesman. “Especially this time of year. When I’m in the ER, I get people from New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Seattle. Every week there’s people from those places. Most likely someone from an urban area or multiple people from urban areas came here and they just set it off.”

All over the United States, people are fleeing urban areas with high infection rates for the perceived safety and natural beauty of rural areas. Some of them own second homes in those areas; others are paying upwards of $10,000 a month, depending on the area, for temporary housing. The common denominator among those populations is, again, wealth — either their own or their families’. They can flee the city because their jobs can be done remotely, or they don’t work at all. They either had a vacation house already, or they can afford to fork over what amounts to a second rent, or second mortgage.

Not everyone leaving a big city because of the pandemic is heading for a vacation home; many people with mobile jobs are relocating to stay with family in suburban and rural hometowns. And many of the rural places that will eventually be hardest hit by the coronavirus are not upscale ski and beach towns, but small and often poor communities that have no tourist economy — or any of the infrastructure that comes with it. The resort areas seeing an influx of potentially virus-carrying city dwellers now are a kind of canary in the coal mine: a preview of how desperately overwhelmed rural areas across the country will be by the coronavirus, whenever it arrives.

From the coast of Maine to the North Shore of Lake Superior, hundreds of thousands of people have either already arrived or are scrambling to find vacant rentals. Some are taking precautions when they leave their primary dwellings, fully isolating themselves for 14 days or more in their new, temporary towns, as the White House has recommended for anyone leaving New York City. But many, presumably, are not.

“The worst part is that these second-home owners are coming up and acting like isolation is a vacation,” said Jen, 39, who lives in the northwest Colorado Rockies.

Link to Full Article

Airbnb Rental Scam

An elaborate short-term rental scheme in Carlsbad tricked a young renter and property owner into losing thousands, according to the victims.

The victims, property owner Nick Foster and renter Courtney Hulla, told NBC 7 the scammer used both Airbnb and Craigslist to carry out the scheme.

On Saturday, Hulla found a Carlsbad condo available to rent on Craigslist, or so she thought.

“$650 deposit, $650 rent. We were like it’s a nice area. That seems too good to be true,” said Hulla.

She contacted a man named David, who told her he was the owner of a rental near the Carlsbad Village. He even invited her to the condo, Hulla told NBC 7.

NBC 7 is not publishing the alleged scammer’s last name because he has not been charged with any crime at this point in time.

“Walked up to the place and checked it out. He was doing laundry at the time,” said Hulla. “He said ‘Check out the place,’ you know, ‘You can walk around. I’m packing stuff up and leaving for Chicago on Thursday. This person bailed. Let me know if you like it. We can start moving forward.’

Hulla met David in person twice and said the man shared details about his life, his work and even signed a lease agreement with her.

She paid him one month’s rent and a deposit, as agreed, totaling $1,300. He gave her a set of keys.

“There’s no way this guy’s trying to do anything, scam me. He’s being too real about it,” said Hulla.

Hulla still felt uneasy, so she went to test out the keys at the condo. She noticed a light on inside and texted David, the so-called owner.

“‘I think that there are people, there are people in there. Can you explain that?’ He was like, ‘Oh they’re my aunt and uncle, just don’t scare them,’” Hulla said.

Turns out that the couple had rented the place through Airbnb from the real condo owner, Nick Foster, a Carlsbad resident.

“He made the condo his own. He acted like he owned it to sell his con to someone,” Foster said.

Foster told NBC 7, David, who had rented the condo through Airbnb before, also stole two portable AC units and other belongings over his two-week stay.

Both Hulla and Foster have reported the incident to the police. Foster has also contacted Airbnb.

“You have a conman on your platform and that he’s clearly done this before and he’s gonna do it again,” said Foster.

Neither has heard from David again.

Hulla was not able to cancel the payments she had made through the Facebook app and PayPal.

NAR Top 10 Outperforming Markets

Whether you move there or just buy rental properties, these are NAR’s hotspots:

In offering its list, NAR tracked ongoing data including domestic migration, housing affordability for new residents, consistent job growth relative to the national average, population age structure, attractiveness for retirees and home price appreciation.

The 10 markets that made the cut were, in alphabetical order: Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas-Fort Worth; Fort Collins, Colo.; Las Vegas; Ogden, Utah; Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

“Some markets are clearly positioned for exceptional longer term performance due to their relative housing affordability combined with solid local economic expansion,” said NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Drawing new residents from other states will also further stimulate housing demand in these markets, but this will create upward price pressures as well, especially if demand is not met by increasing supply.”

“Potential buyers in these 10 markets will find conditions especially favorable to purchase a home going into the next decade,” added NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co. Inc. in San Francisco. “The dream of owning a home appears even more attainable for those who move to or are currently living in these markets.”

Link to Article

Statewide Rent Control Bill 1482

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1482 into law on October 8.

Quick Summary of the law:

Rent Cap

Rent increases are capped at 5 percent plus inflation, or up to a hard cap of 10 percent, whichever is lower.

All rent increases since March 15, 2019 will count toward the rent cap, and if above the permissible rent cap, will have to be rolled back effective January 1, 2020.

Just Cause

Landlords may only evict for “just cause.” There is a list of 15 reasons.

The just cause reasons are divided into two categories:

“At fault” termination of tenancy is generally based upon a tenant’s breach of the lease, among other reasons, and does not require the payment of relocation assistance.

“At fault” reasons include non-payment of rent, nuisance, criminal activity, refusal to allow entry, and breach of a material term of the lease.

“No fault” termination of tenancy is allowed when the tenant has not breached the lease and will require the landlord to pay one month’s rent in relocation assistance.

“No fault” reasons include owner occupancy, withdrawal from the rental market, substantial remodeling and compliance with government order to vacate the property,

Just cause eviction only applies to tenants who have been continuously and lawfully occupying the property for 12 months.

Exemptions

Exempts single family properties and condos if:

  • Notice of the exemption is provided to the tenants and;
  • The owner is not a REIT, a corporation, or an LLC where an owner is a corporation

Other exemptions include:

  • Housing that has been issued a certificate of occupancy within previous last 15 years
  • Owner occupied duplexes
  • Owner occupied single-family properties renting no more than two bedrooms including Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADU”s). (This exemption applies only to just cause but not the rent cap).

Encinitas ADU and PRADU

For Encinitas homeowners who are considering a granny flat – or buyers who want to purchase a suitable property – this is a 7-minute primer from one of the architects who helped guide the city to their current policy (which is the most flexible in North County).

He quotes the costs to build a granny flat to be between $75,000 to $300,000, depending on size, which still sounds like too much for most people.  But he thinks that in the long run the benefits are so great that homeowners who have the right-sized property will build one.

http://encinitasca.gov/pradu

There are a lot of visual distractions in the video so just listening to the audio might be better.

Business Days Only

Effective September 1, 2019, weekends and court holidays will no longer count in calculating the time periods for the following tenant notices:

  • Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
  • Notice to Perform Covenant (Cure) or Quit
  • The five-day period in which a tenant has for filing an answer to an unlawful-detainer summons

Under existing law, when a tenant fails to pay rent on time or commits a curable breach of the lease the landlord may issue a three-day notice to pay rent or quit or a notice to perform covenant or quit.  Currently, it is calendar days that are counted, which may include weekends or court holidays.

However, starting on September 1st the three days must exclude weekends and court holidays.  For example, under the current law, a tenant who is given a three-day notice to pay rent or quit on a Friday would be required to pay by Monday.  Under the law effective September 1st, Saturday and Sunday would not be counted towards the three days, so the tenant would have until Wednesday to pay.

The new law also applies to the five-day period that tenants have to respond to service of an unlawful detainer summons and complaint.  A tenant served with an unlawful-detainer summons will now have five days excluding weekends and holidays to respond.  The law does not impact the notice periods for 30 or 60-day termination notices, or notices based on uncurable breaches such as illegal use, unauthorized subletting, nuisance or waste.

Rent Control on 2020 Ballot

Rob Dawg mentioned the rent-control initiative that will be on the ballot in 2020.

It will be a scaled-down version of the one that got voted down last time:

Amid mounting pressure for lawmakers to protect renters from the steepest of increases in a hot rental market, this initiative is a scaled-back version of Prop. 10. The proposed ballot measure would not give cities carte blanche to impose sweeping rent control rules. New construction would not be impacted.

“We tried to address the concerns we heard during the last campaign,” says Weinstein, “A lot of politicians wanted to see reform instead of repeal of the Costa Hawkins rules.”

The measure would also allow cities to impose rent control on single-family homes if the landlord owns three or more homes, which exempts mom-and-pop landlords. Plus, the measure would allow for limited vacancy control, which is currently prohibited. When a tenant moves out of a rent-controlled apartment, cities and counties could limit rent increases for the next tenant, as long as they allow the landlord to raise the rent at least 15 percent over three years.

The new measure faces many hurdles on its road to the ballot box. Rent control opponents, including real estate interest groups, who describe the legislation as a retread of the old initiative, raised a whopping $76 million to defeat Prop. 10.

“Prop 10 2.0 would drive down property values and prompt an exodus from the rental housing market,” Tom Bannon, chief executive officer of the California Apartment Association said in a release. “California needs sensible housing policies that protect tenants and encourage the building of affordable homes for working families. This measure makes the crisis worse.”

Supporters of Prop. 10 raised only $26 million, the bulk of which came from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. But Weinstein remains resolute.

Link to Article

The California Association of Realtors will also put forth the change to Prop 60/90 that would allow seniors to take their old tax basis with them to their new home, regardless of whether they paid more or less for it, or which county it’s in.  The removing of commercial properties from Prop 13 protection will be on the ballot too, and maybe all bundled up together?

I doubt any of them will change home values in the short-term, but what an Election Day!

Support-Animal Fraud

Landlords and support animals – what a topic!

Staff in public transportation companies and housing rental offices are increasingly finding themselves challenged to sort through which types of service or support animals must be allowed by law. According to these companies, some individuals are cheating by introducing ordinary pets as doctor-prescribed “emotional support” animals in order to bring them into housing where pets are banned or to avoid fees such as pet deposits, pet rent or travel costs.

“I can’t go 30 minutes any time I’m around landlords without someone bringing up assistance animals,” said Paul Smith, executive director of the Utah Apartment Association, which advocates for landlords. “That’s the No. 1 issue for landlords. Landlords want to accommodate people with disability, but want to cut down on fraud.”

To legally gain accommodation for an emotional support animal requires an “impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,” Smith said. “In addition, the animal has to be a medical necessity — it’s not just that having a cat makes me happy. Having the cat treats the medical condition. Our frustration is not that we don’t think there are people who genuinely need one. But under that definition, the animal has to be a medical necessity. We don’t think that definition is met most of the time.”

Landlords know that anyone can go online and buy a letter that “prescribes” an emotional support animal. The Deseret News set out to test how easy it was to obtain such a letter, and within a couple of hours had two in hand from separate sources — each for under $100 and each documenting the “need” for an emotional support animal. That ease of providing so-called proof, coupled with what Smith describes as a dramatic increase in renters saying they “must” have an emotional support animal, has fueled skepticism that could make it harder for those who really need emotional support animals to have them.

While landlords must trust that a letter from a doctor is valid, it’s an issue made more complicated by what Smith calls “online certification mills,” which sell letters prescribing an emotional support animal for a fee, no therapy needed.

The Deseret News decided to see how hard it would be to get an emotional support animal letter online without having a particular need (or even owning an animal). Reporter Erica Evans went after the cheapest option she could find easily: a website which offers airline and housing recommendation forms for $79.

The website advertises “Live and fly with your pet legally and hassle free,” and boasts 30,000 happy customers nationwide. She started filling out the form, but got interrupted after inputting only basic information, including her name and phone number. No worries; within a half hour the company called her, though she hadn’t completed the online intake.

(more…)

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