Sunday, August 28, 2011

Playing on the Internet

It's hot here today, so Peon has been playing on the computer. And here are some tidbits she found. First, the only thing worse than a tenant living next door is a boarded-up building with dead grass.

Then there's the interview with the idiot legislator, Matt Hudson, in Florida, the one who sponsored the legislation that made tenants responsible for the landlord's HOA dues, by allowing the HOA to demand payment from the tenant. Theoretically, and I mean very theoretically, the tenant would be protected from a landlord who tried to evict a tenant for paying the HOA and deducting the sum from the rent. Amazingly, the dude was unable to figure out that tenants might have problems with the landlord. Gee, who could have imagined that the landlord might show up, demanding the rent, and threatening tenants with eviction if they didn't pay? I could, and I did. Indeed, I imagined it the first time I read about the law. But then, Floridians elected a Bush. What should we expect?

And then there's the Florida report on tenants and foreclosure there that suggests doing, well, very little to protect tenants in foreclosed properties. One interesting note is that, of the 15 states that proposed tenants' rights legislation protecting tenants in foreclosed properties, only 3 states passed anything.

Well, maybe our status will improve when it's us or boarded-up buildings with dead grass.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fall Classes

I've checked the Fall Schedule for television classes and have two options--physical geography and geology (an oceanography class). One, both? I took cultural geography in college, so physical geography will be a new thing. I'm not buying the textbooks for either one, as the prices are excessive. When I was in college, the prices were high, but now four classes could cost $6-700 in books. Worse, it appears that textbook writers are issuing new editions every couple of years even though, I suspect, that only four sentences are changed. Yeesh!

Worse, the new e-books can't be returned once they've been activated. That means that a student has to decide whether or not to continue in a class before opening the book. And they cost almost as much as the physical product. Yeesh again!

J took the picture at Wright's Lake. Because of the late snow, there were still lots of wildflowers when we were there on Monday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tenants and Foreclosure--An Update

I check my Sitemeter every day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes four times a day. That way, I have my ego fed. Oh, and I find out what the current problems are. What I've noticed this month is (a) that there are a lot more hits--more than 100 more a day, and (b) that people are less interested in cash for keys and more interested in procedure. I was curious about this, as foreclosure filings in general have gone down. But I think I have the answer.

Homeowners, it appears, are becoming more strategic in abandoning their underwater properties. This is, for homeowners, a good thing. If the property is worth $100K less than your mortgage, you're never going to be able to sell without bringing cash money to the table. Not in your wildest dreams. Walking away makes good economic sense.

But here's where something that makes good economic sense becomes bad behavior, tacky, and something that, in a rationally-ordered society, would be fraud. Our soon-to-be erstwhile homeowners decide to rent out the property and let the tenants deal with the foreclosure. In the early days of the foreclosure crisis, this was common. But the homeowners waited until the Notice of Default had been filed, and tenants learned, sometimes from sad experience, to check with the local government office where Notices of Default are filed, and passed on properties going through the foreclosure process.

Having learned from past history--a good thing for humanity in general--they are now renting out the property before the Notice of Default is filed with the local government. This means that tenants have no way of checking on the status of the property. Aside from being nervous about landlords who are renting houses they've just vacated, there's little tenants can do to protect themselves, absent government action. No, not drawing and quartering. But some way to allow tenants to sue their former landlords who rent the place out after they've quit paying the mortgage for fraud.

Update: There's more. A correspondent informs me that, in some cases, homeowners believe that renting the house out will give them some negotiating power with the lender. Instead of a defaulting homeowner, the lender will have to deal with a tenant who has at least 90 days to vacate the property. Uh, 90 days isn't that much time. The lenders don't care. Doing this won't help homeowners save their properties, but it will screw up the lives of their tenants. Still bad form.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday Morning Notes

Yesterday Peon read the newspaper and discovered that her Congressperson, Doris Matsui, had voted against the debt ceiling bill. She was surprised.

Doris Matsui has never been progressive. Not even liberal a lot of the time. She spent a lot of time defending Bush's war in Iraq, even though her constituents held "peace-ins" at her office. When she wasn't war-mongering, she was helping developers to build more houses in the flood plain. Matsui has never said a word about tenant evictions from foreclosed properties, even though thousands of her tenant constituents have suffered this. So when Peon saw the "no" vote next to her name, she was inspired to find out why. And it turns out that she opposed it for good reasons--specifically the cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Peon admits that she didn't have to work too hard to find it. It's here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Growing the Economy

Peon and J are growing the economy. Not because we want to, but because we have no choice. Our 13-year-old Honda Civic is ill, and with 140K miles on it, we're not going to spend the $3,000 to fix it. But this means that we had to buy a new car. And with the new car comes a new car payment. And more insurance. Luckily we got 0% interest and a payment below $200 a month, but I'd rather not grow the economy, frankly.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Barack Hoover Obama

I don't have anything to say about the debt ceiling deal that hasn't been said by others. The only hope is that the cuts will have an impact so negative, and so quickly, that the powers-what-be will be forced to abandon it. But that's only a tiny, tiny bit of hope somewhere around my ankle.

Oh, today is Dash's birthday. He's five.

Update 8/2: Paul Krugman links to a Bloomberg piece on the negative impact that debt reduction will have on the economy. Duh. This always happens the day after the vote. When Congress passed NAFTA, the Times/Post cabal wrote reams on labor lobbying on the issue. The day after Congress passed it, there were articles on the far larger expenditures made by corporate interests to pass a NAFTA that benefited them.