Sunday, November 18, 2007

Slow News Day at the NY Times?

I read the Sunday New York Times almost every Sunday morning, and the story on the top-left of the front page bothered me.

The story is about how renters can be forced to move if their landlord defaults on the mortgage and the property is foreclosed.

My first impression was "this is front-page news???" Renters get kicked out of the place they're renting for all sorts of reasons, all the time. It is one of the drawbacks of renting. Sure, it's one more side effect of the bursting of the housing bubble, but I find it hard to believe that there aren't more important stories that could have made the front page.

The story itself left me with lots of questions, too. I'd like to know what percentage of renters per year nationwide are likely to face this situation, and what percentages are forced to move for other reasons (apartments turning into condos, getting condemned, etc).

It tells of renters in Las Vegas being given 72 hours notice to pack up and get out. I'd really like to know if Nevada's "renters rights" laws are typical of the rest of the nation.

I'd also like to hear from some legal experts on whether or not it's appropriate for the federal government to start passing laws on renter's rights. This article from the Boston Globe mentions that there's legislation proposed at both the state and federal level.

All that said-- my problem is really with what I think was sloppy reporting, and a bias by the New York Times to "hype" a hot story (the housing/credit crunch thing). I agree with the overall direction of the article-- renter's rights shouldn't be thrown out the window just because their landlord screwed up and their apartment got repossessed by a bank. The (state) laws should be changed (it ain't no free lunch, though-- banks will charge landlords slightly higher interest rates to cover their increased costs when foreclosing, and the landlords will, in turn, charge tenants a teeny bit more in rent...).

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