Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Abstract

Homeownership is an enduring and fundamental American tradition whose economic and social benefits are well examined and have received renewed attention in recent articles and books. Tax laws encourage homeownership; debtor-creditor and property laws protect homeowners; and constitutional protections defend homeowners from governmental attempts to exercise eminent domain.

The current economic and housing crises have forced commentators and policymakers to reexamine the connection between traditional conceptions of homeownership and economic stability, particularly for low-income residents. This article questions that traditional conception by exploring how local governments, in an effort to promote regulatory land use goals, frequently limit homeowners' power to freely alienate property. In particular, I consider state and local efforts to restrict residential real estate rentals and to curb residential real estate speculation.

In so doing, I attempt to strike the proper balance of legal protections concerning homeownership. Do we over protect traditional conceptions of homeownership at the expense of other important values? If the answer is yes, then do limitations on owners' alienation rights achieve worthwhile goals? Or are we perhaps offering owners too little in terms of ownership options? Owners may need more flexibility in the compromise between shelter and commodity, or between on-site and off-site risk factors. These questions of "too much" or "too little" suggest that the issues of rental restrictions and limits on speculation are ones that jurisdictions will soon be compelled to reconsider.

Publication Citation

William S. Boyd School of Law Research Paper 10-38