After the Oliver Twist poorhouse became luxury housing with a segregated playground, London bans segregated play-areas

The world is full of corrupt oligarchs looking to smuggle their money out of their countries and put it somewhere where the rule of law that they have helped to dismantle at home still reigns; a favourite safe asset class is luxury housing in major cities, which is viewed as easy to sell on short notice due to the large supply of other money-laundering oligarchs. Read the rest

Ex-Fox & Friends host, accused of a Ponzi scheme that turned Indianapolis real-estate investors into slumlords, moves to Portugal

Clayton Morris -- a former host of Fox & Friends -- was part owner of Oceanpointe, a company that sold turnkey landlord services in Indianapolis to investors who could send Oceanpointe money, which the company would invest in properties that they would repair and rent out. Read the rest

The rent's less damned high: rents falling in most of America's most expensive cities

In all but a few of the most expensive cities in the USA, median rents on one- and two-bedroom apartments have fallen, sometimes quite sharply (for example, in NYC median asking rents on a one bedroom are down to $2940, a 12.8%/$430 decline from their peak in March 2016; while in Honolulu, rents are down 21.6% from their peak in Mar 2015, down to $1670 from $2130). Read the rest

Florida property-tax auction winner didn't realize he was bidding on a 12"-wide strip between two houses

A combination of hubris (failing to heed the stern warnings that bidders should only participate if they know what they're doing), cryptic annotations and confusing illustrations resulted in a bidder buying a 12" wide, 100' long strip between two properties in Broward County, Florida -- an odd parcel that had been formerly owned by the developer, who folded and stopped paying tax on it, sending it to the auction. Read the rest

Berlin Senate approves five-year, citywide rent freeze

The Senate of Berlin has approved a five-year, citywide rent freeze in a bid to halt the city's skyrocketing rents, driven by increased demand that has attracted large-scale corporate landlords who have acquired swathes of properties and raised rents on them, pricing tenants out of their own neighborhoods. Next, the bill proceeds to the Berlin Parliament for approval; it is expected to pass, and will go in effect in January, and apply retroactively to June (heading off any last-minute rent-hikes ahead of the freeze). Read the rest

The UK government gave away cheap money for property purchase deposits, which the wealthy abused, driving up property prices and leaving UK taxpayers exposed

In 2013, the UK coalition government of David Cameron's Tories and the Libdems' Nick Clegg launched a "Help to Buy" scheme that gave incredibly cheap, taxpayer subsidised loans to first-time homebuyers, who got their money interest free for five years and thereafter had to repay it at 1.75% interest. Read the rest

In homeless LA, the families, retirees and working people who live in their cars are desperate for overnight parking

LA's homelessness epidemic continues to rage unabated as housing prices soar and wages stagnate; the result is a "wheel estate" boom of people living in cars and vans, with the greatest proportion of vehicles-dwellers being seniors, families with children, and working people. Read the rest

On Grenfell's second anniversary, 60,000 Britons are still living in firetraps clad in the same deadly, decorative materials

It's been two years since the Grenfell tower block in north Kensington burned, killing at least 72 people: the blaze revealed deep corruption and indifference among Britain's richest people and the millionaire Conservative politicians who do their business in Parliament, from the fact that the highly flammable cladding responsible for the blaze was added so that the building would be more attractive to rich people in nearby luxury tower blocks, to the fact that the fire came five years after Tory PM David Cameron declared war on "safety culture" to the fact that Tory politicians (overwhelming landlords themselves) had voted down a bill to require landlords to ensure that the properties they rented were safe and "fit for human habitation", to the fact that local Tory councillors had deliberately chosen a more fire-prone cladding to save 5.7% on the cost of materials -- the same local government that forced Grenfell survivors to bid against each other for new homes and then paid the same company that installed the flammable cladding to replace it. Read the rest

LA's new homelessness stats reveal a crisis that is only worsening

LA has the nation's worst homelessness problem, a (literal) epidemic so terrible it distorts the national statistics. Read the rest

For the first time since the 70s, New York State is set to enshrine sweeping tenants' protections

There isn't single county in the nation where a minimum-wage worker can afford to rent a two-bedroom home; and although LA has the worst homelessness crisis in the country, New York state is catching up, with homelessness growing by 46% since the financial crisis -- the fastest rate in the nation. Read the rest

Connecticut's racist NIMBYs have used zoning laws and dirty tricks to make it one of the most unequal, racially segregated states in the union

Racism and oligarchy aren't merely Blue/Red phenomena: Connecticut has had a Democratic legislature for 22 years and a Democratic governor for eight years, and it is one of the nation's most racially segregated, unequal states, divided into affluent, all-white cities and towns with virtually no affordable housing and poor, underserved towns primarily inhabited by racialized people, whose children are five times more likely to be imprisoned than the white children across the city line a few miles away. Read the rest

To chase out low-waged workers, Mountain View is banning overnight RV and van parking

Mountain View -- home to some of Silicon Valley's most profitable companies, including Google -- is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, thanks to the sky-high wages commanded by techies, who have gone on to bid up all the real-estate in the region. Read the rest

The Oliver Twist workhouse is becoming a block of luxury flats with a "poor door"

The incredible human misery on display at the workhouse attached to central London's Middlesex Hospital inspired Charles Dickens to write "Oliver Twist"; now, Camden council has granted a developer permission to develop the site into luxury flats (just in time for the luxury flat crash!), in exchange for a commitment to build some below-market-rent social housing flats, which will be accessible through "poor doors." Read the rest

Pangea raised $180m to buy up low-rent Chicago properties "to help poor people," and then created the most brutally efficient eviction mill in Chicago history

Pangea was founded by Al Goldstein, a Deutsche Bank investment banker who quit to found a massive, intercontinental payday lending outfit; he tapped the investors that he enriched with his payday lending business to stake him $180 million and bought up thousands of low-rent buildings in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods (which are also Chicago's blackest neighborhoods). Read the rest

Vancouver's housing bubble was driven by billions in laundered criminal proceeds

The British Columbia government commissioned independent investigator Peter German to produce a report on the role of laundered criminal money in the province's white-hot real-estate bubble, centred on the city of Vancouver; German's report found that last year alone, CAD7b was laundered through BC, with much of that money going into property (as well as luxury cars and casino gambling). Read the rest

Chinese urbanization has left 25 million vacant homes in rural villages

China is undergoing the largest real-estate bubble in history, and things keep getting weirder and weirder, with the specter of a burst bubble looming overall. Read the rest

"Smart" doorlocks have policies that let landlords and third parties spy on you

Latch is a leading vendor of internet-of-things "smart" doorlocks that are in increasing use in rental housing (the company claims 10% of all new multiunit construction incorporates their product); they allow entry by keycode, keycard, and Bluetooth. Read the rest

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