Friday, April 15

New imperial decree: Landlords will face fines if they decline to rent to convicted murderers

For 30 years or so I rented a small house I owned.  No longer.  The emperor's Housing czars have convinced me to stop.

They did it by issuing new "guidelines" on who I have to rent to.  (Or would have had to, now.)  The one that finally convinced me to get out of that business said landlords could be fined if they refused to rent to...convicted criminals.

Of course you think this is nonsense--a Faux News story designed to stir up anti-emperor sentiment or something.  But of course it *is* true--you just haven't heard about it because the media don't want to publicize it, since most Americans would instinctively recognize it as an outrageous violation of the Constitution, as well as an absurdity.

So if you're the sort of person who gets all your news from television, click on the link above and see for yourself.  The opening 'graf says the purpose of the "guidance" is to tell "housing providers" what will happen if they fail to rent to, or renew a lease to, criminals.

Go to section III, in which the emperor's Housing czars decree that
A housing provider violates the Fair Housing Act when the provider's policy or practice has an unjustified discriminatory effect even when the provider had no intent to discriminate.
      Under this standard, a facially-neutral policy or practice that has a discriminatory effect violates the Act if it is not supported by a legally sufficient justification. 
Of course most adults familiar with the arcane language of "bureau-babble" immediately understood from that clear language exactly what they meant, so I don't need to explain it.  But for the benefit of any highschool students who might stumble on this crazy blog, what they mean is this:  If you're a private individual who has even a single room to rent, and you decide not to rent to someone who's been convicted of even the most serious crime--like murder, or writing articles suggesting the theory of global warming might not be totally sound--the emperor's czars can fine you.

My liberal friends (and I actually have a few) will counter that this isn't at all what the 'graf says.  Rather, it simply says if you "discriminate," it's a violation of The Act.  Surely no sane adult could possibly claim that declining to rent your house to a murderer, for example, is "discrimination" in the bad sense of the term.

But in case you've been in a coma for the past seven years, sanity is in damn short supply in the U.S. today.  And sure enough, elsewhere in the "guidance" they define discrimination in a way that ensures that simply declining to rent to a murderer qualifies.

Specifically, they define it as "...if the burden [of "restrictions"] falls more often on [people] of one race or national origin over another." (p2, middle of the first full 'graf)


Since the "guidance" began by noting that African-Americans and Hispanics are convicted of crimes at three or four times their percentage of the population, it absolutely ensures that the effects of declining to rent to convicted criminals will fall 3 or 4 times more often on members of those races than on people of other races.


So the emperor's czars have devised a policy that essentially defines declining to rent to a convict as discrimination--and thus a violation of the Act. 

At this point recent law-school grads will likely note that the defendant in such an action could easily win acquittal if he'd rented to blacks or hispanics in the past.  Presumably this would demonstrate that he wasn't discriminating on the basis of race.  In the absence of any such intent, the "old laws" said you weren't guilty of a crime.

Before the reign of the emperor this would have been an effective defense.  But re-read the quote from section III above:  the "guidelines" say failure to rent is a violation of the law "even when the provider had no intent to discriminate."

So with the stroke of a pen the emperor's minions have a) created a new "protected class," and b) have rewritten a couple of centuries of case law that said if you didn't intend to commit a crime, it wasn't a crime.  (It could still be a tort, of course, but that's a civil matter and a much different critter.)

I certainly agree that not being able to rent where you want due to a criminal record is a burden, but compelling landlords to rent or be fined into oblivion isn't the way to fix that problem.

On the other hand, there's probably a way to get this unconstitutional policy junked fast:  There must be some prominent Democrat congresswhore who lives a few houses away from rental property in, say, Georgetown.  Donald Trump's team should find a released rapist, say, and offer to pay the guy's rent for three years, and have him apply to rent the home near the politician's home.  I suspect the emperor's men would decide to re-think the policy.

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