Blackstone Unit Sued Over Slum-Like Condition of Single Family Home Rental

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The Los Angeles Times reports tonight that a local couple has sued the private equity giant’s single family home rental unit, Invitation Homes, over the appalling condition of a home it leased and the further damage they suffered.

Recall that Blackstone is biggest player in single family home rentals, now with 44,000 houses in its hands. And this is hardly the first time it’s been accused of renting homes in appalling shape and leaving tenants to fend for themselves. Some might argue that as the largest operator, Blackstone will naturally get more complaints than its competitors simply by virtue of its size. But the speed with which horror stories have piled up suggest that Blackstone using its market position to lead a race to the bottom in terms of doing as little as it can as a landlord beyond making sure the rent checks arrive on time. For instance, we discussed in April how activists in Chicago had found Blackstone to be a serial tenant abuser:

But the biggest fish in this ocean, Blackstone, is clearly taking the opposite approach, of doing as little as they can to maintain the houses and trying to fob off the responsibility onto the tenant, even when local regulations clearly prohibit it. So managing dispersed homes is no problem if you never planned to do the job in the first place….

Now to the update on Blackstone’s latest escapades, via some original reporting at In These Times. The article, Game of Homes, makes for good one-stop shopping if you want to get friends and colleagues up to speed on this topic. For NC readers, the first two-thirds of the article covers familiar terrain. Here are the sections that discuss how Blackstone, which is using “Invitation Homes” as its brand for its single-family rentals, is trying to evade its duties as landlord:

Antonio Hernandez, 34, moved with his family into an Invitation Homes-owned property in Chicago’s Belmont Cragin neighborhood in February 2013. He says the company has tried to shift most of the responsibility for maintenance of the home onto him….

When Hernandez began renting from Invitation Homes, he was also perplexed by a section of his lease that says he must rent the property “as is.” He isn’t the only one. In These Times obtained a copy of Invitation Homes’ lease and presented it to Mark Swartz, legal director at the tenants’ rights organization Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, and Kelli Dudley, director of the nonprofit Resistance Legal Clinic. Both housing attorneys told In These Times that several sections of the lease violate Chicago’s Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO), a longstanding document that establishes the baseline of tenants’ rights and governs most residential agreements in the city.

In response to inquiries from In These Times about the legality of the lease given to Chicago tenants, Invitation Homes spokesperson Andrew Gallina wrote in an e-mail, “Invitation Homes complies with all fair housing laws and regulations. We use standardized leases adopted by state and local real estate associations, which comply with local statutes.”

But Dudley notes, for example, that while commercial leases sometimes say that tenants have to rent a property “as is,” putting this stipulation in a residential lease “is a violation of the RLTO, which clearly places the greatest responsibility for repairs on the landlord. … [Invitation Homes] is definitely overreaching and trying to shift all the risk and the expense to the tenant,” she says. Swartz adds that the lease’s attempt to indemnify Invitation Homes for any damages, including those caused by its own negligence, violates Illinois’ Landlord and Tenant Act. He also points to several other sections of the lease that are illegal under the RLTO, including a stipulation that tenants must pay the associated fees in the event that Invitation Homes employs an attorney to enforce an eviction or collection of rent.

Keep in mind that unlike New York and San Francisco, which have strong protections for tenants, Chicago does not have a reputation of being a pinko, pro-tenant town. It’s not hard to imagine that its tenant-related laws are middle of the road. Thus Blackstone and any of the other PE players that are joining its race to the bottom in major cities are likely in violation of local ordinances. And Doug Terpstra’s Arizona example suggests that even low-density, supposedly conservative states aren’t necessarily any landlord-friendlier. I welcome comments from any readers who can give a reading as to whether their state or municipality would permit Blackstone “the tenant eats most problems” style leases.

Back to the current post. It appears that Blackstone had tried imposing commercial lease terms on residential tenants in single family home rentals. Readers thought that was not going to wash in much of any jurisdiction if challenged. But Blackstone seems to be relying on the notion that renters can’t muster up the funds to litigate.

Now to the Los Angeles Times’ horror story. The charges all come from 28 year old Edit Novshadyan and her husband who rented a home in Sun Valley near University of Southern California. They were quite pleased with the three bedroom home when they looked at it. What they found when they moved in was another matter.

According to the filing, the house was strewn with trash and the bathroom floors had urine on them, meaning Blackstone couldn’t be bothered to do even the most superficial clean-up before the tenants moved in. And it went downhill from there:

Then came the leaks and more. Cockroaches infested the house, the air conditioner failed, tap water turned brown and a bathroom flooded, the lawsuit alleges.

In late May, 10 days after the couple reported the first leak, Invitation Homes sent a technician to repair leaks in two bathrooms, according to court documents. It was then, the lawsuit alleges, that a worker cut into a wall to fix a broken pipe without first checking for asbestos. The fibers spread throughout adjacent rooms, the lawsuit alleges.

In early June, Invitation Homes informed Novshadyan that the house needed extensive piping work, according to the lawsuit. A month later, the family moved in with relatives so their house could be fixed. They planned to return in two weeks and left their belongings behind. When they left, the white moldings in the newborn’s room had turned brown, Novshadyan said. The moldings ran parallel to a pipe on the home’s exterior.

Several days later, Invitation Homes told Novshadyan that workers had found mold in the house, the lawsuit alleges. The couple scrapped their plans to return.

Ten days to fix a leak? It was almost certain the house was compromised by then. No one who cares about the condition of a building would allow a leak and the related water damage go unaddressed that long.

But the Blackstone’s effort to make a defense actually proves that they don’t have enough remotely enough staff to do the job properly. The Invitation Homes spokeperson tried making it sound like a point of honor that they have “more than 1,500 property management professionals nationwide” for 44,000 homes. That’s 3.4 for every 100.

My 65 unit building has the equivalent of 4 full time maintenance workers, including a live-in superintendent. That’s a ratio of 6.1 to 100, close to double Blackstone’s ratio of staffing in a much denser, hence vastly easier-to-manage setting. Similarly, when I lived in townhouses, in both cases, the manning provided by a landlord and his team that covered several buildings on the same block or by the owner who lived in the building was even a higher ratio of staff to apartments.

As bad as the couple’s story sounds so far, it got even worse.

When the pair said they weren’t going back to a moldy home, they though they had reached a deal with Invitation Homes to lease another house in Tujunga, but Invitation Homes rented it to someone else instead. In the meantime, the landlord has changed the locks on the moldy house, with the couple’s property trapped inside. It took months to get access, and when they finally did, most of their belongings tested positive for mold. Both members of the couple also score positive on medical tests for mold contamination.

And what is Blackstone’s response? From the Los Angeles Times:

In a court filing last month, attorneys for Invitation Homes said the lease required the couple “to pay rent while they did not occupy the property.”

I’m no landlord/tenant exert, but it seems to me that Blackstone breached the lease by not keeping the home in a habitable condition and not providing an alternative place to live when it was making essential repairs. It also sounds as if Blackstone was keeping the couple’s goods hostage to try to extract the disputed rent from them.

I hope the judge throws the book at Blackstone.

But there is a bigger lesson to take from this. The sort of squalid conditions that this Sun Valley couple experienced and the lack of responsiveness and accountability by the landlord isn’t something members of the middle class expect to experience. To be blunt, that’s sort of thing is supposed to happen only to poor people, and then only when local housing laws are weak. Middle income people expect better treatment, either out of unspoken class assumptions, or out of their faith in their power as consumers (“no one would dare treat me/us that badly, we are valuable customers”).

But the thinning of the middle class, and its diminished standing relative to the super wealthy means that they really are the nouveau pauvre. And the likes of Blackstone are working hard to educate them as to their real place in the pecking order.

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  1. rational

    “But the speed with which horror stories have piled up”
    So I’m counting 2 units so far, one in LA, the other in Chicago. The horror!
    Having said that, Invitation Homes has very little presence in LA so it doesn’t surprise me that they would be skimpy on maintenance resources there.
    “My 65 unit building has the equivalent of 4 full time maintenance workers, including a live-in superintendent. That’s a ratio of 6.1 to 100,”
    Reminds me of the old New Yorker cartoon showing the world from a Manhattan perspective. So these people are getting a 2 or 3 bedroom house with a (small) yard, for about $1500/month. I’m curious how many rooms/sqft you enjoy Yves and at what rent? You didn’t mention.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please reread the details about Chicago. The article chose one story as an anecdote. There were other complaints cited in the article. And I’m on listservs, and I’m getting reports there of lots of problems in other locations too, to the extent that people in the know are telling prospective renters to avoid Invitation Homes.

      And as far as my building is concerned, rental landlords in NYC, with the exception of the Rudins (and I am most decidedly not in a Rudin building) are famous for not providing much in the way of service. My building happens to have lots of rent stabilized tenants, meaning lower rentals than average for Manhattan properties. That means you’d expect the landlord to skimp on services. For instance, I’ve been here over 20 years and they’ve painted the public spaces all of twice, and the only reason it was twice was the color they picked (they probably bought a cheapie leftover color) clashed so badly with the flooring that they had to redo it, it would have been a detriment to rentals. Yet any time there is a leak (and we do have a fairly high number of leaks due to the age of the plumbing) someone shows up pronto. They know if they don’t get it stopped ASAP the damage is going to be even worse.

      And rentals in townhouses offer much lower levels of service and generally lower rental price points than “doorman” buildings (and I excluded the doormen in my “maintenance staff” computation, it’s only the building handymen and the super). Yet when I did the mental math on the townhouses in which I had lived, they actually had higher staff to tenant ratios than the moderately large building in which I live now. That speaks to how even a little bit of dispersion increases inefficiency. And it’s well accepted among real estate professionals that managing spread out properties is a much more time-consuming task than managing apartment buildings or in the commercial arena, large office buildings.

      You were saying?

    2. DanP1966

      Sorry, but that was about the most reaching and piss poor response I think I have ever read.

      Anyone with any sense, anyone with experience owning and maintaining a single family home, anyone who has ever been a landlord of a single family home (me), knew that this idea of trying to buy up these homes and convert them on a large scale was just dumb and bound to be a failure in the end.

      Apartments and condos are one thing. Single family homes another.

      If you are in the trades and are willing to put in time and call on friends, it can be a good deal over the long haul. This was never going to work out well.

      I am also going to bet that these big PE firms are going to start getting nailed in court. A local judge, politician, jury is gonna cut slack to a local doc or plumber who rents a house. They are going to rip into a big Wall Street firm with deep pockets. And once the lawyers figure out what to sue for and how to do it either as a class action or individually, they are going to start coming for these guys and local pols are going to see an opportunity to appeal to local voters against the detested financial boogy men on Wall Street.

    3. mk

      I googled “invitation homes complaints” and got 73,000+ results. Go have a look.

  2. John Blaze

    a home near University of Southern California, in Santa Clara

    Santa Clara is in NoCal. USC is in LA. There is a UC campus in Santa Clara, though.

    1. Working Class Nero

      The house in question is in Sun Valley which is a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. it is not at all close to USC but it is pretty close to California State University, Northridge.

      While it is true that Santa Clara in in NoCal, there is no UC campus there. There is however a Santa Clara University that is a Jesuit school. Maybe you are thinking of UC Santa Cruz.

      The area around USC is typically considered a ghetto but recently gentrification has taken place and there have been articles about young hipster couples buying craftsman style houses in this area.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I may be hallucinating, but I thought I saw a Santa Clara attribution on the picture, which was easier to scan. If so, that was corrected pronto. Apologies.

  3. Tom Stone

    Blackstone is used to dealing with the legal system at a higher level, where they have a lot of influence. Landlord/Tenant matters happen at a very different level, the people who decide these issues are to some degree answerable for their actions to their constituency. This is partly a result of political activism, this is an arena where political activists have been making their bones for decades.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its one thing to buy off NYC or Washington where wealth inequality is more noticeable. Buying off every town official and county sheriff can get expensive when the localities are far more united. My guess is Blackstone just assumed local bumpkins would be wowed by their presence and return address.

      I imagine the issue won’t be the liens put on properties. Blackstone will shirk those, but inevitably, localities will seize properties when the complaints become too much. Since Blackstone originally intended to flip these properties, I imagine they will be hit here.

      Localities don’t like to get the tax assessor out if they suspect potential declining property values.

  4. weinerdog43

    Wow. There are so many egregious problems here, it’s hard to see where to start. I’ll focus on 1 issue: the water leak. A renter will likely only have ‘renters insurance’. That does NOT cover property damage to the building itself as the renter has no insurable interest in the home. It is the duty of the owner to insure the premises for property damage. Every single HO property policy will contain language that says something like: “….you (the building owner/insured) will make necessary repairs to protect the property….” This is a policy condition. Violation of hte condition WILL void the coverage. Waiting 10 days to fix a leak is not reasonable, and there is no doubt in my mind (as an insurance coverage attorney) that the carrier will deny coverage for the loss.

    Blackstone may be pretty big, but State Farm, Allstate & Nationwide are not Joe & Jane Homeowner either. Any attorney with an ounce of courthouse experience will tell you that they are the 800lbs gorilla in your local county courthouse. Check the filings and see if they are afraid to litigate. (short answer: no) This does not even address the mold and pollution (asbestos) exclusions that WILL apply.

    Thanks for the update Yves. So often my advice consists of “do the right thing and we should be OK”. Blackstone appears to be LOOKING for litigation. Juries will HATE Blackstone because we can all place ourselves in the spot of the Hernandez family. So dumb.

  5. diptherio

    I’m no landlord/tenant exert, but it seems to me that Blackstone breached the lease by not keeping the home in a habitable condition and not providing an alternative place to live when it was making essential repairs.

    Bingo on the first part: the duty of the LL to maintain the premises in a “safe and habitable condition” are boilerplate. But in the version of the URLTA I’m familiar with, the LL would be barred from charging rent while the home was uninhabitable, but would not be obligated to pay for an alternative arrangement. The idea being, I suppose, that the tenant can use the unpaid rent to pay for someplace else.

    But LLs always have to maintain the place, else there would be little difference between the residential and the commercial provisions. Another common provision in residential code is a section nullifying lease provisions that are contrary to the code (i.e. tenants can’t sign their rights away).

    I’d say, based on just those two common provisions, the tenants have a fair chance. It’ll be interesting to see how this one shakes out.

    1. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

      Well, in Oregon the tenant would be entitled to a reduction in rent for the “diminution of value” of the rental for habitability issues, but would not necessarily be off the hook for *all* rent. Unless, as is possible, the place well and truly sucked.

      Now, recognizing that I represent landlords far more often than I do tenants (and, remember, this only applies in Oregon), I am confused by this bit: “They were quite pleased with the three bedroom home when they looked at it.” So … they just sort of looked past the trash and urine? Or were they pleased with the trash and urine? I’m confused.

      None of which excuses, however, the landlord’s obligation (in Oregon, possibly nationwide but I’m not allowed to say) to maintain the property in a habitable condition. Which does not sound like what’s going on Down There.

      1. diptherio

        Diminution of fair value works the same in MT, that’s why I specified no rent “while the home was uninhabitable.”

        Anywho…do you also have a “prohibited provisions” section in the Oregon version that prevents the tenants from signing away their rights? That may be what this comes down to: can LLs circumvent state law through lease provisions?

  6. TomDority

    Blackstone and others have no interest in the property,,,they are just looking for a bunch of investors to hand over cash so they can keep the look of legitimacy going long enough to bail out with their dollars and schlep off the losses to the muppet investors, They need to get the properties off their (Blackstone) hands before they begin to burn. The court system is a delay tactic to get enough time to pin the tail on the donkeys (investors). Meanwhile, flipping tenants to juice the fabricated short term prospectus numbers in the game when selling collaterized rental obligations (smoke and mirror fraud).
    These (investements) became available due to the crashing of the housing market via the same people who crashed it…..ever heard the echos of a jet passing the sound barrier….booom bust bust bust boom bust bust……

    Echos from the 1920’s below
    Legal Gambling
    The gloom is fading from the real estate situation. More nibbles during the last few weeks than the last three years. If January brings us good rains, this next year will open the door to the sunshine – a case of rain bringing the sun.
    It is to be hoped, however, that there will never be another boom. The crash of the boom of 1923 was due to the same causes that wrecked the wall street stock market. People sold what they did not own. They made a payment down in the hope of getting the property off their hands before it began to burn. Real estate fell into the hands of sharp-shooting gamblers who had no interest in land. To them it was just a pile of blue chips on a roulette wheel.

  7. armchair

    I’d be curious if the tenants in the LA Time story stayed current on rent. In the state I know, paying rent is a prerequisite to exercising any remedies under the Landlord-Tenant Act. I also would be curious if Blackstone would take the position that the property was abandoned. It would be interesting to see what the allegations of the complaint are. They might be suing for a tort and/or a breach of contract, rather than seeking a remedy under Landlord-Tenant laws. The guiding principle of the landlord-tenant laws I’ve encountered is, “if it’s so bad, why don’t you move out?” You also need to set up an escrow account if you want to utilize the lame remedies available under the landlord tenant act.

    I get so depressed about tenant protections.

  8. PeonInChief

    A couple of notes:

    First it appears that this property is one of the “lipstick on a pig” properties that Blackstone picked up. They were purchasing so many houses that they didn’t inspect that some of them assuredly had serious problems. Their business model, though, was one that required paint, new appliances, carpet and the like–not extensive pest control, new plumbing, and electrical work. So when they got one of those properties, they just painted over the mold and hoped for the best. It’s also interesting to note that this property was one of the ones sold into the rental bond. I wonder if it will turn out that the bad properties were the first to be sold to investors.

    Second, while California law can be iffy, and judges even worse, the tenants here have set up a pretty good case. They had their belongings tested, confirming the mold problem, and Blackstone has admitted that the plumbing was defective. I don’t think Blackstone is likely to get very far in demanding rent for uninhabitable premises, and Blackstone also locked them out of the property.

    1. rational

      “I wonder if it will turn out that the bad properties were the first to be sold to investors.”
      Some might think they would sell the best properties first to create demand for additional bonds so they can finance the rest. I guess it would make sense to sell the bad properties first because then you would only be able to get very expensive bank financing for the rest which would be a good plan because, umm…EVIL!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They may not have been bad properties when they were sold. Foreclosed upon owners don’t always leave things the way they would if they sold it.

        My guess is much of this was a fast paced orgy as firms tried to gobble up everything before the government decided to regulate or address the housing situation.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t think there was a business model except to buy low in cash and then to flip when the economy returned to “normal.” When the economy for the lower 85% didn’t rebound, they had these white elephants and needed to find a way to maintain them because they weren’t just depreciating assets but money burners (property taxes, leans, maintenance, and such).

      I think the goal was to move the rentals into a bundled security and pawn it off the unsuspecting. The problem is wealth inequality means there are no buyers. Now, Blackstone has to actually become landlords and have no operation in place or local connections to run their operation. Even Donald Sterling, LA’s NAACP man of the year, faced major fines for his slums in a town he has connections. I think this was more of a reaction to a crisis by MBA knownothings.

      1. Jim

        Excellent comment, but the 85% figure might be better set at a higher number, perhaps? Anyway, the recent buying “boom” is clearly one enormous flipping scheme, which is going to go very badly, indeed.

        My very recently nice neighborhood became unfashionable during the bubble, compared to an adjacent boom, now bust, suburb, and as such, is now at least 40% rentals, although that figure has stabilized recently, either due to owners not being able to sell off as quickly or they figured out it’s better to sit tight. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that, based on the nicer, but older cars in the neighborhood and the people I’ve run into, many of the new renters are former McMansion owners in that, and other, now collapsing exurbs. In other words, they’re crawling back with their tails between their legs, as it were. There have even been some spotty sales in the area, where the houses are just smaller, more flexible, and more affordable. But the last paragraphs of the post were prescient…it will be interesting to see how the former McMansion owners react to their new lives as a renter in an unfashionable inner-ring suburb.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I pulled the number out of nether regions, but I think I saw it as an estimate of retail shoppers which leads me to believe that there is a sense of normalcy for a sizable amount even if they are living on credit and cray loans. If it was 99% not experiencing normalcy, there would be a huge problem for the elite.

          The local organs of control still run in circles who are comfortable or believe prosperity is right around the corner because they could get a great deal.

      2. Rational

        The only thing wrong with your theory is that these homes have hugely appreciated and could be sold for large returns today, but these guys think there is more upside in holding them, if they can earn a reasonable rental yield. Now in fairness, it’s not possible to say how much of that increase is due to these very institutional buyers. Best estimates are that they comprised 10-15 percent of the cash bid. It is also true that they announced the. Reo-to-rental strategy coincident with a lot of their buying, not subsequent.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Home prices are regional. There is a difference between San Diego and a random Cali suburb.

  9. kevinearick

    Gangs: Knowledge & Willful Ignorance

    Energy id neither created nor destroyed. It is simply transmitted – transformed and transferred, with relativity – of, by and for time. Consumers consume the planet in a duration mismatch. That which is most rare and valuable in a consumer society is vision and trust. Vision is the ability to recognize what others do not. Trust is the will to employ vision productively. The old timer with the assets you need to begin doesn’t care about your pieces of paper from the empire, one way or the other, just that you can come, go and return.

    Stupid human assumptions imprison humanity in self-absorption. Fiat is grounded, by the tax control of so-misappropriated real estate, by the “they’re not making any more” crowd and the “equal rights” crowd, which is arguably, a better ground than gold, which has even less productive utility in the economy. The opposite of empire is empire.

    Gold is simply swapped in and out, when the critters realize that the NPV of misappropriated real estate fails the ongoing concern assumption. Digital money is tied to global real estate control, as is all technology. A casual trip across the empire tells you that it is in demographic collapse again, and the liars depending upon demographic acceleration to feed the ponzi are lying again, big surprise.

    All empires, great and small, have a share cropping mentality. The consumers gang up in a distribution to control the land, assuming the individual producers so dispersed must then rent the land, at a premium increasing beyond its productive capacity over time, to produce conspicuous consumption. Empires collect and dispose of DNA accordingly, in demographic booms and busts.

    All the legacy empires are top heavy with legacy interest, aligned in a row, with no productive children to support them. And neither misappropriated real estate nor gold, which they have in abundance, does any work. Like all nations before it, the US has consumed its private sector, with the proliferation of public education and law enforcement, in what is now a majority owned market for real estate, organized by legacy feudalists.

    Consumers may squeal about how the operation is being run, but only because they want a greater return on the corruption for themselves, which is normalized. The consumers chose not to see their own participation in corruption long, long ago, most by the 4th grade, which is when public education began to arbitrarily slot them into ‘economic’ event horizons. The faster the empire collapses, the earlier the propaganda slotting the increasingly tyrannical outcomes must begin.

    The elevator mechanics make a elative premium, without fixing the elevators, because the majority must have those elevators to collect their rent, and the latter has employed technology to replace the former with more monkeys, which doesn’t work, because the arbitrary programmers do not understand the arbitrary engineers, due to specialty proliferation by design of legacy control, and arbitrary call centers employed to fill the gap multiply the stupidity.

    Like everywhere else in the empire, development has ground to a halt, increasing efficiency, moving faster into the past. With nothing more than you already have, you could elevate the building and/or rotate the rooms. Those drones are all about real estate control, price and wage control to the end of legacy consumption, artificial demand for artificial supply.

    Middle class consumers choose not to think, to accept debt for income in return for a cut of the corruption, re-enforcing consumption. Empires are a classic duration mismatch, between willfully ignorant short term interest and long term natural interest, which is why empires evolve by adding classes, which this one is desperately attempting to do now, but the consumers are only capable of make-work, dressing up for a role in the existing sh-show, which is why labor discounts money by horizon.

    If the focus of your community is real estate, the only possible outcome is income inequality, in which the middle class grows its make-work queues, to serve legacy interest, and destroys itself, to serve legacy interest. The migrants run from one empire into the hands of another, which is the same empire. They run from small towns, with tyrants of their own making, to big cities, with bigger tyrants, expecting a better outcome, but are liquidated by duration mismatch in every case.

    The critters aren’t sucking down selenium in the valley by accident, and fracking, benzene distillation, will have no better outcome. Have you been to Louisiana? ThyssenKrupp couldn’t make the technology work either. At least healthcare is growing, by inflation. Have you volunteered for your cancer treatment?

    Gangs, or tribes, or classes, or corporations, or nations, or whatever you choose to perceive culture to be creates a duration mismatch for a purpose. Effective development is not about controlling others to the plan of competitive advantage in an arbitrarily closed system for the purpose; it’s about moving the focus of the flux to where it is needed, which requires relative foresight in a feedback loop with development.

    You will not find your self on the frontier of faith by obeying or rebelling against derivative law. The snake is always a false choice, on a bridge to nowhere created by the chooser for the purpose. The wealth effect of money is, and always has been, an illusion chosen by the majority. Confidence is one thing; stupidity is another. The latter is the empty half, pretending it’s not.

    I don’t need a license, a secretary, a supervisor, an administrator, or a lawyer to work on elevators, or a physician. I can serve all those purposes at much lower cost in time. In fact, I don’t have to work on elevators at all. And if it’s all about money, or real estate price inflation, all I have to do is write a few lines of code, which, as you can see, is still far more valued than gold.

    There is much more and much less to productivity than meets the eye. Printing inflation for monkeys to eat is one thing; getting people to work is another. Navy is much more than a pretty uniform, a colorful flag, and a toy boat.

    If you think about it, you can always cut the certified compliance chain of command supporting legacy, at will. Expect the computers to take from the consumers faster than the consumers can take from others. Heal thyself physician; labor has much better things to do.

    Public education breeds attention deficit, granting credit to build scale stupidity.

    Bring on the next 800lb gorilla.

    I don’t need drugs or proprietary information to make an elevator work. You are not on this planet to be liked, except by your spouse. The correct door is never the ones proffered at the artificial intersection on a one-way bridge to nowhere, all leading to the past. Do not dishonor your spouse and expect to return to a happy home. Teach your children to teach themselves. Better to learn early than late, which is better than never.

    Your conscience is the seed and soil, from and to dust you shall go. The empire is just a gap in the switch, in which stunts create insecurity and avarice. Adjust accordingly, to build your own bridge, from and to talent.

  10. ScottS

    California Civil Code on habitability:

    1941.1. (a) A dwelling shall be deemed untenantable for purposes of
    Section 1941 if it substantially lacks any of the following
    affirmative standard characteristics or is a residential unit
    described in Section 17920.3 or 17920.10 of the Health and Safety
    (1) Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and
    exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.
    (2) Plumbing or gas facilities that conformed to applicable law in
    effect at the time of installation, maintained in good working
    (3) A water supply approved under applicable law that is under the
    control of the tenant, capable of producing hot and cold running
    water, or a system that is under the control of the landlord, that
    produces hot and cold running water, furnished to appropriate
    fixtures, and connected to a sewage disposal system approved under
    applicable law.
    (4) Heating facilities that conformed with applicable law at the
    time of installation, maintained in good working order.
    (5) Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment that
    conformed with applicable law at the time of installation,
    maintained in good working order.
    (6) Building, grounds, and appurtenances at the time of the
    commencement of the lease or rental agreement, and all areas under
    control of the landlord, kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free
    from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents,
    and vermin.
    (7) An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and
    rubbish, in clean condition and good repair at the time of the
    commencement of the lease or rental agreement, with the landlord
    providing appropriate serviceable receptacles thereafter and being
    responsible for the clean condition and good repair of the
    receptacles under his or her control.
    (8) Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.
    (9) A locking mail receptacle for each residential unit in a
    residential hotel, as required by Section 17958.3 of the Health and
    Safety Code. This subdivision shall become operative on July 1, 2008.
    (b) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prohibit a
    tenant or owner of rental properties from qualifying for a utility
    energy savings assistance program, or any other program assistance,
    for heating or hot water system repairs or replacement, or a
    combination of heating and hot water system repairs or replacements,
    that would achieve energy savings.

    And remedies (i.e., repair and deduct):

    1942. (a) If within a reasonable time after written or oral notice
    to the landlord or his agent, as defined in subdivision (a) of
    Section 1962, of dilapidations rendering the premises untenantable
    which the landlord ought to repair, the landlord neglects to do so,
    the tenant may repair the same himself where the cost of such repairs
    does not require an expenditure more than one month’s rent of the
    premises and deduct the expenses of such repairs from the rent when
    due, or the tenant may vacate the premises, in which case the tenant
    shall be discharged from further payment of rent, or performance of
    other conditions as of the date of vacating the premises. This remedy
    shall not be available to the tenant more than twice in any 12-month

    And anti-retaliation protection:

    1942.5. (a) If the lessor retaliates against the lessee because of
    the exercise by the lessee of his rights under this chapter or
    because of his complaint to an appropriate agency as to tenantability
    of a dwelling, and if the lessee of a dwelling is not in default as
    to the payment of his rent, the lessor may not recover possession of
    a dwelling in any action or proceeding, cause the lessee to quit
    involuntarily, increase the rent, or decrease any services within 180
    days of any of the following:

    It’s quite readable for legalese. I suggest reading all of 1941 and 1942.

  11. Lord Koos

    If they’d have locked my stuff in a house I would have broken in and got it back myself.

    At any rate, these companies trying to make money buying foreclosed homes and renting them out, seem to forget that managing a ton of single-family dwellings is vastly more work than the same number of apartments. I hope these scum-sucking vultures are out of the landlord business soon.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Their plan was to flip them when the crisis was over. They don’t have the buyers for the homes or mysterious securities. Better run institutions would rather throw money at Twitter than a housing scheme.

      I liken it to a glut of the same kind of movie from the different studios or rushed sequels that destroy a brand ( cough star trek cough).

  12. McWatt

    If you are a little person in Chicago having trouble with one of the world’s largest corporations just show up at the 5th floor of city hall, ask for Rahm. If he doesn’t take care of it within 24 hours I won’t be surprised.

    “Catch-22 says they can do anything we can’t stop them from doing.” Heller

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