The Harms of Liminal Housing Tenure: Installment Land Contracts and Tenancies in Common

29 Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law 523 (2021)

U of Houston Law Center No. 2021-A-5

U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 21-13

13 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2021 Last revised: 26 May 2021

See all articles by Sarah Schindler

Sarah Schindler

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Kellen Zale

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: March 16, 2021

Abstract

Many legal doctrines use housing tenure—whether someone is a home-owner or tenant—as a determinant of legal rights. Of course, housing tenure is not always as simple as homeowner or tenant, fee simple or leasehold estate. Rather, many liminal forms of land tenure status fall somewhere on this spectrum between owner and renter. This essay will discuss two of those liminal forms of housing tenure: Tenancies in Common (TIC) and Installment Land Contracts (ILC).

While TICs and ILCs have long been thought of as niche aspects of the U.S. housing market—and their negative impacts assumed to be correspondingly limited—in fact, both TICs and ILCs are becoming increasingly prevalent. For example, while the use of TICs to avoid condo conversion laws has long been associated with the high-priced San Francisco housing market, they have become more widespread as housing costs increase in other cities. And while lower-income communities of color have long been targets of ILCs, in recent years, ILCs have penetrated a greater variety of housing markets: Firms that focus on ILCs and closely related rent-to-own arrangements have attracted Silicon Valley venture funding, and secondary markets have developed for investors to buy and trade these types of properties.

We argue that the growing prevalence of TICs and ILCs is part of a larger, previously unrecognized pattern that we have identified wherein the law offers more protections to homeowners than to similarly situated tenants and other non-owners. Furthermore, the growing prevalence of TICs and ILCs has disproportionately weakened housing security and protections for poor people and people of color.

Keywords: housing, land tenure, ownership, tenants, renters, property, land use, real estate, discrimination

Suggested Citation

Schindler, Sarah and Zale, Kellen, The Harms of Liminal Housing Tenure: Installment Land Contracts and Tenancies in Common (March 16, 2021). 29 Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law 523 (2021), U of Houston Law Center No. 2021-A-5, U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 21-13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3805951

Sarah Schindler (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

Kellen Zale

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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