Tuesday, August 16, 2005
They're looking to charge rent to the plaintiff families in Kelo. (h/t coyote)
In June 2004, NLDC sent the seven affected residents a letter indicating that after the completion of the case, the city would expect to receive retroactive "use and occupancy" payments (also known as "rent") from the residents.Elsewhere in the article, I see grounds for another trial.
In the letter, lawyers argued that because the takeover took place in 2000, the residents had been living on city property for nearly five years, and would therefore owe rent for the duration of their stay at the close of the trial. Any money made from tenantssome residents' only form of incomewould also have to be paid to the city.
With language seemingly lifted straight from The Goonies , NLDC's lawyers wrote, "We know your clients did not expect to live in city-owned property for free, or rent out that property and pocket the profits, if they ultimately lost the case." They warned that "this problem will only get worse with the passage of time," and that the city was prepared to sue for the money if need be.
Moreover, the homeowners are being offered buyouts based on the market rate as it was in 2000 .I'm not certain that this buyout arrangement satisfies "just compensation." Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. I'll have to think on the subject some.
I've thought about it some and I've decided the legality of the compensating based on 2000 valuations and the charging of rent is actually a procedural question that I am ill-equipped to answer. Specifically, I believe the NLDC actions are legal if ownership is transferred as soon as eminent domain is asserted.
However, if ownership is not transferred until the owner is justly compensated (which seems like the way the law ought to be constructed, but this is a legal question not a Constitutional question so I don't really know), then NLDC has no grounds on which to sue for rent or to compensate on anything other than present market value.