The PJ Tatler

Obama to Become the National Landlord Now?

Fundamental transformation proceeds apace, from the “ownership society” straight to neo-feudalism.

The Obama administration may turn thousands of government-owned foreclosures into rental properties to help boost falling home prices.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday it is seeking input from investors on how to rent homes owned by government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.


That would be, the recently downgraded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Moving along.

At the end of last month, the government owned roughly 248,000 foreclosed homes, officials said. About 70,000 of those are listed for sale. But officials expect the number of foreclosures to soar in the coming months.

Many foreclosures have been stalled so attorneys general and federal regulators can investigate whether lenders cut corners and improperly handled thousands of cases. Once a settlement is finalized, foreclosures are expected to pick up again and further depress home prices.

Converting the homes into rentals may reduce “credit losses and help stabilize neighborhoods and home values,” said Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie.

And, not to put too fine a point on things, renting your home from the government raises all kinds of liberty questions. If they don’t like your politics, can they find a way to evict you? Can they tell you what to do (more than the government already does) in the home you’re renting from Uncle Sam? With a president hitting 51% disapproval, an IRS that’s become notorious for political audits and federal law enforcement agencies known lately more for gunrunning than crime stopping, that’s not an idle question. Would the feds allow renters to own firearms in these government homes?  The majority of renters between now and 2012 are likely to be people who don’t like their landlord, but the landlord has, shall we say, serious firepower superiority. There’s a great deal to ponder here.


My remedy for this would be to disband Fannie and Freddie and spin these foreclosures off in auctions. The latter would probably end up spawning a slew of new rental and renovation-based businesses and might help correct the housing depression without creating yet more hazard for a government that’s already broke. I’m sure there are a million problems with both ideas, but none of those problems equal the implications of the federal government turning into a landlord for millions of American families.


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