Archive for the ‘Real Property’ Category
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds “Section 8” housing, — locally administered, publicly owned housing — usually multi-unit buildings that residents can apply to live in who meet certain income, age or disability criteria.
HUD-funded multi-unit buildings are searchable by state in the HUD, Affordable Apartment Search database. A list of these is also available from the city or county housing authority and is often posted on the agency website.
Available rental units can be found in the searchable database, goSection8.com.
Housing assistance vouchers are also given to qualified recipients for rental of pre-approved privately owned residences. You’ll have to request a list of these from the city or county housing authority because they aren’t published on the agencies websites.
The types of documents kept by HUD on the construction of public housing and financing arrangements can be researched at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 24.
The local housing authorities publish an administrative plan, which details the policies governing the operation of these facilities. They also have records on the private property owners who are participants in the voucher program.
The files on individuals who receive housing assistance funds or live in publicly owned buildings are maintained by the local housing authority. By law, access is limited – the recipient or their parents or guardians have explicit access – but practices may vary.
What types of housing authority records have you been able to obtain and what did you find there?
A California appellate court has settled a public records case — the right of access to a Santa Clara County GIS parcel mapping database — in favor of the plaintiffs, the California First Amendment Coalition. The county alternately demanded an exorbitant fee to access the database, then claimed that it was protected for national security reasons, even though they had already sold it to some private parties. Huh? Unbelievably, Santa Clara County argued that release of the digital maps might make the water supply a target for terrorists? Pleeease…
Support the CFAC’s efforts to keep government records open and express your appreciation for their free legal hotline.
In another, but unfortunate court decision, the Third Appellate District court exempted from disclosure crime-related autopsy records, claiming they are encompassed under the California Public Records Act exception for police “investigatory files”.
A little noticed but potentially significant (for public records researchers) California Attorney General opinion was released a week ago. The opinion upends the almost universal interpretation of the Public Records Act by county Assessors pertaining to disseminating property addresses on the Internet.
If you go to any California county Assessor online public inquiry you’ll see an explanation similar to this on the Stanislaus County site:
California Government Code 6254.21 states that “No state or local agency shall post the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official on the Internet without first obtaining the written permission of the individual.”
Therefore the agencies don’t reveal anyone’s address.The law seems to be hewed to regarding the real property addresses for public officials, right? Not according to the AG. Deputy Attorney General Daniel Stone says the common interpretation is wrong and isn’t what the legislature intended.
As a practical matter, we believe that a broad and overly literal reading of section 6254.21(a) would lead to unworkable results. Some public agencies…might conclude that they were forced to refrain from making any property-related database accessible to any internet technology, no matter how secure or limited the network, due to the possibility that the data could contain home information of public officials. Other public agencies… might conclude that they were forced to review and redact their databases… Such an identification process would be difficult, time consuming, and inevitably incomplete. Furthermore, the resulting revised property databases… would no longer be comprehensive and would therefore be of diminished utility to users. We are hesitant to conclude that the Legislature could have intended such impractical results.
Simply put, the 1998 law was “intended to prevent public agencies from posting on their public websites any list or directory of public officials’ home addresses and telephone numbers, without first obtaining each official’s written permission to be included in the listing.” In other words, government agencies can’t construct a list of names and residential addresses of government employees and put that on their Internet sites.
Giving the Assessors permission to reconsider their ban on including addresses and names in their online databases, Stone states, simply:
Indeed, we believe that if the Legislature had in fact contemplated a comprehensively literal application of section 6254.21(a), that intention would have been more clearly reflected in the statute.
Give a kindly call to your local Assessor and ask her/him what changes they anticipate making in their Internet access in light of this opinion. What did the Assessor say?
Search by name or partial name to find disciplinary actions by the California Department of Corporations against employees of escrow agents. Results provide full name, date of action and the restriction imposed.
This database contains listing of individuals that, from January 1, 1991 to the present, have been censured, suspended, or barred by the California Department of Corporations pursuant to Financial Code section 17423 of the Escrow Law.
The free real property databases are extending their geographical coverage and the types of features that delight investigators. Zillow has a fly-on-the-cyber-wall feature that will be appreciated by lawyers and investigators: number of total and recent month page views for a particular property. Find it at the bottom of the “Home Facts” detail page. The last sales date and sales price is available on both Zillow and Cyberhomes, but I found the data more often on Zillow. This site will also show a list of all houses on a specified street, with a link to the home details.
Cyberhomes has a more modern look, but if you’re not especially interested in comparables, Zillow probably offers more for an investigator. Cyberhomes does have an easy to find neighborhood snapshot of census-derived demographic data. The comps and photos, available at both sites, give a quick sense of the neighborhood economic profile.
Free registration at PropertyShark will get you 6 free lookups a day that return property owner name and last sales price. Unfortunately, the county Assessors’ Web sites often don’t provide the owner name, even though it’s a public record. PropertyShark may not have this for all addresses, so you might want to use the free owner lookup at CourthouseDirect.
View your selected slice of real estate on a map at Live, Google, Yahoo, MapQuest or TerraServer at PropertyShark. There’s also a link to the Department of Justice, National Sex Offender Public Web Site.
A few reminders: Not all regions or addresses are included in any of the free sites, which is true for fee-based databases, as well. Some Web sites are missing large geographical areas or addresses on a street. Also, if you’re searching property records as part of an investigation, utilize multiple sources – free and fee-based – and dig into the Assessor and Recorder supplied records. Check their online and onsite records. There are differences.
How have you used real property sites in investigations?
The New York Court of Appeals supported the private real property data vendor, Data Tree, in its quest to secure an electronic version of property records. New York Court of Appeals Rejects Reporters Committee Rationale, Access Reports, December 20, 2007.
The Minnesota Association of County Officers is seeking the participation of Minnesota county Recorders to create an online marriage index database.
Vermont real property tax forms are now sent to Vermont town clerks rather than the homeowner, which makes this form a public record. These documents list the amount of tax reductions given to homeowners based on income, enabling one to estimate a household’s income.