The year 2016 will be one second longer than most years. The U.S. Naval Observatory will add one ‘leap second’ to its atomic clock on December 31, 2016. All time zone clocks in the U.S. base their time on the atomic clock at the Naval Observatory. The reason for this is that the speed at which the Earth rotates on its axis varies slightly depending on climatic and geological conditions, and the Earth is slowing down. Every year, it takes the Earth a fraction of a second longer to go around the Sun than it did the previous year. As a result, a ‘leap second’ has to be added to the calendar every 500 to 700 days. That, in turn, means that if you rent your home, you will be getting one second of free rent this December! Now it seems to me that we landlords would be justified in raising our rents for the month of December this year since our tenants are going to get to live in their apartments for one second longer than they did last December. I haven’t heard of any landlords planning to do that, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some did. We landlords do not like to give away free rent, even its just one second every few years.
The short answer is No. There have been a lot of claims in social media and the press that landlords in Berkeley will no longer rent apartments to Irish students because of the balcony collapse at Library Gardens downtown that resulted in the deaths of 6 Irish college students. These stories are untrue. I have been a landlord in Berkeley for over 40 years, and nearly all my tenants are U.C. Berkeley students. I know a lot of other Berkeley landlords, and none of them blame the victims for this tragedy. It is true that there were far more people on that balcony when it collapsed than was prudent; however, engineering reports showed that the cause of the collapse was poor construction resulting in wood rot and that had the balcony been properly built, it could have supported the weight of those students. The sympathies of all the landlords I know are with the families of these students. Yes, it is hard for Irish students to rent apartments in Berkeley for the summer, but not because they are Irish. There is a severe rental housing shortage in Berkeley, and because of our local rent laws, most leases in Berkeley prohibit sub-leasing. The Irish counsel general in San Francisco has investigated claims of discrimination against Irish students in Berkeley and has concluded that these stories are baseless and has said so publicly.
In 2006, the city of Hazelton, Pennsylvania passed the ‘Illegal Immigration Relief Act.’ This law made it a crime for landlords to rent apartments to illegal immigrants. Hazelton landlords objected to the law. The law was was declared unconstitutional in U.S. District Court. Hazelton appealed the decision and took the case to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which also ruled the law was unconstitutional. The court said that the Constitution clearly states that the right to make and enforce immigration laws is reserved exclusively to the Federal government and cannot be transferred to private citizens like landlords. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case. Cities in Nebraska, New Jersey, Missouri, and Texas passed similar laws to the one in Hazelton, and at about the same time Those laws were all declared unconstitutional as well in various U.S. District Courts around the country.
Today, the city of Hazelton (population 25,000) in serious financial trouble as a result of the ‘Illegal Immigration Relief Act ‘. The city may have to raise property taxes significantly in order to pay the city’s mounting legal bills connected with this law. The city estimates that they spent $500,000 defending the law. The plaintiff’s attorneys, representing the ACLU and other organizations that fought the law, are seeking millions of dollars in legal fees. A decision on the plaintiff’s claim will be made by U.S. District Judge James Munley, who has already ruled that the city of Hazelton is culpable in the case for knowingly usurping Federal jurisdiction.