Homestead Amendment – Just The Text


Neither the United States nor any State shall tax residential real property, or permit the encumbrance of residential real property by reason of any debt. Neither the United States nor any State shall evict any person from their principal residence for non-payment of rent.



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10 responses to “Homestead Amendment – Just The Text

  1. Good luck getting that passed. It would not only be awesome but it would bring down the entire government.


  2. McChuck

    This is remarkably stupid. 90 days after passing this, every apartment building in the country would go bankrupt, because nobody would pay their rent.

    Of course, States don’t evict people. County Sheriff’s deputies do. So that’s a simple way around this rule.


    • Good morning.

      You’re reacting, not thinking. Landlords would generally be well advised to collect rent up front for the term of the lease, because evictions for non-payment would be prohibited, but evictions because the term had expired would not be.

      One side goal here is to discourage renting one’s principal residence by making it difficult for landlords to rent, and easier for people to buy homes and really own them, unlike the “ownership” most people have now where the bank actually owns their house.

      But it occurs to me, as a result of your comment (thank you!) that a landlord could get around this difficulty by simply making leases for 1 month terms, one after the other.

      So I’ll have to think that one over. See, this is why you have to think and not just react. Drafting laws is hard mental work!

      Regarding Sheriffs, in federal constitutional law the Sheriff is an agent of the State. The State is sovereign and counties are merely political subdivisions of the state. So you’re wrong there but that’s quite forgivable assuming you are not a lawyer.

      This is not easy stuff, but I have a modicum of an idea of what I am doing. The “stupid” contention is quite unfair, but it would not be unfair for me to call your comment “ignorant”. I don’t mean that as an insult. We’re all ignorant to various degrees, me included.

      I’m not ignorant in this area, relatively speaking. That doesn’t mean I’m right, of course.

      Appreciate the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave

    Muammar Gaddafi did this in 1978 when he declared that if you live in it, you own it, which is another way of saying you can’t be kicked out for not paying rent. After that new apartments were constructed only for sale or for rental to foreigners.

    Arkansas takes the opposite approach — there it’s a *felony* to remain in an apartment for more than ten days without paying rent. Probably makes apartments cheaper and easier to find compared to neighboring states, as squatters are quickly dragged off to jail.

    You can’t shovel water uphill. The more the law favors tenants over landlords, the more cash a prospective tenant must pay up front to secure a roof over his head.

    My sister and I, both in our 40’s, received equal shares of an inheritance a few years ago. I bought a distressed house for cash, fixed it up to be minimally habitable, and now live rent-free. Sister recently moved from a rental of 23 years into a bigger rental. She doesn’t *want* to own, she wants to call the landlord when something breaks, and you would deny her that choice.


    • Well, this is a great comment. I tend to think of the home ownership goal as unarguable but as you point out it’s not.

      Of course, you’re not entirely correct. This is a legal scheme for discouraging renting for primary housing, not prohibiting it, so no one is being denied a “choice”. At least not formally.

      There are other solutions for people who don’t want to, or can’t, maintain their residence, like insurance.

      Undoubtedly, people with no home will have to come up with more cash to buy one, or in most cases to rent one because most landlords will be forced to require most or all of their rent for the term of a lease up front. The upside is that this will be much more attainable because the price of housing will be relatively lower, probably much lower.

      I didn’t know that Arkansas has a law criminalizing holdovers in certain cases. Apparently some of the courts there have found it’s unconstitutional and it’s mostly not enforced.

      The Gaddafi allusion is sort of a guilt by association point. A stopped clock is correct twice a day is one answer to that.

      Here’s what you should ponder. There is an unarguable right in the law to property. There is no right in the law, and never should be a right, to an income. If the right to the most basic kind of property – the property that is your primary residence, that is – depends upon income then it is no right at all. As our 4th amendment provides, a free people are “… secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects..”. Renters and mortgagors of their primary residences are not free, they’re serfs.

      A benevolent government will encourage and respect the freedom of its citizens. With freedom comes responsibility, in this case the responsibility of ownership, which is a Good Thing.

      Your sister and presumably some small number of others would strike a different balance and nothing in this amendment prohibits that, but the salutary effects of the amendment I am proposing far outweigh the disadvantages to those few, in my view.

      Just to suggest one thing you probably haven’t thought of. The current practice has enabled a banking and political class to siphon off a huge percentage of people’s incomes to interest on debt. Mortgage loan interest goes to banks and becomes the populace’s highest priority because if it isn’t paid people are forced from their homes. It is one of the hidden reasons – perhaps the most important reason – NYC and Washington DC have become so wealthy and dominant while flyover country has floundered.

      The banking and political class provides nothing for all of this servitude and tribute. Even the “money” they supposedly loan out is illusory.

      Meanwhile your neighbors and friends who provide real goods and services to you have the value of all that ruthlessly driven down because they don’t have the leverage of making people homeless if they don’t pay. Indeed a lot of your countrymen who would happily provide clothing and food and other basic products are economically squeezed out because the very same banking and political class passes the laws and enacts the policies to get all of that cheaper from overseas. They get richer and more powerful all the time from this regime while you and your neighbors get oppressed,, and you object to something that could change that “…because my sister in her 40’s…”

      In the end it’s not much of an argument, if you ask me. This is not about favoring renters over landlords. This is about favoring freedom over servitude and hidden coercion.

      “Landlord” used to have a derogatory connotation. That should tell you something about where American values originally stood.


      • Dave

        OK, the amendment passed, so there are no more apartments for rent anywhere. What about hotels? Suppose a guest checks in pretending to be a tourist or itinerant laborer, but then says, this is my only residence, I live here now and I’m not paying. Lawyers on both sides could spend decades hashing out all the edge cases.

        “This is about favoring freedom over servitude and hidden coercion.”

        Very dangerous words there. You can take away anyone’s freedom of contract by claiming that they’ve been coerced. Of course some types of contract should be illegal, e.g. tontines, but if you tamper with a very common housing arrangement, millions of people will be sleeping rough in tents or cars.

        One reason that factories drove independent artisans out of business is that the latter depended on apprenticeship contracts to pass on their skills. When governments stopped enforcing such contracts, many worthy crafts died out.


        • Well, you bring up problems we lawyers refer to as “problems of proof”.

          I can’t see that hotels wouldn’t at least be presumptively NOT residential real property. And of course coercion would be a defense to the enforcement of a contract. It’s a defense to that now.

          I assume apprenticeship contracts required a given period of labor and were abolished because they resembled involuntary or indentured servitude?


  4. diconez.d

    it could work, if the government brought back mass free housing for the homeless, and/or mass mental institutionalization. because many renters will still not afford housing, and many bums on the street will just do the same “things they do” in squatter buildings.
    obviously the housing market will trend to be cheap, which will be great at first. maybe too cheap, in regards to infrastructure, as it’s not like the current awful cardboard houses would naturally be replaced by good ones. many will be upgraded though, specially to sell houses before this amendment comes into effect. this would still keep prices high enough to keep landlording profitable for the new reduced class of short-term renters/limited landlords. these landlords would be some lucky poor people with more than one property to their (family) name, but also the rich people who can afford to cycle through short-term bad renters (assuming the 1month contract loophole is there) or even lose money selling to these tenants – instead of those “landlords” who have to get house extensions or extra apartments for their useless squatter nephews.
    on one hand, many more families would keep their houses. coops and unions would surely benefit too. the class of real estate wealth would certainly shrink. on the other hand, many of these houses would keep bad infrastructure, you’ll need organized anti-squatter and rebuilding/upkeep units. then again, this could keep workers on the payroll. again, more centralization and growth of state power. contractors will have a ball, and the real estate class may simply change uniforms.
    that is, until machines build apartments en-masse. for whom, i wonder.

    but at any rate, maybe something like banning usury and fractional banking would lower housing/education/healthcare prices already. keep some subsidies, sure, give more to cheap housing/mental health also; support housing coops, if keeping strict rules and efficiency. keep a lid on spiraling property taxes and interest rates, rather tax other wealth such as stocks or carried interest. but sometimes rules so absolute as “no-rent-collecting-ever” make for a stronger oligarchy coming out of it, even if the rule is a beneficial palliative action at first.

    oh and apprenticeship was fine, if it still happens in manual trades (regulated of course) then it could very well happen in other job markets. could save a bunch on college costs (both of internship and learning skills that could be taught on apprentice programs), and all that valuable time wasted job-hunting.


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