Lee Fennell Delivers Wolf Family Lecture in the American Law of Real Property at Florida
Using abstract and provocative theories to address the dispossession of property as a result of Florida’s housing crisis, Lee Ann Fennell, professor of law, University of Chicago Law School, explored the complex relationship between property rights and continuity of possession during the March 17 UF Law Wolf Family Lecture in the American Law of Real Property.
“First of all, instead of thinking about possession, I want you to think about dispossession,” Fennell said. “Unfortunately, this does not require a lot of imagination because we have this housing crisis going on around us and there is a lot of it happening right here in Florida.”
According to RealtyTrac, a California-based real estate tracking company, one in 17 housing units in Florida had at least one foreclosure filing in 2009. The company also reported that in 2009, nearly one-half of Florida’s residential mortgages were “underwater,” a scenario where the value of the house is less than the balance due on the mortgage.
“So, we see a lot of dispossession happening around us and it causes a lot of concern,” Fennell said. “As we abstract away from these statistics, we have a depressingly common scenario of a family living in a house they can no longer afford, whether it’s because the mortgage has become unaffordable, or whether it’s because the breadwinner has lost his or her job. Either way, we have a situation where we end up having property rights and possession pulling apart and something’s got to give.”