4 fair housing groups sue Florida over law banning Chinese citizens from owning property

4 fair housing groups sue Florida over law banning Chinese citizens from owning property4 fair housing groups sue Florida over law banning Chinese citizens from owning property
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Michelle De Pacina
7 days ago
Four fair housing and real-estate groups are suing Florida over its new law preventing buyers from China and six other foreign countries from purchasing property. 
Key points:
  • The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence and the Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches filed a federal lawsuit in Miami against Florida‘s law on Monday.
  • The lawsuit aims to challenge the legislation’s purported discriminatory nature, likening it to past “alien land laws” that restricted property rights based on prejudice.
  • The outcome of this suit could have implications for similar laws in other states.
The details:
  • The law, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May and took effect on July 1 last year, prohibits Chinese citizens from “purchasing or acquiring real property” or from having more than a small “indirect interest in such real property” in Florida. It seeks to protect Americans from the influence of the Chinese Communist Party
  • The legislation limits Chinese citizens with non-tourist visas to acquiring less than two acres of land that is at least five miles away from any military installations. It also restricts foreign citizens from Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria to purchase land within 10 miles of military bases.
  • The lawsuit alleges discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act and the Florida Constitution. It challenges the restrictions against individuals from the seven foreign countries, arguing that it perpetuates xenophobia and violates civil rights principles.
  • “A basic analysis of the scope of the bill demonstrates that the bill restricts the property and ownership rights of individuals who do not pose national security threats,” the lawsuit reads, according to Orlando Weekly. “Individuals subject to the law from one of the seven targeted countries who are legally living, studying or working in the United States on valid nonimmigrant visas are prohibited from owning or purchasing real property in Florida with very limited exceptions.”
  • The plaintiffs, who are seeking an injunction to block enforcement of the law, are represented by Miami Attorney J. Courtney Cunnningham and lawyers from the firm Relman Colfax, PLLC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the NFHA.
  • According to data, international buyers invested $53.3 billion in U.S. residential real estate last year. Chinese buyers were the largest group, contributing $13.6 billion to residential sales volume. Florida ranked second after California in attracting Chinese buyers.
  • “To deny certain people the right to own property in the United States — people who live in this country and who are here trying to become permanent U.S. citizens or working here or seeking educational opportunities — we believe this is a travesty,” NFHA President and CEO Lisa Rice said at a press conference about the lawsuit. “It’s illegal and an antithesis of what we stand for in the civil rights community.”
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