Informal Homeownership in the United States and the Law

80 Pages Posted: 21 May 2010

See all articles by Heather K. Way

Heather K. Way

University of Texas School of Law

Date Written: May 19, 2010


This article examines how millions of lower-income families in the United States attempt to acquire title to their homes informally, outside the mortgage market and instead through mechanisms such as lease-to-own contracts and intestacy. Many of these families are left holding inferior and insecure title to their homes - if they hold title at all. The article explores the benefits and pitfalls of informal homeownership and the legal structures that perpetuate disparities between formal and informal homeownership. The article then proposes a series of legal reforms to help ensure that the American legal system provides lower-income families with better opportunities to obtain secure title to their homes.

Keywords: affordable housing, community development, title, property, homeownership

Suggested Citation

Way, Heather K., Informal Homeownership in the United States and the Law (May 19, 2010). St. Louis University Public Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Heather K. Way (Contact Author)

University of Texas School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

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