‘Mega-Landlords’ Threaten Housing Stability for Renters

As institutional investors buy up a larger share of single-family homes, the families renting them are increasingly vulnerable to rent increases and eviction.

May 15, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

San Francisco Houses

Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock

“Families desperately trying to buy houses are losing out to institutional investors who can out-bid them, offer all-cash deals, and waive mortgage and inspection contingencies,” writes Suzanne Lanyi Charles in an opinion piece for The Hill. “While we must attend to [institutional investors’] stifling effect on homeownership, we must also take this moment to protect the growing contingent of renters from mega-landlords’ egregious practices.”

“Historically, single-family rentals were the domain of small-scale mom-and-pop landlords who owned and operated a few properties. But in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis, as foreclosures spiked and house prices fell, investors seized an opportunity” to buy foreclosed properties in bulk. “Today, four mega-landlords —Invitation Homes, Progress Residential, American Homes 4 Rent, and Tricon Residential—own more than 225,000 single-family houses in the U.S.”

According to Charles, “In my research, I find that mega-landlords own up to 35 percent of the single-family homes in Atlanta-area neighborhoods. And where their rentals are highly concentrated, mega-landlords have outsized power over the lives of residents.”

Charles outlines three potential solutions:

  • “Disclosure is the first step so that municipalities and residents alike can understand the magnitude of mega-landlords’ presence in their neighborhoods.” 
  • “Second, we should institute ‘good cause’ eviction protections for families who rent their homes from mega-landlords.”
  • “Lastly, to counter the market power that mega-landlords have to increase rents exorbitantly, we should limit the amount that mega-landlords can raise rents.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in The Hill

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