Wall Street Landlords turn American Dream into American Nightmare

Based on research from MIT graduate Maya Abood and in partnership with Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) and Public Advocates we are excited to announce the release of our new report! The report, “Wall Street Landlords Turns American Dream Into American Nightmare: Wall Street’s big bet on the home rental market, and the bad surprises in store for tenants, communities, and the dream of homeownership”, documents in detail Wall Street’s growing influence, and abuses, in the single family rental (SFR) industry in geographies where it has focused its efforts.

The report highlights the federal government’s explicit role in propping up the industry and the industries’ leaders’ direct connections to the Trump administration. It documents in detail the terrible impact on tenants and communities including: denied opportunities for homeownership, dramatic rent increases, rising rates of eviction, fee-gouging akin to those for payday loans, and living conditions that some tenants describe as “life-threatening.” The report also highlights the growing movement to counter the Wall Street landlord’s influence with local and state initiatives that expand rent control and tenant protections to cover families living in single family homes.

In the past 10 years alone, nine big Wall Street firms have fundamentally altered the rental landscape in their targeted cities across 13 states by eliminating the human aspects of the relationship between tenants and their landlord. In some areas, the largest SFR companies own a large percentage of all single family rentals in a given zip code - up to 12.5 percent in some areas. For instance, in Sacramento County, Invitation Homes is the single largest private landowner in the county, and the second largest landowner in the county itself. In 2017, the two largest SFR companies merged - making them the largest landlord in the nation and are continuing to grow.

Offered in the report are a series of local, state and federal policy recommendations to mitigate harms of the industry’s impact on tenants and communities. To address growing abuses, local, state and federal lawmakers are recommended to:

  1. Pass rent control and just cause eviction protections for tenants of single family homes

  2. Advance homeownership and community control of housing by establishing a “right of first refusal” policy giving tenants first chance to purchase the home when it is being sold.

  3. Monitor the industry extensively - tracking their growth and their performance as landlords, and any potential fair housing violations.

Read the full report here.

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