News and blog

Corporate landlords accused of housing discrimination

May 6, 2024

Corporate landlords have a large amount of control over the US housing market. [1]  This places them in a unique position of having enough power to impact the class and racial makeups of certain communities. [2] When corporate landlords lean on discriminatory tactics to screen would-be tenants, they contribute to structures of racism and domination, and create long-lasting impacts felt within communities for generations to come. [3] While much has been said about discrimination within the housing market through gentrification and displacement, seemingly less attention is given to allegations of outright discrimination against potential tenants, yet problems still persist. 

For example, in November 2023, CIM agreed to pay $10,000 to settle a housing discrimination complaint in Inglewood, California.  CIM settled a complaint  with the California Civil Rights Department that accused CIM of enforcing a blanket ban on renting to tenants with criminal histories (which is illegal in California).  Under the settlement, the private equity firm agreed to update their screening policies and to comply with state regulations regarding housing discrimination.  CIM denied wrongdoing in the settlement. [4]

In regards to the lawsuit, California Civil Rights Department Acting Director Mary Wheat stated: 

“In California, we’re taking action every day to push back against unlawful housing policies that can have a disparate impact on communities of color. Today’s settlement is an example of our ongoing efforts to support all our state’s residents and to identify, correct, and prevent discrimination.” [5]

CIM is not the only corporate landlord dealing with allegations of discrimination. In February 2024, national real estate group AIR Communities [6] was the target of a lawsuit by the Equal Rights Center. AIR Communities is being bought by the private equity firm Blackstone. [7] The Equal Rights Center accused AIR of discrimination at two of their DC-based properties against people who utilized housing vouchers [8] and those with prior criminal convictions. 

On the lawsuit, Kate Scott, the executive director of the Equal Rights Center said that “discrimination against voucher holders further entrenches the racial segregation that has characterized D.C. neighborhoods for decades,” and that “banning residents from housing on the basis of their stale evictions, irrelevant criminal histories, or voucher status are some of the most egregious, harmful modern day civil rights violations.” [9]

These are just two instances of alleged discrimination by corporate landlords, and in these instances lawsuits were pushed forward by nonprofits with the resources to fight on behalf of tenants. Unfortunately across the country,  tenants and potential tenants find themselves in losing battles with corporate landlords with little to no recourse. 


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