NPR was one of several media outlets reporting on the findings of a yearlong investigation by a Congressional subcommittee on four corporate landlords that “were quick to push out renters during the pandemic, and filed nearly three times as many eviction actions as previously reported — almost 15,000 in all.”
These findings, according to NPR, add data and detail to a growing body of reporting — and mounting complaints — about investor landlords, including concerns that they are fueling skyrocketing rents amid a historic shortage of affordable housing.
The investigation launched after reports that the companies had high eviction filing rates despite a federal eviction moratorium, and often refused to accept emergency rental aid. The companies own properties across 28 states, and the report looked at their actions during the first 16 months of the pandemic.
Chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and House Majority Whip James Clyburn said, “As countless Americans acted admirably to support their communities during the coronavirus crisis, the four landlord companies…evicted aggressively to pad their profits.”
PESP’s Executive Director Jim Baker told NPR, “Too often we tend to place the blame on the resident. But what we saw, and the subcommittee showed, was really a pattern of actions. These large companies were taking multiple steps to sort of force those folks out of their homes.”
NPR noted, “Last year, Baker’s group found that one of the companies in today’s report — Pretium — had been filing for eviction much more often in predominantly Black neighborhoods during the pandemic.”
Baker told NPR that the Subcommittee’s report suggests these companies “made an economic calculation that they could raise rents for new residents, rather than enabling current residents to be able to stay in their homes.”
Center for Popular Democracy Housing Program director Katie Goldstein told NPR that evictions are just one of many problems she encounters with corporate landlords. Tenants also complain about a decline in services and repairs, an increase in monthly fees, and a dramatic rise in rents.
“What we really need is for tenants to be able to experience stability, and not have situations where corporate landlords can double or triple the rent, depending on what the market looks like in that area,” she said.