The Guardian: Four corporate US landlords deceived and evicted thousands during Covid, report reveals
August 23, 2022
The Guardian reported how the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis revealed that “during the pandemic’s first 16 months, four firms – Siegel Group, Pretium Partners, Ventron Management and Invitation Homes – filed nearly 15,000 eviction notices between March 2020 and July 2021, more than three times more than previously publicly available data showed.”
A “yearlong House investigation concluded that four corporate landlords aggressively evicted thousands of people, especially in communities of color, despite state and federal eviction moratoriums during the pandemic’s early days. They did so by misleading and deceiving tenants, even going as far as to falsely accuse tenants of neglecting their children.”
Guardian, August 4, 2022: Four corporate US landlords deceived and evicted thousands during Covid, report reveals
The Guardian also noted: “Despite receiving nearly $1.8m in rental assistance from the Cares Act, as well as a $2.3m federal loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, Siegel evicted 89 tenants who had pending rental assistance applications. What’s more, investigators found that Ventron – which filed more than 4,000 evictions over the course of 16 months, even though it owned 8,000 units – and Pretium Partners applied a strict policy of filing evictions after one month of unpaid rent, despite the fact that it often took tenants three months to get rental assistance funds.”
At the root of many of the evictions are private equity firms and other “non-individual investors” that have increasingly purchased properties over the last two decades and converted them into rentals. Overall, the share of rental properties owned by these investors rose from 18% in 2001 to 26% in 2018. A 2022report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies noted that the number of homes purchased by private equity firms and other “non-individual investors” hit their highest level in two decades toward the end of 2021.
PESP’s report was also cited, as the Guardian noted how “Overall, the evictions disproportionately upended the lives of poor people and renters of color, especially Black renters, who face significantly higher eviction rates than other races.”
“An April 2021 study by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a non-profit that tracks eviction filings by corporate landlords, looked at the practices of Pretium Partners, which owns more than 55,000 homes across the US, in two majority-Black counties in Georgia and two majority-white counties in Florida with similar median incomes. They found that Pretium filed four times as many evictions in majority-Black counties than they had in majority-white counties.”
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Georgia Tech University assistant professor in city planning Elora Raymond noted that institutional investors began to establish themselves in Black and Latino neighborhoods in the Sunbelt region in particular during the foreclosure crisis in 2008. They have since spread across the country, and research from the National Association of Realtors found that institutional investors were attracted to buying properties “with a high density of minority groups especially Black households”’.
In 2015, Raymond co-authored a report for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta that found that institutional investors filed two eviction notices for every 10 homes they owned, higher than the eviction rate overall in Atlanta.
Raymond told the Guardian that the House report’s findings reveals “the lengths to which these firms are going to extract more rents out of people to make more profit out of their properties”.
“They’re willing to destroy someone’s life.”