The New Single-Family Home Renters of California

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Since 2013, there has been widespread media coverage of the emerging REO-(Real Estate Owned)-to-rental market, also known as “single-family home rental market,” and new, untested, investor revenue streams through rental securitization. Across the country, reports characterize these Wall Street investors as absentee landlords at best,1 and casually issuing rapid eviction notices at worst.2 The trend of Wall Street investors buying up single-family homes, managing them as rentals on a massive scale, and securitizing rents, is unsettling to communities still recovering from a foreclosure crisis precipitated by mortgage securitization. Communities have an understandable suspicion of the activities of Wall Street, as well as questions about their lack of experience as landlords. Property management of hundreds of thousands of single-family homes by institutional investors is a new business model that, given its scale, is giving rise to a new, untested kind of landlord-tenant relationship.

In order to deepen our understanding of how renters in California are faring under Wall Street landlords who engage in rental securitization, over the past six months Tenants Together conducted a survey of California tenants living in properties owned and managed by the state’s largest investor-landlords: Blackstone/Invitation Homes (over 5,000 homes in California), Waypoint Homes (approximately 2,500 homes), and Colony American Homes (approximately 2,000 homes). Our goal was to compare and contrast company policies and practices statewide and gain insight into what the tenant experience is like renting from Wall Street.

 

Acknowledgements

Aimee Inglis: Principal Author, Member Services Coordinator, Tenants Together

Rhonda Michele Smith: Contributing Author, MPP Candidate, Goldman School of Public Policy

Contributors & Editors

Dean Preston, Esq., Executive Director, Tenants Together

Kevin Sciarani, Esq., J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law

Tony Romano, Organizing Director, Right to the City Alliance

Desiree Fields, Lecturer, Dept. of Geography, University of Sheffield, Right to the City Research Committee Member

Marnie Brady, PhD candidate, Sociology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Right to the City Research Committee Member

Leah Simon-Weisberg, Esq., Legal Director, Tenants Together

Carlos Jauregui, Community Organizer, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy

Copy Editor

Aileen Joy, Office Manager, Tenants Together

This research and report is made possible through funding from The San Francisco Foundation

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