One of the country’s biggest landlords is ramping up evictions after a long period of pandemic-related forbearance.
Blackstone filed eviction lawsuits against hundreds of tenants across the nation, the Financial Times reported. Court records focus on Georgia and Florida, but consultants from the company are said to be notifying politicians in California about a possible uptick in evictions.
Since August, Blackstone has launched more eviction cases in a typical week than the company had for the entire first seven months of 2022.
Blackstone real estate executive Nadeem Meghji in a recent video call with employees cited resumed evictions as a cash flow growth possibility for Blackstone’s real estate investment trust, which restricted withdrawals after it was beset by rising redemption requests.
Meghji said at the time the company was “seeing a meaningful increase in economic occupancy as we move past what were voluntary eviction restrictions.”
Blackstone’s rental assistance program was notable for remaining beyond both the national eviction moratorium and many local ordinances. It waived credit card fees and late payment penalties. Blackstone also did not evict anyone for failure to pay rent for two years.
When reached for comment, Blackstone said it believes it “has the most favourable resident policies among any large landlord in the US” and noted the company’s lack of evictions during the first two-plus years after the onset of the pandemic.
“Eviction is always a last resort and in each instance we offered residents a range of options, including flexible payment plans and rent forgiveness,” the statement added.
Tenants recently sounded the alarm about Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, rallying in Los Angeles around concerns of rats, rent, repairs and eviction fears. Tenants from the San Diego apartment complex called on UC Investments to pull its $4 billion commitment to BREIT if the $69 billion fund didn’t meet demands, including capping rent increases and holding off on evictions for those behind on payments.
Despite the outcry, UC Investments last week committed an additional $500 million to the fund.
Blackstone’s real estate portfolio value dropped in the fourth quarter, hurting profits and diminishing the investment giant’s asset values. Its Core+ and opportunistic real estate ventures depreciated by 1.5 percent and 2 percent, respectively. The prior year, they had grown by 7.2 percent and 12 percent.
— Holden Walter-Warner