Invitation Homes often skipped permits as renters allege shoddy repairs

Rental landlord owns 80K homes across the US

Invitation Homes' Dallas Tanner (Invitation Homes, iStock)
Invitation Homes' Dallas Tanner (Invitation Homes, iStock)

Invitation Homes, one of the winners in the rise of single-family rentals, has often skipped permits and facilitated poor repair work, leaving tenants with leaky plumbing and other unpleasant problems.

The corporate landlord, a $23 billion company that owns 80,000 homes across the United States, frequently renovates properties without building permits, the Washington Post reported, citing a California lawsuit, review of properties and analysis of building data. As the company traded bureaucratic delays and fees, renters claim the lack of permits has led to poor maintenance and endangering tenants.

The outlet examined three of the landlord’s markets: Orlando, Charlotte and Riverside, California. In each, it found the company was less likely than others to have permits for renovations and projects, including only half as likely in Charlotte and Riverside.

In the past decade, Invitation Homes was issued permits for only 13 percent of the homes it acquired in Riverside, compared to 28 percent for the rest of the population. In Charlotte, it was 24 percent for the company’s homes, against 48 percent for others. The gap was closer in Orlando: 56 percent for the company, 63 percent for everyone else.

At more than a dozen homes across several states, the company hired contractors without a record of proper permits for work such as roof replacements, air conditioning installation and pool demolition.

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“We always seek to comply with applicable laws and regulations, including permitting laws, and are continually evaluating and improving our compliance procedures,” the company said in a statement to the Post. “We expect our third-party vendors to adhere to these same standards and enter into agreements that obligate them to do so.”

Permits have surfaced in previous legal issues for the company. In 2020, Blackbird Specialty Project sued Invitation Homes, alleging work done in California without permits; the lawsuit aims to recover money for local governments. Invitation Homes has said the allegations in the whistleblower suit are “unfounded.”

Despite the allegations of shoddy work, the rents Invitation Homes are charging are increasing in a soaring rental market. The company charged an average of $1,851 per month in the first quarter of 2020, but an average of $2,074 in the first quarter of 2022.

[WaPo] — Holden Walter-Warner