Four corporate landlords used “abusive tactics” in pandemic evictions: House committee

Pretium, Invitation, Ventron and Seigel eyed over filings amid CDC moratorium

United States Representative James Clyburn (Getty Images)
United States Representative James Clyburn (Getty Images)

Four corporate landlords were willing to go to extreme lengths to move against delinquent tenants despite the CDC’s eviction moratorium, according to an investigation by a House subcommittee.

Pretium Partners, Invitation Homes, Ventron Management and the Siegel Group filed close to 15,000 evictions during the first 16 months of the moratorium, according to a report by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The figure identified by the investigation is almost triple the amount lawmakers previously suspected.

“While the abusive eviction practices documented in this report would be condemnable under any circumstances, they are unconscionable during a once-in-a-century economic and public health crisis,” said subcommittee chair Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina.

The numbers are bigger than expected, but the alleged conduct of some landlords may be as shocking. According to the report, one Siegel executive directed employees to harass and lie to tenants, including having apartment managers in San Antonio call child protective services on a tenant who owed rent.

Despite federal moratoriums, these landlords moved quickly to file evictions, according to the investigation. More than 90 percent of Ventron’s eviction filings came after only one month of missed rent. Ventron and Pretium filed many actions over as little as $500 of arrears.

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Findings from the report were passed on to various agencies for a closer look. Invitation Homes and Siegel were referred to the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Fannie Mae. Both companies didn’t maintain complete eviction records, meaning the number of filings identified by the panel could be an undercount.

The entire report was referred to both the FTC and CFPB.

Invitation Homes CEO Dallas Tanner said in a July 28 earnings call the report didn’t find anything “unlawful” about the company’s conduct, Bloomberg reported. A Pretium spokesperson also brushed off the report in a statement to the outlet.

The investigation’s findings are just the latest issue facing Invitation Homes. The single-family rental landlord has been accused of skipping permits and poor repair work, sticking tenants with unpleasant problems. The $23 billion company owns 80,000 homes across the country.

Single-family rentals surged during the pandemic as tenants looked for more space without the commitment and financing involved in buying a home.

— Holden Walter-Warner