Invitation Homes allegedly evicted more than 1,000 tenants during Covid moratorium
Dallas SFR company reported record profits while evicting tenants with pending rental assistance applications: report
Invitation Homes is in hot water again.
The Dallas-based homebuilder was one of four major single-family-rental landlords accused in a recent congressional report of using extreme and abusive tactics to evict tenants during the CDC’s eviction moratorium. During this period, the publicly traded company also reported record profits— almost $200 million in 2020 and more than $260 million in 2021, according to The Texas Tribune.
According to the year-long investigation of the companies’ eviction practices by the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the four SFR companies — Invitation, Pretium Partners, Ventron Management and The Siegel Group — filed close to 15,000 evictions between March 2020 and July 2021. The figure is estimated to be almost triple the amount lawmakers previously suspected.
Invitation confirmed to the subcommittee during the investigation that it had not only filed evictions against residents with pending rental assistance applications but also habitually turned down rental assistance packages as an alternative to eviction. Investigators estimated that Invitation filed 3,305 actions against tenants nationwide, compared to the 932 previously reported. More than 140 of those were in Texas, records provided to the investigators show. The company told the subcommittee that it couldn’t “definitively state the number of eviction cases filed,” but it did confirm that the number of eviction filings that ended in a tenant losing their housing was more than 1,000.
Invitation also allegedly downplayed the impact of its pandemic eviction filings to its major government-backed creditor, Fannie Mae — which supplied the landlord with $1 billion in financing back in 2017. Invitation reportedly told a Fannie Mae representative in March 2021 that only 6 percent of the company’s eviction filings in the previous six months resulted in “residents losing their housing,” but the company’s own data for that period show that somewhere between 27 percent and 29 percent of eviction filings by the landlord resulted in a tenant losing their housing.
On Thursday, CEO Dallas Tanner addressed the House Subcommittee’s findings on an earnings call with its investors, saying “while we have not had time to fully digest the report… the report clearly states that we did not engage in practices that were unlawful.” He also said the company has worked to keep tenants housed, helping more than 33,000 “who were in need of extra time or financial assistance, for a total of nearly $175 million.”
The same day, a spokesperson for Invitation Homes sent an identical emailed statement to The Texas Tribune. Meanwhile, the company told the Dallas Morning News, “In a time when the focus should be on adding much-needed supply to the country’s housing market, it’s disappointing that the committee chose instead to pursue a fault-finding mission.”
The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that Tanner had boasted that the average monthly rent for Invitation’s homes nationwide was $2,124 in the second quarter, up 9.4 percent from $1,942 in the same period of 2021.
“It’s just incredible where the pricing has gone in some of these markets,” he said.
This House investigation is not the first time Invitation has been in the cross hairs of the federal government. Back in January, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued a public condemnation of the Dallas company and two private equity-backed firms, saying that the companies had been “taking advantage of the housing shortage by purchasing large numbers of houses and raising rents for families, all to pad their bottom line.”
— Maddy Sperling