Letters to the EditorNews

Authorities Should Regulate Predatory Housing Investors

Our metro area, like many, has seen rapidly escalating prices for single-family homes and rising rents for single- and multifamily dwellings. Private investment companies have begun to circle like buzzards over maps of local terrain.

They out-compete ordinary homebuyers with fistfuls of cash and hurry-up contracts. On the rental side, they focus on “distressed” properties. Those often include duplexes and smaller multifamily settings.

In rural areas, those are usually manufactured home parks. Those parks are an antiquated model of the housing market that predates state-imposed planning guidelines issued in the late 1980’s.

Many of those investors are openly predatory. They bear no interest in the communities they swoop into. They routinely terminate leases, double rents, refuse to accept housing vouchers and set exclusionary lease policies. Abrupt displacement is not their problem, but it is often their effect. The local community has to deal with that.

Investors’ websites crow about high returns earned by all those that become their conspirators. Absentee ownership is a status we could put under review. How can we provide local residents some protection from predatory land sharks and their adverse effects?

Housing policy has long been neglected by local, state and federal authority. It is time for authority to reclaim housing as policy turf. On local levels, zoning amendments can make ways toward affordability. Dwellings-per-parcel changes and accessory dwelling units are examples. Georgia’s big clumsy policy cart needs a screeching eagle to swoop its driver, to haw its mule, to swing that wagon out of the rut and down another road to a different future.

Housing policy change at the federal level takes efforts by proven heavy lifters who are qualified leaders, not by celebrity lightweights, not by smiling faces carved across hollow pumpkins, and not by nose-thumbing name calling culture warriors that pose as politicians.