Blackstone is the largest owner of rental housing in the United States. With Tenants Together, the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is releasing this map of Blackstone owned properties in California on February 11, 2015 - an international day of action coordinated with PAH solidarity groups in New York and Barcelona fighting against displacement by Blackstone.
Blackstone spends roughly $100 million a week on foreclosed properties in USA. They buy properties that have lost value, and wait for the value to increase. They also buy rental properties, where they raise rents as much as they can and evict tenants without hesitation. The Blackstone Group was founded by Stephen Schwarzman (#42 on the 2014 Forbes 400 Billionaire list) and Peter G. Peterson who served as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce
According to public records, Blackstone owns over 4000 single family homes in California. They have also moved to purchase multi-family buildings at the end of last month. It concerns us because this is yet another example of consolidated wealth in our society, and most of the markets Blackstone is buying in, have very few tenant protections. Most notably, single-family homes can’t be subject to rent control according to California state law (Costa Hawkins Act). What we have seen so far is Blackstone-Invitation Homes placing more of the burdens of home ownership on tenants, without any of the benefits. We haven’t seen mass evictions or rent increases, but without tenant protections against these things, it’s something we fear when they decide to get out of the rental market, or that they’re not getting enough “return on their investment.” In California, their presence has been most felt in Sacramento.
Tenants Together is concerned with the new trend of Wall Street investors buying up single-family homes and managing them as rentals on a massive scale. Property management of hundreds of thousands of single-family homes by institutional investors is a new business model, and we are concerned what widespread adoption of this model means for tenants. What kind of landlords are these investment companies? Are they charging fair rents and security deposits? How do they measure up with industry standards for managing properties and making repairs? Tenants Together is conducting a statewide survey on the tenant experience with these Wall Street landlords and will release a report later this year. Get on our email list at www.tenantstogether.org to be sure to get the results.
Last year in Spain, Blackstone decided to expand their business. After Spain’s housing bubble popped in 2008, about 50,000 families have been losing their housing every year due to unaffordable mortgages. Despite fair housing being a constitutional right in Spain, the government has not protected residents from Blackstone's ruthless speculation. Blackstone has been buying many houses of people that are struggling to pay rent, when one quarter of the population are unemployed and half are youth. Blackstone and other "vulture funds" are even buying public housing where the most vulnerable residents live. Madrid's local right wing government sold 5,000 of these apartments to Goldman and Blackstone. The government told tenants their rental conditions would remain the same. But now (surprise!) many tenants have received demands for higher rent, many have been threatened with eviction, and some have already been evicted. Blackstone has recently bought all the housing from Catalunya Bank, an institution that received 12 billion euros ($15.4 billion) of taxpayer's money as a bail out. PAH activists consider this to be nationalizing the bank."These homes belong to the people," not Blackstone, says Maka Suárez, a member of PAH.