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Mecklenburg officials push for federal review of corporate landlords’ impact

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Mecklenburg County officials are pushing for federal action on corporate landlords, as the Charlotte area continues to be a hotspot for the industry.

County officials recommended that the National Association of Counties adopt a measure pledging to urge Congress, the White House and federal agencies to research the effects of corporate home purchases on housing markets.

“The impact of investor-owned homes has become a significant barrier to housing affordability and availability,” officials said in a news release announcing the step, which the association approved during a meeting in July.

The resolution is now on the national group’s federal policy agenda, said Brian Namey, a spokesman for the organization.

A second resolution supported by Mecklenburg officials calls for legislation to prevent landlords from discriminating against renters based on their income sources.

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The push for scrutiny is the first concrete step that Mecklenburg officials have taken to respond to the growth of corporate landlords locally.

“Security for Sale,” a Charlotte Observer and News & Observer investigation, reported in May that institutional investors in a decade used nearly limitless cash to buy up more than 40,000 single-family homes in North Carolina, largely in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas. Corporate landlords owned 5% of all houses and one-quarter of rental homes in Mecklenburg County by then.

After the investigation was published, several local leaders voiced concern about the industry’s impact on renters, neighborhoods, homebuyers and the housing market, but had taken little action.

“Essentially, they are intentionally pricing working families out of neighborhoods,” Mecklenburg County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said in an interview last month. “They’re contributing to displacement. They’re contributing to the crisis with respect to affordable housing. It’s a situation that’s frankly untenable.”

Representatives of the industry say market demand drives their growth. They make good neighborhoods more accessible to renters who can’t afford to buy, they say.

More action addressing that growth could be coming from county leaders.

County staff earlier this year began looking at ways to respond to the expansion of corporate landlords. In its latest budget, passed earlier this summer, county commissioners allocated $500,000 to continue researching the issue.

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