Editorial Contribution by Jackie Edwards
Corporate landlord, Pretium Partners, filed to evict over a thousand residents in 2021 with eviction rates four times higher in majority-Black counties, a new report by nonprofit advocacy group, Private Equity Stakeholder Project, reveals. The nonprofit studied four counties with similar median incomes and compared two majority Black counties in Georgia with two majority whitie counties in Florida. In white counties, Pretium filed to evict around 2% of renters, compared to 10% to 12% in majority-Black counties. The report doesn’t allege any discriminatory intent on the part of the company.
Black renters twice as likely to face eviction
“There’s nothing here about racial disparities in eviction that I find surprising,” says Peter Hepburn, a research fellow at Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. According to Hepburn, this racial disparity is a much wider issue. He recently authored a study concerning millions of eviction cases dating back before 2020 across almost 40 states. “Nationwide, on average, we’re seeing eviction filing rates against Black renters that are about twice as high as what we see for white renters,” Hepburn says. Aside from generally having lower incomes, Black renters also lack job security and savings, which means they’re more likely to face eviction. “I think there’s reason to suspect that landlords may be quicker to file for eviction against a Black tenant who’s fallen behind on rent than a white tenant,” Hepburn also adds.
Homeowner associations (HOAs) can’t legally evict tenants
HOAs, on the other hand, are legally unable to evict tenants renting from HOA homeowners in most states. Across the U.S., HOAs are a popular choice for people looking for well-maintained homes with plenty of amenities, and a strong sense of local community. HOA tenants and property owners must pay regular fees to the HOA to cover the services provided, and these fees vary depending on the specific property and location. In Florida, for example, the average HOA fee is $250 per month for a single-family-home. On the other hand, New York has HOA fees as high as $570 on average.
Race-based discrimination in HOAs
That said, HOAs still have pervasive problems concerning race-based discrimination. Neighborhoods with HOAs typically have fewer Black residents and more white, Asian, and wealthier residents than non-HOA neighborhoods. In fact, a recent report found “neighborhoods with HOAs are less racially diverse, and less-regulated cities have higher HOA premiums, leading researchers to believe that residents rely on HOAs to facilitate segregation.”
In response to Private Equity’s report, Pretium called it “baseless” and “misleading”, and highlighted their commitment to providing “equal rental opportunities and support to all of our residents.” They also say their property managers “work with residents and seek to avoid eviction and have added more than a dozen employees to assist residents during this unprecedented pandemic.” Pretium also notes they’ve provided tenants with over $10 million in state rental assistance, while waiving overdue rent to the tune of millions of dollars. Additionally, the CDC recently banned evictions for renters who face being homeless, however renters must take legal steps to protect themselves. Pretium says they’re adhering to CDC rules.