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Large investor landlords buy Cleveland properties, raise rent, evict tenants who can’t pay increase

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 7:40 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - If you’re a renter, it’s likely your monthly payments are going up. And at the same time for some, living conditions are getting worse.

That’s bad for all of us who want to live in a nice neighborhood.

19 Investigates is digging deeper into the big business disrupting lives and displacing Clevelanders.

Large landlords are buying buildings and making a lot of money according to both local and national housing experts.

Cleveland’s Sally Martin spoke in this congressional hearing just days into her new job as the city’s director of building and housing.

“Investors are insatiable with their demand for more and more houses,” she said. “We’re seeing more of a concentration of poverty as tenants are forced to find substandard housing.

In the Senate committee hearing, a representative from Georgia testified that in the third quarter of last year, investors were responsible for 40% of the single home purchases in the Atlanta area.

At the same time, the investors were responsible for 76% of the city’s eviction filings.

Martin recently witnessed a devastating local example of the trend she says is definitely happening here too.

“They were evicted from the home even though they had never missed a rent payment,” Martin said.

But, they couldn’t afford the higher rent the new landlord wanted. The senior was then left with nowhere to go.

“She was living in her car! And, it’s winter in Cleveland,” Martin said. “It’s very real what’s going on and it’s tragic.”

What’s troubling for all of us who want to live in a nice neighborhood, is that Martin says as is going up, she’s also watching the maintenance of properties owned by out of state and international investors decline.

19 News Troubleshooters have helped several people living in unacceptable conditions recently.

Martin petitioned the government to help make it easier to hold landlords accountable.

“It’s almost impossible to track down these investors. They hide,” she said.

Martin suggested rules around the transparency required of rental property owners, and she said cities need more funding to hire code enforcement officers.

According to Redfin, a little more than 17% of single home purchases in Cleveland were by real estate investors last year.

That’s up 27% from the year before.

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