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Warren Renews Criticism of Private Equity’s Role in Housing

In letter sent Thursday, Senator Elizabeth Warren asked housing firms Progress Residential, Invitation Homes and American Homes 4 Rent about recent rent hikes and evictions.

(Bloomberg)—Senator Elizabeth Warren is doubling down on her criticism of private equity’s involvement in the U.S. housing market as the nation grapples with an affordable-housing shortage.

In letters sent Thursday, the Massachusetts Democrat asked housing firms Progress Residential LLC, Invitation Homes Inc. and American Homes 4 Rent about recent rent hikes, plans to acquire more properties and the number of evictions in recent years.

Warren and other Democrats have scrutinized Wall Street’s role in the housing market since the 2008 financial crisis. During the pandemic, lawmakers have been on high alert for violations of eviction moratoriums and unfair treatment as Americans struggled financially to stay on their feet.

Warren also expressed concern about automated homebuying practices, which allow companies to buy up properties using algorithms. Bloomberg reported that last year Zillow offloaded thousands of homes to institutional investors.

Invitation Homes and American Homes 4 Rent are both publicly traded companies. Blackstone Inc., a leading private-equity firm, took Invitation Homes public in 2017, but later sold its stake in the company. Progress Residential was formed by alternative-investment manager Pretium Partners LLC.

American Homes 4 Rent said in a statement that it was “looking to help improve the situation and arrive at solutions.” Progress Residential said it has complied with eviction moratoriums and would work with Warren. Invitation Homes didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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