Corporate Landlords And The Fight To Protect Tenants

night shot of people with locked arms outside a building
Protestors lock arms in front of the International Hotel to prevent the San Francisco Sheriff's Department from evicting the hotel's tenants in the early morning hours of August, 1977. 

Shelterforce1 recently convened a discussion about corporate investment in rental housing and tenant protections in the United States. The webinar format illustrated some of the benefits of this technology. Here are two:

    • The discussion allowed four people from different parts of the country to share their knowledge and experience. It allowed people from around the world to join in. It allows people who missed the live discussion, or want to hear (part of) it again, to do that.
    • There are benefits to hearing people speak about their work. Their vocal emphasis comes through clearly. It’s something you miss when reading the same words on paper.

The webinar draws attention to two issues that Shelterforce has been studying in depth: corporate investment in housing and tenant organizing. The content of the webinar is reinforced by these ‘Under The Lens’ investigations.

Shelterforce’s research about corporate investment demonstrates the extent to which private capital has become an actor in the full range of housing types, including detached units, multi-residential buildings and mobile home parks. It also includes a discussion about private market activity in housing that has been built with low income tax credits (LIHTC), which are the major tool in the United States to build affordable housing.

Speakers discussed initiatives to protect tenants from massive rent increases and evictions. Rent increases and evictions are very common business practices for corporate landlords. The speakers underscored the value of local organizing, as local governments are frequently responsible for regulating landlord-tenant issues. The panelists also spoke about ways that higher levels of government could intervene to support and/or undermine local initiatives.

This webinar was intended for a U.S. audience. The content will be of interest for readers in other countries though. It is partly because corporate investment in housing pays no attention to national boundaries2.

As well, groups that are organizing to protect tenants can find out about experiences in other communities3.

Here are links to the resources discussed in this post:

The webinar: Fighting Back Against Corporate Landlords

Financialization ‘Under The Lens’: Homes or Cash Cows?

Tenant protection ‘Under The Lens’: Tenant Power Returns


  1. Shelterforce is a U.S. based non-profit dedicated to community development, affordable housing, and neighbourhood stabilization.
  2. For example, try this post about financialization in Canada: Financialization Of Housing In Canada Exposed and this one in the United Kingdom: UK Taxpayers Scammed! Overpaying For Services Supporting The Poor
  3. Try also this post from England: In England, A Three Year Housing Lease = Better Mental Health and this one from Berlin: Big Landlords Beware: Activists In Berlin Celebrate The City’s Right To Expropriate