These Tenants Took On Their Corporate Landlords

Private equity firms own their homes. When these tenants weren’t getting repairs they needed, they organized and fought back.

Dozens of tenants joined organizers with Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia during a rally on June 17, 2022 outside a corporate landlord's offices near Minneapolis. (Screengrab via Facebook video shared by Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia)

As private equity buys up single-family homes, media attention focuses on their potential to edge out buyers from the “American Dream.” Meanwhile, renters get overlooked even as they struggle under corporate landlords that raise rents and cut costs like repairs. 

In this episode of the podcast, Next City Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with housing correspondent Roshan Abraham about his reporting on tenants in Minneapolis who are fighting back. Organizers from Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia (United Renters for Justice) help tenants find each other and demand changes. The group now anticipates the city council is on the cusp of approving requirements of the landlord if it wants to operate in Minneapolis – keep an eye out for Next City's coverage on these developments.

But this isn’t a problem exclusive to Minnesota. We also meet Jordan Ash, the campaign and research director for the Private Equity Stakeholder Project. They’re strategizing ways of upping investor pressure, and bringing transparency and municipal regulations to a murky process. Ash sees the Minnesota organizers as a model for the country.

“People have a tendency to feel that it's their own fault or that they did something wrong or to blame themselves or feel ashamed,” says Ash. “You also don't have that reinforcement from hearing from other tenants who are in the same boat. When you realize that it's not your fault, that you were taking advantage of, that you got screwed, you're not able to talk with other tenants to find out that you have something in common — that the problem is bigger than you.”

Listen to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple, Spotify or Goodpods.

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