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Reuters takes aim at Invitation Homes

Investigative piece alleges abuse by the SFR giant; Invitation Homes denies wrongdoing

On Friday, Reuters broke news of its investigation into allegations of negligence against single-family rental giant Invitation Homes.

The report details complaints of infestation, shoddy appliances, mold, long waits for repairs and “fee stacking,” all of which Invitation Homes denies or says were addressed in a timely fashion.

Invitation Homes is the largest landlord of single-family homes in the nation by a long-shot. The company is a Blackstone subsidiary with a portfolio made up of homes primarily acquired after the housing crisis. In total, Invitation Homes manages 82,000 properties valued by Kroll Bond Rating Agency at $1.7 billion.

It is important to note that Blackstone is in the process of buying a majority stake in the financial services division of Thomson Reuters Corp., owner of Reuters News, in a deal valued at $20 billion.

The next biggest single-family management company is American Homes 4 Rent, which, according to the Reuters report, is 58% smaller than Invitation Homes.

This has led affordable housing experts, real estate professionals and others wary of Wall Street controlled rental markets to question Invitation Homes’ practices and whether or not it can handle the sheer amount of properties it manages.

The report quotes residents and former tenants who claim they were mistreated by Invitation Homes, and in some cases felt they had to stay in the poor or dangerous conditions because they had no other choice.

When asked for its response to these allegations, Invitation Homes sent HousingWire this statement.

The Reuters story deeply and unfairly mischaracterized the company’s service record and paints an inaccurate and distorted picture. We cited numerous errors and omissions regarding the specific examples in the story, which the reporter declined to include. Invitation Homes is dedicated to providing quality homes and outstanding service to our residents. The vast majority of our residents are satisfied with their home and the high standard of service we provide. They tell us that in third-party-conducted surveys and they demonstrate it when they renew again and again.

  • Our resident surveys show that our customers give us high marks, with an average overall satisfaction rating of 4.3 out of 5 on maintenance requests.
  • Overall, residents stay in their homes50 percent longer compared with the apartment industry because of the quality of homes and service we deliver.

While our portfolio of homes represents less than 1% of the single-family rental market, we believe the professional service and resources we deploy are helping set a new, higher standard for quality of choice across the board. We invest an average of $22,000 in each house for upfront renovations and employ hundreds of on-the-ground associates in our local markets to promptly resolve any issues that arise. While even one unsatisfied resident is too many and we are dedicated to addressing every issue that arises in our homes, we do not believe that the Reuters story and its examples reflect the views of the vast majority of our residents.

In addition to this general statement, Invitation homes provided HousingWire with responses to specific allegations laid out in the piece.

The statement below is a response to the allegation that Invitation Homes patches over issues instead of fixing them:

“This couldn't be further from the truth.  Invitation Homes is committed to fully and quickly addressing any issue that arises.  It's not only the right thing to do for our residents, but it ensures that our homes remain in top quality condition.”

And in response to the sentiment that Invitation Homes bit off more than it can chew in terms of how many properties it manages a representative said:

“We serve our residents through a combination of hundreds of on-staff maintenance personnel and by deploying trained, licensed contractors where necessary.  Residents are able to submit work orders 24/7 via an online portal or by calling a 24/7 staffed maintenance line.  Every work order is tracked to completion, and at the close of each work order, the resident is given the opportunity to rate the service of the technician on that work order.  Our residents give us an average rating of 4.32 on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest.”

And finally, a clarification on how much the company spends on upkeep per home per year:

“The $1,142 [maintenance cost cited in the piece] was an accounting estimate for a portion of maintenance costs and did not include capital expenditure estimates.  The actual annualized cost to maintain the homes in the Fannie Mae collateral pool, including all expense categories and actual expenditures, was $2,568 as of March 31, 2018.”

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