COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Researchers are taking aim at a landlord with more than 1,100 properties in central Ohio.
A new report from the nonprofit Private Equity Stakeholder Project, titled “Progress for Who?” calls Progress Residential predatory and harmful to local housing markets.
An NBC4 Investigates report from January was cited in the report as an example of dangerous living conditions and deferred maintenance that Progress tenants have complained about.
“Progress Residential, obviously, they’re a huge company. They have 90,000 homes across the U.S.,” said Madeline Bankson, the housing research coordinator for PESP, is one of the authors of the report. “A lot of what we do is just sort of trying to mitigate the negative impacts of private equity on people on the planet.”
Progress Residential is owned by a private equity firm called Pretium Partners. According to the firm’s website, it controls more than $51 billion in assets.
That includes the tens of thousands of single-family homes in which Bankson discovered a lot of unhappy tenants.
“They go into these markets, they buy up a lot of homes, and that doesn’t always have really great impacts for the people who are living in the city that’s both renters and would-be homeowners,” Bankson said.
The report outlines three major problems Progress tenants often face: frivolous evictions, deferred maintenance and what it calls “junk fees” – like the $40 dollars a Columbus tenant said she was charged to have an eviction notice taped to her door after Progress failed to retrieve her rent check.
Jyoshu Tsushima, an attorney with the Columbus Legal Aid Society, said issues in the report have become more common in recent years as more corporations buy up housing stock in Franklin County.
“I think a lot of people out there do not understand how few protections they actually have as renters. And that is being taken advantage of,” Tsushima said.
In response to the PESP report, Progress Residential told NBC4 in a statement:
“The Private Equity Stakeholder Project has pursued a biased narrative against Progress Residential by espousing half-truths, false claims and outright lies. Throughout, we have consistently and publicly refuted each of PESP’s claims with data and documentation.
We have never evicted a resident in violation of a valid CDC declaration for non-payment of rent.
Our focus continues to be supporting our communities and enhancing the experience of our residents – since our founding, we have managed investments of $21 billion in our homes and facilitated over $111 million of rental assistance since 2020.”Statement from Progress Residential
NBC4 replied, asking Progress for the data and documentation referenced in the statement, to which Progress sent this report.