Researchers say three companies own 11% of Atlanta’s rental houses

Invitation Homes, Pretium Partners, and Amherst wield ‘significant market power’ over tenants, says researcher
Aerial view of Winslow at Eagles Landing neighborhood, where large number of homes are owned by investors, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in McDonough. (Hyosub Shin /



Aerial view of Winslow at Eagles Landing neighborhood, where large number of homes are owned by investors, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in McDonough. (Hyosub Shin /

As rents have soared at the same time interest rates and home prices have pushed single-family homes out of reach, Wall Street hedge funds have come under fire for contributing to the problem by bulk buying homes.

Now, research suggests a trio of companies — Invitation Homes, Pretium Partners, and Amherst — have a stake in almost 11% of single-family rental homes in five metro Atlanta counties — Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb, according to a Georgia State University news release.

The findings echo an Atlanta Journal-Constitution 2023 investigative series “American Dream for Rent,” which revealed investors were not just buying up distressed properties but the starter homes that allow many first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder. The three companies cited in the new academic paper were featured in the series, as were most of problems cited by corporate bulk purchases of homes.

The AJC investigation found that since 2012, corporate buyers had bought up more than 65,000 single-family homes in 11 counties and that 11 companies each owned more than 1,000 homes. In four out of five census tracts where investors acquired homes, at least 50 homes since 2021 were majority-minority communities. In 45% of those census areas, 90% of the population was made up of minority residents, according to the investigation.

Taylor Shelton, a housing expert and assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Georgia State, and Eric Seymour, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Rutgers University, are the co-authors of an article published online in January called “Horizontal Holdings: Untangling the Networks of Corporate Landlords.”

Their analysis suggests the three companies own 19,000 of the rental houses in metro Atlanta’s five core counties.

According to the paper, which was published in the journal Annals of the American Association of Geographers, the researchers used publicly available data to identify the owners of rentals and cross-referenced business names, addresses, and corporate aliases.

“These companies own tens of thousands of properties in a relatively select set of neighborhoods, which allows them to exercise really significant market power over tenants and renters because they have such a large concentration of holdings in those neighborhoods,” Shelton told Georgia State University.

In an interview with the AJC, Shelton added that Georgia’s rental market is an attractive proposition for corporate investors because of a lack of tenant protections in the state.

Corporate investors also influence the market because they can swoop in and buy single-family homes as soon as they are listed for sale, he said. That was also a finding in the AJC investigative series.

“That kind of behavior ultimately pushes up prices, and also just makes it quite a bit more difficult for first-time homebuyers to enter the home buying market because they’re able to operate at this kind of speed and scale that no individual ever could,” Shelton said.

According to the paper, the three companies used an “extensive network” of more than 190 corporate aliases that are registered under more than 70 addresses in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, New York, Texas and the territory St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The paper suggests this shields the companies from liability if tenants ever take legal action because it can be difficult to unravel all the entities that have an interest in their rental. Day to day, tenants don’t know who is responsible for fixing problems because it can be difficult to establish the ties between the home they are renting and the corporate landlord who has ultimate responsibility.

“Layers of interaction that have to happen before you get to the person who’s ultimately making decisions are increased,” Taylor told Georgia State.

He said he hoped the paper would serve as a guide for tenants who want to investigate if their rental home is corporate-owned.

Invitation Homes did not respond directly to the findings but suggested it was helping to fill a gap in the Atlanta housing market.

“Individuals and families are increasingly choosing to lease instead of own, and we’ll continue to provide a valuable housing option for those looking to lease,” spokeswoman Kristi DesJarlais wrote in an email.

Pretium followed suit and did not comment on the research.

“Pretium is committed to investing in its local communities, including through the creation of beneficial partnerships such as the effort to assist residents of Forest Cove in Atlanta and through significant investments representing over $3.5 billion of local economic impact in Georgia,” spokesperson Lyle Weston wrote in an email.

In 2022, the AJC exposed the dangerous conditions and violent crime at the neglected apartment complexes, including Forest Cove, in a six-part investigative series, “Dangerous Dwellings.”

In October 2022, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said the city had secured private funding from Pretium, the Atlanta Apartment Association, real estate agency Progress Residential and Airbnb, as he pledged to move and relocate residents from the shuttered complex.

Amherst did not comment on the findings in the paper.

David Howard, the CEO of the trade association the National Rental Home Council, pointed to the challenges of providing new, affordable housing.

“Providers of single-family rental homes are committing significant resources to the Atlanta market to meet these challenges and expand the diversity of housing opportunities available in neighborhoods throughout the region,” he wrote in an email

Some housing experts argue corporate investment across the United States has worsened the housing crisis. Since the Great Recession and mass foreclosures, hedge funds and corporate landlords have gobbled up single-family homes, often buying with cash, according to the AJC’s American Dream For Rent series. That has narrowed options for low and middle-income buyers.

As of 2022, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Urban Institute found that large hedge funds and other corporate investors owned about 574,000 single-family homes.

Late last year, Democrats in Congress introduced a bill, the End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act, that would bar hedge funds from buying single-family homes.

In December, Nikema Williams, a Democrat for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District who supported the bill, said that in Atlanta many people are unable to realize the dream of home ownership while “investors purchase homes 10 or more at a time.”

“Homeownership is one of the most powerful tools to close the racial wealth gap, and that power is diminished when hedge funds dominate the housing market,” she said.