You Should Research Who Owns Your Housing

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No matter how far in advance you organize it, somehow landing a place to live and moving into it is always a mess and a scramble. Options fall through, prices go up, paperwork gets finicky, and packing never actually ends. Fingers crossed, all that trouble ends when the moving trucks drive away, but a blockbuster New York Times story reveals how some details we overlook at the lease signing can follow us for years to come.

"A $60 Billion Housing Grab by Wall Street" lays out the scope and perfidy of a recently developed practice in real estate investing, in which investment groups buy up single-family homes and rent them out at usurious prices. Exponentially punitive fees and fines pile onto first-time homeowners, people of color, and other marginalized people, all for the purpose of extracting profit for investors. Meanwhile, the series of LLCs that own and cast off the properties fail to perform even the most basic of landlord duties, leaving tenants on the hook and in the lurch.

The article is long, but well worth the time to take it all in. It may seem like a specialized case, despite the scale of the practice, but in an everyday sense, it's a firm reminder to understand ahead of time who you'll be dealing with, whether you're renting or buying. Check out reviews of any landlord or management company, including if there are records of complaints at places like the Better Business Bureau or in public city databases. It's one more thing on the pre-move to-do list, but it could save you a lot of grief in the future.