August 17, 2023

Companies buying up single-family homes in Indianapolis impacts affordable housing

Companies that invest in housing stock for rentals or to flip properties can shut out residents who want to become homeowners. - File photo: Robin Davis

Companies that invest in housing stock for rentals or to flip properties can shut out residents who want to become homeowners.

File photo: Robin Davis

The number of single-family homes owned by corporate investors is on the rise, and that trend has an impact on affordable housing in Indianapolis.

A report from the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana finds 27,000 Marion County homes are owned by corporate investors, and about half of those are out-of-state companies.  FHCCI Executive Director Amy Nelson said the trend is also costing the state rent.

“If you put that in monetary amounts that's 15 to 20 million dollars each month, that is leaving Indiana to these out-of-state companies,” Nelson said.

Companies that invest in housing stock for rentals or to flip properties can shut out residents who want to become homeowners.

“The amount of cash buying that is occurring in our community has simply escalated, and our local residents are getting outbid and are unable to move into their American dream of homeownership,” she said.

Nelson said the report takes a deep dive into different companies that are investing in Indianapolis neighborhoods. It highlights how some of these companies evict residents at higher rates. It also explores how some companies that rent properties have a higher number of habitability citations.

The report details how difficult it can be to hold bad-acting landlords accountable. It finds companies are clearly profiting from central Indiana housing investments. The analysis also shows the difficulty the center faces in finding out exactly who owns these companies, as multiple LLCs can be set up to evade action.

Nelson said FHCCI believes this is a direct result of Indiana laws that favor landlords’ protections over those of tenants.

“We certainly feel in this report that these bad acting companies, those that are not following local laws or not treating their tenants well, feel that they can purchase property here and not be held accountable like they may be in other states,” Nelson said.

The study looks at some neighborhoods of color where companies are purchasing single family homes and driving up prices rapidly. In Martindale-Brightwood prices have increased more than 260% in the past five years.

Other Indiana communities including Fishers and Columbus are experiencing similar trends. Recommendations to policy changes include landlord registries for better transparency and improved habitability inspections.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at jsheridan@wfyi.org

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