Sen. Brown proposes bill to stop ‘predatory investors’ from buying single-family homes

“The problem is bigger than Cincinnati and so we need bigger help,” executive director of Price Hill Will says.

CINCINNATI — More than a year after The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority bought nearly 200 homes from an out-of-state landlord, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown stood on the porch of one of those houses, proposing legislation he said would stop these types of landlords from owning the house in the first place.

The Port said the goal behind its purchase was to remodel the homes and help the renters become homeowners.

“We’ve sold three of them, we have about 45 of our tenants currently in financial and homebuyer training. It’s a lot of work. These houses were in much worse shape than we expected,” said Bill Fischer, vice president of community development for The Port. “Turns out they were not repairing pipes, a lot of these houses don’t have air conditioning, their electric needed to be upgraded.”

Rachel Hastings, executive director of Price Hill Will — which is working with The Port to rehab and sell some of the houses to current tenants and other first-time homebuyers, said the poor maintenance of these homes has an impact on the broader community, too.

“Rather than it being like a stable, positively contributing asset to the neighborhood, it’s really something that’s degrading the neighborhood,” she said. “That really makes people feel scared about the future of the neighborhood.”

Brown introduced the “Stop Predatory Investing Act,” which he said will prevent more out-of-state investors from buying up houses like this. The bill targets those who buy 50 or more single-family rental homes and would disqualify from them certain tax breaks.

“The problem is bigger than Cincinnati and so we need bigger help,” Hastings said.

Both she and Fischer think Brown’s legislation could help, but the bill faces an uphill battle in Congress.

Brown said there is not bipartisan support for the bill right now. He has seven cosponsors who are all Democrats. He’s hopeful, though, that the bill will be passed.

“People in Washington don’t really understand quite what’s happening here,” he said.

Brown said doing events like this one helps to educate him so that he can then educate his colleagues on Capitol Hill.

“Part of sort of anything we’ve done starts with that and we often have success. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes it takes two,” Brown said.

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