California companies are buying thousands of homes in Milwaukee. What does that mean for tenants?

California companies have purchased some 6000 properties in Milwaukee for cheap, then rented them to vulnerable tenants. Photo by shisu_ka/Shutterstock.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 6000 rental properties now belong to out-of-state speculators, many who are located in California. They buy homes for cheap and then rent them to vulnerable tenants. 

Compared to local landlords, out-of-state ones have higher rates of evicting tenants. That’s according to Cary Spivak, investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

“They may or may not jack up the rent for the next guy. … If you have a local landlord, you have a better chance to say, ‘Look, I’m a little behind on rent because I had this bill or a child was sick. … Can you cut me some slack?’ You have a fighting chance. An out-of-state landlord, you have much less of a chance, especially if it’s an absentee landlord with thousands of properties.” 

Out-of-state companies have also committed more than 700 building code violations, he says. “We’ve talked to some of the tenants. They talk about having rodents there, not being able to get anything fixed. … Now we have some local landlords who are pretty bad too, but at least with a local landlord, the tenants say they have somebody to talk to or yell at. With an out-of-stater, they’ll probably not even know the name of the person who owns their property.” 

Credits

Guest:

  • Cary Spivak - investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel