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The poor are getting 'priced out of Charlotte' by an out-of-state company, critics say

Fred Clasen-Kelly, Anna Douglas and Julianna Rennie, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Over the last decade, out-of-state rental companies have bought thousands of houses across Charlotte, raising rents in a city already struggling with a shortage of affordable housing.

For Angela Campbell the news still came as a shock earlier this year: Her landlord, Tricon American Homes, would not renew her lease even though, she said, she paid the $900 rent on time, in full, every month.

When Campbell called to find out why, she said, a Charlotte-based manager for Tricon told her she had to leave the three-bedroom house in west Charlotte, where her family has lived for the past four years, because the company wants to raise the rent.

Now, Campbell needs to find a new home.

Campbell is a working single mother. She earns a living by running a Christian ministry program and working part-time as a ride-share driver.

But the cost to move -- application fees, security deposit and first month's rent upfront -- can add up to about $2,000 or more, Campbell said. She doesn't have it.

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"This has messed everything up," Campbell said.

After the Great Recession, the nation struggled with millions of soured mortgages, foreclosures and abandoned properties.

Wall Street private equity firms and hedge funds started buying tens of thousands of single-family houses and renting them out. In some cases, they got help from the federal government, which sold them distressed mortgages at steep discounts.

The companies now own houses across the country, sometimes more than 1,000 in the same city.

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