Who Owns the City? How Landlord Characteristics Affect Tenant Experiences

Henry Gomory

Urban sociology is characterized by asymmetric information, wherein much is known about the residents of a city but next to nothing about the landlords who own it. We lack this data because information on property ownership is scarce and landlords often utilize anonymous corporations. This study overcomes these limitations by combining scraped data on corporate personnel with city property records, creating a network of land ownership. This is then integrated with a number of other administrative and scraped datasets to see how landlords vary in terms of eviction, maintenance, and relationships with tenants. Preliminary findings show that landlords with a large number of holdings evict at much higher rates and over less money compared to small landlords. Although small landlords evict less often, their evictions are more combative and drawn out. These differences suggest large and small landlords manage their properties in pervasively different ways, with consequences for their tenants.

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 Presented in Session 3. Population, Development, & the Environment; Data & Methods; Applied Demography