WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, hosted a news conference call on Dec. 14 to discuss a letter he wrote to VineBrook Homes Trust, Inc., a real estate company that owns tens of thousands of homes, including nearly 7,900 homes in Ohio.
Brown’s letter requests information about the company and its policies after multiple Cincinnati residents reported neglectful ownership practices to Brown’s office. This follows reports that VineBrook has been aggressive in evicting tenants and has frequently charged residents improper fees.
“VineBrook’s rapid expansion and systematic neglect of properties and tenants has severe consequences, not only for the local families living in the properties but also for the entire city of Cincinnati,” Brown said. “In light of the many concerns raised by Cincinnati renters, aspiring homeowners, and local officials, I am deeply concerned that VineBrook’s opaque, investor-focused business model is generating outsized profits by exploiting taxpayers and families in Cincinnati and across the 20 states in which VineBrook operates.”
Brown was joined by Jordan Cotleur, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati who has represented dozens of VineBrook tenants in eviction cases.
“VineBrook’s business practices are incredibly harmful to the Greater Cincinnati community,” Cotleur said. “The private-equity backed landlord relies on an automated online system to extract rising rents and unlawful fees while leading the county in eviction filings and failing to maintain safe and sanitary housing.”
Brown has long fought to protect renters from bad actors in the housing market and to support access to affordable homeownership. Last month, he sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the agency to review whether RealPage’s rent pricing software violates antitrust laws. In August, he also held a hearing on institutional investors – like banks and insurance companies — and the current rental market, where the committee heard testimony from Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority President and CEO Laura Brunner about the harm VineBrook has caused.