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What should Mecklenburg County do about corporate rentals? Commissioners still aren't sure

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Mecklenburg County commissioners still aren't sure what to do about the growing number of corporate-owned rental homes in Charlotte.

There's a huge number of them. The county assessors office estimates there are about 13,600 corporate-owned rental homes in Charlotte, and the number keeps growing.

More than 30% of all homes sold in Charlotte over the past two quarters have gone to investors, according to real estate firm Redfin, all while average rents rose more than 11% in 2021.

At their meeting Wednesday, Mecklenburg County commissioners said they were concerned by the trend, but weren't sure what, if anything they could do.

While the companies are providing much-needed housing options for renters, they're also gobbling up cheaper homes that would otherwise be available for residents to buy.

County commissioners also said they had heard of poor living conditions in some rentals and unresponsive management.

County Attorney Tyrone Wade advised against making any aggressive policy changes, saying that could invite lawsuits.

"We have to be very careful that we have the authority to do what we want to do," Wade said. "We can be challenged legally for not having the authority to do what we're trying to do."

Monica Allen, the county's director of strategic planning and evaluation, said staff recommended teaching HOA's how to limit rentals in their communities, or setting up a webpage with housing and tenant resources.

In the end, Commission Chair George Dunlap said he still wasn't sure what the solution should be.

"I think some of us are probably just as puzzled as we were the last time we had (this discussion) because there doesn't seem to be a solution — at least not one that we see as viable," he said.

Dunlap also noted that corporate landlords were also becoming a sizable tax base in the county.

"That's a lot of money," he said, "so we need to keep that in mind too."

County staff plan to organize a series of community listening sessions in the coming months to get more ideas from residents.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal