Aug 12, 2022 - News

Digging into the city's 42,000 landlords

Illustration of three rows of identical houses on a blue background, with one of the houses replaced with a lock.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

As more residents struggle to find stable and affordable housing, a new report reveals fascinating details about the city's unique rental landscape.

Why it matters: Detroit is a majority-renter city and is in the midst of a housing crisis, advocates say, with escalating rents, aging properties in disrepair and illegal evictions.

  • The report from Detroit Future City gives the clearest picture yet about the city's landlords.
  • The data is intended to be a launching pad for new policies to improve residents' living conditions.

What they're saying: "The most important finding in the report is that there's about 42,000 landlords in the city," report author Edward Lynch tells Axios. "That seems very basic, but that's something we didn't know before."

By the numbers: Other new details about the city's rental properties and who owns them:

  • There are an estimated 82,235 rental properties containing 137,346 rental units.
  • Of occupied rental properties, 27% have an assessed value of less than $10,000.
  • Landlords with a Detroit address own more than 60% of rental parcels.
  • Just 5% of the city's landlords own about 33% of rental properties.

Zoom out: City officials have been encouraging landlords to register their rental units to make sure they are safe from lead exposure and other dangerous conditions.

  • But the report found just 17% of properties are in the city's rental system.
  • Understanding the rental landscape will help the city bring more rental properties into compliance, David Bell, director of the city's Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department, tells Axios.

The bottom line: "Given the number of lives affected by housing quality across the city, this work is critical. More importantly, we must be proactive about analyzing the data available to us and utilizing that data to create change," the report reads.

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