Tenants ‘forced out their homes’ by global investment firms, say UN experts

UN News/Ana Carmo Manhattan, New York.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


UN human rights experts have condemned the ‘egregious’ business practices of global private equity and investment firms which, they say, have transformed the global housing landscape by raising rents and forcing some tenants out of their homes.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the experts, Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, and Surya Deva, Chairperson of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, said that, by expending unprecedented amounts of capital on housing, these firms have converted homes into financial instruments and investments, buying up affordable properties, upgrading them and substantially raising rents, putting them out of the reach of those living on low incomes.

The experts cited “countless” examples of tenants whose rents increased by up to 50 per cent, almost immediately after their buildings were bought by private equity firms, making it impossible for them to remain.

They singled out one firm in particular, Blackstone Group L.P., owner of thousands of housing units across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America, which they described as one of the biggest landlords in the world and a “frontrunner” in the implementation of a business model that classifies affordable housing as “undervalued.”

The experts noted their concerns in a letter to Blackstone, describing the practices as being inconsistent with international human rights law, with respect to the right to housing. Blackstone and similar companies, they say, have a responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

“Real estate equity firms,” the statement says, “have an independent responsibility to respect human rights, which means that they need to conduct human rights due diligence in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address adverse impacts on the right to housing.”

According to the Reuters news agency, Blackstone responded to the independent UN experts on Monday with a letter, arguing that the firm has contributed to the availability of well-managed rental housing, and addressed the chronic undersupply of housing in major metropolitan centers around the world through injections of private capital.

The UN experts also wrote to the Governments of the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and the United States, pointing out that preferential tax laws, and weak tenant protections, have allowed the transfer of low-income housing into financial investments, to hugely expand.

“We remind States of their human rights obligations to regulate investment in residential real estate so that it supports the right to adequate housing and in no way undermines it. This cannot be left to the private sector to undertake on a voluntary basis,” the experts said, criticizing a lack of monitoring or accountability mechanisms. “While gold is a commodity, housing is not, it’s a human right.”

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Von der Leyen announces the start of HERA Incubator to anticipate the threat of coronavirus variants

This 12-year-old built an underwater robot to fight plastic pollution

A 10-step plan to save our seas

5 facts you might not know about why forest biodiversity matters

EU budget 2021: An annual budget focused on European recovery

“Fortress Europe”, “Pegida” and its laughing stocks

Greece returns to markets at a high cost to taxpayers, after four years out in the cold

Ecuador: UN ‘stands ready’ to support talks, in bid to end political turmoil

Civilians ‘must never be a target,’ says UN in Afghanistan, amid troubling number of casualties during Ramadan

How do you make supply chains more visible without compromising security? A Dutch start-up may have the answer

How trade-based money laundering works and its impact on world finances

Disillusioned young people – France thinks it has a solution

UN chief praises Japanese climate resilience, as Typhoon Hagibis cleanup begins

More children killed by unsafe water, than bullets, says UNICEF chief

New research reveals the true extent of corruption in fisheries

We must stop a devastating ‘battle to the end’ in southwest Syria, declares UN envoy

DiscoverEU: 20,000 more young people will explore Europe in 2020

These are the 3 key skill sets workers will need to learn by 2030

UK: Crawley group wins European Citizens’ Prize

Did Draghi ask the Germans to accept a drastic change of austerity policies?

Joint European Union-United States Statement on addressing global steel and aluminum capacity

New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges

3 vital skills for the age of disruption

The UN supports Europe’s military action in Libya and the Mediterranean; Russia and China agree

Europe turns out more jobs this summer

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Europe’s children urge leaders to commit to climate action at UN Climate Summit in Paris

In aftermath of Libya airstrike deaths, UN officials call for refugees and migrants to be freed from detention

CHINA: five letters that could mean…

The world just took a step closer to eradicating polio

‘Harmonized’ plan launched to support millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants

Here’s what a Korean boy band can teach us about globalization 4.0

Presidents of pan-European youth organisations call upon the European Council to preserve the Schengen principles

5 lessons for the future success of virtual and augmented reality

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

EU Migrant Crisis: Italian Coast Guard Headquarters and Italian Navy to give host national opening addresses at Border Security 2016 in Rome

United States: UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ by deadly California wildfires

The price of centralization of human resources for health

Denmark is experimenting with ‘culture vitamins’ to lift people out of depression

How banking with blockchain can stamp out corruption and increase financial inclusion

African cities will double in population by 2050. Here are 4 ways to make sure they thrive

Europe bows to Turkey’s rulers, sends Syrian refugees back to chaos

These countries are driving global demand for coal

Bolivia: UN underlines support for ‘credible, transparent and inclusive’ election

Coronavirus: Commission issues guidelines on testing

A letter from Italy: Our insecurity in COVID-19 times

ICC Appeals Chamber acquits former Congolese Vice President Bemba from war crimes charges

The racial wealth gap in the US is affecting its citizens and its economy – this is how

Eurozone set to abandon monetary and incomes austerity and adopt growth friendly policies

Friday’s Daily Brief: human rights in Sudan, sombre anniversaries for Rwanda and Nigeria, and fears of ‘chaos’ in Libya

Business can be profitable AND drive progress on societal priorities

COVID19 a wake-up call to address development fault lines in Asia and the Pacific

EU, Canada and China co-host international meeting on climate cooperation and a sustainable economic recovery

Why building consumer trust is the key to unlocking AI’s true potential

How populist and xenophobic movements in the EU tear apart European businesses and startups

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of GrandVision by EssilorLuxottica

Protecting citizens’ access to social security in case of no-deal Brexit

Amid strong outlook for U.S. economy, risks abound

How can emerging economies navigate the mobility transition?

Vaccine nationalism – and how it could affect us all

Who is culpable in the EU for Ukraine’s defection to Russia?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s