ITEM 1. BUSINESS
Invitation Homes is a leading owner and operator of single-family homes for lease, offering residents high-quality homes in sought-after neighborhoods across America. With over 80,000 homes for lease in 16 markets across the country as of December 31, 2020, Invitation Homes is meeting changing lifestyle demands by providing residents access to updated homes with features they value, such as close proximity to jobs and access to good schools. Our mission statement, “Together with you, we make a house a home,” reflects our commitment to high-touch service that continuously enhances residents’ living experiences and provides homes where individuals and families can thrive.
We operate in markets with strong demand drivers, high barriers to entry, and high rent growth potential, primarily in the Western United States, Florida, and the Southeast United States. Through disciplined market and asset selection, as well as through strategic mergers and acquisitions, we designed our portfolio to capture the operating benefits of local density as well as economies of scale that we believe cannot be readily replicated. Since our founding in 2012, we have built a proven, vertically integrated operating platform that enables us to effectively and efficiently acquire, renovate, lease, maintain, and manage our homes.
We invest in markets that we expect will exhibit lower new supply, stronger job and household formation growth, and superior net operating income (“NOI”) growth relative to the broader United States housing and rental markets. Within our 16 markets, we target attractive neighborhoods in in-fill locations with multiple demand drivers, such as proximity to major employment centers, desirable schools, and transportation corridors. Our homes average approximately 1,870 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, appealing to a resident base that we believe is less transitory than the typical multifamily resident. We invest in the upfront renovation of homes in our portfolio in order to address capital needs, reduce ongoing maintenance costs, and drive resident demand. The in-fill locations and high quality of our homes and service further differentiate our resident experience, which we continue to refine.
Through certain of the six holding entities that owned our business prior to our initial public offering (the “IH Holding Entities”), we commenced operations in 2012. On January 31, 2017, we effected certain reorganization transactions that resulted in INVH LP holding, directly or indirectly, all of the assets, liabilities, and results of operations of the Manager and the full portfolio of homes held by the IH Holding Entities. As a result of the reorganization transactions, INVH LP became a consolidated subsidiary of INVH. A wholly owned subsidiary of INVH, Invitation Homes OP GP LLC, serves as INVH LP’s sole general partner.
Invitation Homes Inc., a Maryland corporation, was incorporated in Delaware on October 4, 2016. On February 6, 2017, Invitation Homes Inc. changed its jurisdiction of incorporation to Maryland and completed an initial public offering of its shares of common stock (the “IPO”).
On November 16, 2017, we completed the Mergers with SWH, whereby we acquired all outstanding SWH common shares.
As of December 31, 2020, INVH owns a 99.4% partnership interest in INVH LP and has the full, exclusive, and complete responsibility for and discretion over the day to day management and control of INVH LP.
Our principal executive offices are located at 1717 Main Street, Suite 2000, Dallas, Texas 75201 and our telephone number is (972) 421-3600.
Our vertically integrated, scalable platform allows greater influence over the experience of our residents while enabling us to better control operating costs and continuously share best practices across functional areas of the business. Our differentiated platform is built upon:
•Resident-centric focus. Our high-touch business model enables us to continuously solicit and integrate resident feedback into our operations and tailor our approach to address their preferences, providing a superior living experience and fostering customer loyalty. We believe this, in turn, drives rent growth, occupancy, and low turnover rates and will enable us to develop significant brand equity in the longer term.
•Local presence and expertise. In-market managers oversee the operations of local leasing management, property management, and maintenance teams, enabling us to provide outstanding resident service, leverage local expertise in managing rental, occupancy, and turnover rates, and improve cost and oversight over renovations and ongoing maintenance. As a result of our concentrated footprint within our markets, our regional managers and in-market teams are able to realize local-operator advantages, while still benefiting from significant economies of scale.
•Scalable, centralized infrastructure. We support local market operations with national strategy, infrastructure, and standards to drive efficiency, consistency, and cost savings. We utilize our extensive scale to ensure the consistent quality of our resident experience and maximize cost efficiencies and purchasing power. On a national level we are also able to standardize resident leases, employ a consistent approach to resident screening and leasing operations, and utilize dynamic, rules-based pricing tools informed by local market conditions.
Our approach to investment and asset management similarly combines local presence and expertise with national oversight. Our investment and asset management teams are located in-market and apply their local market knowledge within the framework of a proprietary and consistent underwriting methodology, with support from national leadership based in our corporate headquarters focused on investment and asset management strategy. Through the integration of investment and asset management and property management functions, our platform enables our teams to incorporate real-time information regarding leasing activity, property operations, maintenance, and capital spending into asset selection. We believe the advantages of our integrated acquisition platform and local market expertise have driven the quality of our existing portfolio of 80,177 homes as of December 31, 2020. We believe that employing experienced, in-house acquisitions teams at the local level gives us a competitive advantage in selectively acquiring homes that will maximize risk-adjusted total return.
Our Business Activities
Since our founding in 2012, we have built a proven, vertically integrated operating platform that allows us to effectively and efficiently acquire, renovate, lease, maintain, and manage our homes. Our differentiated approach, which combines a resident-centric focus, local market presence and expertise, and national strategy, infrastructure, and standards, informs all areas of our operations.
Property operations encompasses the in-house local market management and execution of marketing, leasing, resident relations, and maintenance functions. We have developed and employ a highly scalable, vertically integrated, and resident-centric property management service platform, referred to as “ProCare.” All of our property management functions have been internally managed since our founding in 2012, and we have implemented an extensive property management infrastructure, including an online resident portal, Smart Home technology, a technology suite to manage work orders and personnel, dedicated in-market personnel, and local offices in each of our markets. All of our local market personnel are supported by our centralized national infrastructure, which allows us to deploy best practices and standardization where appropriate. The combination of our local market presence and national infrastructure enables us to exercise greater control over our property management service platform, allowing us to enhance the experience of our residents, better manage operating costs, and share best practices across various functional areas of our business.
We have organized our in-house property management personnel and operating structure whereby Vice Presidents of Operations in each of our markets are responsible for the operations of local leasing management, property management, and maintenance teams. We believe our operating model differentiates our approach to local market operations and enables us to provide superior, high-touch resident service, maximize the effectiveness of our in-market personnel in managing rental,
occupancy, and turnover rates and improve our cost management and oversight over both upfront renovations and ongoing maintenance.
Marketing and Leasing
Our in-house personnel are responsible for establishing rental rates, marketing and leasing properties, and collecting and processing rent. We establish rental rates based on a dynamic, rules-based pricing tool that is informed by local market conditions, including a competitive analysis of market rents for institutional single-family rental properties, growth in single-family and multifamily market rents since a specific home’s last lease commenced, the size, fit and finish, and location of the home, the number of applications received and/or showings a property has experienced since becoming available, and the number of days a home has been available on the market, as well as qualitative factors, such as neighborhood characteristics, community amenities, and proximity to employment centers, desirable schools, transportation corridors, and local services.
We typically begin pre-marketing properties 30 to 60 days in advance of their becoming vacant to maintain high occupancy rates and reduce vacancy losses. We advertise available properties through multiple channels, including our proprietary website, internet listing services (such as Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, and Realtor.com), MLS, yard signs, search engine marketing, social and other digital media, and local brokers. We offer flexible showing options for convenience, including virtual tours and floor plans on our website, self-showings that leverage the home’s smart home technology, and in-person agent showings. We own internal brokerages to serve each state in which we operate and primarily utilize in-market leasing agents who work with us to lease our homes. In some markets, we also utilize a network of local real estate agents to show homes to prospective residents and offer those agents limited co-broker fees.
Prospective residents may submit an application through the application portal on our website or in person. In order to maintain brand consistency and better track compliance with leasing requirements, we utilize standardized online applications, national lease agreements, move-in and move-out documents, resident communications, and other ancillary documents. We evaluate prospective residents in a standardized manner through the use of a third party resident screening partner. Our resident screening process includes obtaining appropriate identification, a thorough evaluation of credit history and household income, a review of the applicant’s rental history, and a background check for criminal activity. Although we require a minimum income to rent ratio, many additional factors are also taken into consideration during the resident evaluation process, including eviction history, criminal history, and rental and other payment history.
Our disciplined investment strategy and local, in-market approach have given us scale and density of homes in desirable neighborhoods, enabling us to execute cost-effective advertising, targeting potential residents whose online behaviors indicate interest in these neighborhoods. We believe this increases our likelihood of capturing and retaining residents, enhancing our opportunity to develop and market other programs and services.
Digital Marketing Initiatives and Branding
We encourage meaningful community interaction across our digital platforms by continuously refreshing the content of our website, blog, and social media accounts with articles, home maintenance advice, contests, and incentives designed to enrich the lives of our residents and protect our homes. For example, we alert our residents to prepare for storms, incentivize them to pay their rent online, offer “Lease Friendly” “Make It Home” design tips and contests, and hold an annual Resident Appreciation Day. Resident engagement and social following continue to grow, and we receive positive feedback from residents, who specifically mention our approachable lifestyle and home maintenance content that helps them make a house a home.
Resident Relations and Property Maintenance
Our in-house personnel in each of our markets are also responsible for property repairs and maintenance and resident relations. In coordination with a third party vendor, we offer a 24/7 emergency telephone line to handle after hours maintenance issues on an expedited basis as needed, and our residents can also contact us through our online resident portal, our call centers, or our local property management offices. As part of our ongoing property management process, we seek to conduct routine repairs and maintenance in a timely manner, as appropriate, by appointment at the resident’s convenience. We seek to utilize quality materials to minimize the recurrence of maintenance requests and maximize long-term rental income and cash flows from our portfolio.
We typically utilize our in-house maintenance personnel in each of our markets to provide ordinary course, “handyman” services, and outsource more complex or extensive repairs, such as roofing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (“HVAC”) systems, plumbing, and electrical work to vetted, pre-approved third party vendor partners. We strive to maximize the number of maintenance calls that are addressed by our in-house maintenance technicians. In cases where we outsource more complex or extensive repairs, our in-house maintenance personnel provide oversight to ensure quality control and cost effectiveness. In addition, our in-house maintenance personnel conduct periodic visits to our properties to help foster positive, long-term relationships with our residents, track and report maintenance needs effectively, conduct preventative maintenance, and ensure compliance with lease terms, local laws, and HOA rules and regulations. We have temporarily paused a portion of these visits due to the ongoing pandemic.
ProCare service, our property management service platform, includes several touchpoints over the term of a resident’s lease designed to enhance their satisfaction with our service model, improve the efficiency of our service, and ensure that each resident is properly educated regarding the home and their responsibilities. When a new resident moves into one of our homes, our in-house personnel conduct a resident orientation (sometimes virtual due to the ongoing pandemic), during which we revisit the terms of the lease, outline what aspects of the home’s upkeep are the resident’s responsibility, walk through all of the home’s major systems in order to familiarize the resident with their safe and proper operation, and inform the resident that we will be conducting a post move-in maintenance visit. Following the move-in orientation, each resident is encouraged to keep a record of any non-emergency service items noted after moving into the home. At the time of the post move-in maintenance visit approximately 45 days after move-in (sometimes virtual due to the ongoing pandemic), our in-house property maintenance personnel will address any non-emergency service needs the resident has noted. We believe this process has a number of benefits. First, by conducting an in-person move-in orientation, we are able to ensure that residents understand their obligations under the terms of their lease, as well as how to safely and properly operate the home’s systems, reducing both the likelihood of misaligned expectations and unnecessary wear and tear on the property. Second, by scheduling a post move-in maintenance visit, we are able to address multiple service requests in a single visit, improving the resident experience by avoiding the inconvenience of multiple service appointments and improving the efficiency and productivity of our in-house property maintenance personnel. Finally, the post move-in maintenance visit allows us to more quickly identify residents who may not be adhering to the terms of their lease or may be subjecting the home to undue wear and tear and/or damages as a result of their treatment of the property.
Following the regularly scheduled post move-in maintenance visit described above, our in-house property maintenance personnel in each of our markets also conduct mid-lease preventive maintenance visits. During preventive maintenance visits, our in-house property maintenance personnel inspect the home’s systems, paying particular attention to potential safety hazards as well as potential causes of damage that could result in us incurring significant maintenance costs if left unaddressed. Examples of areas of focus for preventive maintenance visits include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, air filters, hot water heaters, toilet valves, under-sink plumbing, and garbage disposals, among others.
We also conduct pre move-out visits 15 to 30 days prior to scheduled resident move-outs. These visits allow us to notify residents of any repairs they may need to undertake prior to moving out of the property, such as carpet cleaning or landscaping maintenance, in order to avoid forfeiture of part or all of their security deposit. In addition, these visits allow our in-house property maintenance personnel to begin preparing a scope of work and budget for the turnover work we undertake between residents to prepare our homes to be re-leased to a new resident. These visits also increase our ability to pre-market our homes.
Regardless of the purpose or timing of the visit, our in-house property maintenance personnel are required to conduct a general property condition assessment (“GPCA”) every time they visit one of our homes. The GPCA requires our in-house property maintenance personnel to assess and document interior and exterior conditions, whether the resident is adhering to the terms of their lease, as well as any potential safety hazards or potential causes of damage that could result in us incurring significant maintenance costs if left unaddressed. If a deficiency is identified by our in-house property maintenance personnel we endeavor to take prompt action to correct it.
Investment and Asset Management
We have a disciplined acquisition platform that is capable of deploying capital across multiple acquisition channels and markets simultaneously. Our markets were generally selected through a robust process utilizing an analysis of housing and
rental market supply and demand fundamentals, macroeconomic and demographic trends, and risk-adjusted total return potential. Specifically, the process we use to select and, on an ongoing basis, evaluate our markets ranks these markets based on relative weightings of factors that include, but are not limited to, forecast population and employment growth, household formation, historical and forecast deliveries of new residential housing supply, discounts to replacement cost for single-family residential housing, size of the addressable market, volume of new and existing home sales, potential yields implied by the relationship between market rental rates and the price of single-family residential housing, forecast home price appreciation, and forecast rental rate growth.
We have amassed significant scale within our 16 markets. In these markets, our acquisition strategy has been, and will continue to be, focused on buying, renovating, and operating high quality single-family homes for lease that we believe will appeal to and attract a high quality resident base, that will experience robust long-term demand, and that will benefit from capital appreciation. In evaluating acquisitions, we analyze numerous factors, including neighborhood desirability, proximity to employment centers, schools, and transportation corridors, community amenities, construction type, and required ongoing capital needs, among others.
We target submarkets and neighborhoods in undersupplied high-growth markets and leverage our in-house acquisition and operations teams’ local market expertise to acquire homes in in-fill locations that we believe will experience above average rental rate growth and home price appreciation. Our in-house acquisition teams are comprised of dedicated professionals located in our markets and at our corporate headquarters who provide strategic direction and broad oversight. Our acquisition teams have significant local market experience and expertise in single-family investments and sales, which enables us to target specific submarkets, neighborhoods, individual streets, and homes that meet our selection and underwriting criteria. To date, we have underwritten more than one million individual homes which gives us a substantial proprietary database on which we can draw as we evaluate future acquisition opportunities in our markets. The number of homes underwritten represents the total number of acquisition opportunities that we have considered and of which we have conducted preliminary analysis, including acquisition opportunities that were ultimately not pursued or completed. As a result of our selective and disciplined investment approach, we have analyzed and considered a far greater number of potential acquisitions than the number of homes we have actually acquired. As a result of our large existing portfolio and volume of acquisitions to date, we believe we have a high degree of visibility into rental rates and fixed and controllable operating expenses, which allows us to more accurately underwrite expected net yields of homes prior to acquisition. We also collaborate with local market real estate brokers and others, and leverage these relationships to source off-market acquisition opportunities. Within our markets, our approach allows us to screen broadly and rapidly to identify potential acquisitions in highly targeted submarkets at the neighborhood and street levels. Our in-house team of acquisition professionals coordinates with our in-house renovation, maintenance, and property management teams to ensure that feedback from historical acquisitions is shared across functions so that our ongoing investment activities are informed by, and benefit from, insight from prior experience.
We have an in-house team of dedicated personnel located in our markets who oversee our upfront property renovation process and the ongoing maintenance of our homes, with support from centralized construction experts and infrastructure. This team works in collaboration with our in-house investment and property management teams to maximize the total return of our upfront investment and minimize ongoing maintenance costs. To this end, our professionals evaluate: the structural needs and major systems of a property (e.g., examining roofs, HVAC systems, and siding); other maintenance-reducing improvements and repairs (e.g., installing durable hard-surface flooring, removing carpet from high-traffic areas, and testing plumbing and pipes both in the home and out to the street); and the level of fit and finish required to maintain consistency with our brand standards and maximize rental demand (e.g., selecting cabinet and countertop finishes and appliances designed to improve resident demand).
In general, before a home is acquired or when an acquired home first becomes vacant, our in-house teams begin the renovation process by preparing a detailed renovation budget and scope of work based on an assessment of each property’s major systems and structural features. These include HVAC, roofs, pools, and plumbing and electrical systems. In addition, we also evaluate other features of our homes’ fit and finish, including appliances, landscaping, decks and/or patios, and fixtures. During our initial assessment, we also determine the potential for, and potential return on, any value-additive upgrades that may reduce future operating costs or enhance rental demand and, by extension, our ability to realize more attractive rental, occupancy, or turnover rates.
Through local oversight by in-house personnel of the entire process of renovating our homes, we are able to drive cost efficiencies. Each property’s detailed budget and scope of work prepared by our in-house team of renovation professionals is reviewed and vetted by our in-house asset management and operations teams, and in the case of work we contract directly, presented for bid to one or more of our pre-approved vendor partners in each of our markets. In the case of work for which we rely upon general contractors, we set prices based on the scope of work involved. By establishing and enforcing best practices and quality consistency, and through a constant process of evaluating and grading our vendor partners, we believe that we are able to reduce the costs of both materials and labor. For example, we have negotiated discounts and extended warranties for products that we regularly use during the renovation process, including appliances, HVAC systems and components, carpet and flooring, and paint, among others. We are also able to reduce general contractor fees by working directly with vendors. We believe this approach results in both a larger proportion of our upfront renovation expenditures going toward actual investment in our homes as well as lower overall expenditures than if we were to outsource all elements of vendor selection and oversight to third party general contractors.
We maintain a sophisticated process to identify and efficiently dispose of homes that no longer fit our investment objectives. We believe we have a proven ability to optimize sales prices while reducing both time to sale and selling costs by utilizing multiple distribution channels, including bulk portfolio sales, our “Resident First Look” program (which facilitates home sales to our current residents), direct-to-market sales, and MLS. We believe the significant local density of our portfolio, which averages approximately 5,000 homes per market as of December 31, 2020, allows us to selectively sell properties without sacrificing the operating efficiency of our concentrated scale.
Environmental, Social, and Governance Initiatives
At Invitation Homes, we are committed to creating an exceptional leasing experience for our residents and leading the single-family industry by example. As the nation’s premier home leasing company, we have an opportunity to make a profound impact by offering quality homes where our residents can feel safe and careers where our associates can thrive. Our mission, vision, and values define our daily actions in delivering on our pledge to be a responsible corporate citizen. Our mission statement “Together with you, we make a house a home” reflects our commitment to a resident-centric business philosophy. It is important that each day, we live out our values of Unshakeable Integrity, Genuine Care, Continuous Excellence, and Standout Citizenship as we strive to benefit our residents, our associates, our communities, and our shareholders while at the same time advancing efforts that make us more innovative and our processes more sustainable.
We believe that integrating environmental, social, and governance initiatives into our strategic business objectives is critical to our long-term success. In the fourth quarter of 2020, we launched a formal Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) materiality assessment to identify opportunities for us to make the biggest impact in the areas that our stakeholders prioritize. In order to ensure consistent attention and focus on ESG matters, we have created a dedicated, cross-functional ESG task force of associates led by executive management. As a part of their role as stewards of our company’s long-term performance, our Board of Directors plays a critical role in understanding how ESG issues affect our business strategy and performance and provides oversight with respect to our ESG initiatives and policies. This responsibility is assigned to the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of the Board of Directors. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee works closely with management and regularly meets with and reports to the Board of Directors on our ESG strategy, initiatives, and policies. We also believe in the value of feedback, and we hold ourselves accountable. To that end, we participate in the GRESB Real Estate Assessment for a third-party evaluation of our ESG performance, and have linked this performance to the pricing of our revolving credit facility, whereby improvements in our GRESB score over time can benefit our borrowing costs under the facility. Through our integrated and ongoing approach to sustainability and corporate responsibility, we seek to drive positive change and create value for our stakeholders.
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are vitally important to who we are as a company. Our guiding social responsibility, business, and workplace policies apply to our directors, officers, associates, and vendors, and they are posted on our website. These policies apply to all activities undertaken by or on behalf of Invitation Homes anywhere we operate. Among other things, these policies encompass areas of community and associate engagement, diversity and inclusion, human rights, corporate governance and ethics, and environmental initiatives that reflect existing and emerging standards of corporate social responsibility.
Protecting the environment is critically important to us, and our corporate responsibility initiatives help limit the company’s carbon footprint and the environmental impact of our homes. We take our responsibility around carbon emissions very seriously, and we continue to look for ways to lower the level of emissions from our homes.
While our residents are responsible for utilities that control energy and water usage, we take a proactive approach to improving the environmental footprint of our portfolio by, among other things:
•using energy-efficient ENERGY STAR® certified appliances when feasible;
•utilizing Smart Home technology to help residents manage their homes and reduce their energy bills;
•installing low-flow plumbing fixtures and greater efficiency HVAC units;
•installing water-saving landscape designs in arid locations;
•educating residents about energy-efficient practices;
•maintaining stocked vehicles to reduce trips to hardware stores and eliminate unnecessary travel;
•reducing drive times for our repair technicians by optimizing routes and triaging maintenance issues; and
•launching an HVAC air filter home delivery program for our residents, which may prolong the life of our HVAC systems, may reduce expenses associated with repairs, may minimize downtime associated with system failure, and may provide better air quality in the home.
As the climate continues to change, and with a portfolio located in a variety of United States markets that include coastal areas, we recognize the increased likelihood of acute weather events and other climate-related impacts to our business, operations, and homes. We take a proactive approach to protect our properties against potential risks related to climate change and business interruptions, and we recognize that we must continue to adapt our policies, objectives, and processes to improve the resiliency of our physical properties and our business.
Our success is fueled by the growing demand for high-quality, single-family homes for lease. Many things contribute to an exceptional experience for our residents – the speed and effectiveness of our service, the quality of our portfolio through our ongoing commitment to maintaining our homes, the Genuine Care we provide in each interaction, and much more. By offering quality homes in attractive neighborhoods, we believe we give residents the choice to lease a home in a community that may not have otherwise been attainable. We strive to provide our residents with a worry-free leasing lifestyle through service that includes welcoming them with an in-person home orientation at move-in, making their lives easier with our Smart Home technology offering, and providing 24/7 maintenance combined with our best-in-class ProCare property management service platform. ProCare is an innovative platform designed to provide regular opportunities for us to inspect our assets, proactively address issues, and ensure each home continues to meet our standards.
With the safety and well-being of our residents and associates being our highest priority during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to follow protocols that enable teams to safely provide outstanding service to residents. These protocols include: implementing a safety training program and providing personal protective equipment for all associates; adhering to strict safety protocols for maintenance service trips; leveraging self-show and virtual-tour technology; and offering virtual options for resident move-in orientations and pre-move-out visits.
Additionally, while the COVID-19 outbreak has required us to modify our property improvement and maintenance procedures to accommodate resident safety preferences, as a currently designated “essential business” we are completing all maintenance work orders unless a resident reports symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19.
In March 2020, to act on our core values of Genuine Care and Standout Citizenship, we began to offer solutions for residents experiencing financial hardship when requested, including the ongoing creation of payment plans, without late fees, for residents requiring flexibility to meet rental obligations over time. Additionally, we continue to adhere to federal, state, and local restrictions on items such as evictions, collections, rent increases, and late fees as appropriate.
We also believe it is important to listen to our residents, and we take their feedback to heart on our quest to continuously enhance the Genuine Care we provide. We survey residents at each key step in their journey with Invitation Homes, such as at move-in and move-out, and after every in-person interaction they have with an Invitation Homes associate or vendor. We use this feedback to hold ourselves accountable, with all of our associates having a portion of their compensation tied directly to resident satisfaction survey scores. We also use feedback from surveys and focus groups to help inform new service offerings and enhancements we make to the resident experience. In addition to our website and resident surveys, we engage with our residents through monthly resident newsletters, blog posts, and social media campaigns and contests.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 1,149 dedicated full-time personnel, which we supplement with temporary and contract resources. None of our personnel are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
Associates are the backbone of our company. Nothing happens without the day-to-day dedication of our invaluable associates. Whether they are a front-line brand ambassador who represents us each and every day with our residents, or a back-of-the-house support team member who ensures we continue to move forward, our associates are our greatest asset. From our focus on associates’ wellbeing, health, and safety to our support for a diverse and inclusive culture, we treat each other fairly and act with honesty, integrity, and respect.
We passionately believe that diverse and inclusive companies make for more innovative, engaged, and happy teams. Our organization celebrates diversity and cultivates a culture of inclusion. In 2020, we launched a purposeful diversity and inclusion (“D&I”) journey pursuant to which we hired a D&I leader and executed a campaign in which our associates were educated on our commitment to D&I.
As of December 2020, over 40% of our associates are female and over 42% of our associates are people of color. We currently have one active Employee Resource Group (“ERG”), Together With Women. In 2021, we will expand our footprint with the launch of multiple ERGs and a continued focus on ensuring significant and meaningful progress against our key D&I metrics. Our D&I stance contributes to our overall business strategy and serves as a catalyst for retaining our associates, recruiting diverse talent, and building beneficial business relationships with key stakeholders. This business imperative will help us increase our diverse workforce, retain and upskill our talent, and enhance our company’s culture. In turn, this will progress our standing as an employer of choice and the nation’s premier home leasing company.
We value continuous dialogue with our associates. In May 2020, we launched a new monthly associate survey tool, called “Our Family. Your Voice,” which replaced a previously used annual survey. In less than eight months’ time, the survey has received more than 94% participation and has provided us with manager-level actionable feedback on several key engagement dimensions. We believe that high monthly participation rates are a strong indication of high engagement and recognition that responses will lead to meaningful action.
We recognize the value of providing regular development opportunities for our associates and help them advance their skills and knowledge. In addition to our annual compliance training campaigns, we offer more than 3,000 online learning and development videos designed to help associates build their skills.
We are committed to accelerating the development of our leaders. In 2020, we created and launched a formal leadership program called “Leadership Essentials” that marks the beginning of our journey to build capable and confident leaders that can lead and inspire a diverse workforce in an ever-changing environment. As part of Leadership Essentials training and our commitment to D&I, we included both D&I and Awareness of Unconscious Bias training for our leaders.
We take considerable steps to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our associates. We continue to evolve our health and safety processes to help significantly reduce on-the-job injuries and review and monitor our performance monthly. Our goal is to reduce Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable incidents every year; and over the past three years, our workplace safety programs have successfully reduced annual on-the-job injuries from 79 to 40, or 49.4%. One of our significant programs in 2020 was to provide “Driving Safety” training for our fleet drivers covering topics like defensive
driving techniques and vehicle condition and safety features. Additionally, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we established a task force that crafted a “Safe Work Playbook” and “Interim Policy Guide,” outlining a consistent way for each of our offices to return to work safely when it is appropriate to do so. We also created formal training for both our field-based and office-based associates to educate and train on these new safety practices and protocols. The majority of our office-based associates continue to work from home and will do so until we determine it is in our and their best interests to fully return to our offices.
We believe it is critically important to maintain a corporate culture that demands integrity and reflects ethical values. Everyone who works at or with Invitation Homes should feel confident about our high ethical standards, our honesty, and our integrity. We maintain a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (the “Code of Conduct”) that is applicable to all of our directors, officers, and associates. The Code of Conduct helps guide us as we collaborate to accomplish our goals together, while holding ourselves individually responsible for our work and accountable for our actions. Our Vendor Code of Conduct is an extension of our values to our vendors and serves to highlight our commitment to ethical business practices and regulatory compliance.
Being a good neighbor is critical in the communities where we do business. This includes volunteering in our local communities and contributing dollars to non-profit organizations doing good in our markets. It also involves the full economic impact of our business on the community, through home renovations completed by local vendors, real estate taxes, HOA fees and dues, and locally purchased goods and services. We recognize that the vitality of our business is directly linked to the vitality of the communities in which we operate. We invest in upfront renovations of our homes and maintain them to high standards through timely maintenance services. As of December 31, 2020, we and our predecessors have invested approximately $2.4 billion in the upfront renovation of homes in our portfolio. We invested approximately $39,000 per home for upfront renovations completed during the year ended December 31, 2020. Further, we maintain our homes to high standards through timely maintenance services as well as through our proprietary ProCare service. We believe that these investments benefit our communities by creating jobs, enhancing neighborhood appearance and livability, and improving the overall quality of life for our residents and their neighbors. In addition, we believe such investments improve our relationships with local communities and HOAs and enhance our brand recognition and loyalty.
We believe our values of Genuine Care and Standout Citizenship should extend beyond the walls of our offices and drive our desire to be a good neighbor in each of our communities. While we have a company-wide community impact mantra of “Go Do Good,” much of our community engagement is locally driven. We believe in empowering our associates to make an impact in the communities where they work and reside by partnering with local organizations to provide support to those in need. In addition, each year Invitation Homes associates receive 20 hours of paid time to volunteer in their communities and help their local neighbors. During 2020, many of our nonprofit partners and local organizations offered virtual volunteer experiences that provided safe social distancing options while still enabling us to make an impact, including card and gift showers for the residents and staff of senior living residences and homebound elderly citizens, mentoring and reading, delivering food to veterans and elderly citizens, contributing food and school supplies, collecting and delivering toys, cleaning beaches, and providing other needed support in their communities. We also offer an annual “There’s No Place Like Home” scholarship contest, awarding scholarships for higher learning to residents, associates, and community members.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of our associates, our residents, and our communities. We are proud of how our team has responded, showing resilience, innovating in real time, and demonstrating the tremendous value of our resident-centric business philosophy and commitment to community.
Governance and Ethical Business Practices
We take very seriously the responsibility that individuals and organizations have chosen to invest in our company, and we strive every day to ensure that our actions result in value for these investors. We believe that ethical business practices and sound governance promote the long-term interests of our shareholders, strengthen Board of Directors and management accountability, and improve our standing as a trusted member of the communities we serve. We are committed to the principles of good corporate governance and have implemented internal policies and procedures to ensure that our governance practices are best in class and align our interests with those of our shareholders.
We believe it is critically important to maintain a corporate culture that demands integrity and reflects our ethical values. We are committed to operating at the highest ethical level and serving as a responsible fiduciary for our shareholders. Everyone who works at or with Invitation Homes should feel confident about our high ethical standards, our honesty, and our integrity. Our daily decisions are driven by our Code of Conduct posted on our website, which demonstrates our commitment to be a responsible corporate citizen and a good business partner. The Code of Conduct is supported by associate conduct policies and programs and reinforced through regular associate training. We have zero tolerance in relation to illegal or unethical conduct, and this is articulated in our relevant policies, including policies on conflicts of interest, gifts and entertainment, fraud, sanctions, outside activities, political contributions, and bribery and corruption.
Our confidential compliance hotline is a critical part of our ethics and compliance program. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is operated by a third-party compliance management provider, enabling automated and anonymous reporting. We have implemented a “whistleblower” policy that allows our associates to file reports regarding any impropriety on a confidential and anonymous basis and establishes comprehensive procedures for the receipt, retention, investigation, and treatment of reports. The reports are reviewed with our Audit Committee at meetings throughout the year. Neither our company, nor any director, officer, employee, contractor, subcontractor, or agent of the company will, directly or indirectly, discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against any person who, in good faith, makes a report or assists in investigating a report.
Our board of directors and management believe that effective risk management involves our entire corporate governance framework. Both the board and management have key responsibilities in managing risk throughout the Company. Our board of directors provides overall risk oversight, both directly and through its committees, to identify and assess the major risks our Company faces, and the policies and procedures for monitoring and controlling such risks.
We face various forms of risk in our business ranging from broad economic, including those relating to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing market, and interest rate risks, to more specific factors, such as credit risk related to our residents, re-leasing of properties, and competition for properties. One of the most significant risks and uncertainties to our financial condition and results of operations is the potential adverse effect of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that the systems and processes developed by our experienced executive team, with the strategic counsel and stewardship of our board of directors, allow us to effectively monitor, manage, and ultimately mitigate these risks. We have created an internal task force to closely monitor the progression of COVID-19 and related developments. This team, led by our senior management, follows the guidance of local, state, and national officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and the task force provides regular updates to our board of directors. We have implemented a host of measures in response to the pandemic, including modifying the workplace and adopting new business practices to align with health protocols and changing operational realities. See Part II. Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — COVID-19.” As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt business activity, our board of directors plays a critical role by guiding and supporting management as they adapt our operations in response to the pandemic and ensuring that the Company positions itself to emerge from the crisis stronger and more resilient. Further, we seek to maximize revenue collections through our robust, standardized resident screening process (which includes credit checks, evaluations of household income, and criminal background checks), as well as by utilizing Automated Clearing House, which includes an auto-pay feature, to facilitate the collection of a majority of our rental payments. In addition, we track resident delinquency on a daily basis and assess any late fees promptly in accordance with the terms of our lease (typically between the third and fifth calendar day of the month).
Our operations are also highly dependent upon information systems that support our business processes. Cyber intrusions could seriously compromise our networks and the information stored therein could be accessed, publicly disclosed, misused, lost, or stolen. In the face of ever-changing and increasing cyber threats, our board of directors is well-positioned to guide management in the development of an effective cybersecurity risk program for our Company. The board or its Audit Committee typically meets no less often than semi-annually with senior information technology personnel to discuss recent trends in cyber risks and reviews our strategy to defend our business systems and information against cyber attacks.
We maintain property, casualty, and corporate-level insurance coverage related to our business, including general liability, business auto, umbrella, commercial crime, directors’ and officers’ liability, fiduciary liability, cyber liability, employment practices liability, and workers’ compensation insurance. We believe the policy specifications and insured limits under our insurance program are appropriate and adequate for our business and properties given the relative risk of loss, the cost of the coverage and industry practice. However, our insurance coverage is subject to deductibles and coverage exclusions, and we are self-insured up to the amount of such deductibles and exclusions. See Part I. Item 1A. “Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Business and Industry — We may suffer losses that are not covered by insurance.”
Systems and Technology
Effective systems and technology are essential components of our business. We have made significant investments in our lease management, construction management, property and corporate accounting, and asset management systems. These systems have been designed to be scalable to accommodate continued growth in our portfolio of single-family homes for lease. Our website is fully integrated into our resident accounting and leasing system. From our website, which is accessible from mobile devices, prospective residents can browse homes available for lease, take virtual tours, request additional information, and apply to lease a specific home. Through online resident portals and native mobile applications, existing residents can set up automatic payments and request maintenance service. Our system is designed to handle the accounting requirements of residential property accounting, including accounting for security deposits and paying property-level expenses. The system also interfaces with our third party resident screening vendor partner to expedite evaluations of prospective residents’ rental applications. We have worked with a search engine optimization firm to ensure we place high in search engine results and will continue to monitor our placement on search engines. In addition, sponsored key words are generally purchased in selected markets as needed.
We face competition from different sources in each of our two primary activities: acquiring properties and leasing our properties. We believe our competitors in acquiring properties for investment purposes are individual investors, small private investment partnerships looking for one-off acquisitions of investment properties that can either be leased or restored and sold, and larger investors, including private equity funds and other REITs, that are seeking to capitalize on the same market opportunity that we have identified. Our primary competitors in acquiring portfolios include large and small private equity investors, public and private REITs, and other sizable private institutional investors. These same competitors may also compete with us for residents. Competition may increase the prices for properties that we would like to purchase, reduce the amount of rent we may charge for our properties, reduce the occupancy of our portfolio, and adversely impact our ability to achieve attractive total returns. However, we believe that our acquisition platform, our extensive in-market property operations infrastructure, and local expertise in our markets provide us with competitive advantages.
Our business and related operating results have been, and we believe that they will continue to be, impacted by seasonal factors throughout the year. In particular, we have experienced higher levels of resident move-outs during the summer months, which impacts both our rental revenues and related turnover costs. Further, our property operating costs are seasonally impacted in certain markets by increases in expenses such as HVAC repairs and landscaping expenses during the summer season.
Our business operations and properties are subject to various covenants, laws, ordinances, and rules. We believe that we are in material compliance with such covenants, laws, ordinances, and rules, and we also require that our residents agree to comply with such covenants, laws, ordinances, and rules in their leases with us.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) and its state law counterparts, and the regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and various state agencies, prohibit discrimination in housing on the basis of
race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people in the process of adopting a child or securing custody of children under the age of 18), disability or, in some states, financial capability. We train our associates on a regular basis regarding such laws and regulations and we believe that our properties are in compliance with the FHA and other such regulations.
Municipal Regulations and Homeowners’ Associations
Our properties are subject to various municipal regulations and orders, and county and city ordinances, including without limitation, use, operation and maintenance of our properties. Certain of our properties are subject to the rules of the various HOAs where such properties are located. HOA rules and regulations are commonly referred to as “covenants, conditions and restrictions,” or CC&Rs, and typically consist of various restrictions or guidelines regarding use and maintenance of the property, including, among others, noise restrictions or guidelines as to how many cars may be parked on the property.
We own internal brokerages to serve each state in which we operate, and primarily utilize in-market leasing agents who work with us to lease our homes. Our internal brokerages are subject to numerous federal, state, and local laws and regulations that govern the licensure of real estate brokers and affiliate brokers and set forth standards for, and prohibitions on, the conduct of real estate brokers. Such standards and prohibitions include, among others, those relating to fiduciary and agency duties, administration of trust funds, collection of commissions, and advertising and consumer disclosures, as well as compliance with federal, state, and local laws and programs for providing housing to low-income families. Under applicable state law, we generally have a duty to supervise and are responsible for the conduct of our internal brokerages.
As a current or prior owner of real estate, we are subject to various federal, state, and local environmental laws, regulations, and ordinances, and we could be liable to third parties as a result of environmental contamination or noncompliance at our properties, even if we no longer own such properties. We are not aware of any environmental matters that would have a material adverse effect on our financial position. See Part I. Item 1A. “Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Business and Industry — Contingent or unknown liabilities could adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows, and operating results.”
Laws and Regulations Regarding Privacy and Data Protection
We are subject to a variety of laws and regulations that involve matters such as privacy, data protection, content, consumer protection, and other matters. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act and the Nevada Privacy Law, which took effect in January 2020, establish certain transparency rules and create new data privacy rights for users, including more ability to control how their data is shared with third parties. See Part I. Item 1A. “Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Business and Industry — Our business is subject to laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection, consumer protection, and other matters.” Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, monetary penalties, or otherwise harm our business.
Operating segments are defined as components of an enterprise for which discrete financial information is available that is evaluated regularly by the chief operating decision maker (“CODM”) in deciding how to allocate resources and in assessing performance. Our CODM is the Chief Executive Officer.
Under the provisions of ASC 280, Segment Reporting, we have determined that we have one reportable segment related to acquiring, renovating, leasing, and operating single-family homes as rental properties. The CODM evaluates operating performance and allocates resources on a total portfolio basis. The CODM utilizes NOI as the primary measure to evaluate performance of the total portfolio. The aggregation of individual homes constitutes the total portfolio. Decisions regarding acquisitions and dispositions of homes are made at the individual home level with a focus on growing accretively in high-growth locations where we have greater scale and density.
We have elected to qualify as a REIT for United States federal income tax purposes. So long as we qualify as a REIT, we generally will not be subject to United States federal income tax on net taxable income that we distribute annually to our stockholders. In order to qualify as a REIT for United States federal income tax purposes, we must continually satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the real estate qualification of sources of our income, the composition and values of our assets, the amounts we distribute to our stockholders, and the diversity of ownership of our stock. In order to comply with REIT requirements, we may need to forego otherwise attractive opportunities and limit our expansion opportunities and the manner in which we conduct our operations.
Website and Availability of SEC filings
We file annual, quarterly, and current reports, proxy statements, and other information with the SEC. Our SEC filings are available to the public over the Internet at the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov.
We maintain an internet site at IR.InvitationHomes.com, where we make our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act available free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after they are filed with or furnished to the SEC. Our website and the information contained on or through that site are not incorporated into this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We use our website IR.InvitationHomes.com as a channel of distribution of material company information. For example, financial and other material information regarding our company is routinely posted on and accessible at IR.InvitationHomes.com. Accordingly, investors should monitor the website, in addition to following our press releases, SEC filings, and public conference calls and webcasts. In addition, you may automatically receive email alerts and other information about Invitation Homes when you enroll your email address by visiting the Email Notification section at IR.InvitationHomes.com under the Investor Resources tab. The contents of our website and social media channels are not, however, a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and are not incorporated by reference herein.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
The risk factors noted in this section and other factors noted throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K, describe certain risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement and should be considered carefully in evaluating our company and our business. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations. Moreover, many risk factors set forth in this Annual Report on Form 10-K have been heightened as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Pandemics, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, and outbreaks of infectious disease may adversely impact our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows. The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the United States has led entities directed by, or notionally affiliated with, the Federal government as well as certain states and cities, including those in which we own properties and where our principal places of business are located, to impose and continue to implement measures intended to control the spread of COVID-19, including instituting quarantines, restrictions on travel, “shelter in place” rules, and restrictions on types of business that may continue to operate. We depend on rental revenues and other property income from residents for substantially all of our revenues. The COVID-19 outbreak, as well as continuing measures taken by governmental authorities and private actors to limit the spread of this virus or mitigate its impact, are interfering with the ability of some of our residents to meet their lease obligations and make their rent payments on time or at all.
In addition, entities directed by, or notionally affiliated with, the Federal government as well as some state and local jurisdictions across the United States, have imposed temporary eviction moratoriums if certain criteria are met by residents, are allowing residents to defer missed rent payments without incurring late fees, and are prohibiting rent increases. Jurisdictions and other local and national authorities may expand or extend measures imposing restrictions on our ability to enforce residents’ contractual rental obligations and limiting our ability to increase rents. While such measures are likely to enable residents to stay in their homes despite an inability to pay because of financial or other hardship stemming from the pandemic, they are likely to continue to result in loss of rental income and other property income. We cannot predict if states, municipalities, local, and/or national authorities will expand existing restrictions, if additional states or municipalities will implement similar restrictions, or when restrictions currently in place will expire.
Additionally, COVID-19 and related containment measures may also continue to interfere with the ability of our associates, suppliers, and other business partners to carry out their assigned tasks or supply materials, services, or funding (in the case of our Revolving Facility (see definition in Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources”)) at ordinary levels of performance relative to the conduct of our business.
Business continuity and disaster recovery issues which may result from the current COVID-19 pandemic or any future pandemic could materially interrupt our business operations. In accordance with phased re-opening guidelines and the ongoing spread of COVID-19 cases in certain states where we operate, the majority of our associates based at our headquarters and local offices continue working remotely. An extended period of remote work arrangements could strain our business continuity plans, introduce operational risk, including, but not limited to cybersecurity risks, and impair our ability to manage our business.
A significant outbreak of infectious disease in the human population or pandemic may result, and the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted, in a widespread health crisis adversely affecting the economies and financial markets of many countries, resulting in an economic downturn that could negatively affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
The COVID-19 pandemic, or a future pandemic, could also have material and adverse effects on our ability to successfully operate our business and on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows due to, among other factors:
•demand for single-family rental properties decreasing substantially and/or occupancy decreasing materially;
•inability of our residents to meet their lease obligations has reduced and may continue to reduce our cash flows, and the resulting impact on rental and other property income could impact our ability to make all required debt service payments and to continue paying dividends to our stockholders at expected levels or at all. For example, our securitized financings require that monthly cash collections from their respective property collateral pools be controlled by the servicer until monthly debt service payments and property management fees are paid and escrow reserves are funded. So long as we remain in compliance with certain covenants contained in the underlying loan agreements, after such monthly payments are made the servicer releases all residual net cash flow to us. This residual net cash flow represents a material portion of our cash flows. If the property collateral pools experience higher rates of resident defaults or delinquencies, these covenants may not be achieved. This would result in the servicer holding all residual net cash flow from any collateral pool that does not meet the covenant requirements, net of a monthly funding to us for budgeted operating expenses, in blocked collateral accounts for the benefit of the securitized lender rather than being made available to us. Our lack of access to the net cash flow from securitized collateral pools could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition;
•a general decline in business activity and demand for real estate transactions could adversely affect (1) our ability to acquire or dispose of single-family homes on terms that are attractive or at all and (2) the value of our homes and our business such that we may recognize impairment on the carrying value of our investments in single-family residential properties and other assets subject to impairment review, including, but not limited to, goodwill;
•difficulty accessing debt and equity capital on attractive terms, or at all, impacts to our credit ratings, and a severe disruption of, and/or instability in, the global financial markets or deteriorations in credit and financing conditions may affect our access to capital necessary to fund business operations, including acquisitions, or address maturing liabilities on a timely basis;
•the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could negatively impact our future compliance with financial covenants of our Credit Facility (see definition in Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources”) and other debt agreements and result in a default and potentially an acceleration of indebtedness, which non-compliance could negatively impact our ability to make additional borrowings under our Revolving Facility or to exercise extension options on our mortgage loans and our Credit Facility;
•a deterioration in our ability to operate in affected areas or delays in the supply of products or services by vendors that are needed for our efficient operations; and
•the potential negative consequences for the health of our associates, particularly if a significant number of them are impacted, could result in a deterioration in our ability to ensure business continuity during this disruption.
The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately impacts our operations depends on ongoing developments, which remain highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, including the scope, severity, and duration of the pandemic, the extent and duration of actions taken to contain the pandemic or mitigate its impact, the availability of an effective vaccine and therapeutic drugs and the effectiveness of the distribution of any such vaccines and therapeutic drugs, and the direct and indirect economic effects of the pandemic, containment measures, monetary and/or fiscal policies implemented to provide support or relief to businesses and/or residents, and other government, regulatory, and/or legislative changes precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, among others.
The ongoing development and fluidity of this situation precludes any prediction as to the full adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic presents material uncertainty and risk with respect to our financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and performance. While we have taken steps to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our results of operations, there can be no assurance that these efforts will be successful.
Our operating results are subject to general economic conditions and risks associated with our real estate assets.
Our operating results are subject to risks generally incident to the ownership and rental of residential real estate, in many cases heightened as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (see “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic”), many of which are beyond our control, including, without limitation:
•changes in national, regional, or local economic, demographic, or real estate market conditions;
•changes in job markets and employment levels on a national, regional, and local basis;
•declines in the value of residential real estate;
•overall conditions in the housing market, including:
•macroeconomic shifts in demand for rental homes;
•inability to lease or re-lease homes to residents on a timely basis, on attractive terms or at all;
•failure of residents to pay rent when due or otherwise perform their lease obligations;
•unanticipated repairs, capital expenditures, weather related damages, or other costs;
•uninsured damages; and
•increases in property taxes, HOA fees, and insurance costs;
•level of competition for suitable rental homes;
•terms and conditions of purchase contracts;
•costs and time period required to convert acquisitions to rental homes;
•changes in interest rates and availability of financing that may render the acquisition of any homes difficult or unattractive;
•the liquidity of real estate investments, generally;
•the short-term nature of most residential leases and the costs and potential delays in re-leasing;
•changes in laws, including those that increase operating expenses or limit our ability to increase rental rates. See “— Tenant relief laws, including laws regulating evictions, rent control laws, and other regulations that limit our ability to increase rental rates may negatively impact our rental income and profitability”;
•the impact of potential reforms relating to government-sponsored enterprises involved in the home finance and mortgage markets;
•rules, regulations and/or policy initiatives by government and private actors, including HOAs, to discourage or deter the purchase of single-family properties by entities owned or controlled by institutional investors;
•disputes and potential negative publicity in connection with eviction proceedings;
•construction of new supply;
•costs resulting from the clean-up of, and liability to third parties for damages resulting from, environmental problems, such as indoor mold;
•fraud by borrowers, originators, and/or sellers of mortgage loans;
•undetected deficiencies and/or inaccuracies in underlying mortgage loan documentation and calculations;
•casualty or condemnation losses;
•the geographic mix of our properties;
•the cost, quality, and condition of the properties we are able to acquire; and
•our ability to provide adequate management, maintenance, and insurance.
Any one or more of these factors could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
We are employing a business model with a limited track record, which may make our business difficult to evaluate.
Until recently, the single-family rental business consisted primarily of private and individual investors in local markets and was managed individually or by small, non-institutional owners and property managers. Our business strategy involves purchasing, renovating, maintaining, and managing a large number of residential properties and leasing them to qualified residents. Entry into this market by large, well-capitalized investors is a relatively recent trend, so few peer companies exist and none have yet established long-term track records that might assist us in predicting whether our business model and investment strategy can be implemented and sustained over an extended period of time. It may be difficult for you to evaluate our potential future performance without the benefit of established long-term track records from companies implementing a similar business model. We may encounter unanticipated problems as we continue to refine our business model, which may adversely affect our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our stockholders and cause our stock price to decline significantly.
We have a limited operating history and may not be able to operate our business successfully or generate sufficient cash flows to make or sustain distributions to our stockholders.
We have a limited operating history. As a result, an investment in our common stock may entail more risk than an investment in the common stock of a real estate company with a substantial operating history. If we are unable to operate our business successfully, we would not be able to generate sufficient cash flow to make or sustain distributions to our stockholders, and you could lose all or a portion of the value of your ownership in our common stock. Our ability to successfully operate our business and implement our operating policies and investment strategy depends on many factors, including:
•our ability to effectively manage renovation, maintenance, marketing, and other operating costs for our properties;
•economic conditions in our markets, including changes in employment and household earnings and expenses, as well as the condition of the financial and real estate markets and the economy, in general;
•our ability to maintain high occupancy rates and target rent levels;
•the availability of, and our ability to identify, attractive acquisition opportunities consistent with our investment strategy;
•our ability to compete with other investors entering the single-family rental industry;
•costs that are beyond our control, including title litigation, litigation with residents or tenant organizations, legal compliance, property taxes, HOA fees, and insurance;
•judicial and regulatory developments affecting landlord-tenant relations that may affect or delay our ability to dispossess or evict occupants or increase rental rates;
•reversal of population, employment, or homeownership trends in our markets; and
•interest rate levels and volatility, which may affect the accessibility of short-term and long-term financing on desirable terms.
In addition, we face significant competition in acquiring attractive properties on advantageous terms, and the value of the properties that we acquire may decline substantially after we purchase them.
We may not be able to effectively manage our growth, and any failure to do so may have an adverse effect on our business and operating results.
Since commencing operations in 2012, we have grown rapidly, assembling a portfolio of over 80,000 homes as of December 31, 2020. Our future operating results may depend on our ability to effectively manage our growth, which is dependent, in part, upon our ability to:
•stabilize and manage an increasing number of properties and resident relationships across our geographically dispersed portfolio while maintaining a high level of resident satisfaction and building and enhancing our brand;
•identify and supervise a number of suitable third parties on which we rely to provide certain services outside of property management to our properties;
•attract, integrate, and retain new management and operations personnel; and
•continue to improve our operational and financial controls and reporting procedures and systems.
We can provide no assurance that we will be able to manage our properties or grow our business efficiently or effectively, or without incurring significant additional expenses. Any failure to do so may have an adverse effect on our business and operating results.
A significant portion of our costs and expenses are fixed and we may not be able to adapt our cost structure to offset declines in our revenue.
Many of the expenses associated with our business, such as property taxes, HOA fees, insurance, utilities, acquisition, renovation and maintenance costs, and other general corporate expenses are relatively inflexible and will not necessarily decrease with a reduction in revenue from our business. Some components of our fixed assets depreciate more rapidly and require ongoing capital expenditures. Our expenses and ongoing capital expenditures are also affected by inflationary increases, and certain of our cost increases may exceed the rate of inflation in any given period or market. Our rental income is affected by many factors beyond our control, such as the availability of alternative rental housing and economic conditions in our markets. In addition, state and local regulations may require us to maintain properties that we own, even if the cost of maintenance is greater than the value of the property or any potential benefit from renting the property, or pass regulations that limit our ability to increase rental rates. As a result, we may not be able to fully offset rising costs and capital spending by increasing rental rates, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and cash available for distribution.
Increasing property taxes, HOA fees, and insurance costs may negatively affect our financial results.
As a result of our substantial real estate holdings, the cost of property taxes and insuring our properties is a significant component of our expenses. Our properties are subject to real and personal property taxes that may increase as tax rates change and as the real properties are assessed or reassessed by taxing authorities. As the owner of our properties, we are ultimately responsible for payment of the taxes to the applicable government authorities. If real property taxes increase, our expenses will increase. If we fail to pay any such taxes, the applicable taxing authority may place a lien on the real property and the real property may be subject to a tax sale.
In addition, a significant portion of our properties are located within HOAs and we are subject to HOA rules and regulations. HOAs have the power to increase monthly charges and make assessments for capital improvements and common area repairs and maintenance. Property taxes, HOA fees, and insurance premiums are subject to significant increases, which can be outside of our control. If the costs associated with property taxes, HOA fees and assessments, or insurance rise significantly and we are unable to increase rental rates due to rent control laws or other regulations to offset such increases, our results of operations would be negatively affected.
We recorded net losses in the past and we may experience net losses in the future.
We recorded consolidated net losses for the year ended December 31, 2018. These net losses were inclusive in each period of significant non-cash charges, consisting primarily of depreciation and amortization expense. We expect such non-cash charges to continue to be significant in future periods and, as a result, we may record net losses in future periods.
We are dependent on our executive officers and dedicated personnel, and the departure of any of our key personnel could materially and adversely affect us. We also face intense competition for the employment of highly skilled managerial, investment, financial, and operational personnel.
We rely on a small number of persons to carry out our business and investment strategies, and the loss of the services of any of our key management personnel, or our inability to recruit and retain qualified personnel in the future, could have an adverse effect on our business and financial results.
In addition, the implementation of our business plan may require that we employ additional qualified personnel. Competition for highly skilled managerial, investment, financial, and operational personnel is intense. As additional large real estate investors enter into and expand their scale within the single-family rental business, we have faced increased challenges in hiring and retaining personnel, and we cannot assure our stockholders that we will be successful in attracting and retaining such skilled personnel. If we are unable to hire and retain qualified personnel as required, our growth and operating results could be adversely affected.
Our ability to meet our labor needs while controlling our labor costs is subject to numerous external factors, including unemployment levels, prevailing wage rates, changing demographics, and changes in employment legislation. If we are unable to retain qualified personnel or our labor costs increase significantly, our business operations and our financial performance could be adversely impacted.
Our investments are and will continue to be concentrated in our markets and in the single-family properties sector of the real estate industry, which exposes us to seasonal fluctuations in rental demand and downturns in our markets or in the single-family properties sector.
Our investments in real estate assets are and will continue to be concentrated in our markets and in the single-family properties sector of the real estate industry. A downturn or slowdown in the rental demand for single-family housing caused by adverse economic, regulatory, or environmental conditions, or other events, in our markets may have a greater impact on the value of our properties or our operating results than if we had more fully diversified our investments. We believe that there are seasonal fluctuations in rental demand with demand higher in the spring and summer than in the late fall and winter. Such seasonal fluctuations may impact our operating results. The COVID-19 pandemic, or a future pandemic, could also result in demand for single-family rental properties decreasing substantially and/or occupancy decreasing materially. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
In addition to general, regional, national, and international economic conditions, our operating performance will be impacted by the economic conditions in our markets. We base a substantial part of our business plan on our belief that property values and operating fundamentals for single-family properties in our markets will continue to improve over the near to intermediate term. However, these markets have experienced substantial economic downturns in recent years and could experience similar or worse economic downturns in the future. Additionally, a significant outbreak of infectious disease in the human population or pandemic may result, and the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted, in a widespread health crisis adversely affecting the economies and financial markets of many countries, resulting in an economic downturn that could negatively affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” We can provide no assurance as to the extent property values and operating fundamentals in these markets will improve, if at all. If the recent economic downturn in these markets returns or if we fail to accurately predict the timing of economic improvement in these markets, the value of our properties could decline and our ability to execute our business plan may be adversely affected to a greater extent than if we owned a real estate portfolio that was more geographically diversified, which could adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, and ability to make distributions to our stockholders and cause the value of our common stock to decline.
We may not be able to effectively control the timing and costs relating to the renovation and maintenance of our properties, which may adversely affect our operating results and ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Nearly all of our properties require some level of renovation either immediately upon their acquisition or in the future following expiration of a lease or otherwise. We may acquire properties that we plan to extensively renovate. We may also acquire properties that we expect to be in good condition only to discover unforeseen defects and problems that require extensive renovation and capital expenditures. To the extent properties are leased to existing residents, renovations may be postponed until the resident vacates the premises, and we will pay the costs of renovating. In addition, from time to time, we may perform ongoing maintenance or make ongoing capital improvements and replacements and perform significant renovations and repairs that resident deposits and insurance may not cover. Because our portfolio consists of geographically dispersed properties, our ability to adequately monitor or manage any such renovations or maintenance may be more limited or subject to greater inefficiencies than if our properties were more geographically concentrated.
Our properties have infrastructure and appliances of varying ages and conditions. Consequently, we routinely retain independent contractors and trade professionals to perform physical repair work and are exposed to all of the risks inherent in property renovation and maintenance, including potential cost overruns, increases in labor and materials costs, delays by contractors in completing work, delays in the timing of receiving necessary work permits, certificates of occupancy, and poor workmanship. Additionally, COVID-19 and related containment measures may also continue to interfere with the ability of our associates, suppliers, and other business partners to carry out their assigned tasks or supply materials, services, or funding at ordinary levels of performance relative to the conduct of our business. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” If our assumptions regarding the costs or timing of renovation and maintenance across our properties prove to be materially inaccurate, our operating results and ability to make distributions to our stockholders may be adversely affected.
We face significant competition in the leasing market for quality residents, which may limit our ability to lease our single-family homes on favorable terms.
We depend on rental income from residents for substantially all of our revenues. As a result, our success depends in large part upon our ability to attract and retain qualified residents for our properties. We face competition for residents from other lessors of single-family properties, apartment buildings, and condominium units. Competing properties may be newer, better located, and more attractive to residents. Potential competitors may have lower rates of occupancy than we do or may have superior access to capital and other resources, which may result in competing owners more easily locating residents and leasing available housing at lower rental rates than we might offer at our homes. Many of these competitors may successfully attract residents with better incentives and amenities, which could adversely affect our ability to obtain quality residents and lease our single-family properties on favorable terms. Additionally, some competing housing options may qualify for
government subsidies that may make such options more accessible and therefore more attractive than our properties. This competition may affect our ability to attract and retain residents and may reduce the rental rates we are able to charge.
In addition, increases in unemployment levels and other adverse changes in economic conditions in our markets may adversely affect the creditworthiness of potential residents, which may decrease the overall number of qualified residents for our properties within such markets. We could also be adversely affected by overbuilding or high vacancy rates of homes in our markets, which could result in an excess supply of homes and reduce occupancy and rental rates. Continuing development of apartment buildings and condominium units in many of our markets will increase the supply of housing and exacerbate competition for residents.
In addition, improving economic conditions, along with the availability of low residential mortgage interest rates and government sponsored programs to promote home ownership, have made home ownership more accessible for potential renters who have strong credit. These factors may encourage potential renters to purchase residences rather than lease them, thereby causing a decline in the number and quality of potential residents available to us.
No assurance can be given that we will be able to attract and retain suitable residents. If we are unable to lease our homes to suitable residents, we would be adversely affected and the value of our common stock could decline.
We intend to continue to acquire properties from time to time consistent with our investment strategy even if the rental and housing markets are not as favorable as they have been in the recent past, which could adversely impact anticipated yields.
We intend to continue to acquire properties from time to time consistent with our investment strategy, even if the rental and housing markets are not as favorable as they have been in the recent past. Future acquisitions of properties may be more costly than those we have acquired previously. The following factors, among others, may make acquisitions more expensive:
•improvements in the overall economy and employment levels;
•greater availability of consumer credit;
•improvements in the pricing and terms of mortgages;
•the emergence of increased competition for single-family properties from private investors and entities with similar investment objectives to ours; and
•tax or other government incentives that encourage homeownership.
Additionally, a general decline in business activity and demand for real estate transactions, resulting from COVID-19 pandemic, could adversely affect our ability to acquire or dispose of single-family homes on terms that are attractive or at all. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
We plan to continue acquiring properties as long as we believe such properties offer an attractive total return opportunity. Accordingly, future acquisitions may have lower yield characteristics than recent past and present opportunities and, if such future acquisitions are funded through equity issuances, the yield and distributable cash per share will be reduced, and the value of our common stock may decline.
Competition in identifying and acquiring our properties could adversely affect our ability to implement our business and growth strategies, which could materially and adversely affect us.
In acquiring our properties, we compete with a variety of institutional investors, including other REITs, specialty finance companies, public and private funds, savings and loan associations, banks, mortgage bankers, insurance companies, institutional investors, investment banking firms, financial institutions, governmental bodies, and other entities. We also compete with individual private home buyers and small scale investors.
Certain of our competitors may be larger in certain of our markets and may have greater financial or other resources than we do. Some competitors may have a lower cost of funds and access to funding sources that may not be available to us. In addition, any potential competitor may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments and may not be subject to the operating constraints associated with qualification for taxation as a REIT, which could allow them to consider a wider variety
of investments. Competition may result in fewer investments, higher prices, a broadly dispersed portfolio of properties that does not lend itself to efficiencies of concentration, acceptance of greater risk, lower yields and a narrower spread of yields over our financing costs. In addition, competition for desirable investments could delay the investment of our capital, which could adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows. As a result, there can be no assurance that we will be able to identify and finance investments that are consistent with our investment objectives or to achieve positive investment results, and our failure to accomplish any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on us and cause the value of our common stock to decline.
Compliance with governmental laws, regulations, and covenants that are applicable to our properties or that may be passed in the future, including affordability covenants, permit, license, and zoning requirements, may adversely affect our ability to make future acquisitions, renovations, or dispositions, result in significant costs, delays, or losses, and adversely affect our growth strategy.
Rental homes are subject to various covenants and local laws and regulatory requirements, including permitting, licensing, and zoning requirements. Local regulations, including municipal or local ordinances, restrictions, and restrictive covenants imposed by community developers may restrict our use of our properties and may require us to obtain approval from local officials or community standards organizations at any time with respect to our properties, including prior to acquiring any of our properties or when undertaking renovations of any of our existing properties. Among other things, these restrictions may relate to fire and safety, seismic, asbestos-cleanup, or hazardous material abatement requirements. Such local regulations may cause us to incur additional costs to renovate or maintain our properties in accordance with the particular rules and regulations. Additionally, state and local agencies may place affordability covenants on certain properties to ensure that they are used to provide affordable housing for persons or families of lower income. If any of our properties contain affordability covenants recorded in their chains of title, we will be forced to sell such properties at a maximum price limit as calculated per the applicable affordable housing covenant, which will likely result in us having to sell such properties below their market values. We cannot assure you that existing regulatory policies will not adversely affect us or the timing or cost of any future acquisitions, renovations, or dispositions, or that additional regulations will not be adopted that would increase such delays or result in additional costs or losses. Our business and growth strategies may be materially and adversely affected by our ability to obtain permits, licenses and approvals. Our failure to obtain such permits, licenses, and approvals could have a material adverse effect on us and cause the value of our common stock to decline.
Tenant relief laws, including laws regulating evictions, rent control laws, and other regulations that limit our ability to increase rental rates may negatively impact our rental income and profitability.
As the landlord of numerous properties, we are involved from time to time in evicting residents who are not paying their rent or who are otherwise in material violation of the terms of their lease. Eviction activities impose legal and managerial expenses that raise our costs and expose us to potential negative publicity. The eviction process is typically subject to legal barriers, mandatory “cure” policies, our internal policies and procedures, and other sources of expense and delay, each of which may delay our ability to gain possession and stabilize the property. Additionally, state and local landlord-tenant laws may impose legal duties to assist residents in relocating to new housing, or restrict the landlord’s ability to remove the resident on a timely basis or to recover certain costs or charge residents for damage residents cause to the landlord’s premises. Because such laws vary by state and locality, we must be familiar with and take all appropriate steps to comply with all applicable landlord-tenant laws, and need to incur supervisory and legal expenses to ensure such compliance. To the extent that we do not comply with state or local laws, we may be subjected to civil litigation filed by individuals, in class actions or actions by state or local law enforcement and our reputation and financial results may suffer. We may be required to pay our adversaries’ litigation fees and expenses if judgment is entered against us in such litigation or if we settle such litigation.
Furthermore, state and local governmental agencies may introduce rent control laws or other regulations that limit our ability to increase rental rates, which may affect our rental income. Especially in times of recession and economic slowdown, rent control initiatives can acquire significant political support. If rent controls unexpectedly became applicable to certain of our properties, our revenue from and the value of such properties could be adversely affected.
For example, in 2019, the state of California passed the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, a rent control law which limits our ability to increase rental rates for existing residents and put into place protections for the terminations of tenancies. We believe this law negatively affects our rental income from certain of the 12,198 homes we own in California as of December 31, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has led entities directed by, or notionally affiliated with, the Federal government as well as certain states and cities, including those in which we own properties and where our principal places of business are located, to impose and continue to implement measures intended to control the spread of COVID-19, including instituting quarantines, restrictions on travel, “shelter in place” rules, and restrictions on types of business that may continue to operate. Entities directed by, or notionally affiliated with, the Federal government as well as some state and local jurisdictions across the United States, have imposed temporary eviction moratoriums if certain criteria are met by residents, are allowing residents to defer missed rent payments without incurring late fees, and are prohibiting rent increases. Jurisdictions and other local and national authorities may expand or extend measures imposing restrictions on our ability to enforce residents’ contractual rental obligations and limiting our ability to increase rents. While such measures are likely to enable residents to stay in their homes despite an inability to pay because of financial or other hardship stemming from the pandemic, they are likely to continue to result in loss of rental income and other property income. We cannot predict if states, municipalities, local, and/or national authorities will expand existing restrictions, if additional states or municipalities will implement similar restrictions, or when restrictions currently in place will expire. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
We may become a target of legal demands, litigation (including class actions), and negative publicity by tenant and consumer rights organizations, which could directly limit and constrain our operations and may result in significant litigation expenses and reputational harm.
Numerous tenant rights and consumer rights organizations exist throughout the country and operate in our markets, and we may attract attention from some of these organizations and become a target of legal demands, litigation, and negative publicity. Many such consumer organizations have become more active and better funded in connection with mortgage foreclosure-related issues; and with the increased market for homes arising from displaced homeownership, some of these organizations may shift their litigation, lobbying, fundraising, and grass roots organizing activities to focus on landlord-resident issues. While we intend to conduct our business lawfully and in compliance with applicable landlord-tenant and consumer laws, such organizations might work in conjunction with trial and pro bono lawyers in one or multiple states to attempt to bring claims against us on a class action basis for damages or injunctive relief and to seek to publicize our activities in a negative light. We cannot anticipate what form such legal actions might take or what remedies they may seek.
Additionally, such organizations may lobby local county and municipal attorneys or state attorneys general to pursue enforcement or litigation against us, may lobby state and local legislatures to pass new laws and regulations to constrain or limit our business operations, adversely impact our business, or may generate negative publicity for our business and harm our reputation. If they are successful in any such endeavors, they could directly limit and constrain our operations and may impose on us significant litigation expenses, including settlements to avoid continued litigation or judgments for damages or injunctions.
Our business is subject to laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection, consumer protection, and other matters. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, monetary penalties, or otherwise harm our business.
We are subject to a variety of laws and regulations that involve matters such as: privacy; data protection; personal information; rights of publicity; content; marketing; distribution; data security; data retention and deletion; electronic contracts and other communications; consumer protection; and online payment services. These laws and regulations are constantly evolving and can be subject to significant change. As a result, the application, interpretation, and enforcement of these laws and regulations are often uncertain and may be interpreted and applied inconsistently. Additionally, as we depend on third parties for key services (see “— Our dependence upon third parties for key services may have an adverse effect on our operating results or reputation if the third parties fail to perform”), we rely on such third party service providers’
compliance with laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection, consumer protection, and other matters relating to our customers.
There are a number of legislative proposals at both the federal and state level, as well as other jurisdictions that could impose new obligations in areas affecting our business. We are subject to numerous, complex, and frequently changing laws, regulations, and contractual obligations designed to protect personal information. Various federal and state privacy and data security laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and Nevada Privacy Law, or other regulatory standards create data privacy rights for users, including more ability to control how their data is shared with third parties. These laws and regulations, as well as any associated inquiries or investigations or any other government actions, may be costly to comply with, result in negative publicity, require significant management time and attention, and subject us to remedies that may harm our business, including fines or demands or orders that we modify or cease existing business practices.
Our evaluation of properties involves a number of assumptions that may prove inaccurate, which could result in us paying too much for properties we acquire and/or overvaluing our properties or our properties failing to perform as we expect.
We are authorized to follow a broad investment policy established by our board of directors and subject to implementation by our management. Our board of directors periodically reviews and updates the investment policy and also reviews our portfolio of residential real estate, but it generally does not review or approve specific property acquisitions. Our success depends on our ability to acquire properties that can be quickly possessed, renovated, repaired, upgraded, and rented with minimal expense and maintained in quality condition. In determining whether a particular property meets our investment criteria, we also make a number of assumptions, including, among other things, assumptions related to estimated time of possession and estimated renovation costs and time frames, annual operating costs, market rental rates and potential rent amounts, time from purchase to leasing, and resident default rates. These assumptions may prove inaccurate, particularly since the properties that we acquire vary materially in terms of time to possession, renovation, quality and type of construction, geographic location, and hazards. As a result, we may pay too much for properties we acquire and/or overvalue our properties, or our properties may fail to perform as anticipated. Adjustments to the assumptions we make in evaluating potential purchases may result in fewer properties qualifying under our investment criteria, including assumptions related to our ability to lease properties we have purchased.
Our dependence upon third parties for key services may have an adverse effect on our operating results or reputation if the third parties fail to perform.
Though we are internally managed, we use local and national third party vendors and service providers to provide certain services for our properties. For example, we typically engage third party home improvement professionals with respect to certain maintenance and specialty services, such as HVAC, roofing, painting, and floor installations. Selecting, managing, and supervising these third party service providers requires significant resources and expertise, and because our portfolio consists of geographically dispersed properties, our ability to adequately select, manage, and supervise such third parties may be more limited or subject to greater inefficiencies than if our properties were more geographically concentrated.
We have entered into a multi-year contract with a third party vendor to provide certain services for our properties. Because of the large volume of services under this contract, only a limited number of companies are capable of servicing our needs on this scale. Accordingly, the inability or unwillingness of this vendor to continue to provide these services on acceptable terms or at all could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We generally do not have exclusive or long-term contractual relationships with third party providers and we can provide no assurance that we will have uninterrupted or unlimited access to their services. If we do not select, manage, and supervise appropriate third parties to provide these services, our reputation and financial results may suffer.
We rely on the systems of our third party service providers, their ability to perform key operations on our behalf in a timely manner and in accordance with agreed levels of service, and their ability to attract and retain sufficient qualified personnel to perform our work. A failure in the systems of one of our third party service providers, or their inability to perform in accordance with the terms of our contracts or to retain sufficient qualified personnel, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Additionally, COVID-19 and related containment measures may also continue to interfere with the ability of our associates, suppliers, and other business partners to carry out their assigned tasks or supply materials, services, or funding at ordinary levels of performance relative to the conduct of our business. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Notwithstanding our efforts to implement and enforce strong policies and practices regarding service providers, we may not successfully detect and prevent fraud, misconduct, incompetence, or theft by our third party service providers. In addition, any removal or termination of third party service providers would require us to seek new vendors or providers, which would create delays and adversely affect our operations. Poor performance by such third party service providers may reflect poorly on us and could significantly damage our reputation among desirable residents. In the event of fraud or misconduct by a third party, we could also be exposed to material liability and be held responsible for damages, fines, or penalties and our reputation may suffer. In the event of failure by our general contractors to pay their subcontractors, our properties may be subject to filings of mechanics or materialmen liens, which we may need to resolve to remain in compliance with certain debt covenants, and for which indemnification from the general contractors may not be available.
We have in the past and may from time to time in the future acquire some of our homes through the auction process, which could subject us to significant risks that could adversely affect us.
We have in the past and may from time to time in the future acquire some of our homes through the auction process, including auctions of homes that have been foreclosed upon by third party lenders. Such auctions may occur simultaneously in a number of markets, including monthly auctions on the same day of the month in certain markets. As a result, we may only be able to visually inspect properties from the street and will purchase these homes without a contingency period and in “as is” condition with the risk that unknown defects in the property may exist. Upon acquiring a new home, we may have to evict residents who are in unlawful possession before we can secure possession and control of the home. The holdover occupants may be the former owners or residents of a property or others who are illegally in possession. Securing control and possession from these occupants can be both costly and time-consuming or generate negative publicity for our business and harm our reputation.
Allegations of deficiencies in auction practices could result in claims challenging the validity of some auctions, potentially placing our claim of ownership to the properties at risk. Since we may not have obtained title insurance policies for properties we acquired through the auction process, such instances or such proceedings may result in a complete loss without compensation.
Title defects could lead to material losses on our investments in our properties.
Our title to a property may be challenged for a variety of reasons, and in such instances title insurance may not prove adequate. For example, while we do not lend to homeowners and accordingly do not foreclose on a home, our title to properties we acquire at foreclosure auctions may be subject to challenge based on allegations of defects in the foreclosure process undertaken by other parties. In addition, we have in the past, and may from time to time in the future, acquire a number of our properties on an “as is” basis, at auctions or otherwise. When acquiring properties on an “as is” basis, title commitments are often not available prior to purchase and title reports or title information may not reflect all senior liens, which may increase the possibility of acquiring houses outside predetermined acquisition and price parameters, purchasing residences with title defects and deed restrictions, HOA restrictions on leasing, or purchasing the wrong residence without the benefit of title insurance prior to closing. Although we use various policies, procedures, and practices to assess the state of title prior to purchase and obtain title insurance if an acquired property is placed into a securitization facility in connection with a mortgage loan financing, there can be no assurance that these policies and procedures will be effective, which could lead to a material if not complete loss on our investment in such properties.
For properties we acquire at auction, we similarly may not obtain title insurance prior to purchase, and we are not able to perform the type of title review that is customary in acquisitions of real property. As a result, our knowledge of potential title issues will be limited, and title insurance protection may not be in place. This lack of title knowledge and insurance protection may result in third parties having claims against our title to such properties that may materially and adversely affect the values of the properties or call into question the validity of our title to such properties. Without title insurance, we
are fully exposed to, and would have to defend ourselves against, such claims. Further, if any such claims are superior to our title to the property we acquired, we risk loss of the property purchased.
Increased scrutiny of title matters could lead to legal challenges with respect to the validity of the sale. In the absence of title insurance, the sale may be rescinded, and we may be unable to recover our purchase price, resulting in a complete loss. Title insurance obtained subsequent to purchase offers little protection against discoverable defects because they are typically excluded from such policies. In addition, any title insurance on a property, even if acquired, may not cover all defects or the significant legal costs associated with obtaining clear title.
Any of these risks could adversely affect our operating results, cash flows, and ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We are subject to certain risks associated with bulk portfolio acquisitions and dispositions.
We have acquired and disposed of, and may continue to acquire and dispose of, properties we acquire or sell in bulk from or to other owners of single-family homes, banks, and loan servicers. When we purchase properties in this manner, we often do not have the opportunity to conduct interior inspections or conduct more than cursory exterior inspections on a portion of the properties. Such inspection processes may fail to reveal major defects associated with such properties, which may cause the amount of time and cost required to renovate and/or maintain such properties to substantially exceed our estimates. Bulk portfolio acquisitions are also more complex than single-family home acquisitions, and we may not be able to implement this strategy successfully. The costs involved in locating and performing due diligence (when feasible) on portfolios of homes as well as negotiating and entering into transactions with potential portfolio sellers could be significant, and there is a risk that either the seller may withdraw from the entire transaction for failure to come to an agreement or the seller may not be willing to sell us the bulk portfolio on terms that we view as favorable. In addition, a seller may require that a group of homes be purchased as a package even though we may not want to purchase certain individual assets in the bulk portfolio.
Moreover, to the extent the management and leasing of such properties has not been consistent with our property management and leasing standards, we may be subject to a variety of risks, including risks relating to the condition of the properties, the credit quality and employment stability of the residents, and compliance with applicable laws, among others. In addition, financial and other information provided to us regarding such portfolios during our due diligence may be inaccurate, and we may not discover such inaccuracies until it is too late to seek remedies against such sellers. To the extent we pursue such remedies, we may not be able to successfully prevail against the seller in an action seeking damages for such inaccuracies. If we conclude that certain individual properties purchased in bulk portfolio sales do not fit our target investment criteria, we may decide to sell, rather than renovate and lease, such properties, which could take an extended period of time and may not result in a sale at an attractive price.
From time to time we engage in bulk portfolio dispositions of properties consistent with our business and investment strategy. With respect to any such disposition, the purchaser may default on payment or otherwise breach the terms of the relevant purchase agreement, and it may be difficult for us to pursue remedies against such purchaser or retain or resume possession of the relevant properties. To the extent we pursue such remedies, we may not be able to successfully prevail against the purchaser.
Contingent or unknown liabilities could adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows, and operating results.
Assets and entities that we have acquired or may acquire in the future may be subject to unknown or contingent liabilities for which we may have limited or no recourse against the sellers. Unknown or contingent liabilities might include liabilities for, or with respect to, liens attached to properties, unpaid property tax, utilities, or HOA charges for which a subsequent owner remains liable, clean-up or remediation of environmental conditions or code violations, claims of customers, vendors, or other persons dealing with the acquired entities, and tax liabilities. Purchases of single-family properties acquired at auction, in short sales, from lenders, or in portfolio purchases typically involve few or no representations or warranties with respect to the properties and may allow us limited or no recourse against the sellers. Such properties also often have unpaid tax, utility, and HOA liabilities which we may be obligated to pay but fail to anticipate. As a result, the total amount of costs and expenses that we may incur with respect to liabilities associated with acquired properties and entities may exceed our expectations, which may adversely affect our operating results and financial condition. Additionally, such properties may be
subject to covenants, conditions, or restrictions that restrict the use or ownership of such properties, including prohibitions on leasing. We may not discover such restrictions during the acquisition process and such restrictions may adversely affect our ability to operate such properties as we intend.
In particular, under a Florida statutory framework implemented by certain Florida jurisdictions, a violation of the relevant building codes, zoning codes, or other similar regulations applicable to a property may result in a lien on that property and all other properties owned by the same violator and located in the same county as the property with the code violation, even though the other properties might not be in violation of any code. Until a municipal inspector verifies that the violation has been remedied and any applicable fines have been paid, additional fines accrue on the amount of the lien and the lien may not be released, in each case even at those properties that are not in violation. As a practical matter, it might be possible to obtain a release of these liens without remedying the property in violation through other methods, such as payment of an amount to the relevant county, although no assurance can be given that this option will necessarily be available or how long such a process would take.
A significant number of our residential properties are part of HOAs and we and our residents are subject to the rules and regulations of such HOAs, which are subject to change and which may be arbitrary or restrictive, and violations of such rules may subject us to additional fees and penalties and litigation with such HOAs, which would be costly.
A significant number of our properties are located within HOAs, which are private entities that regulate the activities of owners and occupants of, and levy assessments on, properties in a residential subdivision. The HOAs in which we own our properties may have enacted or may from time to time enact onerous or arbitrary rules that restrict our ability to restore, market, lease, or operate our properties in accordance with our investment strategy, or require us to restore or maintain such properties at standards or costs that are in excess of our planned budgets. Some HOAs impose limits on the number of property owners who may lease their homes, which, if met or exceeded, would cause us to incur additional costs to sell the property and opportunity costs from lost rental revenue. Furthermore, we may have residents who violate HOA rules and incur fines for which we may be liable as the property owner and for which we may not be able to obtain reimbursement from the resident. Additionally, the governing bodies of the HOAs in which we own property may not make important disclosures about the properties or may block our access to HOA records, initiate litigation, restrict our ability to sell our properties, impose assessments, or arbitrarily change the HOA rules. We may be unaware of or unable to review or comply with HOA rules before purchasing a property, and any such excessively restrictive or arbitrary regulations may cause us to sell such property at a loss, prevent us from leasing such property, or otherwise reduce our cash flow from such property, which would have an adverse effect on our returns on these properties. Several states have enacted laws that provide that a lien for unpaid monies owed to an HOA may be senior to or extinguish mortgage liens on properties. Such actions, if not cured, may give rise to events of default under certain of our indebtedness, which could have a material adverse impact on us.
Environmentally hazardous conditions may adversely affect us.
Under various federal, state, and local environmental laws, a current or previous owner or operator of real property may be liable for the cost of removing or remediating hazardous or toxic substances on such property. Such laws often impose liability whether or not the owner or operator knew of, or was responsible for, the presence of such hazardous or toxic substances. Even if more than one person may have been responsible for the contamination, each person covered by applicable environmental laws may be held responsible for all of the clean-up costs incurred. In addition, third parties may sue the owner or operator of a site for damages based on personal injury, natural resources, or property damage or other costs, including investigation and clean-up costs, resulting from the environmental contamination. The presence of hazardous or toxic substances on one of our properties, or the failure to properly remediate a contaminated property, could give rise to a lien in favor of the government for costs it may incur to address the contamination or otherwise adversely affect our ability to sell or lease the property or borrow using the property as collateral. Environmental laws also may impose restrictions on the manner in which property may be used or businesses may be operated. A property owner who violates environmental laws may be subject to sanctions which may be enforced by governmental agencies or, in certain circumstances, private parties. In connection with the acquisition and ownership of our properties, we may be exposed to such costs. The cost of defending against environmental claims, of compliance with environmental regulatory requirements, or of remediating any contaminated property could materially and adversely affect us.
Compliance with new or more stringent environmental laws or regulations or stricter interpretation of existing laws may require material expenditures by us. We are subject to environmental laws or regulations relating to our properties, such as those concerning lead-based paint, mold, asbestos, proximity to power lines, or other issues. We cannot assure you that future laws, ordinances, or regulations will not impose any material environmental liability or that the current environmental condition of our properties will not be affected by the activities of residents, existing conditions of the land, operations in the vicinity of the properties, or the activities of unrelated third parties. In addition, we may be required to comply with various local, state, and federal fire, health, life-safety, and similar regulations. Failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could result in fines and/or damages, suspension of personnel, civil liability, or other sanctions.
Vacant properties could be difficult to lease, which could adversely affect our revenues.
The properties we acquire may often be vacant at the time of closing, and we may acquire multiple vacant properties in close geographic proximity to one another. We may not be successful in locating residents to lease the individual properties that we acquire as quickly as we had expected, or at all. Even if we are able to place residents as quickly as we had expected, we may incur vacancies in the future and may not be able to re-lease those properties without longer than assumed delays, which may result in increased renovation and maintenance costs and opportunity costs from lost revenues.
The COVID-19 pandemic, or a future pandemic, could negatively affect the ability of our residents to meet their lease obligations resulting in an increased number of residents not renewing their leases. We may not be able to promptly re-lease properties that are vacant or become vacant because residents decide not to renew their leases or for other reasons, and the rental rates or other terms under new leases may be less favorable than the terms of the current leases. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Vacant homes may also be at risk for fraudulent activity which could impact our ability to lease a home. As a result, if vacancies continue for a longer period of time than we expect or indefinitely, we may suffer reduced revenues, incur additional operating expenses and capital expenditures, and our homes could be substantially impaired, all of which may have a material adverse effect on us.
We rely on information supplied by prospective residents in managing our business.
We evaluate prospective residents in a standardized manner through the use of a third party resident screening vendor partner. Our resident screening process includes obtaining appropriate identification, a thorough evaluation of credit history and household income, a review of the applicant’s rental history, and a background check for criminal activity. We make leasing decisions based on information in rental applications completed by a prospective resident and screened by our third party partner, and we cannot be certain that this information is accurate. Additionally, these applications are submitted to us at the time we evaluate a prospective resident, and we do not require residents to provide us with updated information during the terms of their leases, notwithstanding the fact that this information can, and frequently does, change over time. For example, increases in unemployment levels or adverse economic conditions in certain of our markets may adversely affect the creditworthiness of our residents in such markets. Even though this information is not updated, we will use it to evaluate the characteristics of our portfolio over time. If resident-supplied information is inaccurate or our residents’ creditworthiness declines over time, we may make poor or imperfect leasing decisions and our portfolio may contain more risk than we believe.
We depend on our residents and their willingness to meet their lease obligations and renew their leases for substantially all of our revenues. Poor resident selection, defaults, and nonrenewals by our residents may adversely affect our reputation, financial performance, and ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We depend on rental income from residents for substantially all of our revenues. As a result, our success depends in large part upon our ability to attract and retain qualified residents for our properties. Our reputation, financial performance, and ability to make distributions to our stockholders would be adversely affected if a significant number of our residents fail to meet their lease obligations or fail to renew their leases. For example, residents may default on rent payments, make unreasonable and repeated demands for service or improvements, make unsupported or unjustified complaints to regulatory or political authorities, use our properties for illegal purposes, damage or make unauthorized structural changes to our
properties that are not covered by security deposits, refuse to leave the property upon termination of the lease, engage in domestic violence or similar disturbances, disturb nearby residents with noise, trash, odors, or eyesores, fail to comply with HOA regulations, sublet to less desirable individuals in violation of our lease, or permit unauthorized persons to live with them. Additionally, the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as continuing measures taken by governmental authorities and private actors to limit the spread of this virus or mitigate its impact, are interfering with the ability of some of our residents to meet their lease obligations and make their rent payments on time or at all. Furthermore, entities directed by, or notionally affiliated with, the Federal government as well as some state and local jurisdictions across the United States, have imposed temporary eviction moratoriums if certain criteria are met by residents, are allowing residents to defer missed rent payments without incurring late fees, and are prohibiting rent increases. Jurisdictions and other local and national authorities may expand or extend measures imposing restrictions on our ability to enforce residents’ contractual rental obligations and limiting our ability to increase rents. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Damage to our properties may delay re-leasing after eviction, necessitate expensive repairs, or impair the rental income or value of the property resulting in a lower than expected rate of return. Increases in unemployment levels and other adverse changes in economic conditions in our markets could result in substantial resident defaults. In the event of a resident default or bankruptcy, we may experience delays in enforcing our rights as landlord at that property and will incur costs in protecting our investment and re-leasing the property.
Our leases are relatively short-term, exposing us to the risk that we may have to re-lease our properties frequently, which we may be unable to do on attractive terms, on a timely basis, or at all.
Substantially all of our new leases have a duration of one to two years. As such leases permit the residents to leave at the end of the lease term, we anticipate our rental revenues may be affected by declines in market rental rates more quickly than if our leases were for longer terms. Short-term leases may result in high turnover, which involves costs such as restoring the properties, marketing costs, and lower occupancy levels. Our resident turnover rate and related cost estimates may be less accurate than if we had more operating data upon which to base such estimates. If the rental rates for our properties decrease or our residents do not renew their leases, our operating results and ability to make distributions to our stockholders could be adversely affected. In addition, most of our potential residents are represented by leasing agents and we may need to pay all or a portion of any related agent commissions, which will reduce the revenue from a particular rental home. Alternatively, to the extent that a lease term exceeds one year, we may lose the opportunity to raise rents in an appreciating market and be locked into a lower rent until such lease expires.
Many factors impact the single-family rental market, and if rents in our markets do not increase sufficiently to keep pace with rising costs of operations, our income and distributable cash could decline.
The success of our business model depends, in part, on conditions in the single-family rental market in which we operate. A significant outbreak of infectious disease in the human population or pandemic may result, and the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted, in a widespread health crisis adversely affecting the economies and financial markets of many countries, resulting in an economic downturn that could negatively affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition. One of the direct impacts on our results of operations and key operating metrics is a decrease in gross rental revenues and other property income (before concessions and bad debt) due to the restrictions on rent increases imposed in certain jurisdictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic, or a future pandemic, could also have material and adverse effect on demand for single-family rental properties and/or occupancy levels. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” Our investment strategy is based on assumptions about occupancy levels, rental rates, interest rates, and other factors; and if those assumptions prove to be inaccurate, our cash flows and profitability may be reduced. Multiple economic and demographic factors may contribute to increases or decreases in homeownership rates resulting in fluctuating rental rates and average occupancy levels. In addition, we expect that as investors like us increasingly seek to capitalize on opportunities to purchase housing assets and convert them to productive uses, the supply of single-family rental properties will decrease, which may increase competition for residents, limit our strategic opportunities, and increase the cost to acquire those properties. A softening of the rental market in our core areas would reduce our rental revenue and profitability.
We may not have control over timing and costs arising from renovating our properties, and the cost of maintaining rental properties is generally higher than the cost of maintaining owner-occupied homes, which will affect our results of operations and may adversely impact our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Renters impose additional risks to owning real property. Renters do not have the same interest as an owner in maintaining a property and its contents and generally do not participate in any appreciation of the property. Accordingly, renters may damage a property and its contents, and may not be forthright in reporting damages or amenable to repairing them completely, or at all. A rental property may need repairs and/or improvements after each resident vacates the premises, the costs of which may exceed any security deposit provided to us by the resident when the rental property was originally leased. Accordingly, the cost of maintaining rental properties can be higher than the cost of maintaining owner-occupied homes, which will affect our results of operations and may adversely impact our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Declining real estate valuations and impairment charges could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
We periodically review the value of our properties to determine whether their value, based on market factors, projected income, and generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (“GAAP”), has permanently decreased such that it is necessary or appropriate to take an impairment loss in the relevant accounting period. Such a loss would cause an immediate reduction of net income in the applicable accounting period and would be reflected in a decrease in our balance sheet assets. The reduction of net income from impairment losses could lead to a reduction in our dividends, both in the relevant accounting period and in future periods. Even if we do not determine that it is necessary or appropriate to record an impairment loss, a reduction in the intrinsic value of a property would become manifest over time through reduced income from the property and would therefore affect our earnings and financial condition.
The COVID-19 pandemic, or a future pandemic, could also lead to a general decline in business activity and demand for real estate transactions could adversely affect the value of our homes and our business such that we may recognize impairment on the carrying value of our investments in single-family residential properties and other assets subject to impairment review, including, but not limited to, goodwill. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
We are highly dependent on information systems, and systems failures could significantly disrupt our business, which may, in turn, negatively affect us and the value of our common stock.
Our operations are dependent upon our information systems that support our business processes, including marketing, leasing, vendor communications, finance, intercompany communications, our resident portals, and property management service platforms, which include certain automated processes that require access to telecommunications or the Internet, each of which is subject to system security risks. Certain critical components of our platform are dependent upon third party service providers, and a significant portion of our business operations are conducted over the Internet. As a result, we could be severely impacted by a catastrophic occurrence, such as a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, or a circumstance that disrupted access to telecommunications, the Internet, or operations at our third party service providers, including viruses that could penetrate network security defenses and cause system failures and disruptions of operations. Even though we believe we utilize appropriate duplication and back-up procedures, a significant outage in telecommunications, the Internet, or at our third party service providers could negatively impact our operations.
Security breaches and other disruptions could compromise our information systems and expose us to liability, which would cause our business and reputation to suffer.
Information security risks have generally increased in recent years due to the rise in new technologies and the increased sophistication and activities of perpetrators of cyberattacks. In the ordinary course of our business, we acquire and store sensitive data, including intellectual property, our proprietary business information, and personally identifiable information of our prospective and current residents, employees, and third party service providers. The secure processing and maintenance of such information is critical to our operations and business strategy. Despite our security measures, our information
technology and infrastructure are subject and may be vulnerable to attacks by malicious third parties or breached due to employee error, malfeasance, or other disruptions. Due to the nature of some of the attacks, there is a risk that they may remain undetected for a period of time. While we have invested in the protection of data and information technology and implemented processes, procedures, and internal controls that are designed to mitigate cybersecurity risks and cyber intrusions, there can be no assurance that our efforts will prevent cyber incidents or security breaches. Any such breach could compromise our networks and the information stored therein could be accessed, publicly disclosed, misused, lost, or stolen. Any such access, disclosure or other loss of information could result in legal claims or proceedings, misstated or unreliable financial data, liability under laws that protect the privacy of personal information, regulatory penalties, disruption to our operations and the services we provide to customers, or damage our reputation, any of which could adversely affect our results of operations, reputation, and competitive position. We maintain cyber liability insurance; however, this insurance may not be sufficient to cover the financial, legal, business, or reputational losses that may result from an interruption or breach of our systems. Business continuity and disaster recovery issues which may result from the current COVID-19 pandemic or any future pandemic could materially interrupt our business operations. In accordance with phased re-opening guidelines and the ongoing spread of COVID-19 cases in certain states where we operate, the majority of our associates based at our headquarters and local offices continue working remotely. An extended period of remote work arrangements could strain our business continuity plans, introduce operational risk, including, but not limited to cybersecurity risks, and impair our ability to manage our business. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Our participation in joint venture investments may limit our ability to invest in certain markets, and we may be adversely affected by our lack of sole decision-making authority, our reliance on joint venture partners’ financial condition, and disputes between us and our joint venture partners.
We currently, and may in the future, co-invest with third parties through partnerships, joint ventures, or other entities, acquiring non-controlling interests in or sharing responsibility for managing the affairs of a property, partnership, joint venture, or other entity. These joint ventures may be subject to restrictions that prohibit us from making other investments in certain markets until all of the funds in such partnership, joint venture, or other entity are invested or committed. In addition, we may also not be in a position to exercise sole decision-making authority regarding the property, partnership, joint venture, or other entity, and our joint venture partners could take actions that are not within our control. Such actions could, among other things, impact our ability to maintain our status as a REIT. Further, investments in partnerships, joint ventures, or other entities may, under certain circumstances, involve risks not present were a third party not involved, including the possibility that joint venture partners might become bankrupt or fail to fund their share of required capital contributions. Joint venture partners may have economic or other business interests or goals that are inconsistent with our business interests or goals, and may be in a position to take actions contrary to our policies or objectives. Such investments also may have the potential risk of impasses on decisions, such as a sale, because neither we nor our partners would have full control over the partnership or joint venture. Disputes between us and our partners may result in litigation or arbitration that would increase our expenses and prevent our officers and/or directors from focusing their time and effort on our business. Consequently, actions by, or disputes with, any of our joint venture partners might result in subjecting properties owned by the partnership or joint venture to additional risk. In addition, we may in certain circumstances be liable for the actions of any of our third party partners or co-venturers.
We are subject to litigation and regulatory proceedings.
We are involved in a range of legal and regulatory proceedings, claims, actions, inquiries, and investigations in the ordinary course of business. These legal and regulatory proceedings may include, among others, eviction proceedings and other landlord-tenant disputes, challenges to title and ownership rights, disputes arising over potential violations of HOA rules and regulations, issues with local housing officials arising from the condition or maintenance of the property, outside vendor disputes, and trademark infringement and other intellectual property claims. These actions can be time-consuming and expensive, and may adversely affect our reputation. For example, eviction proceedings by owners and operators of single-family homes for lease have recently been the focus of negative media attention. Although we are not involved in any legal or regulatory proceedings that we expect would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, or financial condition, such proceedings may arise in the future.
We may suffer losses that are not covered by insurance.
We attempt to ensure that our properties are adequately insured to cover casualty losses. However, there are certain losses, including losses from floods, fires, earthquakes, wind, hail, pollution, acts of war, acts of terrorism or riots, certain environmental hazards, and security breaches for which we may self-insure or which may not always or generally be insured against because it may not be deemed economically feasible or prudent to do so. Changes in the cost or availability of insurance could expose us to uninsured casualty losses. In particular, a number of our properties are located in areas that are known to be subject to increased earthquake activity, fires, or wind and/or flood risk. While we have multi-year policies for earthquakes, hurricane, and/or flood risk, our properties may nonetheless incur casualty losses that are not fully covered by insurance. In such an event, the value of the affected properties would be reduced by the amount of any such uninsured loss, and we could experience a significant loss of capital invested and potential revenues in such properties and could potentially remain obligated under any recourse debt associated with such properties. Inflation, changes in building codes and ordinances, environmental considerations, and other factors might also keep us from using insurance proceeds to replace or renovate a particular property after it has been damaged or destroyed. Under those circumstances, the insurance proceeds we receive might be inadequate to restore our economic position in the damaged or destroyed property. Any such losses could adversely affect us and cause the value of our common stock to decline. In addition, we may have no source of funding to repair or reconstruct the damaged home, and we cannot assure that any such sources of funding will be available to us for such purposes in the future.
We are subject to risks from natural disasters such as earthquakes and severe weather.
Natural disasters and severe weather such as earthquakes, tornadoes, wind, or floods may result in significant damage to our properties. The extent of our casualty losses and loss of income in connection with such events is a function of the severity of the event and the total amount of exposure in the affected area.
When we have geographic concentration of exposures, a single catastrophe (such as an earthquake, especially in California) or destructive weather event (such as a hurricane) affecting a region may have a significant negative effect on our financial condition and results of operations. As a result, our operating and financial results may vary significantly from one period to the next. We have in the past and may in the future incur losses arising from natural disasters or severe weather. For example, uninsured losses and damages related to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey totaled $8.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2018.
Climate change may adversely affect our business.
To the extent that significant changes in the climate occur in areas where our communities are located, we may experience extreme weather and/or changes in precipitation and temperature, all of which may result in physical damage to, or a decrease in demand for, properties located in these areas or affected by these conditions. Should the impact of climate change be material in nature, including significant property damage to or destruction of our properties, or occur for lengthy periods of time, our financial condition or results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, changes in federal, state, and local legislation and regulation based on concerns about climate change could result in increased capital expenditures on our existing properties (for example, to improve their energy efficiency and/or resistance to inclement weather) without a corresponding increase in revenue, resulting in adverse impacts to our results of operations.
Eminent domain could lead to material losses on our investments in our properties.
Governmental authorities may exercise eminent domain to acquire the land on which our properties are built in order to build roads and other infrastructure. Any such exercise of eminent domain would allow us to recover only the fair value of the affected properties. In addition, “fair value” could be substantially less than the real market value of the property for a number of years, and we could effectively have no profit potential from properties acquired by the government through eminent domain.
We may have difficulty selling our real estate investments and our ability to distribute all or a portion of the net proceeds from any such sale to our stockholders may be limited.
Real estate investments are relatively illiquid and, as a result, we may have a limited ability to sell our properties. When we sell any of our properties, we may recognize a loss on such sale. We may elect not to distribute any proceeds from the sale of properties to our stockholders. Instead, we may use such proceeds for other purposes, including:
•purchasing additional properties;
•repaying debt or buying back stock;
•creating working capital reserves; or
•making repairs, maintenance or other capital improvements or expenditures to our remaining properties.
Our ability to sell our properties may also be limited by our need to avoid the 100% prohibited transactions tax that is imposed on gain recognized by a REIT from the sale of property characterized as dealer property. For example, we may be required to hold our properties for a minimum period of time and comply with certain other requirements in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), or dispose of our properties through a taxable REIT subsidiary (“TRS”), in which case we will incur corporate level tax on any net gains from such dispositions. The COVID-19 pandemic, or a future pandemic, could also have material and adverse effects on our ability to sell our properties. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
We are subject to increasing scrutiny from investors with respect to the social and environmental impact of our business, which may adversely impact our business and ability to raise capital from such investors.
In recent years, certain investors have placed increasing importance on the implications of our business with respect to ESG matters. Investors’ increased focus and activism related to ESG and similar matters may constrain our business operations. In addition, investors may decide to refrain from investing in us as a result of their assessment of our approach to and consideration of the ESG factors.
Risks Related to Our Indebtedness
Our cash flows and operating results could be adversely affected by required payments of debt or related interest and other risks of our debt financing.
We are generally subject to risks associated with debt financing. These risks include: (1) our cash flow may not be sufficient to satisfy required payments of principal and interest; (2) we may not be able to refinance existing indebtedness or the terms of any refinancing may be less favorable to us than the terms of existing debt; (3) required debt payments are not reduced if the economic performance of any property declines; (4) debt service obligations could reduce funds available for distribution to our stockholders and funds available for capital investment; (5) any default on our indebtedness could result in acceleration of those obligations and possible loss of property to foreclosure; (6) the risk that necessary capital expenditures cannot be financed on favorable terms; and (7) the value of the collateral securing our indebtedness may fluctuate and fall below the amount of indebtedness it secures. If the income from a property is pledged to secure payment of indebtedness and we cannot make the applicable debt payments, we may have to surrender the property to the lender with a consequent loss of any prospective income and equity value from such property. Any of these risks could place strains on our cash flows, reduce our ability to grow, and adversely affect our results of operations. The COVID-19 pandemic, or a future pandemic, could have material and adverse effect on our residents’ ability to meet their lease obligations thereby reducing our cash flows, and the resulting impact on rental and other property income could impact our ability to make all required debt service payments and to continue paying dividends to our stockholders at expected levels or at all. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
We utilize a significant amount of indebtedness in the operation of our business.
As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately $8,080.5 million aggregate principal amount of indebtedness outstanding. Our leverage could have important consequences to us. For example, it could: (1) result in the acceleration of a significant amount of debt for non-compliance with the terms of such debt or, if such debt contains cross-default or cross-acceleration provisions, other debt; (2) result in the loss of assets, including individual properties or portfolios, due to foreclosure or sale on unfavorable terms, which could create taxable income without accompanying cash proceeds; (3) materially impair our ability to borrow unused amounts under existing financing arrangements or to obtain additional financing or refinancing on favorable terms, or at all; (4) require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow to paying principal and interest on our indebtedness, reducing the cash flow available to fund our business, to pay dividends, including those necessary to maintain our REIT qualification, or to use for other purposes; (5) increase our vulnerability to an economic downturn; (6) limit our ability to withstand competitive pressures; or (7) reduce our flexibility to respond to changing business and economic conditions.
If any of the foregoing occurs, our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, and prospects could be materially and adversely affected, and the trading price of our common stock could decline significantly.
We may be unable to obtain financing through the debt and equity markets, which would have a material adverse effect on our growth strategy and our financial condition and results of operations.
We cannot assure you that we will be able to access the capital and credit markets to obtain additional debt or equity financing or that we will be able to obtain financing on terms favorable to us. Our inability to obtain financing could have negative effects on our business. Among other things, we could have difficulty acquiring, re-developing or maintaining, our properties, which would materially and adversely affect our business strategy and portfolio, and may result in our: (1) liquidity being adversely affected; (2) inability to repay or refinance our indebtedness on or before its maturity; (3) making higher interest and principal payments or selling some of our assets on terms unfavorable to us to service our indebtedness; or (4) issuing additional capital stock, which could further dilute the ownership of our existing stockholders.
Our access to additional third party sources of financing will depend, in part, on:
•general market conditions;
•the market’s perception of our growth potential;
•with respect to acquisition financing, the market’s perception of the value of the homes to be acquired;
•our current debt levels;
•our current and expected future earnings;
•our cash flow and cash distributions; and
•the market price of our common stock.
Potential lenders may be unwilling or unable to provide us with financing that is attractive to us or may charge us prohibitively high fees in order to obtain financing. Consequently, there is uncertainty regarding our ability to access the credit markets in order to attract financing on reasonable terms. Investment returns on our assets and our ability to make acquisitions could be adversely affected by our inability to secure financing on reasonable terms, if at all. The COVID-19 pandemic, or a future pandemic, could result in difficulty accessing debt and equity capital on attractive terms, or at all, have material and adverse impacts to our credit ratings, and lead to a severe disruption of, and/or instability in, the global financial markets or deteriorations in credit and financing conditions, which may affect our access to capital necessary to fund business operations, including acquisitions, or address maturing liabilities on a timely basis. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Secured indebtedness exposes us to the possibility of foreclosure on our ownership interests in our rental homes.
Incurring secured mortgage indebtedness increases our risk of loss of our ownership interests in our rental homes because defaults thereunder, and/or the inability to refinance such indebtedness, may result in foreclosure action initiated by lenders. For tax purposes, a foreclosure of any of our rental homes would be treated as a sale of the home for a purchase price equal to the outstanding balance of the indebtedness secured by such rental home. If the outstanding balance of the indebtedness secured by such rental home exceeds our tax basis in the rental home, we would recognize taxable income on foreclosure without receiving any cash proceeds.
Covenants in our debt agreements may restrict our operating activities and adversely affect our financial condition.
Our existing debt agreements contain, and future debt agreements may contain, financial and/or operating covenants including, among other things, certain coverage ratios, as well as limitations on the ability to incur additional secured and unsecured debt, and/or otherwise affect our distribution and operating policies. These covenants may limit our operational flexibility and acquisition and disposition activities. Moreover, if any of the covenants in these debt agreements are breached and not cured within the applicable cure period, we could be required to repay the debt immediately, even in the absence of a payment default. A default under one of our debt agreements could result in a cross-default under other debt agreements, and our lenders could elect to declare outstanding amounts due and payable, terminate their commitments, require the posting of additional collateral, and enforce their respective interests against existing collateral. As a result, a default under applicable debt covenants could have an adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations. Additionally, borrowing base requirements associated with our financing arrangements may prevent us from drawing upon our total maximum capacity under these financing arrangements if sufficient collateral, in accordance with our facility agreements, is not available.
For example, our mortgage loans and Secured Term Loan (see definition in Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources”) require, among other things, that a cash management account controlled by the lender collect all rents and cash generated by the properties securing the portfolio. Upon the occurrence of an event of default or failure to satisfy the required minimum debt yield or debt service coverage ratio, the lender may apply any excess cash in such cash management account as the lender elects, including prepayment of principal and amounts due under the loans.
The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could negatively impact our future compliance with financial covenants of our Credit Facility and other debt agreements and result in a default and potentially an acceleration of indebtedness, which non-compliance could negatively impact our ability to make additional borrowings under our Revolving Facility or to exercise extension options on our mortgage loans and our Credit Facility. See “— Our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows may be adversely affected by pandemics and outbreaks of infectious disease, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
These covenants may restrict our ability to engage in transactions that we believe would otherwise be in the best interests of our stockholders. Further, such restrictions could make it difficult for us to satisfy the requirements necessary to maintain our qualification as a REIT for United States federal income tax purposes.
We have and expect to continue to utilize non-recourse long-term mortgage loans, and such structures may expose us to certain risks not prevalent in other debt financings, which could affect the availability and attractiveness of this financing option or otherwise result in losses to us.
We have and expect to continue to utilize non-recourse long-term mortgage loans relating to pools of homes which we own, if and when they become available and to the extent consistent with the maintenance of our REIT qualification, in order to generate cash for funding new investments. Mortgage loans may expose us to certain risks not prevalent in other debt financings. For example, accounting rules for mortgage loans are complex and involve significant judgment and assumptions. These complexities and possible changes in accounting rules, interpretations or our assumptions could undermine our ability to prepare timely and accurate financial statements. Moreover, we cannot be assured that we will be able to access the securitization market in the future, or be able to do so at favorable rates. The global economy recently experienced a significant recession and recent events in the real estate and securitization markets, as well as the debt markets and the economy generally, have caused significant dislocations, illiquidity, and volatility in the market for asset-backed securities and mortgage-backed securities, as well as a severe, ongoing disruption in the wider global financial markets, including a
significant reduction of investor demand for, and purchases of, asset-backed securities and structured financial products. Disruptions of the securitization market could preclude our ability to use mortgage loans as a financing source or could render it an inefficient source of financing, making us more dependent on alternative sourcing of financing that might not be as favorable as mortgage loans in otherwise favorable markets. In addition, in the United States and elsewhere, there is now increased political and regulatory scrutiny of the asset-backed securities industry. This has resulted in a raft of measures for increased regulation which are currently at various stages of implementation and which may have an adverse impact on the regulatory capital charge to certain investors in securitization exposures or the incentives for certain investors to hold asset-backed securities, and may thereby affect the liquidity of such securities. Any of these factors could limit our access to mortgage loans as a source of financing. The inability to consummate mortgage loans to finance our investments on a long-term basis could require us to seek other forms of potentially less attractive financing or to liquidate assets at an inopportune time or price, which could adversely affect our performance and our ability to grow our business.
We may not have the ability to raise the funds necessary to settle conversions of the 2022 Convertible Notes or to repurchase the 2022 Convertible Notes upon a fundamental change; our future debt may contain limitations on our ability to pay cash upon conversion or repurchase of the 2022 Convertible Notes.
Holders of the 2022 Convertible Notes (see definition in Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources”) have the right to require us to repurchase their 2022 Convertible Notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change, such as certain change in control transactions or recapitalization transactions as defined in the indentures governing the 2022 Convertible Notes, at a fundamental change repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the 2022 Convertible Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any. Upon conversion of the 2022 Convertible Notes, unless we elect to deliver solely common stock to settle such conversion (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share of stock), we will be required to make cash payments in respect of the 2022 Convertible Notes being converted. However, we may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to make repurchases of the 2022 Convertible Notes surrendered therefor or to pay the cash amounts due upon conversion of the 2022 Convertible Notes. In addition, our ability to repurchase the 2022 Convertible Notes or to pay cash upon conversion of the 2022 Convertible Notes may be limited by law, by regulatory authority, or by future agreements governing our indebtedness. The failure to repurchase the 2022 Convertible Notes at a time when the repurchase is required by the 2022 Convertible Notes indenture or to pay any cash due and payable on the 2022 Convertible Notes as required by the 2022 Convertible Notes indentures would constitute a default under the indenture. A default under the 2022 Convertible Notes indenture or the fundamental change itself could also lead to a default under agreements governing our existing and future indebtedness. If the repayment of the related indebtedness were to be accelerated after any applicable notice or grace periods, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the indebtedness and repurchase the 2022 Convertible Notes or make cash payments thereon.
The conditional conversion feature of the 2022 Convertible Notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
In the event the conditional conversion feature of the 2022 Convertible Notes is triggered, holders will be entitled to convert the 2022 Convertible Notes at any time during specified periods at their option. If one or more holders elect to convert their 2022 Convertible Notes, unless we elect to satisfy our conversion obligation by delivering solely common stock (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share of stock), we would be required to settle a portion or all of our conversion obligation through the payment of cash, which could adversely affect our liquidity.
The accounting method for convertible debt securities that may be settled in cash could have a material effect on our reported financial results.
Under GAAP, an entity must separately account for the debt component and the embedded conversion option of convertible debt instruments that may be settled entirely or partially in cash upon conversion, such as the 2022 Convertible Notes, in a manner that reflects the issuer’s economic interest cost. The effect of the accounting treatment for such instruments is that the value of such embedded conversion option is recorded as a fair value adjustment to the debt component of the 2022 Convertible Notes. The adjustment is treated like a discount for accounting purposes and is amortized into interest expense over the term of the 2022 Convertible Notes using an effective interest method. As a result, we will initially be required to record a greater amount of non-cash interest expense because of the amortization of fair value
adjustment to the 2022 Convertible Notes’ face amount over the term of the 2022 Convertible Notes. Accordingly, we will report lower net income in our financial results because of the recognition of both the current period’s amortization of the fair value adjustment and the 2022 Convertible Notes’ coupon interest, which could adversely affect our reported or future financial results, the trading price of our common stock, and the trading price of the 2022 Convertible Notes.
Under certain circumstances, convertible debt instruments (such as the 2022 Convertible Notes) that may be settled entirely or partially in cash are evaluated for their impact on earnings per share utilizing the “if-converted” method, the effect of which is that the shares of common stock contingently issuable upon conversion of convertible debt instruments are included in the calculation of diluted earnings per share to the extent that the conversion value of convertible debt instruments exceeds their principal amount. Under the “if-converted” method, for diluted earnings per share purposes, convertible debt instruments are accounted for as if the number of shares of common stock that would be necessary to settle such excess, if we elected to settle such excess in stock, are issued if such calculation is dilutive to earnings per share for the relevant periods. This could adversely affect our reported financial results, including our diluted earnings per share.
Offerings of additional debt securities or equity securities that rank senior to our common stock may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
If we decide to issue additional debt securities or equity securities that rank senior to our common stock in the future, it is likely that they will be governed by an indenture or other instrument containing covenants restricting our operating flexibility. Any additional debt or equity securities that we issue in the future may have rights, preferences, and privileges more favorable than those of our common stock and, if such securities are convertible or exchangeable, the issuance of such securities may result in dilution to owners of our common stock. We and, indirectly, our stockholders, will bear the cost of issuing and servicing such securities. Because our decision to issue debt or equity securities in any future offering will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing, or nature of our future offerings. Thus, holders of our common stock will bear the risk of our future offerings reducing the market price of our common stock and diluting the value of their stockholdings in us.
Failure to hedge effectively against interest rate changes may adversely affect our results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Borrowings under our debt instruments totaling $6,337.3 million as of December 31, 2020 bear interest at variable rates and expose us to interest rate risk. If interest rates were to increase, our debt service obligations on the variable rate indebtedness would increase even though the amount borrowed remained the same, and our earnings and cash flows will correspondingly decrease. After giving effect to our interest rate swap agreements (see Part II. Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources” for more information), each 100 bps increase or decrease on our floating rate indebtedness would result in an estimated increase of $5.7 million or $15.8 million, respectively, in annual interest expense. A 100 bps decrease in the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) results in a negative LIBOR rate and additional interest expense for us. Our variable rate loan agreements contain LIBOR floors, and there is no reciprocal feature in our interest rate swap agreements.
In connection with our debt instruments, we have obtained interest rate caps and swaps, and subject to complying with the requirements for REIT qualification, we may obtain in the future one or more additional forms of interest rate protection (in the form of swap agreements, interest rate cap contracts, or similar agreements) to hedge against the possible negative effects of interest rate fluctuations. However, we cannot assure you that any hedging will adequately relieve the adverse effects of interest rate increases or that counterparties under these agreements will honor their obligations thereunder. In addition, we may be subject to risks of default by hedging counterparties. Adverse economic conditions could also cause the terms on which we borrow to be unfavorable. We could be required to liquidate one or more of our investments at times which may not permit us to receive an attractive return on our investments in order to meet our debt service obligations.
The REIT provisions of the Code may also limit our ability to hedge effectively. See “Risks Related to our REIT Status and Certain Other Tax Items — Complying with REIT requirements may limit our ability to hedge effectively and may cause us to incur tax liabilities.”
Expected phasing out of LIBOR may adversely affect the capital markets and our ability to raise capital. When LIBOR is discontinued, our variable rate debt agreements and financial instruments may be calculated using another base rate.
On November 30, 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority of the United Kingdom (the “FCA”), which has statutory powers to require panel banks to contribute to LIBOR, announced that subject to confirmation following its consultation with the administrator of LIBOR, it would cease publication of the one-week and two-month USD LIBOR immediately after December 31, 2021 and cease publication of the remaining tenors immediately after June 30, 2023. As of December 31, 2020, we had $6,337.3 million of variable rate debt outstanding that references one month LIBOR as the benchmark rate to determine the applicable interest rate or payment amount and for which maturities extend past 2021 (assuming all extensions are exercised). If LIBOR is discontinued after 2021 as expected, there will be uncertainty or differences in the calculation of the applicable interest rate or payment amount, depending on the terms of the agreement, and significant management time and attention may be required to transition to using the new benchmark rates and to implement necessary changes to our financial models. This could result in different financial performance for previously recorded transactions and may impact our existing transaction data, operations, and pricing processes. The calculation of interest rates under the replacement benchmarks could also impact our net interest expense. LIBOR may perform differently during the phase-out period than in the past which could result in an adverse impact on the market for or value of any LIBOR-based securities, loans, derivatives, and other financial obligations or extensions of credit held by us and on our overall financial condition or results of operations. Additionally, debt holders or governing bodies may decide to transition to a successor rate prior to the expected LIBOR phase-out date.
Risks Related to Our Organization, Structure, and Ownership of Our Common Stock
Provisions of Maryland law may limit the ability of a third party to acquire control of us by requiring our board of directors or stockholders to approve proposals to acquire our company or effect a change in control.
Certain provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law (the “MGCL”) may have the effect of inhibiting a third party from making a proposal to acquire us or of impeding a change in control under circumstances that otherwise could provide our stockholders with the opportunity to realize a premium over the then-prevailing market price of their shares of common stock, including:
•“business combination” provisions that, subject to certain exceptions and limitations, prohibit certain business combinations between a Maryland corporation and an “interested stockholder” (defined generally as any person who beneficially owns 10% or more of the voting power of our outstanding voting stock or an affiliate or associate of ours who, at any time within the two-year period immediately prior to the date in question, was the beneficial owner of 10% or more of the voting power of our then outstanding shares of stock) or an affiliate of any interested stockholder for five years after the most recent date on which the stockholder becomes an interested stockholder, and thereafter imposes two super-majority stockholder voting requirements on these combinations, unless, among other conditions, our common stockholders receive a minimum price, as defined in the MGCL, for their shares of stock and the consideration is received in cash or in the same form as previously paid by the interested stockholder for its shares of stock; and
•“control share” provisions that provide that, subject to certain exceptions, holders of “control shares” (defined as voting shares that, when aggregated with all other shares controlled by the stockholder, entitle the stockholder to exercise one of three increasing ranges of voting power in electing directors) acquired in a “control share acquisition” (defined as the direct or indirect acquisition of ownership or control of issued and outstanding “control shares”) have no voting rights except to the extent approved by our stockholders by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of all the votes entitled to be cast on the matter, excluding shares owned by the acquirer, by our officers, or by our employees who are also directors of our company.
We have opted out of the business combination provisions of the MGCL and any business combination between us and any other person is exempt from the business combination provisions of the MGCL. In addition, pursuant to a provision in our bylaws, we opted out of the control share provisions of the MGCL. Provisions of our bylaws will prohibit our board of directors from revoking, altering, or amending its resolution exempting any business combination from the business combination provisions of the MGCL or amending our bylaws to opt in to the control share provisions of the MGCL, in each
case, without the affirmative vote of a majority of the votes cast on the matter by our stockholders entitled to vote generally in the election of directors.
In addition, the “unsolicited takeover” provisions of Title 3, Subtitle 8 of the MGCL permit our board of directors, without stockholder approval and regardless of what is provided in our charter or bylaws, to implement certain takeover defenses, including adopting a classified board or increasing the vote required to remove a director. Such takeover defenses may have the effect of inhibiting a third party from making an acquisition proposal for us or of delaying, deferring, or preventing a change in control of us under the circumstances that otherwise could provide our common stockholders with the opportunity to realize a premium over the then-current market price. Our charter provides that, without the affirmative vote of a majority of the votes cast on the matter by our stockholders entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, we may not elect to be subject to certain provisions of Subtitle 8, including the provisions relating to adopting a classified board or increasing the vote required to remove a director.
Our board of directors may approve the issuance of stock, including preferred stock, with terms that may discourage a third party from acquiring us.
Our charter permits our board of directors, without any action by our stockholders, to authorize the issuance of stock in one or more classes or series. Our board of directors may also classify or reclassify any unissued stock and set or change the preferences, conversion and other rights, voting powers, restrictions, limitations as to dividends and other distributions, qualifications, and terms and conditions of redemption of any such stock, which rights may be superior to those of our common stock. Thus, our board of directors could authorize the issuance of shares of a class or series of stock with terms and conditions which could have the effect of discouraging a takeover or other transaction in which holders of some or a majority of our outstanding common stock might receive a premium for their shares of stock over the then current market price of our common stock.
Certain provisions in the indenture governing the 2022 Convertible Notes could delay or prevent an otherwise beneficial takeover or takeover attempt of us.
Certain provisions in the 2022 Convertible Notes and the related indenture could make it more difficult or more expensive for a third party to acquire us. For example, if a takeover would constitute a fundamental change, holders of the 2022 Convertible Notes will have the right to require us to repurchase their 2022 Convertible Notes in cash. In addition, if a takeover constitutes a make-whole fundamental change, we may be required to increase the conversion rate for holders who convert their 2022 Convertible Notes in connection with such takeover. In either case, and in other cases, our obligations under the 2022 Convertible Notes and the indenture could increase the cost of acquiring us or otherwise discourage a third party from acquiring us or removing incumbent management.
Our rights and the rights of our stockholders to take action against our directors and officers are limited.
Our charter eliminates the liability of our directors and officers to us and our stockholders for money damages to the maximum extent permitted under Maryland law. Under current Maryland law and our charter, our directors and officers do not have any liability to us or our stockholders for money damages other than liability resulting from:
•actual receipt of an improper benefit or profit in money, property, or services; or
•active and deliberate dishonesty by the director or officer that was established by a final judgment and is material to the cause of action adjudicated.
Our charter authorizes us and our bylaws obligate us to indemnify each of our directors or officers who is or is threatened to be made a party to or witness in a proceeding by reason of his or her service in those or certain other capacities, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, from and against any claim or liability to which such person may become subject or which such person may incur by reason of his or her status as a present or former director or officer of us or serving in such other capacities. In addition, we may be obligated to pay or reimburse the expenses incurred by our present and former directors and officers without requiring a preliminary determination of their ultimate entitlement to indemnification. As a result, we and our stockholders may have more limited rights to recover money damages from our
directors and officers than might otherwise exist absent these provisions in our charter and bylaws or that might exist with other companies, which could limit your recourse in the event of actions that are not in our best interests.
Our charter contains a provision that expressly permits our non-employee directors, certain of our pre-IPO owners, and their affiliates to compete with us.
Our charter provides that, to the maximum extent permitted from time to time by Maryland law, we renounce any interest or expectancy that we have in, or any right to be offered an opportunity to participate in, any business opportunities that are from time to time presented to or developed by our directors or their affiliates, other than to those directors who are employed by us or our subsidiaries, unless the business opportunity is expressly offered or made known to such person in his or her capacity as our director, and none of our pre-IPO owners, or any of their respective affiliates, or any director who is not employed by us or any of his or her affiliates, will have any duty to refrain from engaging, directly or indirectly, in the same business activities or similar business activities or lines of business in which we or our affiliates engage or propose to engage or to refrain from otherwise competing with us or our affiliates.
Our charter provides that, to the maximum extent permitted from time to time by Maryland law, each of our non-employee directors, and any of their affiliates, may:
•acquire, hold, and dispose of interests in us and/or our subsidiaries, including shares of our stock or common units of partnership interest in INVH LP for his, her or its own account or for the account of others, and exercise all of the rights of a stockholder of Invitation Homes Inc., or a limited partner of INVH LP, to the same extent and in the same manner as if he, she, or it were not our director or stockholder; and
•in his, her, or its personal capacity or in his, her, or its capacity, as applicable, as a director, officer, trustee, stockholder, partner, member, equity owner, manager, advisor, or employee of any other person, have business interests and engage, directly or indirectly, in business activities that are similar to ours or compete with us, that involve a business opportunity that we could seize and develop or that include the acquisition, syndication, holding, management, development, operation, or disposition of interests in mortgages, real property or persons engaged in the real estate business.
Our charter also provides that, to the maximum extent permitted from time to time by Maryland law, in the event that any of our non-employee directors, or any of their respective affiliates, acquires knowledge of a potential transaction or other business opportunity, such person will have no duty to communicate or offer such transaction or business opportunity to us or any of our affiliates and may take any such opportunity for itself, himself, or herself or offer it to another person or entity unless the business opportunity is expressly offered to such person in his or her capacity as our director. These provisions may limit our ability to pursue business or investment opportunities that we might otherwise have had the opportunity to pursue, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition, our results of operations, our cash flow, the per share trading price of our common stock, and our ability to satisfy our debt service obligations and to pay dividends to our stockholders.
The cash available for distribution to stockholders may not be sufficient to pay dividends at expected levels, nor can we assure you of our ability to make distributions in the future. We may use borrowed funds to make distributions.
We have elected to qualify as a REIT for United States federal income tax purposes. The Code generally requires that a REIT annually distribute at least 90% of its REIT taxable income, determined without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding any net capital gain, and imposes tax on any REIT taxable income retained by a REIT, including capital gains. We anticipate making quarterly distributions to our stockholders. We expect that the cash required to fund our dividends will be covered by cash generated by operations. However, our ability to make distributions to our stockholders will depend upon the performance of our asset portfolio. If our operations do not generate sufficient cash flow to allow us to satisfy the REIT distribution requirements, we may be required to fund distributions from working capital, borrow funds, raise additional equity capital, sell assets, or reduce such distributions. If such cash available for distribution decreases in future periods from expected levels, our inability to make the expected distributions could result in a decrease in the market price of our common stock. In addition, our charter allows us to issue preferred stock that could have a preference over our common stock as to distributions. All distributions will be made at the sole discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon a number of factors, including our actual and projected results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and liquidity, maintenance of our REIT qualification and other tax considerations, capital expenditure and other obligations, debt
covenants, contractual prohibitions or other limitations, and applicable law and such other matters as our board of directors may deem relevant from time to time. We may not be able to make distributions in the future. In addition, some of our distributions may include a return of capital. To the extent that we decide to make distributions in excess of our current and accumulated earnings and profits, such distributions would generally be considered a return of capital for United States federal income tax purposes to the extent of the holder’s adjusted tax basis in their stock. A return of capital is not taxable, but it has the effect of reducing the holder’s adjusted tax basis in its investment. To the extent that distributions exceed the adjusted tax basis of a holder’s stock, they will be treated as gain from the sale or exchange of such stock. If we borrow to fund distributions, our future interest costs would increase, thereby reducing our earnings and cash available for distribution from what they otherwise would have been.
Risks Related to our REIT Status and Certain Other Tax Items
If we do not maintain our qualification as a REIT, we will be subject to tax as a regular corporation and could face a substantial tax liability.
We expect to continue to operate so as to qualify as a REIT under the Code. However, qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex Code provisions for which only a limited number of judicial or administrative interpretations exist. Notwithstanding the availability of cure provisions in the Code, we could fail to meet various compliance requirements, which could jeopardize our REIT status. Furthermore, new tax legislation, administrative guidance, or court decisions, in each instance potentially with retroactive effect, could make it more difficult or impossible for us to qualify as a REIT. If we fail to qualify as a REIT in any tax year, then:
•we would be taxed as a regular domestic corporation, which under current laws, among other things, means being unable to deduct distributions to stockholders in computing taxable income and being subject to United States federal income tax on our taxable income at regular corporate income tax rates;
•any resulting tax liability could be substantial and could have a material adverse effect on our book value;
•unless we were entitled to relief under applicable statutory provisions, we would be required to pay taxes, and thus, our cash available for distribution to stockholders would be reduced for each of the years during which we did not qualify as a REIT and for which we had taxable income;
•we could be subject to increased state and local taxes; and
•we generally would not be eligible to requalify as a REIT for the subsequent four full taxable years.
REITs, in certain circumstances, may incur tax liabilities that would reduce our cash available for distribution to you.
Even if we qualify and maintain our status as a REIT, we may become subject to United States federal income taxes and related state and local taxes. For example, net income from the sale of properties that are “dealer” properties sold by a REIT (a “prohibited transaction” under the Code) will be subject to a 100% tax. We may not make sufficient distributions to avoid excise taxes applicable to REITs. Similarly, if we were to fail an income test (and did not lose our REIT status because such failure was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect), we would be subject to tax on the income that does not meet the income test requirements. We also may decide to retain net capital gain we earn from the sale or other disposition of our investments and pay income tax directly on such income. In that event, our stockholders would be treated as if they earned that income and paid the tax on it directly. However, stockholders that are tax-exempt, such as charities or qualified pension plans, would have no benefit from their deemed payment of such tax liability unless they file United States federal income tax returns and seek a refund of such tax. We also may be subject to state and local taxes on our income or property, including income, franchise, payroll, mortgage recording, and transfer taxes, either directly or at the level of the other companies through which we indirectly own our assets, such as our TRSs, which are subject to full United States federal, state, local, and foreign corporate-level income taxes. Any taxes we pay directly or indirectly will reduce our cash available for distribution to you.
Complying with REIT requirements may cause us to forgo otherwise attractive opportunities and limit our expansion opportunities.
In order to qualify as a REIT for United States federal income tax purposes, we must continually satisfy tests concerning, among other things, our sources of income, the nature of our investments in commercial real estate and related assets, the amounts we distribute to our stockholders, and the ownership of our stock. We may also be required to make distributions to stockholders at disadvantageous times or when we do not have funds readily available for distribution. Thus, compliance with REIT requirements may hinder our ability to operate solely on the basis of maximizing profits.
Complying with REIT requirements may force us to liquidate or restructure otherwise attractive investments.
In order to qualify as a REIT, we must also ensure that at the end of each calendar quarter, at least 75% of the value of our assets consists of cash, cash items, government securities, and qualified REIT real estate assets. The remainder of our investments in securities (other than qualified real estate assets and government securities) generally cannot include more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer or 10% of the total value of the outstanding securities of any one issuer unless we and such issuer jointly elect for such issuer to be treated as a TRS under the Code. The total value of all of our investments in taxable REIT subsidiaries cannot exceed 20% of the value of our total assets. In addition, no more than 5% of the value of our assets (other than qualified real estate assets and government securities) can consist of the securities of any one issuer other than a TRS. If we fail to comply with these requirements, we must dispose of a portion of our assets within 30 days after the end of the calendar quarter in order to avoid losing our REIT status and suffering adverse tax consequences. In addition to the quarterly asset test requirements, we must annually satisfy two income test requirements (the “75% and 95% gross income tests”). As a result, we may be required to liquidate from our portfolio, or contribute to a taxable REIT subsidiary, otherwise attractive investments in order to maintain our qualification as a REIT. These actions could have the effect of reducing our income and amounts available for distribution to its stockholders. We may be unable to pursue investments that would otherwise be advantageous to it in order to satisfy the income or asset diversification requirements for qualifying as a REIT. Thus, compliance with REIT requirements may hinder our ability to operate solely on the basis of maximizing profits.
Complying with REIT requirements may limit our ability to hedge effectively and may cause us to incur tax liabilities.
The REIT provisions of the Code substantially limit our ability to hedge our liabilities. Any income from a hedging transaction we enter into to manage risk of interest rate changes with respect to borrowings made or to be made to acquire or carry real estate assets (each such hedge, a “Borrowings Hedge”) or to manage risk of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations with respect to any item of qualifying income (each such hedge, a “Currency Hedge”), if clearly identified under applicable United States Treasury (“Treasury”) regulations, does not constitute “gross income” for purposes of the 75% or 95% gross income tests that we must satisfy to qualify and to maintain our qualification as a REIT. This exclusion from the 95% and 75% gross income tests also will apply if we previously entered into a Borrowings Hedge or a Currency Hedge, a portion of the hedged indebtedness or property is disposed of and in connection with such extinguishment or disposition, we enter into a new properly identified hedging transaction to offset the prior hedging position. To the extent that we enter into other types of hedging transactions, the income from those transactions is likely to be treated as non-qualifying income for purposes of both of the gross income tests. As a result of these rules, we intend to limit our use of advantageous hedging techniques or, subject to the limitations on the value of and income from our TRSs, implement those hedges through a domestic TRS. This could increase the cost of our hedging activities because our TRS would be subject to tax on gains or expose us to greater risks associated with changes in interest rates than we would otherwise want to bear. In addition, losses from hedges held in our TRS will generally not provide any tax benefit, except for being carried forward against future taxable income in the TRS, provided, however, losses in our TRS arising in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, may only be carried forward and may only be deducted against 80% of future taxable income in the TRS.
Complying with REIT requirements may force us to borrow to make distributions to stockholders.
From time to time, our taxable income may be greater than our cash flow available for distribution to stockholders. If we do not have other funds available in these situations, we may be unable to distribute substantially all of our taxable income as required by the REIT provisions of the Code. Thus, we could be required to borrow funds, sell a portion of our assets at disadvantageous prices, or find another alternative. These options could increase our costs or reduce our equity.
Even if we qualify to be subject to United States federal income tax as a REIT, we could be subject to tax on any unrealized net built-in gains in certain assets.
As part of our pre-IPO reorganization transactions, we acquired certain appreciated assets that were held (directly or indirectly) in part by one or more C corporations in transactions in which the adjusted tax basis of the assets in our hands is determined by reference to the adjusted basis of such assets in the hands of such C corporations. If we dispose of any such appreciated assets during the five-year period following the date we acquired those assets, we will be subject to United States federal income tax on the portion of such gain attributable to such C corporations at the highest corporate tax rates to the extent of the excess of the fair market value of such assets on the date that we acquired those assets over the adjusted tax basis of such assets on such date, which are referred to as built-in gains. We would be subject to this tax liability even if we qualify and maintain our status as a REIT. Any recognized built-in gain will retain its character as ordinary income or capital gain and will be taken into account in determining REIT taxable income and our distribution requirement. Any tax on the recognized built-in gain will reduce REIT taxable income. We may choose not to sell in a taxable transaction appreciated assets we might otherwise sell during the five-year period in which the built-in gain tax applies to avoid the built-in gain tax. However, there can be no assurances that such a taxable transaction will not occur. If we sell such assets in a taxable transaction, the amount of corporate tax that we will pay will vary depending on the actual amount of net built-in gain or loss present in those assets as of the time we acquired those assets and the portion of such assets which were held by C corporations prior to their contribution to us.
Our charter does not permit any person to own more than 9.8% of our outstanding common stock or of our outstanding stock of all classes or series, and attempts to acquire our common stock or our stock of all other classes or series in excess of these 9.8% limits would not be effective without an exemption from these limits by our board of directors.
For us to qualify as a REIT under the Code, not more than 50% of the value of our outstanding stock may be owned directly or indirectly, by five or fewer individuals (including certain entities treated as individuals for this purpose) during the last half of a taxable year. For the purpose of assisting our qualification as a REIT for United States federal income tax purposes, among other purposes, our charter prohibits beneficial or constructive ownership by any person of more than a certain percentage, currently 9.8%, in value or by number of shares of stock, whichever is more restrictive, of the outstanding shares of our common stock or 9.8% in value of the outstanding shares of our stock, which we refer to as the “ownership limit.” The constructive ownership rules under the Code and our charter are complex and may cause shares of the outstanding common stock owned by a group of related persons to be deemed to be constructively owned by one person. As a result, the acquisition of less than 9.8% of our outstanding common stock or our stock by a person could cause a person to own constructively in excess of 9.8% of our outstanding common stock or our stock, respectively, and thus violate the ownership limit. There can be no assurance that our board of directors, as permitted in the charter, will not decrease this ownership limit in the future, and any decision to grant a waiver from the ownership limit in any particular instance is at the sole discretion of our board of directors. Any attempt to own or transfer shares of our common stock in excess of the ownership limit without the consent of our board of directors will result either in the shares of stock in excess of the limit being transferred by operation of the charter to a charitable trust, and the person who attempted to acquire such excess shares of stock will not have any rights in such excess shares of stock, or in the transfer being void. The ownership limit may have the effect of precluding a change in control of us by a third party, even if such change in control would be in the best interests of our stockholders or would result in receipt of a premium to the price of our common stock (and even if such change in control would not reasonably jeopardize our REIT status).
We may choose to make distributions in our own stock, in which case you may be required to pay income taxes without receiving any cash dividends.
In connection with our qualification as a REIT, we are required to annually distribute to our stockholders at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (which does not equal net income, as calculated in accordance with GAAP), determined without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding net capital gain. In order to satisfy this requirement, we may make distributions that are payable in cash and/or shares of our common stock (which could account for up to 90% of the aggregate amount of such distributions) at the election of each stockholder. Taxable stockholders receiving such distributions will be required to include the full amount of such distributions as ordinary dividend income to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits, as determined for United States federal income tax purposes. As a result, United States stockholders may be required to pay income taxes with respect to such distributions in excess of the cash portion of the distribution received. Accordingly, United States holders receiving a distribution of our stock may be required to sell stocks received in such distribution or may be required to sell other stock or assets owned by them, at a time that may be disadvantageous, in order to satisfy any tax imposed on such distribution. If a United States stockholder sells the stock that it receives as part of the distribution in order to pay this tax, the sales proceeds may be less than the amount it must include in income with respect to the distribution, depending on the market price of our stock at the time of the sale. Furthermore, with respect to certain non-United States holders, we may be required to withhold United States tax with respect to such distribution, including in respect of all or a portion of such distribution that is payable in stock, by withholding or disposing of part of the stock included in such distribution and using the proceeds of such disposition to satisfy the withholding tax imposed. In addition, if a significant number of our stockholders determine to sell shares of our common stock in order to pay taxes owed on dividend income, such sale may put downward pressure on the market price of our common stock.
No assurance can be given that the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) will not impose additional requirements in the future with respect to taxable cash/stock distributions, including on a retroactive basis, or assert that the requirements for such taxable cash/stock distributions have not been met.
Dividends payable by REITs do not generally qualify for the reduced tax rates available for some dividends.
The maximum tax rate applicable to qualified dividend income payable by non-REIT C corporations to certain non-corporate United States stockholders is currently 23.8% (taking into account the 3.8% Medicare tax applicable to net investment income). Dividends payable by REITs, however, generally are not eligible for the reduced rates. Effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026, those non-corporate United States stockholders may deduct 20% of their dividends from REITs (excluding qualified dividend income and capital gains dividends). For those United States stockholders in the top marginal tax bracket of 37%, the deduction for REIT dividends yields an effective income tax rate of 29.6% on REIT dividends, which is higher than the 23.8% tax rate on qualified dividend income paid by non-REIT C corporations. Although the legislation benefits the taxation of REITs and dividends payable by REITs, the more favorable rates applicable to non-REIT corporate qualified dividends could cause certain non-corporate investors to perceive investments in REITs to be relatively less attractive than investments in the stocks of non-REIT corporations that pay dividends, which could adversely affect the value of the shares of REITs, including our common stock.
We are dependent on external sources of capital to finance our growth.
As with other REITs, but unlike corporations generally, our ability to finance our growth must largely be funded by external sources of capital because we generally have to distribute to our stockholders 90% of our REIT taxable income in order to qualify as a REIT, including taxable income where we do not receive corresponding cash. Our access to external capital depends upon a number of factors, including general market conditions, the market’s perception of our growth potential, our current and potential future earnings, cash distributions, and the market price of our common stock.
We may be subject to adverse legislative or regulatory tax changes that could increase our tax liability, reduce our operating flexibility, and reduce the price of our common stock.
In recent years, numerous legislative, judicial and administrative changes have been made in the provisions of United States federal income tax laws applicable to investments similar to an investment in shares of our common stock. For example, the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) has resulted in fundamental changes to the Code. Among the
numerous changes included in the TCJA is a deduction of 20% of ordinary REIT dividends for non-corporate taxpayers for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2018 through 2025. We cannot assure you that the TCJA or any such changes in the future will not adversely affect the taxation of a stockholder. Any such changes could have an adverse effect on an investment in our stock or on the market value or the resale potential of our assets. You are urged to consult with your tax advisor with respect to the impact of the TCJA on your investment in our stock and the status of legislative, regulatory, or administrative developments and proposals and their potential effect on an investment in our stock. Although REITs generally receive certain tax advantages compared to entities taxed as regular corporations, it is possible that future legislation would result in a REIT having fewer tax advantages, and it could become more advantageous for a company that invests in real estate to elect to be treated for United States federal income tax purposes as a corporation. As a result, our charter provides our board of directors with the power, under certain circumstances, to revoke or otherwise terminate our REIT election and cause us to be taxed as a regular corporation, without the approval of our stockholders.
Liquidation of assets may jeopardize our REIT qualification.
To qualify as a REIT, we must comply with requirements regarding our assets and our sources of income. If we are compelled to liquidate our investments to repay obligations to our lenders, we may be unable to comply with these requirements, ultimately jeopardizing our qualification as a REIT, or we may be subject to a 100% tax on any resultant gain if we sell assets that are treated as dealer property or inventory.
Our ownership of and relationship with any TRS will be restricted, and a failure to comply with the restrictions would jeopardize our REIT status and may result in the application of a 100% excise tax.
A REIT may own up to 100% of the stock of one or more TRSs. A TRS may earn income that would not be qualifying income if earned directly by the parent REIT. Both the subsidiary and the REIT must jointly elect to treat the subsidiary as a TRS. A corporation of which a TRS directly or indirectly owns more than 35% of the voting power or value of the stock will automatically be treated as a TRS. Overall, no more than 20% of the value of a REIT’s assets may consist of stock or securities of one or more TRSs. The value of our interests in and thus the amount of assets held in a TRS may also be restricted by our need to qualify for an exclusion from regulation as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended. A TRS will pay United States federal, state, and local income tax at regular corporate rates on any income that it earns. In addition, the TRS rules limit the deductibility of interest paid or accrued by a TRS to its parent REIT to assure that the TRS is subject to an appropriate level of corporate taxation. The rules also impose a 100% excise tax on certain transactions between a TRS and its parent REIT that are not conducted on an arm’s-length basis.
Any TRS we own, as a domestic corporation, will pay United States federal, state, and local income tax on its taxable income, and its after-tax net income is available for distribution to us but is not required to be distributed to us. The aggregate value of the TRS stock and securities owned by us cannot exceed 20% of the value of our total assets (including the TRS stock and securities). Although we plan to monitor our investments in TRSs, there can be no assurance that we will be able to comply with the 20% limitation discussed above or to avoid application of the 100% excise tax discussed above.
Re-characterization of leases as financing transactions may negatively affect us.
While we generally intend to use reasonable commercial efforts to structure any lease transaction so that the lease will be characterized as a “true lease,” with us treated as the owner and lessor of the property for federal income tax purposes, the IRS could challenge such characterization. In the event that any lease transaction is challenged and re-characterized as a seller-financed conditional sale transaction for federal income tax purposes, deductions for depreciation and cost recovery relating to such property would be disallowed. In addition, if we enter such transactions at the REIT level, in the event of re-characterization, the REIT could be subject to prohibited transaction taxes. Finally, the amount of our REIT taxable income could be recalculated, which might cause us to fail to meet the distribution requirement for a taxable year and require us to pay deficiency dividends, interest, and penalty taxes in order to maintain REIT status.