Rental Property Research Consortium

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Keeping Shelters in Place: Understanding the Impacts of Disasters on Residential Rental Property Owners

Decision-Making on Post-Disaster Housing Stability

This project began as a response to the local threats to rental housing security that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research fills a major gap in existing knowledge by investigating the decision-making of residential rental property owners across the stages of the disaster management cycle. Our unit of analysis is the property owners themselves - not their properties, not their tenants, but the property owners. We want to investigate the property and investment decisions that non-institutional rental property owners make when responding to disasters and to better understand how those decisions shape local rental housing stability in the short term and the population of property investors as well as the characteristics of the local housing market in the long term.

The findings from this study will continue to assist state and local governments to better understand the population of residential rental property owners and to recognize the unique challenges faced by different types of owners and ownership entities in the face of disasters. It is anticipated that the study findings will assist local government officials and planners in evaluating existing disaster policy responses as well as developing new and innovative rental housing security strategies. Further, the analysis will help disaster scholars develop new risk models and community resiliency indicators that will be useful in response to future economic shocks and disasters.


In 2020, the study focused on four mid-sized US cities: Minneapolis, MN; Cleveland, OH; Tampa, FL; and Des Moines, IA. We selected these cities because each demonstrated a unique state and local response to the COVID housing crisis and each had a rental registry that allowed us to identify and reach out to residential rental property owners. In 2022, we expanded our study to include five more cities: Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; New Orleans, LA; and Miami, FL. For round two, we focused on adding cities with higher levels of storm-based hazard risks.


The overall study includes three components: (1) an online survey of landlords and property managers; (2) follow up interviews with select willing landlords and property managers from the initial survey; and (3) interviews with local planners, public officials, landlord association representatives, and other policy stakeholders to collect their understanding of rental housing problems in the city and local landlord responses to those problems. This dashboard provides findings from the survey component of the research.


This research is supported by a COVID-19 rapid response grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF RAPID 2050264) , (NSF 2139816), and the Polk County Housing Trust Fund.