ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _______ to _______
Commission File Number: 001-36013 (American Homes 4 Rent)
Commission File Number: 333-221878-02 (American Homes 4 Rent, L.P.)
AMERICAN HOMES 4 RENT
AMERICAN HOMES 4 RENT, L.P.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
American Homes 4 Rent
American Homes 4 Rent, L.P.
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
30601 Agoura Road, Suite 200
Agoura Hills, California91301
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Class A common shares of beneficial interest, $.01 par value
New York Stock Exchange
Series D perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, $.01 par value
New York Stock Exchange
Series E perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, $.01 par value
New York Stock Exchange
Series F perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, $.01 par value
New York Stock Exchange
Series G perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, $.01 par value
New York Stock Exchange
Series H perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, $.01 par value
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
American Homes 4 Rent Yesý No ☐American Homes 4 Rent, L.P. Yesý No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.
American Homes 4 Rent Yes ☐NoýAmerican Homes 4 Rent, L.P. Yes ☐Noý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
American Homes 4 Rent Yesý No ☐American Homes 4 Rent, L.P. Yesý No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
American Homes 4 Rent Yesý No ☐American Homes 4 Rent, L.P. Yesý No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
American Homes 4 Rent
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
American Homes 4 Rent, L.P.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
American Homes 4 Rent ☐ American Homes 4 Rent, L.P. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).
American Homes 4 Rent Yes ☐ No ýAmerican Homes 4 Rent, L.P. Yes ☐ No ý
The aggregate market value of American Homes 4 Rent’s Class A common shares held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $6.3 billion based on the closing price for such shares on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2019. There is no public trading market for the common units of limited partnership interest of American Homes 4 Rent, L.P. As a result, the aggregate market value of the common units of limited partnership interest held by non-affiliates of American Homes 4 Rent, L.P. cannot be determined.
There were 300,166,813 shares of American Homes 4 Rent’s Class A common shares, $0.01 par value per share, and 635,075 shares of American Homes 4 Rent’s Class B common shares, $0.01 par value per share, outstanding on February 26, 2020.
Documents Incorporated by Reference
Portions of the Definitive Proxy Statement for our 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report. We expect to file our proxy statement within 120 days after December 31, 2019.
This report combines the annual reports on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, of American Homes 4 Rent and American Homes 4 Rent, L.P. Unless stated otherwise or the context otherwise requires, references to “AH4R” or the “General Partner” mean American Homes 4 Rent, a Maryland real estate investment trust (“REIT”), and references to the “Operating Partnership,” our “operating partnership” or the “OP” mean American Homes 4 Rent, L.P., a Delaware limited partnership, and its subsidiaries taken as a whole. References to the “Company,” “we,” “our,” and “us” mean collectively AH4R, the Operating Partnership and those entities/subsidiaries owned or controlled by AH4R and/or the Operating Partnership.
AH4R is the general partner of, and as of December 31, 2019, owned approximately 85.2% of the common partnership interest in the Operating Partnership. The remaining 14.8% of the common partnership interest was owned by limited partners. As the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership, AH4R has exclusive control of the Operating Partnership’s day-to-day management. The Company’s management operates AH4R and the Operating Partnership as one business, and the management of AH4R consists of the same members as the management of the Operating Partnership.
The Company believes that combining the annual reports on Form 10-K of the Company and the Operating Partnership into this single report provides the following benefits:
enhances investors’ understanding of the Company and the Operating Partnership by enabling investors to view the business as a whole in the same manner as management views and operates the business;
eliminates duplicative disclosure and provides a more streamlined and readable presentation since a substantial portion of the disclosure applies to both the Company and the Operating Partnership; and
creates time and cost efficiencies through the preparation of one combined report instead of two separate reports.
The Company believes it is important to understand the few differences between AH4R and the Operating Partnership in the context of how AH4R and the Operating Partnership operate as a consolidated company. AH4R’s primary function is acting as the general partner of the Operating Partnership. The only material asset of AH4R is its partnership interest in the Operating Partnership. As a result, AH4R generally does not conduct business itself, other than acting as the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership, issuing equity from time to time and guaranteeing certain debt of the Operating Partnership. AH4R itself is not directly obligated under any indebtedness, but guarantees some of the debt of the Operating Partnership. The Operating Partnership owns substantially all of the assets of the Company, including the Company’s ownership interests in its joint ventures, either directly or through its subsidiaries, conducts the operations of the Company’s business and is structured as a limited partnership with no publicly traded equity. One difference between the Company and the Operating Partnership is $25.7 million of asset-backed securitization certificates issued by the Operating Partnership and purchased by AH4R. The asset-backed securitization certificates are recorded as an asset-backed securitization certificates receivable by the Company and as an amount due from affiliates by the Operating Partnership. AH4R contributes all net proceeds from its various equity offerings to the Operating Partnership. In return for those contributions, AH4R receives Operating Partnership units (“OP units”) equal to the number of shares it has issued in the equity offering. Based on the terms of the Agreement of Limited Partnership of the Operating Partnership, as amended, OP units can be exchanged for shares on a one-for-one basis. Except for net proceeds from equity issuances by AH4R, the Operating Partnership generates the capital required by the Company’s business through the Operating Partnership’s operations, by the Operating Partnership’s incurrence of indebtedness or through the issuance of OP units.
Shareholders’ equity, partners’ capital and noncontrolling interests are the main areas of difference between the consolidated financial statements of the Company and those of the Operating Partnership. The limited partnership interests in the Operating Partnership are accounted for as partners’ capital in the Operating Partnership’s financial statements and as noncontrolling interests in the Company’s financial statements. The noncontrolling interests in the Operating Partnership’s financial statements include an outside ownership interest in a consolidated subsidiary of the Company, which was liquidated during the second quarter of 2018. The noncontrolling interests in the Company’s financial statements include the same noncontrolling interests at the Operating Partnership level, as well as the limited partnership interests in the Operating Partnership. The differences between shareholders’ equity and partners’ capital result from differences in the equity and capital issued at the Company and Operating Partnership levels.
To help investors understand the differences between the Company and the Operating Partnership, this report provides
separate consolidated financial statements for the Company and the Operating Partnership; a single set of consolidated notes to such financial statements that includes separate discussions of each entity’s debt, noncontrolling interests and shareholders’ equity or partners’ capital, as applicable; and a combined Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations section that includes discrete information related to each entity.
This report also includes separate Part II, “Item 9A. Controls and Procedures” sections and separate Exhibits 31 and 32 certifications for each of the Company and the Operating Partnership in order to establish that the requisite certifications have been made and that the Company and the Operating Partnership are compliant with Rule 13a-15 or Rule 15d-15 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and 18 U.S.C. §1350.
In order to highlight the differences between the Company and the Operating Partnership, the separate sections in this report for the Company and the Operating Partnership specifically refer to the Company and the Operating Partnership. In the sections that combine disclosure of the Company and the Operating Partnership, this report refers to actions or holdings as being actions or holdings of the Company. Although the Operating Partnership is generally the entity that directly or indirectly enters into contracts and joint ventures and holds assets and debt, reference to the Company is appropriate because the Company is one business and the Company operates that business through the Operating Partnership. The separate discussions of the Company and the Operating Partnership in this report should be read in conjunction with each other to understand the results of the Company on a consolidated basis and how management operates the Company.
Various statements contained in this document, including those that express a belief, expectation or intention, as well as those that are not statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements may include projections and estimates concerning the timing and success of specific projects and our future operations, revenues, income and capital spending. Our forward-looking statements are generally accompanied by words such as “estimate,” “project,” “predict,” “believe,” “expect,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “potential,” “plan,” “goal” or other words that convey the uncertainty of future events or outcomes. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations and assumptions about future events. While our management considers these expectations and assumptions to be reasonable, they are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, regulatory and other risks, contingencies and uncertainties, most of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control. These and other important factors, including those discussed under “Business,” “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and elsewhere in this document may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements.
While forward-looking statements reflect our good faith beliefs, assumptions and expectations, they are not guarantees of future performance, and you should not unduly rely on them. The forward-looking statements in this document speak only as of the date of this document. We are not obligated to update or revise these statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless required by applicable law.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
American Homes 4 Rent (“AH4R”) is an internally managed Maryland real estate investment trust (“REIT”) formed on October 19, 2012. American Homes 4 Rent, L.P., a Delaware limited partnership formed on October 22, 2012, and its consolidated subsidiaries (collectively, the “Operating Partnership,” our “operating partnership” or the “OP”) is the entity through which the Company conducts substantially all of our business and owns, directly or through subsidiaries, substantially all of our assets. References to the “Company,” “we,” “our,” and “us” mean collectively, AH4R, the Operating Partnership and those entities/subsidiaries owned or controlled by AH4R and/or the Operating Partnership. We are focused on acquiring, developing, renovating, leasing and operating single-family homes as rental properties. We commenced operations in November 2012.
AH4R is the general partner of, and as of December 31, 2019, owned approximately 85.2% of the common partnership interest in the Operating Partnership with the remaining 14.8% of the common partnership interest owned by limited partners. As the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership, AH4R has exclusive control of the Operating Partnership’s day-to-day management. The Company’s management operates AH4R and the Operating Partnership as one business, and the management of AH4R consists of the same members as the management of the Operating Partnership. AH4R’s primary function is acting as the general partner of the Operating Partnership. The only material asset of AH4R is its partnership interest in the Operating Partnership. As a result, AH4R generally does not conduct business itself, other than acting as the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership, issuing equity from time to time and guaranteeing certain debt of the Operating Partnership. AH4R itself is not directly obligated under any indebtedness, but guarantees some of the debt of the Operating Partnership. The Operating Partnership owns substantially all of the assets of the Company, including the Company’s ownership interests in its joint ventures, either directly or through its subsidiaries, conducts the operations of the Company’s business and is structured as a limited partnership with no publicly traded equity. One difference between the Company and the Operating Partnership is $25.7 million of asset-backed securitization certificates issued by the Operating Partnership and purchased by AH4R. The asset-backed securitization certificates are recorded as an asset-backed securitization certificates receivable by the Company and an amount due from affiliates by the Operating Partnership. AH4R contributes all net proceeds from its various equity offerings to the Operating Partnership. In return for those contributions, AH4R receives Operating Partnership units (“OP units”) equal to the number of shares it has issued in the equity offering. Based on the terms of the Agreement of Limited Partnership of the Operating Partnership, as amended, OP units can be exchanged for shares on a one-for-one basis. Except for net proceeds from equity issuances by AH4R, the Operating Partnership generates the capital required by the Company’s business through the Operating Partnership’s operations, by the Operating Partnership’s incurrence of indebtedness or through the issuance of OP units.
As of December 31, 2019, the Company held 52,552 single-family properties in selected sub-markets of metropolitan statistical areas (“MSAs”) within 22 states, including 1,187 properties classified as held for sale, and 48,767, or 94.9%, of our total properties (excluding properties held for sale) were occupied. We have an integrated operating platform that consists of 1,324 personnel dedicated to property management, acquisitions, development, marketing, leasing, financial and administrative functions.
We believe we have become a leader in the single-family home rental industry by aggregating a geographically diversified portfolio of high-quality single-family homes and developing “American Homes 4 Rent” into a nationally recognized brand that is well-known for quality, value and tenant satisfaction and is well respected in our communities. Our investments may be made directly or through investment vehicles with third-party investors. We began adding newly constructed “built-for-rental” single-family properties to our portfolio in 2017 through our internal “AMH Development Program” and through acquisitions from third-party developers via our “National Builder Program.” Our objective is to generate attractive, risk-adjusted returns for our shareholders through dividends and capital appreciation.
We believe that we have been organized and operate in conformity with the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT under U.S. federal income tax laws for each of our taxable years commencing with our taxable year ended December 31, 2012, through the current taxable year ended December 31, 2019. We expect to satisfy the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT under the U.S. federal income tax laws for our taxable year ending December 31, 2020, and subsequent taxable years.
We believe that the Operating Partnership is properly treated as a partnership for federal income tax purposes. As a partnership, the Operating Partnership is not subject to U.S. federal income tax on our income. Instead, each of the Operating Partnership’s partners, including AH4R, is allocated, and may be required to pay tax with respect to, its share of the Operating Partnership’s income. As such, no provision for U.S. federal income taxes has been included for the Operating Partnership.
Our principal executive office is located at 30601 Agoura Road, Suite 200, Agoura Hills, California 91301. Our main telephone number is (805) 413-5300. Our website address is www.americanhomes4rent.com. The information contained on our website is not part of or incorporated by reference in this report.
Our Business and Growth Strategies
Our primary objective is to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for our shareholders through dividends and capital appreciation by acquiring, developing, renovating, leasing and operating single-family homes as rental properties. We believe we can achieve this objective by pursuing the following strategies:
Secure early-mover advantage and position us as a dominant owner/operator of single-family rental properties. Historically, the single-family home rental market has been extremely fragmented, comprised primarily of private and individual property investors in local markets. Until recently, there have been no large-scale, national market owners/operators primarily due to the challenge of efficiently scaling the development/acquisition and management of many individual homes. With opportunities to cost-effectively develop homes and to continue acquiring homes at attractive prices, we intend to continue to leverage our expertise and experience in rapidly building an institutional-quality, professionally-managed business. We believe that being one of the first in our industry to do so on a large scale has provided us the “early-mover” advantage to continue aggregating a large, geographically diversified portfolio of high-quality properties at prices that provide attractive potential yields and capital appreciation.
Employ a disciplined property acquisition process. We have an established acquisition and renovation platform to source properties through a variety of traditional acquisition channels, including broker sales (primarily multiple listing service (“MLS”)) and bulk portfolio sales. We focus on homes with a number of key property characteristics, including: (i) construction after the year 2000; (ii) three or more bedrooms; (iii) two or more bathrooms; (iv) a range of $200,000 estimated minimum valuation to $450,000 maximum bid price; and (v) estimated renovation costs not in excess of 25% of estimated value. Our target areas have above average median household incomes, well-regarded school districts and access to desirable lifestyle amenities. We believe that homes in these areas will attract tenants with strong credit profiles, produce high occupancy and rental rates and generate long-term property appreciation. Not all of the homes we acquire through traditional channels meet all of these criteria, especially if acquired as part of a bulk purchase. In addition to our traditional MLS acquisition channel, we have increasingly been acquiring newly constructed homes from third-party developers through our National Builder Program.
Build a one-of-a-kind internal development program. We are increasingly focused on developing “built-for-rental” homes through our internal AMH Development Program, which we believe represents the best investment on a risk-adjusted return basis. Our “built-for-rental” homes will leverage our existing property management platform and are built with the long-term renter in mind, including maintenance resilient features, as well as floor plans, finishes and other features known to be desirable to our residents. Our experienced land acquisition team and our proprietary data analytics enables us to strategically identify ideal land opportunities that are within our existing footprint in our high-growth markets. Our inventory of land holdings and future acquisitions will allow us to sustain our projected stabilized level of development over the next several years.
Assemble a geographically diversified portfolio. We monitor and manage the diversification of our portfolio in order to reduce the risks associated with adverse developments affecting a particular market. We currently are focusing on developing and acquiring single-family homes in selected sub-markets of MSAs, with an emphasis on achieving critical mass within each target market. We continually evaluate potential new markets where we may invest and establish operations as opportunities emerge. We select our markets based on steady population growth and strong rental demand, providing for attractive potential yields and capital appreciation. In addition, if we are unable to gain desired critical mass within a market to operate efficiently, then we may pursue ways to exit those markets in a manner designed to maximize shareholder value.
Efficiently manage and operate properties. We believe we have created a leading, comprehensive single-family home property management business and that the key to efficiently managing a large number of relatively low-cost properties is to strike the appropriate balance between centralization and decentralization. We believe that in-house property management enables us to optimize rental revenues, effectively manage expenses, realize significant economies of scale, standardize brand consistency and maintain direct contact with our tenants. Our property management platform has local leasing agents and property managers who provide customer service to our tenants. Corporate-level functions are centralized, including management, accounting, legal, marketing and call centers to handle leasing and maintenance calls. These centralized services allow us to provide all markets with the benefits of these functions without the burden of staffing each function in every market. In addition, by having a national property management operation, we have the
ability to negotiate favorable terms on services and products with many of our contractors and vendors, including national contractors and vendors. Our property management functions are 100% internalized, which we believe provides us with consistency of service, control and branding in the operation of our properties.
Establish a nationally recognized brand. We continue to strive toward establishing “American Homes 4 Rent” as a nationally recognized brand because we believe that establishing a brand well-known for quality, value and tenant satisfaction will help attract and retain tenants and qualified personnel, as well as support higher rental rates. We believe that creating brand awareness will facilitate the growth and success of our company. We have established a toll-free number serviced by our call center and a website to provide a direct portal to reach potential tenants and to drive our brand presence. We believe our brand has gained recognition within a number of our markets.
Optimize capital structure. We may use leverage to increase potential returns to our shareholders, but we will seek to maintain a conservative and flexible balance sheet. We believe that preferred shares provide an attractive source of permanent capital. We have also obtained capital through the use of unsecured credit facilities, the issuance of unsecured senior notes, and through asset-backed securitization transactions completed during 2014 and 2015. We also participate in investment vehicles with third-party investors as an alternative source of equity to grow our business. Our executive officers have substantial experience organizing and managing investment vehicles with third-party investors.
Our Business Activities
Property Development, Acquisition, Renovation, Leasing and Property Management
Property Development. We are increasingly focused on developing “built-for-rental” homes through our internal AMH Development Program and acquiring newly constructed homes from third-party developers through our National Builder Program in target markets in selected sub-markets of MSAs. Rental homes developed through internal construction channels involve substantial up-front costs, time to acquire and develop land, and time to build the rental homes before the homes generate income. This process is dependent upon the availability of suitable land assets, the nature of each lot acquired, and the inventory of newly constructed homes and homes currently under construction.
The development timeline varies primarily due to land development requirements. Once land development requirements have been met, on average it takes approximately four to six months to complete the rental home vertical construction process. Our internal AMH Development Program is managed by our team of development professionals that oversee the full rental home construction process including all land development and work performed by subcontractors. Homes added via new construction channels are available for lease immediately upon or shortly after receipt of a certificate of occupancy. On average, it takes approximately 20 to 40 days to lease a property after its development.
Property Acquisition. We have a disciplined acquisition platform that is capable of deploying large amounts of capital across all acquisition channels and in multiple markets simultaneously. Our acquisition process begins with an analysis of housing markets. Target markets are selected based on steady population growth and strong rental demand, providing for attractive potential yields and potential capital appreciation. Our target markets currently include selected sub-markets of MSAs. Within our target markets, our system allows us to screen broadly and rapidly for potential acquisitions and is designed to identify highly targeted sub-markets at the neighborhood and street levels.
We have and will continue to source property acquisition opportunities through traditional channels, including broker sales (including traditional MLS sales) and portfolio (or bulk) sales. In particular, we have an extensive network of real estate brokers that facilitate a large volume of acquisitions through broker sales. Our team of dedicated personnel identifies opportunities for homes sold in bulk by institutions or competitors. Acquisitions through these channels generally allow more time for underwriting to determine the expected rents, expenses and renovation costs, obtain title insurance and review local covenant conditions and restrictions.
Property Renovation. We have a team of dedicated personnel to oversee the renovation process for homes added through traditional acquisition channels. This team focuses on maximizing the benefit of our investment in property renovation. Once a home is acquired, if it is not occupied, we promptly begin the renovation process, during which each property is thoroughly evaluated. Any resulting work is presented for bid to approved contractors in each of our markets. We have negotiated substantial quantity discounts in each of our markets for products that we regularly use during the renovation process, such as paint, window blinds and flooring. By establishing and enforcing best practices and quality consistency, we believe that we are able to reduce the costs of both materials and labor.
We have found that a rapid response to renovating our homes improves our relationship with the local communities and homeowners’ associations (“HOAs”), enhancing the “American Homes 4 Rent” brand recognition and loyalty. In general, property renovations are completed within approximately 40 to 60 days and properties are typically leased approximately 20 to 40 days after completing the renovation process. If a home that is acquired remains occupied, the renovation process may be postponed. However, an assessment is made of potential renovation work that must be addressed once the property can be accessed.
Property Management. We have developed an extensive in-house property management infrastructure, with modern systems, dedicated personnel and local offices in certain of our markets. In these markets, property managers employed by us execute all property management functions. We directly manage all of our properties without the engagement of a third-party manager.
Marketing and Leasing. We are responsible for establishing rental rates, marketing and leasing properties (including screening prospective tenants) and collecting and processing rent. We establish rental rates centrally, using data-driven pricing models, supported by analysis from the local property management teams in each market. Factors considered in establishing the rental rates include a competitive analysis of rents, the size and age of the house, and many qualitative factors, such as neighborhood characteristics and access to quality schools, transportation and services. We advertise the available properties through multiple channels, including our website, online marketplaces, MLS, yard signs and local brokers. The majority of our homes are shown using technology-driven “self-guided” showings.
Prospective tenants may submit an application through our website or in person. We evaluate prospective tenants in a standardized manner. Our application and evaluation process includes obtaining appropriate identification, a thorough evaluation of credit and household income and a review of the applicant’s rental history. Although we require a minimum household credit score and income to rent ratio, all factors are taken into consideration during the tenant evaluation process, including an emphasis on rental payment history. On average, household credit scores and income to rent ratios of approved applicants are significantly in excess of our minimum requirements. We are generally able to complete our application and evaluation process the same day the prospective tenant submits a complete rental application. We collect the majority of rent electronically via Automated Clearing House transfer or direct debit to the tenant’s checking account via a secure tenant portal on our website. An auto-pay feature is offered to facilitate rent payment. Tenants’ charges and payment history are available to tenants online through the tenant portal. Tenants who do not pay rent by the late payment date (typically within five calendar days of the due date) will receive notification and are assessed a late fee. Eviction is a last resort, and the eviction process is managed in compliance with local and state regulations. The eviction process is documented through a property management system with all correspondence and documentation stored electronically.
Tenant Relations and Property Maintenance. We also are responsible for property repairs and maintenance and tenant relations. We offer a 24/7 emergency line to handle after-hours issues, and our tenants can contact us through our local property management office or call center. As part of our ongoing property management, we conduct routine repairs and maintenance as appropriate to maximize long-term rental income and cash flows from our portfolio, and are increasingly performing this work using in-house employees as opposed to third-party vendors. In addition, our local teams are involved in periodic visits to our properties to help foster positive, long-term relationships with our tenants, to monitor the condition and use of our homes and to ensure compliance with HOA rules and regulations.
Systems and Technology. Effective systems and technology are essential components of our process. We have made significant investments in our lease management, accounting and asset management systems. They are designed to be scalable to accommodate continued growth in our portfolio of homes. Our website is fully integrated into the tenant accounting and leasing system. From the website, which is accessible from mobile devices, prospective tenants can browse homes available for rent, request additional information and apply to rent a specific home. Through the tenant portal existing tenants can set up automatic payments. The system is designed to handle the accounting requirements of residential property accounting, including accounting for security deposits and paying property-level expenses. The system obtains credit information from a major credit bureau, which is used to evaluate prospective tenant rental applications.
We face various forms of risk in our business ranging from broad economic, housing market and interest rate risks, to more specific factors, such as credit risk related to our tenants, re-leasing of properties and competition for properties. We believe that the systems and processes developed by our experienced executive team since commencing our operations in November 2012 allow us to monitor, manage and ultimately navigate these risks.
We maintain property, liability and corporate level insurance coverage related to our business, including crime and fidelity, property management errors and omissions, trustees’ and officers’ errors and omissions, cyber liability, employment practice liability and workers’ compensation. 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 substantial deductibles and carveouts, and we will be self-insured up to the amount of such deductibles and carveouts. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We are self-insured against many potential losses, and uninsured or underinsured losses relating to properties may adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, cash flows and ability to make distributions on our preferred and common shares” and “Risk Factors—Risks Related to the Real Estate Industry—Environmentally hazardous conditions may adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows and operating results.”
We face competition from different sources in each of our two primary activities: developing/acquiring properties and renting our properties. We believe our primary competitors in acquiring our target properties through individual acquisitions are individual investors, small private investment partnerships looking for one-off acquisitions of investment properties that can either be rented 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 of properties or land assets include large and small private equity investors, public and private REITs, other sizeable private institutional investors and other homebuilders. These same competitors may also compete with us for tenants. Competition may increase the prices for properties and land that we would like to purchase, reduce the amount of rent we may charge at our properties, reduce the occupancy of our portfolio and adversely impact our ability to achieve attractive yields. However, we believe that our acquisition platform, our extensive in-house property management infrastructure and market knowledge in markets that meet our selection criteria provide us with competitive advantages.
Our properties are subject to various covenants, laws and ordinances, and certain of our properties are also subject to the rules of the various HOAs where such properties are located. We believe that we are in material compliance with such covenants, laws, ordinances and rules, and we also require that our tenants 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 U.S. 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 securing custody of children under the age of 18), handicap or, in some states, financial capability. We believe that our properties are in substantial compliance with the FHA and other regulations.
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. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—Contingent or unknown liabilities could adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows and operating results” and “Risk Factors—Risks Related to the Real Estate Industry—Environmentally hazardous conditions may adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows and operating results.”
AH4R has elected to be taxed as a REIT commencing with our first taxable year ended December 31, 2012. Our qualification as a REIT, and maintenance of such qualification, depends upon our ability to meet, on a continuing basis, various complex requirements under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), relating to, among other things, the sources of our gross income, the composition and values of our assets, our distributions to our shareholders and the concentration of ownership of our equity shares. We believe that, commencing with our initial taxable year ended December 31, 2012, we have been organized in conformity with the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT.
As a REIT, we generally will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on our REIT taxable income that we currently distribute to our shareholders, but taxable income generated by any of our taxable REIT subsidiaries (our “TRS”) will be subject to U.S. federal, state and local income tax. Under the Code, REITs are subject to numerous organizational and operational requirements, including a requirement that they distribute annually at least 90% of their REIT taxable income to their shareholders. If AH4R fails to qualify as a REIT in any taxable year and does not qualify for certain statutory relief provisions, our income would be subject to U.S. federal income tax, and we would likely be precluded from qualifying for treatment as a REIT until the fifth calendar year following the year in which we fail to qualify. Even if AH4R qualifies as a REIT, we may still be subject to certain U.S. federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets and to U.S. federal income and excise taxes on our undistributed income.
Investment Company Act of 1940
We intend to conduct our operations so that neither we nor any of our subsidiaries are required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940.
As of December 31, 2019, we have 1,324 dedicated personnel. None of our personnel are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
We believe that our business and related operating results will be impacted by seasonal factors throughout the year. We experience higher levels of tenant move-outs and move-ins during the late spring and summer months, which impacts both our rental revenues and related turnover costs. Further, our property operating costs are seasonally impacted in certain markets for expenses such as HVAC repairs, turn costs and landscaping expenses during the summer season. Additionally, our single-family properties are at greater risk in certain markets for adverse weather conditions such as hurricanes in the late summer months and extreme cold weather in the winter months.
Our website address is www.americanhomes4rent.com. We make available free of charge on or through our website our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file the report with or furnish it to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). This information is also available in print to any shareholder who requests it, with any such requests addressed to Investor Relations, American Homes 4 Rent, 30601 Agoura Road, Suite 200, Agoura Hills, CA 91301. We also make available free of charge on our website our Corporate Governance Guidelines, our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and the charters of the Audit Committee, Compensation Committee and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of the Company’s board of trustees. We intend to disclose on our website any changes to, or waivers from, our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. The information contained on our website shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into this or any other report we file with, or furnish to, the SEC. The SEC maintains a website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
Risks Related to Our Business
Set forth below are the risks that we believe are material to our shareholders. You should consider these risks carefully when evaluating our company and our business. The risks described below may not be the only risks we face. Additional risks of which we are currently unaware or that we currently consider immaterial also may impact our business. If any of the following events or circumstances actually occur, our business, prospects, financial condition, results of operations and ability to satisfy our debt
obligations and make distributions to our shareholders could be materially and adversely affected, and you could lose all or part of your investment in our securities. Some statements in the following risk factors are forward-looking statements. See the section entitled “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”
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, local property managers. Our investment strategy involves purchasing, renovating, maintaining and managing a large number of residential properties and leasing them to suitable tenants. Large, well-capitalized investors have only recently entered this business and, as a result, there are not peer companies with an established long-term track record to assist us in predicting whether our investment strategy can be implemented and sustained successfully over time. It will 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 implementing our investment strategy and operations, which may adversely affect our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders and cause our share price to decline significantly.
We may not be able to successfully operate our business or generate sufficient cash flows to make or sustain distributions on our preferred and common shares.
We may not be able to successfully operate our business or implement our operating policies and investment strategy. Furthermore, we may not be able to generate sufficient cash flows to pay our operating expenses, service any debt and make distributions to our shareholders. Our ability to successfully operate our business and implement our operating policies and investment strategy depends on many factors, including:
the availability of, and our ability to identify, attractive acquisition and development opportunities consistent with our investment strategy;
our ability to effectively manage development, renovation, maintenance, marketing and other operating costs for our properties;
our ability to maintain high occupancy rates and target rent levels;
our ability to compete with other investors entering the single-family sector;
costs that are beyond our control, including weather-related damage, title litigation, litigation with tenants or tenant organizations, legal compliance, real estate 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 rents;
judicial and regulatory developments affecting banks’ and other mortgage holders’ ability to foreclose on delinquent borrowers;
judicial and regulatory developments related to environmental or climate change matters that could limit or increase the cost of our developments and operations;
reversal of population, employment or homeownership trends in target markets;
interest rate levels and volatility, such as the accessibility of short-term and long-term financing on desirable terms; and
economic conditions in our target 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.
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. Any one or more of these factors could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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.
We continue to add to our existing portfolio through our development and acquisition activities. 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 additional properties and tenant relationships while maintaining a high level of tenant satisfaction and building and enhancing our brand;
attract, integrate and retain new management and operations personnel as our organization grows in size and complexity;
continue to improve our operational and financial controls and reporting procedures and systems; and
scale our technology and other infrastructure platforms to adequately service new properties.
There can be no assurance that we will be able to achieve these results or that we may otherwise be able to manage our growth effectively, or without incurring significant additional expenses. Any failure to do so may have an adverse effect on our business and operating results.
We intend to continue to expand our scale of operations and develop properties and make acquisitions even if the rental and housing markets are not as favorable as they were when we commenced operations, which could adversely impact anticipated yields.
Our long-term growth depends, in part, on the availability of acquisition opportunities for land and properties in our target markets at acceptable pricing levels. We believe home prices have stabilized in many areas and expect that in the future, housing prices will continue to stabilize, and therefore future acquisitions may be more costly. The following factors, among others, are making acquisitions more expensive:
improvements in the overall economy and job market;
a resumption of consumer lending activity and greater availability of consumer credit;
improvements in the pricing and terms of mortgage-backed securities;
our ability to expand our development operations while controlling increases in the cost of acquiring land and construction costs and delays;
the emergence of increased competition for single-family assets from private investors and entities with similar investment objectives to ours; and
tax or other government incentives that encourage homeownership.
We have not adopted and do not expect to adopt a policy of making future acquisitions only if they are accretive to existing yields and distributable cash. 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 and preferred shares may decline.
Our future growth depends, in part, on the availability of additional debt or equity financing. If we cannot obtain additional financing on terms favorable or acceptable to us, our growth may be limited.
Part of our business strategy may involve the use of debt and equity financing to increase potential returns to our shareholders in the future. Our inability in the future to obtain additional financing on attractive terms, or at all, could adversely impact our ability to execute our business strategy, which could adversely affect our growth prospects and future shareholder returns. Our access to capital depends, in part, on:
general business conditions;
financial market conditions;
the market’s perception of our business prospects and growth potential;
the market prices of our common and preferred shares;
our current debt levels; and
our current and expected earnings, cash flow and distributions.
We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain debt or equity financing on terms favorable or acceptable to us or at all. If we are unable to do so, then we may have to curtail our investment activities, which could limit our growth prospects, and we may be forced to dispose of assets at inopportune times in order to maintain our REIT qualification or satisfy our debt obligations. We continue to seek additional sources of financing for our acquisitions. Our pace of acquisitions may depend on the level of funds available for investment. In addition, if we are unable to obtain debt financing, then we may have to rely more heavily on additional equity issuances, which may be dilutive to our shareholders, or on less efficient forms of debt financing that require a larger portion of our cash flow from operations, thereby reducing funds available for our operations, future business opportunities, cash distributions to our shareholders and other purposes.
Our revenue and expenses are not directly correlated, and because a large percentage of our costs and expenses are fixed, we may not be able to adapt our cost structure to offset declines in our revenue.
Most of the expenses associated with our business, such as acquisition costs, repairs and maintenance costs, real estate taxes, HOA fees, insurance, utilities, personal and ad valorem taxes, employee wages and benefits 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 will require a significant amount of ongoing capital expenditures. Our expenses and ongoing capital expenditures also will be affected by inflationary increases, and certain of our cost increases may exceed the rate of inflation in any given period. By contrast, our rental income is affected by many factors beyond our control such as the availability of alternative rental housing and economic conditions in our target 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. As a result, we may not be able to fully offset rising costs and capital spending by raising rental rates, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and cash available for distribution.
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 highly skilled managerial, investment, financial and operational personnel.
We rely on a small number of individuals to carry out our business and investment strategies. Any of our senior management may cease to provide services to us at any time. 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, as we expand our operations, we will continue to need to attract and retain additional qualified personnel but may not be able to do so on acceptable terms or at all. Competition for highly skilled managerial, investment, financial and operational personnel is intense. As additional large real estate investors have entered the single-family rental and related business, we have faced increased challenges in hiring and retaining personnel, and we cannot assure our shareholders 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 investments are, and are expected to 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 are expected to continue to be, concentrated in our target 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.
In addition to general, regional, national and international economic conditions, our operating performance will be impacted by the economic conditions in our markets. We acquire, develop, renovate, lease and operate single-family properties in our target markets, which currently include MSAs within 22 states. As of December 31, 2019, approximately 61% of our properties in operation were concentrated in five states—Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. We base a substantial part of our business plan on our belief that property values and operating fundamentals for single-family properties in these markets will improve significantly over the next several years. However, each of these markets has experienced substantial economic downturns in recent years and could experience similar or worse economic downturns in the future. 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, which could adversely affect our financial condition, operating results and ability to make distributions to our shareholders and cause the value of our outstanding securities to decline.
We may not be able to effectively control the timing and costs relating to the renovation of properties, which may adversely affect our operating results and our ability to make distributions on our preferred and common shares.
Nearly all of our properties acquired through traditional channels require some level of renovation immediately upon their acquisition or in the future following expiration of a lease or otherwise. We may acquire properties that we plan to renovate extensively. We also may 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 tenants, renovations may be postponed until the tenant vacates the premises, and we will pay the costs of renovating. In addition, from time to time, in order to reposition properties in the rental market, we will be required to make ongoing capital improvements and replacements and perform significant renovations and repairs that tenant deposits and insurance may not cover.
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. 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 shareholders may be adversely affected.
We face significant competition for acquisitions of our target properties, which may limit our strategic opportunities and increase the cost to acquire those properties.
We face significant competition for attractive acquisition opportunities in our target markets from other large real estate investors, including developers, some of which may have greater financial resources and a lower cost of capital than we do. We also compete with individual private home buyers and small-scale investors. Several REITs and other funds have deployed, and others may in the future deploy, significant amounts of capital to purchase single-family homes and may have investment objectives that overlap and compete with ours, including in our target markets. This activity has adversely impacted our level of purchases in certain of our target markets. If our business model or a similar model proves to be successful, we can expect competition to intensify significantly. As a result, the purchase price of potential acquisition properties may be significantly elevated, or we may be unable to acquire properties on desirable terms or at all.
We face significant competition in the leasing market for quality tenants, which may limit our ability to rent our single-family homes on favorable terms or at all.
We depend on rental income for substantially all of our revenues, and to succeed we must attract and retain qualified tenants. We face competition for tenants from other lessors of single-family properties, apartment buildings and condominium units, and the continuing development of single-family properties, apartment buildings and condominium units in many of our markets increases the supply of housing and exacerbates competition for tenants. Competing properties may be newer, better located and more attractive to tenants. Potential competitors may have lower rates of occupancy than we do or may have superior access to capital and other resources than we do, which may result in competitive properties offered at lower rental rates than we might offer. Many of these competitors may successfully attract tenants with better incentives and amenities, which could adversely affect our ability to obtain quality tenants and lease our single-family properties on favorable terms or at all. Additionally, some competing housing options may qualify for government subsidies that may make such options more affordable and therefore more attractive than our properties.
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 accelerating development of competing properties or high vacancy rates of homes in our markets, which could result in an excess supply of homes and reduce occupancy and rental rates.
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 affordable and 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 tenants available to us.
As of December 31, 2019, we owned 52,552 single-family properties, including 1,187 properties classified as held for sale, and 48,767, or 94.9%, of our total properties (excluding properties held for sale) were occupied. No assurance can be given that we will be able to attract and retain qualified tenants. Our operating results and ability to make distributions to the Company’s shareholders and the Operating Partnership’s OP unitholders, including AH4R, would be adversely affected if we are not able to lease our properties on favorable terms or at all.
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 or overvaluing our properties or our properties failing to perform as we expect.
In determining whether a particular property meets our investment criteria, we make a number of assumptions, including 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 tenant default rates. These assumptions may prove inaccurate. As a result, we may pay too much for properties we acquire 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. Reductions in the supply of properties that meet our investment criteria may adversely affect our ability to implement our investment strategy and operating results.
Furthermore, the properties that we acquire vary materially in terms of time to possession, renovation, quality and type of construction, location and hazards. 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 rentable condition. Our ability to identify and acquire such properties is fundamental to our success. In addition, the recent market and regulatory environments relating to single-family residential properties have been changing rapidly, making future trends difficult to forecast. For example, an increasing number of homeowners now wait for an eviction notice or eviction proceedings to commence before vacating foreclosed premises, which significantly increases the time period between the acquisition and leasing of a property. Such changes affect the accuracy of our assumptions and, in turn, may adversely affect our operating results.
Bulk portfolio acquisitions may subject us to the risk of acquiring properties that do not fit our target investment criteria and may be costly or time consuming to divest, which may adversely affect our operating results.
We have occasionally acquired and may continue to acquire properties purchased as portfolios in bulk from other owners of single-family homes. 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 tenants 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 timely 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 properties purchased in bulk portfolios do not fit our target investment criteria, we may decide to sell, rather than renovate and rent, these properties, which could take an extended period of time and may not result in a sale at an attractive price. We may also experience delays in integrating the information systems and property and tenant information of the acquired properties which could adversely affect operating results.
Our expanded development activities expose us to additional operational and real estate risks, which may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
We are expanding our development activities, including the acquisition of land and construction of homes. We are constructing single-family homes as well as rental communities. Since 2017, we have added a total of 1,054 “built-for-rental” homes to our portfolio through our AMH Development Program. We have limited experience building homes and in constructing and renting rental communities. Rental home construction can involve substantial up-front costs to acquire land and to build a rental home or rental community before a home is available for rent and generates income. In addition to the up-front costs, building rental homes and rental communities involve potentially significant new risks to our business, such as delays or cost increases due to changes in or failure to meet regulatory requirements, including permitting and zoning regulations, failure of lease rentals on newly-constructed properties to achieve anticipated investment returns, inclement weather, adverse site selection, unforeseen site conditions or shortages
of suitable land, construction materials and labor and other risks described below. We may be unable to achieve our objective of building new rental homes and rental communities that generate acceptable returns and, as a result, our growth and results of operations may be adversely impacted.
Our success in expanding our development activities depends in large part on our ability to acquire land that is suitable for residential homebuilding and meets our land investment criteria.
There is strong competition among homebuilders for land that is suitable for residential development. The future availability of finished and partially finished developed lots and undeveloped land that meet our internal criteria depends on a number of factors outside our control, including land availability in general, competition with other homebuilders and land buyers for desirable property, inflation in land prices, zoning, allowable housing density, and other regulatory requirements. Should suitable lots or land become less available, the number of homes we could build and lease could be reduced, and the cost of land could increase, perhaps substantially, which could adversely impact our growth and results of operations.
We rely on subcontractors to construct our homes and on building supply companies to supply components for the construction of our homes. The failure of our subcontractors to properly construct our homes or defects in the components we obtain from building supply companies could have an adverse effect on us.
We engage subcontractors to perform the actual construction of our homes and purchase components used in the construction of our homes from building supply companies. Despite our quality control efforts, we may discover that our subcontractors were engaging in improper construction practices or that the components purchased from building supply companies are not performing as specified. The occurrence of such events could require us to repair the homes in accordance with our standards and as required by law. The cost of satisfying our legal obligations in these instances may be significant, and we may be unable to recover the cost of repair from subcontractors, suppliers and insurers.
If we experience shortages or increased costs of labor and supplies or other circumstances beyond our control, there could be delays or increased costs in constructing new rental homes, which could adversely affect our growth and operating results.
Our ability to build new rental homes may be adversely affected by circumstances beyond our control, including work stoppages, labor disputes, and shortages of qualified trades people, such as carpenters, roofers, masons, electricians, and plumbers; changes in laws relating to union organizing activity; lack of availability of adequate utility or infrastructure and services, our need to rely on local subcontractors who may not be adequately capitalized or insured; and shortages delays in availability, or fluctuations in prices of building materials. Any of these circumstances could give rise to delays in the start or completion of, or could increase the cost of, constructing new rental homes.
Adverse weather conditions, natural disasters, and other conditions could disrupt construction of new rental homes, which could harm our growth and results of operations.
Adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, droughts, and fires, can have serious effects on our ability to build homes for rent. We also may be affected by unforeseen engineering, environmental, or geological conditions or problems, including conditions or problems which arise on lands of third parties in the vicinity of our rental homes, but nevertheless negatively impact our properties. Any of these adverse events or circumstances could cause delays in or prevent the completion of, or increase the cost of, developing one or more of our rental homes or residential communities and, as a result, could harm our growth and results of operations.
We are subject to risks from natural disasters and severe weather.
Natural disasters and severe weather such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes or floods may result in significant damage to our properties. The extent of our casualty losses and loss in rental income in connection with such events depends on the severity of the event and the total amount of exposure in the affected area.
We have a concentration of homes in areas susceptible to hurricanes, including Florida and our Southeast markets. When we have geographic concentration of exposures, a single catastrophe (such as an earthquake) 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.
If occupancy levels and rental rates in our target markets do not increase sufficiently to keep pace with rising costs of operations, our net income and distributable cash will decline.
The success of our business model depends, in part, on conditions in the single-family rental market in our target markets. Our asset acquisitions are premised on assumptions about occupancy levels and rental rates, and if those assumptions prove to be inaccurate, our cash flows and profitability will be reduced. A continuation of the recent strengthening of the U.S. economy and job growth, coupled with government programs designed to keep homeowners in their homes and/or other factors may contribute to an increase in homeownership rather than renting. 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 increase and the competition for tenants may intensify. A softening of the rental market in our target areas would reduce our rental income and profitability.
We depend on our tenants for substantially all of our revenues. Poor tenant selection and defaults and nonrenewals by our tenants may adversely affect our reputation, financial performance and ability to make distributions on our preferred and common shares.
We depend on rental income from tenants for substantially all of our revenues. As a result, our success depends in large part upon our ability to attract and retain qualified tenants for our properties. Our reputation, financial performance and ability to make distributions to our shareholders would be adversely affected if a significant number of our tenants fail to meet their lease obligations or fail to renew their leases. For example, tenants 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. 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 the economic conditions in our markets could result in substantial tenant defaults. In the event of a tenant 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.
Short-term leases of residential property may expose 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, which may adversely affect our operating results and our ability to make distributions on our preferred and common shares.
Substantially all of our new leases have a duration of one year. As these leases permit tenants to leave at the end of the lease term without penalty, we anticipate our rental revenues may be affected by declines in market rents 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 tenant turnover rate and related cost estimates may be less accurate than if we had more operating data upon which to base such estimates. Moreover, we cannot assure you that our leases will be renewed on equal or better terms or at all. If our tenants do not renew their leases or the rental rates for our properties decrease, our operating results and ability to make distributions to our shareholders could be adversely affected.
We are self-insured against many potential losses, and uninsured or underinsured losses relating to properties may adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, cash flows and ability to make distributions on our preferred and common shares.
We attempt to ensure that our properties are adequately insured to cover casualty losses. However, many of the policies covering casualty losses may be subject to substantial deductibles and carveouts, and we will be self-insured up to the amount of the deductibles and carveouts. There are also some losses, including losses from floods, windstorms, fires, earthquakes, acts of war, acts of terrorism or riots, that may not always be insured against or that are not generally fully insured against because it is not deemed economically feasible or prudent to do so. In addition, changes in the cost or availability of insurance could expose us to uninsured casualty losses.
In the event that any of the properties we acquire incur a casualty loss that is not fully covered by insurance, the value of our assets will be reduced by the amount of any such uninsured loss, and we could experience a significant loss of capital invested and potential revenues in these properties and could potentially remain obligated under any recourse debt associated with the property. 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 property after it has been damaged or destroyed. Under those circumstances, the insurance proceeds we receive might be inadequate to restore our economic position on the damaged or destroyed property. Any such losses could adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, cash flows and ability to make distributions on our preferred and
common shares. In addition, we may have no source of funding to repair or reconstruct the damaged property, and we cannot assure you that any such sources of funding will be available to us for such purposes in the future.
Contingent or unknown liabilities could adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows and operating results.
We may acquire properties that are subject to contingent or unknown 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 real estate 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, among other things. Purchases of single-family properties acquired from lenders or in bulk purchases typically involve few or no representations or warranties with respect to the properties. Such properties often have unpaid tax, utility and HOA liabilities for which we may be obligated but fail to anticipate. In each case, our acquisition may be without any, or with only limited, recourse against the sellers with respect to unknown liabilities or conditions. As a result, if any such liability were to arise relating to our properties, or if any adverse condition exists with respect to our properties that is in excess of our insurance coverage, we might have to pay substantial amounts to settle or cure it, which could adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows and operating results.
In addition, the properties we acquire may be subject to covenants, conditions or restrictions that restrict the use or ownership of such properties, including prohibitions on leasing or requirements to obtain the approval of HOAs prior to leasing. We may not discover such restrictions during the acquisition process, and such restrictions may adversely affect our ability to utilize such properties as we intend.
We are highly dependent on information systems and systems failures and delays could significantly disrupt our business, which may, in turn, adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
Our operations are dependent upon our resident portal and property management platforms, including marketing, leasing, vendor communications, finance, intracompany communications, resident portal and property management 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 or hackers 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.
If our confidential information is compromised or corrupted, including as a result of a cybersecurity breach, our reputation and business relationships could be damaged, which could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
A cyber incident is an intentional attack or an unintentional event that can include gaining unauthorized access to systems to disrupt operations, corrupt data or steal confidential information, including information regarding our residents, prospective tenants, and employees.
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 cyber attacks. 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 tenants, our employees and third-party service providers in our branch offices and on our networks and website. The secure processing and maintenance of this information is critical to our operations and business strategy. Despite our security measures, our information technology and infrastructure may be vulnerable to attacks by hackers or breached due to employee error, malfeasance or other disruptions.
Despite system redundancy, the implementation of security measures, required employee awareness training and the existence of a disaster recovery plan for our internal information technology systems, our systems and systems maintained by third-party vendors with which we do business are vulnerable to damage from any number of sources. We face risks associated with security breaches, whether through cyber attacks or cyber intrusions over the Internet, malware, computer viruses, attachment to emails, phishing attempts or other scams, persons inside our organization or persons/vendors with access to our systems and other significant disruptions of our information technology networks and related systems. Our information technology networks and related systems are essential to the operation of our business and our ability to perform day-to-day operations. Even the most well-protected information systems remain potentially vulnerable because the techniques used in such attempted security breaches evolve and generally are not recognized until launched against a target, and in some cases are designed not to be detected, and, in fact, may not be detected.
Accordingly, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate security barriers or other preventative measures and thus it is impossible for us to entirely mitigate this risk.
We address potential breaches or disclosure of this confidential personally identifiable information by implementing a variety of security measures intended to protect the confidentiality and security of this information including, among others: (a) engaging reputable, recognized firms to help us design and maintain our information technology and data security stems; (b) conducting periodic testing and verification of information and data security systems, including performing ethical hacks of our systems to discover where any vulnerabilities may exist; and (c) providing periodic employee awareness training around phishing and other scams, malware and other cyber risks. We also maintain cyber risk insurance to provide some coverage for certain risks arising out of data and network breaches. However, there can be no assurance that these measures will prevent a cyber incident or that our cyber risk insurance coverage will be sufficient in the event of a cyber-attack.
Any such breach could compromise our networks and the information stored there could be accessed, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen. Any such access, disclosure or other loss of information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability under laws that protect the privacy of personal information, regulatory penalties, the loss of our residents, disruption to our operations and the services we provide to residents or damage our reputation, any of which could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
A significant number of our properties are part of HOAs, and we and our tenants are subject to the rules and regulations of such HOAs, which may be arbitrary or restrictive, and violations of such rules may subject us to additional fees and penalties and litigation with such HOAs that would be costly.
A significant number of our properties are part of HOAs, which are private entities that regulate the activities of, and levy assessments on properties in, a residential subdivision. HOAs in which we own properties may have or enact onerous or arbitrary rules that restrict our ability to renovate, market or lease our properties or require us to renovate or maintain such properties at standards or costs that are in excess of our planned operating budgets. Such rules may include requirements for landscaping, limitations on signage promoting a property for lease or sale, or the use of specific construction materials in renovations. The number of HOAs that impose limits on the number of property owners who may rent their homes is increasing. Such restrictions limit acquisition opportunities and could cause us to incur additional costs to resell the property and opportunity costs of lost rental income. Furthermore, many HOAs impose restrictions on the conduct of occupants of homes and the use of common areas and we may have tenants who violate HOA rules and 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 boards of directors of the HOAs in which we own properties 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 the property and any such excessively restrictive or arbitrary regulations may cause us to sell such property at a loss, prevent us from renting such property or otherwise reduce our cash flow from such property, which would have an adverse effect on our returns on these properties.
Joint venture investments that we make could 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 have co-invested, and may continue to co-invest in the future, with third parties through partnerships, joint ventures or other entities, acquiring noncontrolling interests in or sharing responsibility for managing the affairs of a property, partnership, joint venture or other entity. As a result, we would not be in a position to exercise sole decision-making authority regarding the property, partnership, joint venture or other entity which could, among other things, impact our ability to satisfy the REIT requirements. 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 trustees from focusing their time and effort on our business. Consequently, actions by, or disputes with, our 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 our third-party partners or co-venturers. In addition, we may not be able to close joint ventures on the anticipated schedule or at all. Each of these factors may result in returns on these investments being less than we expect and our financial and operating results may be adversely impacted.
We are involved in a variety of litigation.
We are involved in a range of legal actions in the ordinary course of business. These actions may include, among others, eviction proceedings and other landlord-tenant disputes, challenges to title and ownership rights (including actions brought by prior owners alleging wrongful foreclosure by their lender or servicer), disputes arising over potential violations of HOA rules and regulations and issues with local housing officials arising from the condition or maintenance of the property and outside vendor disputes. 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. While we intend to vigorously defend any non-meritorious action or challenge, we cannot assure you that we will not be subject to expenses and losses that may adversely affect our operating results.
Government investigations or legal proceedings brought by governmental authorities may result in significant costs and expenses and reputational harm and may divert resources from our operations and therefore could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results or cash flows.
From time to time, we may be subject to government investigations or legal proceedings brought by governmental authorities. Government investigations and any related legal proceedings may result in significant costs and expenses, including legal fees, and divert management attention and company resources from our operations and execution of our business strategy. If any such proceedings are resolved adversely, governmental agencies could impose damages and fines, and may issue injunctions, cease and desist orders, bars on serving as a public company officer or director and other equitable remedies against us or our directors and officers. The financial costs could be in excess of our insurance coverage or not be covered by our insurance coverage. Any governmental legal proceeding, whether or not resolved adversely, could also negatively impact our reputation. Therefore, government investigations or legal proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results or cash flows.
If we fail to maintain an effective system of integrated internal controls, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results.
In connection with operating as a public company, we are required to provide reliable financial statements and reports to our shareholders. To monitor the accuracy and reliability of our financial reporting, we have established an internal audit function that oversees our internal controls. In addition, we have developed policies and procedures with respect to company-wide business processes and cycles in order to implement effective internal control over financial reporting. While we have undertaken substantial work to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we cannot be certain that we will continue to be successful in maintaining effective internal control over our financial reporting and may determine in the future that our existing internal controls need improvement. If we fail to comply with proper overall controls, we could be materially harmed or we could fail to meet our reporting obligations. In addition, the existence of a material weakness or significant deficiency in our internal controls could result in errors in our financial statements that could require a restatement, cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations, result in increased costs to remediate any deficiencies, attract regulatory scrutiny or lawsuits and cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, leading to a substantial decline in the market price of our preferred and common shares.
Future debt service obligations could adversely affect the Company’s operating results, may require us to sell properties and could adversely affect the Company’s ability to make distributions on our preferred and common shares and the Operating Partnership’s ability to make distributions on its OP units.
Our financing strategy contemplates the use of secured and unsecured debt to finance long-term growth. Our outstanding borrowings contain certain debt covenants that limit the outstanding principal we may incur on our consolidated indebtedness. While we intend to comply with all debt covenants, our governing documents contain no limitations on the amount of debt that we may incur, and the Company’s board of trustees may change our financing strategy at any time without shareholder approval. As a result, we may be able to incur substantial additional debt in the future.
Incurring debt could subject us to many risks, including the risks that:
our cash flows from operations will be insufficient to make required payments of principal and interest;
our debt may increase our vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions;
we may be required to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to payments on our debt, thereby reducing cash available for distribution to shareholders and unitholders, funds available for operations and capital expenditures, future business opportunities or other purposes;
we violate restrictive covenants in the documents that govern our indebtedness, which would entitle our lenders to accelerate our debt obligations;
refinancing of the debt may not be available on favorable terms or at all; and
the use of leverage could adversely affect our ability to make distributions to shareholders and unitholders and the market price of our preferred and common shares.
If we incur debt in the future and do not have sufficient funds to repay our debt at maturity, it may be necessary to refinance the debt through additional debt or equity financings. If, at the time of any refinancing, prevailing interest rates or other factors result in higher interest rates on refinancings, increases in interest expense could adversely affect our operating results and cash flows and, consequently, cash available for distribution to shareholders and unitholders. If we are unable to refinance our debt on acceptable terms, we may be forced to dispose of substantial numbers of properties on disadvantageous terms, potentially resulting in losses. To the extent we cannot meet any future debt service obligations, we will risk losing some or all of our properties that may be pledged to secure our obligations to foreclosure. Any unsecured debt agreements we enter into may contain specific cross-default provisions with respect to specified other indebtedness, giving the unsecured lenders the right to declare a default if we are in default under other loans in some circumstances. Defaults under our debt agreements could materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Our revolving credit facility, unsecured senior notes and securitizations contain financial and operating covenants that could restrict our business and investment activities. Failure to satisfy these covenants could result in a default under our revolving credit facility and unsecured senior notes that could accelerate the maturity of our debt obligations or, with respect to our securitizations, also require that all cash flow generated from operations service only the indebtedness and the possible foreclosure of the properties securing the indebtedness, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, liquidity, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to make distributions on our preferred and common shares and the Operating Partnership’s ability to make distributions on its OP units.
Our revolving credit facility, unsecured senior notes and securitizations contain financial and operating covenants, such as debt ratios, minimum liquidity, unencumbered asset value, minimum debt service coverage ratio, and other limitations that may restrict our ability to make distributions or other payments to the Company’s shareholders and the Operating Partnership’s ability to make distributions on its OP units and may restrict our investment activities. Among others, our revolving credit facility requires that we maintain financial covenants relating to the following matters: (i) total indebtedness to total asset value to not exceed 0.60 to 1.00 at any time, (ii) EBITDA for the period of four consecutive fiscal quarters most recently ended to fixed charges for such period to be no less than 1.75 to 1.00 as of the last day of such period, (iii) secured indebtedness to total asset value to not exceed 0.40 to 1.00 at any time, (iv) unsecured indebtedness to unencumbered asset value to not exceed 0.60 to 1.00 at any time and (v) unencumbered net operating income (“NOI”) for the period of four consecutive fiscal quarters most recently ended to unsecured interest expense for such period, to be no less than 1.75 to 1.00 as of the last day of such period. Among others, our unsecured senior notes require that we maintain financial covenants relating to the following matters: (i) total indebtedness to total asset value to not exceed 0.60 to 1.00 at any time, (ii) secured indebtedness to total asset value to not exceed 0.40 to 1.00 at any time, (iii) unencumbered asset value to unsecured indebtedness to be no less than 1.50 at any time and (iv) consolidated income available for debt service to interest expense for the period of four consecutive fiscal quarters most recently ended to be no less than 1.50 to 1.00 as of the last day of such period.
Our securitizations 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 as the lender elects, including prepayment of principal and amounts due under the loans. These covenants may restrict our ability to engage in transactions that we believe would otherwise be in the best interests of our shareholders. Further, such restrictions could make it difficult for us to satisfy the requirements necessary to maintain our qualification as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Failure to meet our financial covenants could result from, among other things, changes in our results of operations, the incurrence of additional debt, substantial impairments in the value of our properties or changes in general economic conditions. If we violate covenants in our revolving credit facility, unsecured senior notes, securitizations or future agreements, we could be required to repay all or a portion of our indebtedness before maturity at a time when we might be unable to arrange financing for such repayment on attractive terms or at all.
Our revolving credit facility permits us to incur significant indebtedness, which could require that we generate significant cash flow to satisfy the payment and other obligations under our revolving credit facility.
We may incur significant indebtedness in connection with draws under our revolving credit facility. This indebtedness may exceed our cash on hand and/or our cash flows from operating activities. Our ability to meet the payment and other obligations under
our revolving credit facility depends on our ability to generate sufficient cash flow in the future. Our ability to generate cash flow, to some extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative and regulatory factors, as well as other factors that are beyond our control. It is possible that our business will not generate cash flow from operations, or that future borrowings will not be available to us, in amounts sufficient to enable us to meet our payment obligations under our revolving credit facility. If we are not able to generate sufficient cash flow to service our revolving credit facility and other debt obligations, as well as satisfy the REIT distribution requirement, we may need to refinance or restructure our debt, reduce or delay capital investments, or seek to raise additional capital. If we are unable to implement one or more of these alternatives, we may not be able to meet our payment obligations under our revolving credit facility, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity.
We have and may in the future continue to utilize non-recourse long-term asset-backed securitizations, and such structures may expose us to risks not prevalent in unsecured debt financings, which could result in losses to us.
We have and may continue in the future to utilize non-recourse long-term asset-backed securitizations of 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. As of December 31, 2019, the principal amount of such indebtedness was $2.0 billion. These securitizations involve conveying a pool of homes from the Company’s portfolio to a special purpose vehicle that obtains a loan from a third-party lender represented by a promissory note. The promissory note is immediately transferred by the third-party lender to a subsidiary of the Company and then to a Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (“REMIC”) trust in exchange for classes of single-family rental pass-through certificates representing all the beneficial ownership interests in the loan and the trust. Upon receipt of the certificates, the subsidiary of the Company sells the certificates to investors. The securitization of our pools of homes in our portfolio investments can magnify our exposure to losses on those investments because any equity interest we retain in the issuing entity would be subordinate to the certificates issued to investors and we would, therefore, absorb all of the losses sustained with respect to a securitized pool of assets before the investors experience any losses. In addition, accounting rules for securitizations 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 or be able to do so at favorable rates. The inability to consummate securitizations of our portfolio 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.
Adverse changes in our credit ratings could negatively affect our financing ability.
Our credit ratings may affect the amount of capital we can access, as well as the terms and pricing of any debt we may incur. There can be no assurance that we will be able to maintain our current investment grade credit ratings. In the event that our current credit ratings are downgraded or removed, we would most likely incur higher borrowing costs and experience greater difficulty in obtaining additional financing, which in turn could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and liquidity.
We may be adversely affected by changes in LIBOR reporting practices or the method in which LIBOR is determined.
As of December 31, 2019, we had no debt outstanding that was indexed to the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). On July 27, 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) announced its intention to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. It is not possible to predict the further effect of the FCA’s announcement, any changes in the methods by which LIBOR is determined, or any other reforms to LIBOR that may be enacted in the United Kingdom, the European Union or elsewhere. Such developments may cause LIBOR to perform differently than in the past, or cease to exist. In addition, any other legal or regulatory changes made by the FCA, ICE Benchmark Administration Limited, the European Money Markets Institute (formerly Euribor-EBF), the European Commission or any other successor governance or oversight body, or future changes adopted by such body, in the method by which LIBOR is determined or the transition from LIBOR to a successor benchmark may result in, among other things, a sudden or prolonged increase or decrease in LIBOR, a delay in the publication of LIBOR, and changes in the rules or methodologies in LIBOR, which may discourage market participants from continuing to administer or to participate in LIBOR’s determination, and, in certain situations, could result in LIBOR no longer being determined and published. If a published U.S. dollar LIBOR is unavailable after 2021, the interest rates on our debt which is indexed to LIBOR will be determined using various alternative methods, any of which may result in interest obligations which are more than or do not otherwise correlate over time with the payments that would have been made on such debt if U.S. dollar LIBOR was available in its current form. Further, the same costs and risks that may lead to the unavailability of U.S. dollar LIBOR may make one or more of the alternative methods impossible or impracticable to determine. Any of these proposals or consequences could have a material adverse effect on our financing costs, and as a result, our financial condition, operating results and cash flows.
Risks Related to the Real Estate Industry
Our performance and the value of our properties are subject to general economic conditions and risks associated with our real estate assets.
If the properties we acquire do not generate income sufficient to meet operating expenses, including debt service and capital expenditures, our ability to make distributions to the Company’s shareholders and the Operating Partnership’s ability to make distributions to its OP unitholders, including AH4R, could be adversely affected. There are significant expenditures associated with an investment in real estate (such as debt service, real estate taxes, insurance and maintenance costs) that generally do not decline when circumstances reduce the income from the property. Income from and the value of the properties we acquire may be adversely affected by the following factors:
downturns in international, national, regional and local economic conditions (particularly increases in unemployment);
the attractiveness of the properties we acquire to potential tenants and competition from other properties;
increases in the supply of, or decreases in the demand for, similar or competing properties in our target markets;
increases in the cost of land for development activities and construction costs;
unemployment, bankruptcies, financial difficulties or lease defaults by our tenants;
declines in the value of residential real estate;
changes in interest rates, availability and terms of debt financing;
increases in property-level maintenance and operating costs and expenses and our ability to control rents;
changes in, or increased costs of compliance with, governmental laws, rules, regulations and fiscal policies, including changes in tax, real estate, environmental and zoning laws, and our potential liability thereunder and the rules and regulations of government or private parties, including HOAs, to discourage or deter the purchase or rental of single-family properties by entities owned or controlled by institutional investors;
shortages or rising prices of building materials and construction services, including independent contractor or outside supplier capacity constraints, and the impact of governmental tariffs, duties and/or trade restrictions imposed or increased on building materials and manufacturing defects resulting in recalls of materials;
our ability to provide adequate management and maintenance;
changes in the cost or availability of insurance, including coverage for mold or asbestos;
costs resulting from the clean-up of and liability to third parties for damages resulting from environmental problems, such as mold;
tenant turnover and the inability to lease or re-lease homes on a timely basis, attractive terms or at all;
costs and time period required to convert acquisitions to rental homes and to prepare homes for re-leasing;
the short-term nature of most residential leases and the costs and potential delays in re-leasing;
the failure of tenants to pay rent when due or otherwise perform their lease obligations;
unanticipated repairs, capital expenditures or other costs;
the illiquidity of real estate investments generally;
the geographic mix of our properties;
residents’ perceptions of the safety, convenience and attractiveness of our properties and the neighborhoods where they are acquired;
the ongoing need for capital improvements, particularly in older properties;
the ability or unwillingness of residents to pay rent increases;
civil unrest, acts of God, including earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters, which may result in uninsured losses, acts of war or terrorism, and outbreaks of pandemic or contagious diseases; and
rent control or rent stabilization or other housing laws, which could prevent us from raising rents.
For these and other reasons, we cannot assure you that we will be profitable or that we will realize growth in the value of our real estate properties.
Environmentally hazardous conditions may adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows and operating results.
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 properties 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 adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and, consequently, amounts available for distribution to shareholders and unitholders.
Compliance with new or more stringent environmental laws or regulations or stricter interpretation of existing laws may require material expenditures by us. We may be 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 operations 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 and/or other sanctions.
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 landlord of numerous properties, we are involved regularly in evicting tenants who are not paying their rent or are otherwise in material violation of the terms of their lease. Eviction activities impose legal and managerial expenses that raise our costs. The eviction process is typically subject to legal barriers, mandatory “cure” policies 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 tenants in relocating to new housing, or restrict the landlord’s ability to recover certain costs or charge tenants for damage tenants cause to the landlord’s premises. Because such laws vary by state and locality, we and any regional and local property managers we hire will need to be familiar with and take all appropriate steps to comply with all applicable landlord tenant laws, and we will 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 by state or local law enforcement. 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, rent control laws or other regulations that may limit our ability to increase rental rates 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.
Class action, tenant rights and consumer demands, litigation and adverse media publicity could directly limit and constrain our operations and may result in significant litigation expenses.
Numerous tenants’ rights and consumers’ rights organizations exist throughout the country and operate in our target markets, and as we grow in scale, we may attract attention from some of these organizations and become a target of legal demands, litigation and adverse media publicity. Many of such consumer organizations have become more active and better funded in connection with mortgage foreclosure-related issues, and with the large settlements identified below in the risk factor entitled “Mortgage loan modification programs and future legislative action may adversely affect the number of available properties that meet our investment criteria” and the increased market for single-family rentals arising from displaced homeownership, some of these organizations may shift their litigation, lobbying, media efforts, fundraising and grass roots organizing activities to focus on landlord-tenant 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 state 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, these 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 our business operations or may generate unfavorable publicity for our business. If they are successful in any such endeavors, they could directly limit and constrain our operations, adversely impact our business and may impose on us significant litigation expenses, including settlements to avoid continued litigation or judgments for damages or injunctions.
Acquiring properties during periods when the single-family home sector is experiencing substantial inflows of capital and intense competition may result in inflated purchase prices and increase the likelihood that our properties will not appreciate in value and may, instead, decrease in value.
The allocation of substantial amounts of capital for investment in the single-family home sector and significant competition for income producing real estate may inflate the purchase prices for such assets. To the extent we purchased, or in the future purchase, real estate in such an environment, it is possible that the value of our properties may not appreciate and may, instead, decrease in value, perhaps significantly, below the amount we paid for such properties. In addition to macroeconomic and local economic factors, technical factors, such as a decrease in the amount of capital allocated to the single-family home sector and the number of investors participating in the sector, could cause the value of our properties to decline.
Climate change and related regulatory actions 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 delays and increased costs to complete our developments and 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, and, as a result, adversely impact our financial results and operations.
We may have difficulty selling our real estate investments, and our ability to distribute all or a portion of the net proceeds from such sale to shareholders and unitholders 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 shareholders and unitholders. Instead, we may use such proceeds for other purposes, including:
purchasing additional properties;
repaying debt or buying back shares;
buying out interests of any co-venturers or other partners in any joint venture in which we are a party;
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. In order to ensure that we avoid such characterization, we may be required to hold our properties for a minimum period of time and comply with certain other requirements in the Code or dispose of our properties through a TRS.
Risks Related to Our Ownership, Organization and Structure
AH4R’s fiduciary duties as the general partner of the Operating Partnership could create conflicts of interest, which may impede business decisions that could benefit our shareholders.
As the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership, AH4R has a fiduciary duty to the other limited partners in the Operating Partnership, the discharge of which may conflict with the interests of the Company’s shareholders. The limited partners of the Operating Partnership have agreed that, in the event of a conflict in the fiduciary duties owed by AH4R to the Company’s shareholders and in AH4R’s capacity as the general partner of the Operating Partnership to such limited partner, AH4R is under no obligation to give priority to the interests of such limited partner.
In addition, the limited partners have the right to vote on certain amendments to the Agreement of Limited Partnership of the Operating Partnership and to approve certain amendments that would adversely affect their rights. These voting rights may be exercised in a manner that conflicts with the interests of the Company’s shareholders.
Our senior management, trustees and their affiliates may have significant voting influence due to their stock ownership.
Members of the Company’s senior management, trustees and their affiliates hold significant amounts of the Company’s Class A and Class B common shares and Class A units in the Operating Partnership. Each Class A common share is entitled to one vote. Each Class B common share is entitled to 50 votes and converts into Class A common shares on a one for one basis for every 49 partnership units converted. Class A units in the Operating Partnership are nonvoting. The Company’s dual class structure was put in place when the Company was organized to provide voting rights to holders of units in the Operating Partnership corresponding with their equity ownership. All members of the Company’s senior management, trustees and their affiliates hold Class A common shares and Class B common shares that represent approximately 21.9% of the current voting power of the Company as of December 31, 2019. Assuming the conversion of all of the Class A units held by these individuals into Class A common shares, they would own approximately 32.3% of the voting power of the Company based on the Company’s outstanding common shares as of December 31, 2019. The Hughes Family and affiliates own all of the Class B common shares and, together with the Class A common shares they own, hold 21.8% of the voting power of the Company. Our senior management, trustees and affiliates have and are expected to continue to have the ability to significantly influence all matters submitted to a vote of the Company’s shareholders, including electing trustees, changing the Company’s charter documents and approving extraordinary transactions, such as mergers. Their interest in such matters may differ from other shareholders and may also make it more difficult for another party to acquire or control the Company with their votes.
Provisions of the Company’s declaration of trust may limit the ability of a third-party to acquire control of the Company by authorizing the Company’s board of trustees to issue additional securities.
The Company’s board of trustees may, without shareholder approval, amend its declaration of trust to increase or decrease the aggregate number of the Company’s shares or the number of shares of any class or series that the Company has the authority to issue and to classify or reclassify any unissued common or preferred shares, and set the preferences, rights and other terms of the classified or reclassified shares. As a result, the Company’s board of trustees may authorize the issuance of additional shares or establish a series of common or preferred shares that may delay or prevent a change in control of the Company, including transactions at a premium over the market price of the Company’s shares, even if the Company’s shareholders believe that a change in control is in their interest. These provisions, along with the restrictions on ownership and transfer contained in the Company’s declaration of trust and certain provisions of Maryland law, could discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or make it more difficult for a third-party to gain control of the Company, which could adversely affect the market price of the Company’s securities.
Provisions of Maryland law may limit the ability of a third-party to acquire control of us by requiring the Company’s board of trustees or shareholders to approve proposals to acquire our company or effect a change in control.
Certain provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law (the “MGCL”) applicable to Maryland real estate investment
trusts 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 shareholders with the opportunity to realize a premium over the then-prevailing market price of their shares, including:
“business combination” provisions that, subject to limitations, prohibit certain business combinations between us and an “interested shareholder” (defined generally as any person who beneficially owns 10% or more of the voting power of our outstanding voting shares 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) or an affiliate of any interested shareholder for five years after the most recent date on which the shareholder becomes an interested shareholder, and thereafter imposes two super-majority shareholder voting requirements on these combinations, unless, among other conditions, our common shareholders receive a minimum price, as defined in the MGCL, for their shares and the consideration is received in cash or in the same form as previously paid by the interested shareholder for its shares; and
“control share” provisions that provide that our “control shares” (defined as voting shares that, when aggregated with all other shares controlled by the shareholder, entitle the shareholder to exercise one of three increasing ranges of voting power in electing trustees) 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 shareholders 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 trustees of our company.
By resolution of the Company’s board of trustees, we have opted out of the business combination provisions of the MGCL and provided that any business combination between us and any other person is exempt from the business combination provisions of the MGCL, provided that the business combination is first approved by the Company’s board of trustees (including a majority of trustees who are not affiliates or associates of such persons). In addition, pursuant to a provision in the Company’s bylaws, we have opted out of the control share provisions of the MGCL. However, the Company’s board of trustees may by resolution elect to opt in to the business combination provisions of the MGCL and we may, by amending the Company’s bylaws, opt in to the control share provisions of the MGCL in the future.
In addition, the “unsolicited takeover” provisions of Title 3, Subtitle 8 of the MGCL permit the board of trustees of a Maryland REIT, without shareholder approval and regardless of what is currently provided in its declaration of trust or bylaws, to implement certain takeover defenses, including adopting a classified board or increasing the vote required to remove a trustee. 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 shareholders with the opportunity to realize a premium over the then-current market price. In July 2013, the Company’s board of trustees and the Company’s shareholders approved an amendment to the Company’s declaration of trust under which we elected not to be subject to these provisions. Therefore, any revocation or modification of this opt-out would require an amendment to the Company’s declaration of trust that is first recommended by the Company’s board of trustees and then approved by a majority of all the votes entitled to be cast generally in the election of trustees.
The Company’s rights and the rights of the Company’s shareholders to take action against the Company’s trustees and officers are limited, which could limit your recourse in the event of actions not in your best interests.
Under Maryland law, generally, a trustee will not be liable if he or she performs his or her duties in good faith, in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in our best interests and with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances. In addition, the Company’s declaration of trust limits the liability of our trustees and officers to us and our shareholders for money damages, except for liability resulting from:
actual receipt of an improper benefit or profit in money, property or services; or
active and deliberate dishonesty by the trustee or officer that was established by a final judgment as being material to the cause of action adjudicated.
The Company’s declaration of trust authorizes us to indemnify our trustees and officers for actions taken by them in those capacities to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law. The Company’s bylaws require us to indemnify each trustee and officer, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, in the defense of any proceeding to which he or she is made, or threatened to be made, a party by reason of his or her service to us. In addition, we may be obligated to advance the defense costs incurred by our trustees and officers. As a result, we and the Company’s shareholders may have more limited rights against the Company’s trustees
and officers than might otherwise exist absent the current provisions in the Company’s declaration of trust and bylaws or that might exist with other companies.
Risks Related to Qualification and Operation as a REIT
Qualifying as a REIT involves highly technical and complex provisions of the Code.
Qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex Code provisions for which only limited judicial and administrative authorities exist. Even a technical or inadvertent violation could jeopardize our REIT qualification. Our qualification as a REIT depends upon our satisfaction of certain asset, income, organizational, distribution, shareholder ownership and other requirements on a continuing basis. New legislation, court decisions or administrative guidance, in each case possibly with retroactive effect, may make it more difficult or impossible for us to qualify as a REIT. Certain rules applicable to REITs are particularly difficult to interpret or to apply in the case of REITs investing in real estate mortgage loans that are acquired at a discount, subject to work-outs or modifications, or reasonably expected to be in default at the time of acquisition. In addition, our ability to satisfy the requirements to qualify as a REIT depends in part on the actions of third parties over which we have no control or only limited influence, including in cases where we own an equity interest in an entity that is classified as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes.
Failure to qualify as a REIT, or failure to remain qualified as a REIT, would cause us to be taxed as a regular corporation, which would substantially reduce funds available for distribution to our shareholders.
We believe that we have been organized and have operated in conformity with the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT and that our current organization and proposed method of operation will enable us to continue to qualify as a REIT. However, we have not requested and do not intend to request a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) that we qualify as a REIT. As a result, we cannot assure you that we qualify or that we will remain qualified as a REIT.
If we fail to qualify as a REIT in any taxable year, and we do not qualify for certain statutory relief provisions, we will face serious tax consequences that will substantially reduce the funds available for distributions to our shareholders because:
we would not be allowed a deduction for dividends paid to our shareholders in computing our taxable income and would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at the regular corporate tax rate (currently 21%);
unless we are entitled to relief under certain U.S. federal income tax laws, we could not re-elect REIT status until the fifth calendar year after the year in which we failed to qualify as a REIT.
In addition, if we fail to qualify as a REIT, we will no longer be required to make distributions to our shareholders and may choose to deploy available cash in a different manner. As a result of all these factors, our failure to qualify as a REIT could impair our ability to expand our business and raise capital, and it could adversely affect the value of our preferred and common shares.
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 may limit our ability to hedge our assets and operations. Under these provisions, any income that we generate from transactions intended to hedge our interest rate risk will be excluded from gross income for purposes of the REIT 75% and 95% gross income tests if the instrument hedges interest rate risk on liabilities used to carry or acquire real estate assets or manages the risk of certain currency fluctuations, and such instrument is properly identified under applicable Treasury Regulations. Income from hedging transactions that do not meet these requirements will generally constitute non-qualifying income for purposes of both the REIT 75% and 95% gross income tests. As a result of these rules, we may have to limit our use of hedging techniques that might otherwise be advantageous or implement those hedges through a 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 in our TRS will generally not provide any tax benefit, except for being carried back or forward against past or 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 the REIT requirements may cause us to forgo and/or liquidate otherwise attractive investments.
To qualify as a REIT, we must continually satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the sources of our income, the nature and diversification of our assets, the amounts that we distribute to our shareholders and the ownership of our shares. To meet these tests, we may be required to take or forgo taking actions that we would otherwise consider advantageous. For instance, in order to
satisfy the gross income or asset tests applicable to REITs under the Code, we may be required to forgo investments that we otherwise would make. Furthermore, we may be required to liquidate from our portfolio otherwise attractive investments. In addition, we may be required to make distributions to our shareholders at disadvantageous times or when we do not have funds readily available for distribution. These actions could reduce our income and amounts available for distribution to our shareholders. Thus, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our investment performance.
Even if we qualify as a REIT, we may face other tax liabilities that reduce our cash flow.
Even if we qualify as a REIT, we may be subject to certain U.S. federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income, tax on income from some activities conducted as a result of a foreclosure, and state or local income, property and transfer taxes. In addition, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax if the actual amount that we distribute to our shareholders in a calendar year is less than a minimum amount specified under the Code, and we could, in certain circumstances, be required to pay an excise or penalty tax (which could be significant in amount) in order to utilize one or more relief provisions under the Code to maintain our qualification as a REIT. Any of these taxes would decrease cash available for distribution to our shareholders. In addition, in order to meet the REIT qualification requirements, or to avert the imposition of a 100% tax that applies to certain gains derived by a REIT from dealer property or inventory, we hold some of our assets through a TRS or other subsidiary corporations that are subject to corporate-level income tax at regular corporate rates. Our TRS may have tax liability with respect to “phantom income” if it is treated as a “dealer” for U.S. federal income tax purposes which would require the TRS to mark to market its assets at the end of each taxable year. In addition, our TRS is subject to U.S. federal, state and local corporate taxes. Any of these taxes would decrease cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
Dividends payable by REITs do not qualify for the reduced tax rates available for some dividends, which could adversely affect the value of our shares if they are perceived as less attractive investments.
The maximum rate applicable to “qualified dividend income” paid by regular “C” corporations to U.S. shareholders that are individuals, trusts and estates generally is 20%. Dividends payable by REITs to those U.S. shareholders, however, generally are not eligible for the current reduced rate, except to the extent that certain holding requirements have been met and a REIT’s dividends are attributable to dividends received by a REIT from taxable corporations (such as a TRS), to income that was subject to tax at the REIT/corporate level, or to dividends properly designated by the REIT as “capital gains dividends.” Effective for the taxable year ended December 31, 2018 through the taxable year ending December 31, 2025, those U.S. shareholders may deduct 20% of their dividends from REITs (excluding qualified dividend income and capital gains dividends). For those U.S. shareholders in the top marginal tax bracket of 37%, the deduction for REIT dividends yields an effective income tax rate of 29.6% on qualified REIT dividends, which is higher than the 20% tax rate on qualified dividend income paid by “C” corporations. Although the reduced rates applicable to dividend income from regular “C” corporations do not adversely affect the taxation of REITs or dividends payable by REITs, it could cause investors who are non-corporate taxpayers to perceive investments in REITs to be relatively less attractive than investments in the shares of regular “C” corporations that pay dividends, which could adversely affect the value of our preferred and common shares.
The prohibited transactions tax may limit our ability to engage in sale transactions.
A REIT’s income from “prohibited transactions” is subject to a 100% tax. In general, “prohibited transactions” are sales or other dispositions of property other than foreclosure property, held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business. We may be subject to the prohibited transactions tax equal to 100% of net gain upon a disposition of real property or debt instruments that we hold. Although a safe harbor is available, for which certain sales of property by a REIT are not subject to the 100% prohibited transaction tax, we cannot assure you that we can comply with the safe harbor or that we will avoid owning property that may be characterized as held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business. Consequently, we may choose not to engage in certain sales of our properties or debt instruments or we may conduct such sales through our TRS, which would be subject to U.S. federal and state income taxation. In addition, we may have to sell numerous properties to a single or a few purchasers, which could cause us to be less profitable than would be the case if we sold properties on a property-by-property basis. For example, if we decide to acquire properties or debt instruments opportunistically to renovate in anticipation of immediate resale, we will need to conduct that activity through our TRS to avoid the 100% prohibited transactions tax.
The 100% tax described above may limit our ability to enter into transactions that would otherwise be beneficial to us. For example, if circumstances make it not profitable or otherwise uneconomical for us to remain in certain states or geographical markets, the 100% tax could delay our ability to exit those states or markets by selling our assets in those states or markets other than through a TRS, which could harm our operating profits and the trading price of our shares. In addition, in order to avoid the prohibited transactions tax, we may be required to limit the structures we utilize for our securitization transactions, even though the sales or structures might otherwise be beneficial to us.
If the Operating Partnership fails to qualify as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we could fail to qualify as a REIT and suffer other adverse consequences.
As a partnership, the Operating Partnership is not subject to U.S. federal income tax on its income. Instead, each of the partners is allocated its share of the Operating Partnership’s income. No assurance can be provided, however, that the IRS will not challenge the Operating Partnership’s status as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, or that a court would not sustain such a challenge. If the IRS was successful in treating the Operating Partnership as an association or publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we would fail to meet the gross income tests and certain of the asset tests applicable to REITs and, accordingly, would cease to qualify as a REIT. Also, the failure of the Operating Partnership to qualify as a partnership would cause it to become subject to U.S. federal, state and local taxes on its income at regular corporate rates, which would reduce significantly the amount of its cash available for distribution to its partners, including AH4R.
The ability of the Company’s board of trustees to revoke the Company’s REIT qualification without shareholder approval may cause adverse consequences to our shareholders.
The Company’s declaration of trust provides that the Company’s board of trustees may revoke or otherwise terminate the Company’s REIT election, without shareholder approval, if it determines that it is no longer in our best interest to continue to qualify as a REIT. If we cease to qualify as a REIT, we would become subject to U.S. federal income tax on our net taxable income and would no longer be required to distribute most of our taxable income to our shareholders, which may have adverse consequences on our total return to our shareholders.
Our ownership of our TRS is subject to limitations and our transactions with our TRS will cause us to be subject to a 100% penalty tax on certain income or deductions if those transactions are not conducted on arm’s-length terms.
The Code provides that no more than 20% of the value of a REIT’s assets may consist of shares or securities of one or more TRS. Our TRS earn income that otherwise would be nonqualifying income if earned by us. Our TRS also hold certain properties the sale of which may not qualify for the safe harbor for prohibited transactions described above. The limitation on ownership of TRS stock could limit the extent to which we can conduct these activities and other activities through our TRS. In addition, for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, taxpayers, including TRS, are subject to a limitation on their ability to deduct net business interest generally equal to 30% of adjusted taxable income, subject to certain exceptions. This provision may limit the ability of our TRS to deduct interest, which could increase their taxable income. The Code also imposes a 100% excise tax on certain transactions between a TRS and its parent REIT that are not conducted on an arm’s-length basis. There can be no assurance that we will be able to comply with the TRS limitation or avoid application of the 100% excise tax.
You may be restricted from acquiring or transferring certain amounts of our shares.
The share ownership restrictions of the Code for REITs, the 8.0% common share ownership limit that applies to all shareholders, other than the Hughes family, which is subject to the “excepted holder limit” (as defined in the declaration of trust), and “designated investment entities” (as defined in the declaration of trust), which are subject to a 9.9% common share ownership limit, and the 9.9% preferred share ownership limit, all as provided in the Company’s declaration of trust may inhibit market activity in our equity shares and restrict our business combination opportunities.
In order to qualify as a REIT, for each taxable year beginning with our taxable year ended December 31, 2013, five or fewer individuals, as defined in the Code, may not own, beneficially or constructively, more than 50% in value of our issued and outstanding equity shares at any time during the last half of a taxable year. Attribution rules in the Code determine if any individual or entity beneficially or constructively owns our equity shares under this requirement. Additionally, at least 100 persons must beneficially own our equity shares during at least 335 days of a taxable year for each taxable year after 2012. To help insure that we meet these tests, the declaration of trust restricts the acquisition and ownership of our equity shares.
The Company’s declaration of trust, with certain exceptions, authorizes the Company’s board of trustees to take such actions as are necessary and desirable to preserve our qualification as a REIT. Unless exempted by the Company’s board of trustees, the Company’s declaration of trust prohibits any person, other than the Hughes family, which is subject to the “excepted holder limit” (as defined in the declaration of trust), and “designated investment entities” (as defined in the declaration of trust), from beneficially or constructively owning more than 8.0% in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of our outstanding common shares and more than 9.9% in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of any class or series of our preferred shares. The Company’s board of trustees may not grant an exemption from these restrictions to any proposed transferee whose ownership in excess of the applicable ownership limit would result in our failing to qualify as a REIT. These restrictions on ownership and transfer will not apply, however, if the Company’s board of trustees determines that it is no longer in our best interest to continue to qualify as a REIT.
We may be subject to adverse legislative or regulatory tax changes that could reduce the market price of our outstanding common or preferred shares.
The IRS, the United States Treasury Department and Congress frequently review U.S. federal income tax legislation, regulations and other guidance. We cannot predict whether, when or to what extent new U.S. federal tax laws, regulations, interpretations or rulings will be adopted. Any legislative action may prospectively or retroactively modify our tax treatment and, therefore, may adversely affect our taxation or our Company’s shareholders. We urge you to consult with your tax advisor with respect to 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 “C” 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 U.S. federal income tax purposes as a “C” corporation.
We may be required to report taxable income for certain investments in excess of the economic income that we ultimately realize from them.
We and our TRS may invest in mortgages, including non-performing loans, for less than their face amount. The amount of such discount is generally treated as “market discount” for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Accrued market discount is reported as income when, and to the extent that, any payment of principal of the debt instrument is made, unless we elect to include accrued market discount in income as it accrues. Principal payments on certain loans are made monthly, and consequently accrued market discount may have to be included in income each month as if the debt instrument were assured of ultimately being collected in full. If we collect less on the debt instrument than our purchase price plus the market discount we had previously reported as income, then we may not be able to benefit from any offsetting loss deductions.
In the event that any debt instruments acquired by us are delinquent as to mandatory principal and interest payments, or in the event payments with respect to a particular debt instrument are not made when due, we may nonetheless be required to continue to recognize the unpaid interest as taxable income as it accrues, despite doubt as to its ultimate collectability. While we would in general ultimately have an offsetting loss deduction available to us when such interest was determined to be uncollectable, the utility of that deduction could depend on our having taxable income in that later year or thereafter.
Finally, we or our TRS may recognize taxable “phantom income” as a result of modifications, pursuant to agreements with borrowers, of debt instruments that we acquire if the amendments to the outstanding debt are “significant modifications” under the applicable U.S. Treasury Regulations. In addition, our TRS may be treated as a “dealer” for U.S. federal income tax purposes, in which case our TRS would be required to mark to market its assets at the end of each taxable year and recognize taxable gain or loss on those assets even though there has been no actual sale of those assets.
To satisfy the REIT distribution requirements, we may be forced to take certain actions to raise funds if we have insufficient cash flow which could materially and adversely affect us and the trading price of our common or preferred shares.
To qualify as a REIT, we generally must distribute to our stockholders at least 90% of our REIT taxable income each year, computed without regard to the dividends paid deduction and our net capital gains, and we will be subject to corporate income tax on our undistributed taxable income to the extent that we distribute less than 100% of our REIT taxable income each year, computed without regard to the dividends paid deduction. In addition, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax on the amount, if any, by which distributions paid by us in any calendar year are less than the sum of 85% of our ordinary income, 95% of our capital gain net income and 100% of our undistributed income from prior years. In order to satisfy these distribution requirements to maintain our REIT status and avoid the payment of income and excise taxes, we may need to take certain actions to raise funds if we have insufficient cash flow, such as borrowing funds, raising additional equity capital, selling a portion of our assets or finding another alternative to make distributions to our stockholders. We may be forced to take those actions even if the then-prevailing market conditions are not favorable for those actions. This situation could arise from, among other things, differences in timing between the actual receipt of cash and recognition of income for U.S. federal income tax purposes, or the effect of non-deductible capital expenditures or other non-deductible expenses, the creation of reserves, or required debt or amortization payments. Such actions could increase our costs and reduce the value of our common or preferred shares. These sources, however, may not be available on favorable terms or at all. Our access to third-party sources of capital depends on a number of factors, including the market’s perception of our growth potential, our current debt levels, the market price of our common or preferred shares, and our current and potential future earnings. We cannot assure you that we will have access to such capital on favorable terms at the desired times, or at all, which may cause us to curtail our investment activities and/or to dispose of assets at inopportune times, and could materially and adversely affect us and the trading price of our common or preferred shares.
The “fast-pay stock” rules could apply if we issue preferred shares in a reopening.
We have, and may continue to have, series of preferred shares outstanding with respect to which we have the ability to issue additional preferred shares of that series without shareholder approval (referred to as a “reopening” of the preferred shares). For example, we have the ability to reopen our Series D cumulative redeemable perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, our Series E cumulative redeemable perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, our Series F cumulative redeemable perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, our Series G cumulative redeemable perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest, and our Series H cumulative redeemable perpetual preferred shares of beneficial interest. We may issue additional series of preferred shares in the future with the reopening feature.
If we issue preferred shares in a reopening at a price that exceeds the redemption price of such preferred shares by more than a de minimis amount, then those shares could be considered to be “fast-pay stock” under the applicable U.S. Treasury Regulations. Whether those regulations would apply would depend upon all of the facts and circumstances. If (i) the redemption (and conversion) price for the preferred shares issued in a reopening is less than the issue price for such shares and (ii) the Company expects that during the entire period that such shares are redeemable (or subject to conversion) the redemption (or conversion) price will be less than the issue price, it may be difficult to determine whether the fast-pay stock rules would apply.
If the fast-pay stock rules were determined to apply to the issuance of preferred shares in a reopening, then the consequences could include:
The holders of our common shares and other preferred shares (including preferred shares not subject to the fast-pay stock rules) being treated as collectively having acquired from us financial instruments (which may be treated as debt or equity for U.S. federal income tax purposes, depending on the facts) with the same terms as the additional shares of preferred shares being issued, with the result that they will be taxed on payments made on those shares as and when made, even though they will not receive those payments.
The holders of the additional shares of preferred shares issued instead having acquired, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, financial instruments (as described above) issued directly to them by the holders of our common shares and other preferred shares in exchange for the price paid for those shares, rather than our shares, with the holders of our common shares and other preferred shares making payments to them with respect to those financial instruments as and when the payments with respect to the additional preferred shares are made.
There is virtually no guidance as to the consequences to the purchasers of the preferred shares in a reopening of payments deemed to be coming to them from the holders of our common shares and other preferred shares with respect to the deemed financial instruments that they purchased from such holders, instead of the payments being considered made by us to them with respect to our preferred shares.
ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
The table below summarizes certain information with respect to our properties as of December 31, 2019:
Number of Single-Family Properties (1)
% of Total Single-Family Properties
Gross Book Value (millions)
% of Gross Book Value Total
Avg. Gross Book Value per Property
Avg. Sq. Ft.
Avg. Property Age (years)
Avg. Year Purchased
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
Greater Chicago area, IL and IN
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
Las Vegas, NV
Savannah/Hilton Head, SC
Winston Salem, NC
All Other (2)
Excludes 1,187 single-family properties classified as held for sale as of December 31, 2019.
Represents 15 markets in 14 states.
For details on material encumbrances on our properties, see “Schedule III—Real Estate and Accumulated Depreciation” included in Part IV, “Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Property and Management
We lease office space in Agoura Hills, California for our company headquarters, own commercial real estate in Las Vegas, Nevada for our property management headquarters and lease property management office space in 24 locations in 14 states.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
For a description of the Company’s legal proceedings, see “Note 14. Commitments and Contingencies” to our consolidated financial statements included as a separate section in Part IV, “Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Our Class A common shares have traded on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “AMH” since August 1, 2013. Prior to that date, there was no public trading market for our Class A common shares. On February 26, 2020, the last reported sales price per share of our Class A common shares was $27.14. The Company’s Class B common shares and the Operating Partnership’s Class A units are not publicly traded.
Shareholders / Unitholders
As of the close of business on February 26, 2020, there were approximately 29 holders of record of the Company’s Class A common shares (excludes beneficial owners whose shares are held in street name by brokers and other nominees), one shareholder of record of the Company’s Class B common shares and approximately 11 holders of record of the Operating Partnership’s Class A units (including AH4R’s general partnership interest).
The Company’s board of trustees declared total distributions of $0.20 per Class A and Class B common share during each of the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018. The Operating Partnership funds the payment of distributions, and an equivalent amount of distributions were declared on the corresponding Operating Partnership units. Future distributions on our Class A and Class B common shares will be determined by and at the sole discretion of the Company’s board of trustees and will be based on a variety of factors, which may include among others: our actual and projected results of operations; our liquidity, cash flows and financial condition; revenue from our properties; our operating expenses; economic conditions; debt service requirements; limitations under our financing arrangements; applicable law; capital requirements; the REIT requirements of the Code; utilization of AH4R’s net operating loss (“NOL”) carryforwards; and such other factors as the Company’s board of trustees deems relevant. To maintain our qualification as a REIT, AH4R must make annual distributions to our shareholders of at least 90% of our REIT taxable income for the current taxable year, determined without regard to deductions for dividends paid and excluding any net capital gains. AH4R intends to use its NOL to reduce AH4R’s REIT taxable income and to pay quarterly distributions to our shareholders, and the Operating Partnership intends to pay quarterly distributions to the Operating Partnership’s unitholders, including AH4R, which distributions, in the aggregate, approximately equal or exceed AH4R’s net taxable income in the relevant year. However, our cash available for distribution may be less than the amount required to meet the distribution requirements for REITs under the Code and we may be required to borrow money, sell assets or make taxable distributions of our equity shares or debt securities to satisfy the distribution requirements. No distributions can be paid on our Class A and Class B common shares unless we have first paid all cumulative distributions on our Series D, Series E, Series F, Series G and Series H perpetual preferred shares. The distribution preference of our Series D, Series E, Series F, Series G and Series H perpetual preferred shares could limit our ability to make distributions to the holders of our Class A and Class B common shares.
The following table displays the income tax treatment of distributions on our Class A and Class B common shares, Series C participating preferred shares, and Series D, Series E, Series F, Series G and Series H perpetual preferred shares for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 (unaudited):