Thousands of internet commenters were left conflicted after one couple revealed how an offer to help a cash-strapped couple backfired immediately.
In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/fisevedo (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said they were accused of being exploitative after a real estate proposal went sour, leaving tensions high and friends at odds.
Titled, “[Am I the a**hole] for offering my friends to buy their apartment and rent it out to them?” the post has received more than 12,000 upvotes and 3,600 comments in the last day.
Explaining that their friend (called Zoey) and her boyfriend live nearby, the original poster said the couple loves their apartment, but recently learned that the residence will soon be sold and they will be forced to move out.
In an effort to keep their friends where they are, the original poster said they offered to purchase the apartment and become the couple’s new landlord.
Their proposal, however, was rejected.
“I told Zoey and her boyfriend that we could buy it and they could keep living there,” OP wrote. “The only difference for them would be that they are sending the rent money to a different account.”
“Zoey’s boyfriend lost it, he basically started yelling at us,” OP continued. “He said he doesn’t need us taking away his apartment then getting rich off…his rent money.”
“He called us arrogant, among other things, and…I’m baffled by his overreaction,” OP added.
For low and middle class individuals and families in the U.S., finding affordable housing is becoming increasingly difficult.
With mean monthly rental rates surpassing $2,000 for the first time in history and homes selling at an average price of $379,079, according to The Zebra, many Americans have been forced to downsize, add roommates or move back in with family members, without any hope of purchasing a home in the future.
But for landlords who own one or more rental properties, rising purchase prices are an incentive to sell, especially with numerous real estate conglomerates snapping up available spaces at a blistering pace.
Last year, Reuters reported that pandemic rent freezes forced many local landlords to sell properties to institutional investors, defined as investment firms boasting 1,000 or more units.
“Such investors and their advocates say they provide long-term stability to the market at a time of upheaval, and are trying to fill the gap in rental properties needed by Americans,” Reuters contributor Michelle Conlin wrote in 2021.
“Yet many housing campaigners say the growing presence of big investors in the market will inevitably mean higher rents and less affordable housing,” Conlin added.
This contrast—between investment firms claiming they’re helping, and struggling tenants who are proof of the harmful effects of mass real estate acquisition—also appears throughout the comment section of the viral Reddit post authored by u/fisevedo.
In the post’s top comment, which has received 24,000 upvotes, Redditor u/Magaimagado said that if they were the original poster, they’d buy their friend’s apartment strictly “out of pettiness.”
In another comment, which has received nearly 8,000 upvotes, Redditor u/happybanana134 said they would feel “SO uncomfortable” if a friend offered to purchase their apartment.
“I don’t want a friend to be my landlord,” they wrote. “It would change our relationship and suddenly ‘my’ place would become ‘their’ place.”
“Don’t mix business with pleasure,” Redditor u/procrastinating_b echoed, receiving more than 11,000 upvotes. “It’s literally bound to change your relationship even if they are the perfect tenant and you are the perfect landlords.”
And while Redditor u/cassowary32 expressed skepticism about the financial risk involved with becoming a friend’s landlord, writing that the original poster would “never break even,” Redditor u/ThankKinsey acknowledged the problems with owning rental properties in general.
“Landlording is an inherently exploitative act,” they wrote, receiving nearly 2,000 upvotes. “Your offer is to become their new exploiter, and that’s supposed to be seen as some sort of charitable act.
“You would simply be the middleman for them to pay your mortgage on the property, they added. “Using your friend’s need for shelter as an opportunity for profit. Who does that?”
Newsweek reached out to u/fisevedo for comment.