Most Americans know their neighbors by name, new research finds, and might even invite them over occasionally for tea. That is, unless the neighbor is — gasp — a renter.
Indeed, people are more prejudiced against renters than any other group living on their street, according to a survey of over 3,000 adults released Thursday by research firm Harris Interactive on behalf of Trulia, a real-estate firm. Of those picky neighbors, 33% want people on their street to speak the same language, 16% want their neighbors to have the same family structure and 10% prefer the same race or ethnicity. But 35% (even those who are renters themselves) said it was most important that their neighbors be homeowners. In fact, 51% of homeowners say they prefer to have other homeowners as neighbors.
That may be disheartening news for the large proportion of renters who can’t actually afford to buy a home. Homes in just eight of the 25 largest urban areas are within reach of median-income households, according to data released last week by Interest.com, which tracks consumer credit. “Millions of owner-occupied, single-family homes that went into foreclosure in 2008 became rentals,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia. The home ownership rate now hovers at 65%, the lowest level since 1995, after peaking at over 69% in 2004, according to the Census Bureau.
Other surveys give renters an even harder time. About three-quarters of homeowners in a recent survey by NeighborsFromHell.com say that renters are bad neighbors. “Renters are less likely to adapt to local customs concerning noise, trash, parking and lawn upkeep,” says Robert Borzotta, founder of the website NeighborsFromHell.com, which consistently rates noise as the No. 1 complaint about neighbors in its annual surveys. “Homeowners are perceived to care more about their property, its appearance, safety of the community and property values,” he says.