Do you really think the hedge funds are significantly worse than most other large landlords?
My experience with landlords had nothing to do with sociopathy, but certainly had everything to do with most of them trying to charge what the market would bear. Honestly, they didn’t seem all that different from having a hedge fund landlord absent the super-egregious examples (and I’ve read lots of super-egregious non-hedge-fund landlord stories.
Also, is being expected to do one’s own minor repairs really new? We replaced a shattered outlet cover and fixed a dripping faucet as a matter of course - albeit with no landlord provided manuals. On the other hand, we used the 1980’s version of the Internet - a parent who was actually competent.
I’m also pretty certain we’d have been booted as soon as possible if we were slow on the rent. And at the time, I didn’t consider it sociopathy, after all I’d leave an employer that was slow paying me.
Of course, legislation (which I imagine is present in California) protected me as a tenant, as it should - tenants require more protection than an employer. Such landlord-tenant legislation makes it somewhat difficult to expel a resident for non-payment immediately. But those were given by the government, not the landlord.
Perhaps I’ve always assumed that landlords are restrained by market and not by ethics, which is why I want to attack the market. That’s the vulnerable constraint.
Now I will say that landlords who share a dwelling are often quite different. But then rents often depended on being on the landlord’s good side. Be a quiet, friendly tenant who volunteered to help, and you could look at rent that was 3/4 market price. But then do we want people’s ability to live in the city to depend on how socially compatible they are with an arbitrary landlord?