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Home rental firm agrees to pay more than $400,000 in back overtime wages

American Homes 4 Rent, one of the biggest players in the burgeoning industry of renting single-family homes, failed to pay workers legally required overtime, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.

The Agoura Hills real estate investment trust agreed to pay more than 100 workers a combined total of $414,455 in back overtime wages after an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division.

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American Homes 4 Rent owns more than 37,000 homes in 22 states that have been renovated and offered as rental properties.

"Restoring these wages, and getting this company to pay in compliance with the law going forward, will make a meaningful difference in the quality of life for these workers and their families," said Francisco Ocampo, assistant director of the Wage and Hour office in Los Angeles.

American Homes 4 Rent did not respond to a request for comment.

The violations occurred when American Homes improperly classified more than 100 property inspectors as exempt from overtime after changing their titles to field superintendent, the Wage and Hour office said. After the change in titles, the workers' duties remained the same, but they no longer received overtime after working an average of 55 hours a week.

Job titles do not determine exempt status, and simply paying an employee a salary does not necessarily mean the employee is not eligible for overtime, the agency said. Nonexempt workers must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for all hours worked, plus 11/2 times their regular wages for hours worked beyond 40 a week.

The company was founded in 2012 by B. Wayne Hughes, the co-founder and former chairman and chief executive of Public Storage, the Glendale storage giant. Hughes is the non-executive chairman of American Homes, whose rivals include Blackstone Group's Invitation Homes, the largest company in the sector.

Shares of American Homes closed the day up nearly 1%.

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