In January, the White House released its Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights. The goal of the proposal, according to the Biden administration, was to “lay out a set of principles to drive action by the federal government, state and local partners, and the private sector to strengthen tenant protections and encourage rental affordability.” 

The announcement was met with mixed reactions from the multifamily commercial real estate industry, with some organizations calling for the administration to move away from its focus on renter protections and renew its commitment to the Housing Supply Action plan it issued in 2022, which is focused on creating more affordable housing

Dwight Dunton, founder and CEO of Bonaventure, an integrated alternative asset manager specializing in design, property management and investment management of multifamily properties, echoed some of these organizations’ concerns. Specifically, he said the Renters Bill of Rights could result in overregulated processes for building and managing multifamily communities.

He said that while Bonaventure advocates for housing availability and accessibility at every price level, too many regulations on development can have an adverse impact on supply.

“Bonaventure owns and manages a few Low-Income Housing Tax Credit communities,” he said. “There are regulations in certain jurisdictions that state apartments must be inspected before individuals can move in or renew. Currently, there’s a backlog of these inspections in the system creating unintended consequences for vulnerable segments of our communities.”

That being said, Bonaventure is already working to achieve some of the goals set out by the proposed bill. The first principle of the Renters Bill of Rights states “Renters should have access to housing that is safe, decent and affordable.” 

Dunton said Bonaventure positions itself in the market for its ability to deliver affordable housing to its customers by conducting competitor and market analysis. The company owns and manages several different types of asset classes including market-rate, luxury and senior lifestyle communities.

The company offers what Dunton calls “The Bonaventure Promise,” which states that residents may terminate their lease within the first 30 days with no break-lease penalty fees. He said this helps the company maintain its strong reputation and a culture of excellence for its residents.

“We feel that a myriad of product offerings and our strong reputation ensures renters can trust us as their landlords,” Dunton said. “Likewise, investors know we have our renters’ best interests in mind and their trust means a consistent flow of capital. This gives us the ability to move into new markets and build more of the housing we love, which is affordable, dependable and exceptional for all who meet our qualification criteria.”

Recently, Dunton facilitated a roundtable discussion with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The group focused its discussions on policies and programs that could increase the supply of workforce housing in the Northern Virginia area. 

“Many of the nation’s housing concerns, like the ones this bill is trying to correct and protect, need to start at a local level,” he said. 

The second principle of the Blueprint states that renters should have “a clear and fair lease that has defined rental terms, rights and responsibilities.” Dunton said that Bonaventure accomplishes this by using the National Apartment Association lease agreement at all its communities, which is considered best practice by most professional property management companies. 

The lease is tailored to the state where the property resides and is constantly updated with the most accurate policies. Property management companies can also add addendums to the lease concerning pets, lead paint disclosure for properties built before 1978, bedbugs and more. The terms are clearly spelled out for both the renter and the landlord.

Dunton added that leases like this are among the reasons why renters who are looking for a fair deal should consider working with a property management company. 

“While there may be price breaks here and there from renting privately, renters risk the legal protection that a property management company can offer,” he said. “Leases are legally binding agreements and should be treated as such. A simple handshake to rent out someone’s basement isn’t a wise choice for either party.”

Dunton said that as the Biden administration continues to work on developing protections for renters, Bonaventure will continue its commitment to its properties and residents.

“Bonaventure is already going above and beyond what this piece of legislation says is the bare minimum,” he said. “Sound, smart business owners should want to deliver on the items listed in the Renters Bill of Rights. From affordable to market-rate, we will continue to develop and manage properties that provide a first-class experience for all our residents.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Bonaventure. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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