3 Takeaways From ULI’s Housing Report

The new study reveals the most urgent issues facing owners and residents and offers a framework for improving stability.

A still from the Stable Residents, Stable Properties presentation.

A just-released study from the Urban Land Institute reveals what stakeholders from all areas of the nation’s rental housing market see as the most urgent issues in today’s environment—and critically—what needs to be done to ensure more stability for both renters and property owners.

The report, Stable Residents, Stable Properties, was authored by Senior Visiting Research Fellow Michael Spotts of ULI’s Terwilliger Center for Housing and was formulated through 30 interview and 280 survey responses from tenant advocates, renters, public officials, housing affordability researchers, developers and property owners.

Spotts discussed the report and moderated a panel discussion with ULI Minnesota Executive Director Stephanie Brown and Principal Research Associate at the Urban Institute Christina Plerhoples Stacy on the findings during a Dec. 15 webinar.

“Resident/housing system stability will not be solved without addressing root causes and long-term issues,” Spotts wrote in the report.

Here are three top takeaways from the study:

A holistic approach

One of the overarching themes of the report, which took a deep dive into the challenges faced by owners and residents in today’s rental market, was the need for a more universal approach by stakeholders in order to improve resident stability.

“…improving resident stability requires a holistic approach that considers both the needs of renter households and the realities of high-quality property operations and management,” Spotts wrote in the study. “The challenges are not separate, but two sides of the same coin.”

Bad-faith actors

The study found that perspectives of the whole are often shaped by the few when it comes to the rental housing landscape, and it can have a disproportionately negative impact on stability and policy. Bad-faith actors, whose numbers are typically very small, tended to impact how both renters and property owners viewed the group in general.

“The problems created by bad-faith actors have a toxic effect on policy discourse, eroding trust and inhibiting good-faith dialogue,” read the report.   

Finding common ground

The wide-ranging report found key areas of agreement that could help form a solid action plan going forward. There was a general consensus that the status quo of the market was “unsustainable” and respondents showed significant support for public policy to increase affordability and neighborhood choice.

Property owners and managers and tenant advocates agreed that there was a need for more rental housing across a range of income levels, the addition of which could help to cool down rental prices and offer more options for renters.

The study found common ground for implementing and improving best practices for resident stability. Practitioners were generally supportive of efforts that would identify and disseminate best practices for improving resident stability, while tenant advocates showed wide support for a ‘renter bill of rights’ that would present a set of principles and policy recommendations for local and state officials looking to level the playing field and/or improve tenant protections.

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