Enterprise Community Partners and the Urban Institute, with the support of Stewards for Affordable Housing for the Future and Housing Partnership Network, have been convening a group of mission-aligned affordable housing owners, operators and investors to identify emerging best practices in property management that can reduce the incidence of evictions and improve the stability of residents. With the expiration of eviction moratoria and the winding down of Emergency Rental Assistance programs, resident stability and eviction prevention efforts will increasingly be impacted by the practices and policies of owners and operators.

Today, we published a new framework for principles and practices that can be a starting point for owners and operators interested in minimizing displacement of residents – while also being mindful of their bottom lines.

The framework draws on the experiences of the mission-informed working group partners, advocates and experts, as well as a field scan of literature. We are hopeful that the principles we are sharing create a solid foundation for owner-resident relationships that facilitates communication between parties and enables a sturdy safety net that seeks outcomes that work for both landlords and residents.

We learned from the working group members that the greater the trust established between the resident—or even the prospective resident—and the owner or operator, the greater the ability to avoid eviction or displacement. Conversely, participants reported that the set of potential options for maintaining stability narrowed as eviction became more likely.

Aspects of the principles for owners and operators are reflected in the White House’s recently released Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights, which also lays out actions to be taken by federal, state and local actors (in addition to owners) to strengthen renter protections and promote greater affordability. The framework also dovetails with Enterprise's Preservation Next initiative, which focuses on identifying and disseminating solutions at the intersection of renter and owner stability to promote an eviction prevention-first approach to minimizing resident displacement in the small- and medium-sized multifamily stock, largely owned by “mom and pop” landlords or other small-scale owners.

The principles and practices detailed in the framework are as follows:

  1. Remove barriers for tenants in their housing search and use transparent processes when establishing tenancy
  2. Clearly and consistently communicate with tenants in a culturally appropriate way from lease up through all stages of tenancy
  3. Proactively connect tenants to resources and encourage communities of support, to help tenants stay stable throughout their tenancy
  4. Allow flexibility in terms, processes, and payments for renters to reduce the likelihood of eviction
  5. Create and commit to procedures and policies that prioritize eviction diversion options in the case of non-payment or late payment

Owners and operators are inherently central to implementing any eviction prevention strategy, but their actions are also subject to local and state regulations, federal policies and programs, and investor obligations.

Enterprise’s Home for Good report and related roadmap detail a range of strategies that have been employed at various stages of the eviction cycle to avoid evictions while ensuring housing providers remain solvent. When viewed through the lens of resident stability, the principles above can also serve as a guide to a wider set of owners and operators in support of a common set of best practices that improve outcomes for residents and owners alike. They can also serve as the basis for developing investment criteria consistent with a double or triple bottom line.