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What it Means to Build Community

Rentership doesn’t just help renters and owners financially. It puts them on the same team, working towards the same goal: building community.

January 4, 2021

It’s no secret that renters and property owners have historically struggled to get along. A natural conflict often arises between the responsibilities of paying and collecting rent that leads to resentment, distrust, and ill will, especially in times of crisis (like during a pandemic). This dichotomy is one of several reasons why the current eviction moratorium—set to expire in January 2021—has done little to stifle the tension between renters and owners.

The vast majority of evictions occur in low-income communities where homelessness is a consequence of being forcibly removed from a property. These cases also disproportionately involve people of color. However, the perception that property owners are discriminatory or unjust in wielding control over residents is present across the income spectrum. And, because government responses to the rent crisis have almost unanimously favored renters in the short term, many property owners feel villainized within the current system.

Renters and owners have been in desperate need of a common cause. Enter Rentership.

Brett Kaufman, Founder and CEO of Kaufman Development, gives his thoughts on the importance of core values in a property owner's decision making.

Building Value, Together

When we first pitched Rentership to property owners, we expected them to gravitate toward details that would help their bottom line. Offering Rentership as an amenity helps to reduce marketing and acquisition costs and inspire a stakeholder mindset in residents, which in turn boosts retention of those residents, saving owners even more money. In other words, it’s a win-win for renters and owners.

We were surprised to discover this financial component isn’t the differentiator we expected it to be. The more we conversed with property owners, the more we noticed that one aspect of this new housing category really piqued their interest: co-creating value in their communities.

Because the traditional resident-owner relationship is transactional and impersonal, collaboration is impossible. Rentership lets these historically opposing sides re-align, helping them find common ground in a notoriously tense relationship. Both parties having a stake in their communities means owners can connect with their residents on a human level and collaborate on projects that will benefit everyone in the long run.

Many of the owners with whom we work closely have seen first-hand how the resident-owner relationship is strained under the current system, and how understandably difficult it is to convince residents that everyone is on the same team. Innovators like Brett Kaufman, the founder and CEO of Kaufman Development, recognize the revolutionary potential of Rentership for healing these relationships. “We’re not worried about reputation, we’re worried about character. Our character is on the line every day,” Brett told us at our inaugural Gravity Stakeholder Meeting. “We want to be able to look ourselves in the mirror, look our kids and families in the eyes, and feel good about what we’re doing with our work.”

Transforming the role of property owners from rent collectors into community builders lets them provide more than just amenities in exchange for rent. They give their residents loyalty in exchange for loyalty, a commitment to developing the community that everyone calls home. Rentership makes it clear, without question, that owners are committed to the long-term personal welfare of their residents.

Rethinking Traditional Housing

On a broader level, so much can be done to alleviate the pressure on renters and owners. For one, economists and advocates say the construction of affordable housing on a massive scale is essential for repairing American housing. This means unprecedented government intervention to provide diversified subsidies for development, as well as a comprehensive re-examination of land use and building strategies. Even small tweaks to the data in housing policy calculations can have a significant impact on housing availability. 

The problem reaches beyond policy changes though. Renters and owners share a mutual distrust; one that is rooted in the status quo and the traditional roles of paying and collecting rent. While the pandemic continues to unravel every convention we once took for granted, we see an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a new, more equitable society. This begins with recognizing that everyone deserves to play a role in the community, and that healing the resident-owner relationship is crucial to building that community.

Let’s build a stronger society, together.