Rental loan program could benefit tenants, landlords

BRATTLEBORO — I understand the need for housing units in Brattleboro with rents that are affordable. That means that the out-of-pocket cost to move in needs to be in line with the renter's ability to pay. First month plus last month plus security deposit pushes that move-in cost beyond the means of many hard-working residents.

On the other hand, if we are to have residential rentals available in Brattleboro, landlords have to be able to maintain their properties while still making a reasonable income from them.

The Selectboard is being asked to come down in support of one side or the other. But maybe there is something else the board could do that would help everyone.

I suggest that the town develop a rental loan program. Renters who met appropriate financial criteria could borrow one-third to one-half of the move-in costs. The loan would be paid back within two-thirds of the lease duration. For example, a loan for a one-year lease would need to be paid back in eight months.

The loan would be disbursed directly to the landlord. Participating landlords could charge no more than three months' rent at move-in - first month, last month, and security deposit.

Further, to ensure the rental unit is safe and to help the code enforcement program, the loans would be available only for units that have passed an inspection within the last two years - including making any repairs uncovered by the inspection.

Landlords get their money, tenants can afford to move in, the town has confidence that more rental units are up to code. Everybody wins.

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