White House Announces New Actions, New Challenge, and New Bill of Rights to Improve Renters’ Quality of Life
Today, the Biden-Harris administration announced new federal actions to improve renters' quality of life, released a Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights, and launched the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge for state, local, and private stakeholders.
“Rental housing has become less affordable with some landlords taking advantage of market conditions to pursue egregious rent increases,” stated the White House. “Today’s announcements recognize there are responsible housing providers—large and small, national and local—willing to treat renters fairly, but it also holds accountable those who exploit market realities at the cost of renters’ housing access and stability.”
The Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights is designed to drive federal, state, local, and private action to encourage rental affordability and strengthen tenant protections because every renter deserves:
- Safe, Quality, Accessible, and Affordable Housing
- Clear and Fair Leases
- Education, Enforcement, and Enhancement of Renter Rights
- The Right to Organize
- Eviction Prevention, Diversion, and Relief
The federal actions announced today include:
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), both independent agencies, will collect information to identify practices that unfairly prevent applicants and tenants from accessing or staying in housing in order to inform enforcement and policy actions under each agency’s jurisdiction. This is the first time the FTC has issued a request for information exploring unfair practices in the rental market. The two agencies will seek information on a broad range of practices that affect the rental market, including the creation and use of tenant background checks, the use of algorithms in tenant screenings, the provision of adverse action notices by landlords and property management companies, and how an applicant’s source of income factors into housing decisions.
- The CFPB will issue guidance and coordinate enforcement efforts with the FTC to ensure accurate information in the credit reporting system and to hold background check companies accountable for having unreasonable procedures.
- The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), an independent agency, will launch a new public process to examine proposed actions promoting renter protections and limits on egregious rent increases for future investments. FHFA will maintain transparency throughout the process and provide periodic updates, including one within 6 months, to interested stakeholders. As announced in November, the FHFA will also increase affordability in the multifamily rental market by establishing requirements that encourage the financing of multifamily loans that guarantee affordable housing. In 2022, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae purchased a combined $142 billion in multifamily loans supporting over one million units. If the same activity holds in 2023, this would mean an investment in approximately 700,000 affordable units.
- A U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) workshop will inform potential guidance updates around anti-competitive information sharing, including in rental markets.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require public housing authorities and owners of project-based rental assistance properties to provide at least 30 days’ advanced notice before terminating a lease due to nonpayment of rent.
- The administration will hold quarterly meetings with a broad, diverse, and varying group of tenants and tenant advocates to ensure they continue to have a seat at the table and can share ambitious ideas to strengthen tenant protections.
In order to drive further state, local, and private action, the administration is launching the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge (Challenge), which will occur this Spring. The administration has already received specific Challenge commitments—which would affect more than 15 million rental units—from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, members of the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, Realtor.com, the National Apartment Association, National Association of Realtors, and the National Multifamily Housing Council. Read the full announcement to view their specific commitments.
To join the Challenge, complete this survey by April 28. Send questions about the Challenge to RCHousingChallenge@who.eop.gov.
“Since taking office, the President has taken substantial steps to promote fairness in the rental market and ease the burden of rental costs for millions of American renters. The Administration kept the national eviction moratorium in place until August 2021, which helped to prevent over 1.5 million eviction filings nationwide. The Administration has delivered over 8 million rental or utility assistance payments to reduce renters’ risk of eviction or housing instability through Emergency Rental Assistance programs and provided over $769 million for housing stability services. Last May, the Administration released a Housing Supply Action Plan, which set the goal of closing America’s housing supply shortfall in five years. The Administration has been making progress advancing a long-term goal of providing housing vouchers to all eligible households: the 2022 and 2023 President’s Budgets proposed to expand rental assistance to an additional 200,000 households–and the Administration has secured rental assistance to more than 100,000 households through the 2022 and 2033 appropriations bills and the American Rescue Plan. And, last week, HUD published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on its efforts to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.”
Want more news like this? Subscribe to the USICH newsletter.