Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Enhance Tenant Protections

The Biden-Harris Administration yesterday announced a set of actions it will take to enhance tenant protections and further principles of fair housing.

The announcement includes new actions by several federal agencies, a Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights and a voluntary challenge to the industry to adopt stronger policies and practices that better serve tenants.

MBA President and CEO Bob Broeksmit, CMB, noted MBA will examine the Administration’s actions in greater detail “and participate in a constructive and collaborative approach to help tenants and increase safe and affordable multifamily housing.”

MBA and other industry stakeholders have met with the Administration numerous times over the last several months on the topic of tenant protections and have stressed the importance of increasing affordable housing supply and avoiding unnecessary regulations such as rent control.

MBA will monitor developments closely and continue to work with MBA members, Congress and the Administration to ensure a constructive approach is taken to address the needs of tenants and the supply of safe and affordable housing. 

The new actions by federal agencies will include:

Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

— Will collect information to identify practices that will unfairly prevent applicants and tenants from accessing or staying in housing in order to inform enforcement policy actions under each Agency’s jurisdiction. 

— 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 unreasonable procedures. 

Federal Housing Finance 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 six months, to interested stakeholders.

U.S. Department of Justice

— Will launch a workshop to inform potential guidance updates around anti-competitive information sharing, including in rental markets.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

— Will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to require public housing authorities and owners of project-based rental assistance properties to provide at least 30 days of advanced notice before terminating a lease due to nonpayment of rent.

The Administration

— Will hold quarterly meetings with industry stakeholders to solicit feedback and promote transparency in the process. 

The Renters Blueprint, a voluntary set of principles and best practices to help promote tenant protections and a well-functioning housing market, puts forth the following five principles that are meant to serve as a baseline for fairness in the rental housing market:

— Safe, Quality, Accessible and Affordable Housing: Renters should have access to housing that is safe, decent and affordable. 

— Clear and Fair Leases: Renters should have a clear and fair lease that has defined rental terms, rights, and responsibilities. 

— Education, Enforcement, and Enhancement of Renter Rights: Federal, state and local governments should do all they can to ensure renters know their rights and to protect renters from unlawful discrimination and exclusion. 

— The Right to Organize: Renters should have the freedom to organize without obstruction or harassment from their housing provider or property manager. 

— Eviction Prevention, Diversion and Relief: Renters should be able to access resources that help them avoid eviction, ensure the legal process during an eviction proceeding is fair, and avoid future housing instability. 

Finally, the Administration is launching the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge, a call to action to housing providers and other stakeholders to strengthen practices and make their own independent commitments that improve the quality of life for renters. The Challenge, which will occur this spring, also encourages states, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to enhance existing policies and develop new ones that promote fairness and transparency in the rental market.

For more information, contact Stephanie Milner at (202) 557-2747.