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White House Steps Up Renter Protections

While properties under HUD may be directly affected, five federal agencies “strongly encourage” some changes, such as a public posting of renters’ rights.

WASHINGTON – In January, President Biden released the Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights, which outlines principles and best practices at the federal, state and local level to strengthen tenant protections and increase fairness in the rental market. On Thursday, it expanded on some of the protections in a push to:

  • Ensure all renters have an opportunity to address incorrect tenant screening reports
  • Provide new funding to support tenant organizing efforts
  • Ensure renters are given fair notice in advance of eviction

Actions announced this week

Ensuring fair tenant screening practices. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and three independent agencies, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA) are each releasing guidance or best practices to landlords, operators, and stakeholders who rely on tenant screening reports when evaluating applications from renters.

The guidance communicates expectations on informing renters on what information in their screening report caused their application to be denied.

Funding tenant education and outreach. HUD announced $10 million in new funding for tenant education and outreach in properties supported by HUD.

Providing more time for tenants to avoid eviction. HUD will undergo the required steps to create a new rule. If finalized, it would require that tenants of “public housing and properties with project-based rental assistance” receive a written notice at least 30 days prior to lease termination for nonpayment of rent. Public housing tenants are already entitled to receive a 30-day notice, but HUD says a rule would permanently memorialize the requirement in HUD’s regulations.

Increasing resident engagement. HUD published new guidance for public housing authorities and multifamily housing owners participating in the Rental Assistance Demonstration. It will, HUD says, strengthen resident engagement requirements, including active monitoring of property owners’ level of engagement.

Private companies participating in the program

  • Next year, Zillow will include a new tool that allows visitors to search for affordable rental units, including listings that may meet requirements for programs like the Housing Choice Vouchers and income restricted affordable housing. Zillow will add easy-to-understand info about local laws to help ensure users know their rights related to leasing and remaining housed.
  • AffordableHousing.com will deploy “Clear and Fair” digital leases that advocate the principles outlined in the White House Blueprint for a Renter Bill of Rights. Property owners who use these “Clear and Fair” leases will be acknowledged on the site, which receives more than 100 million property searches each year.
  • Last week, Zillow, Apartments.com, and AffordableHousing.com announced they will provide consumers with total, upfront cost information on rental properties, which can be hundreds of dollars on top of the advertised rent.

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