White House’s Recent Announcements on Renters’ Rights

Following a year of dramatic rent increases, growing scrutiny of tenant screening practices, and a general rise in housing insecurity, the White House recently issued a new Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights and announced new actions to bring more fairness to the rental housing market.

In its declaration to promote tenants’ rights, the White House listed five principles: 1) Safe, Quality, Accessible and Affordable Housing; 2) Clear and Fair Leases; 3) Education, Enforcement, and Enhancement of Renter Rights; 4) The Right to Organize; and 5) Eviction Prevention, Diversion, and Relief.

As far as concrete actions go, numerous federal agencies have climbed on board. The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced they will collect and investigate unfair rental practices, “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.”

In addition, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will launch a public process to examine egregious rental increases; the Department of Justice will review anti-competition sharing in the rental market; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will pursue rulemaking relating to public housing authorities’ notice process for ending leases.

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