Immediate Impacts Unclear from White House’s White Paper on ‘Renter’s Bill of Rights’
The recent release of the White House’s White Paper on the ‘Renter’s Bill of Rights’ has generated a lot of conversation in the multifamily and rental property housing industry. This new set of actions and initiatives aims to increase fairness in the rental market and further the principles of fair housing. While described as ‘actions’, the paper does not provide specifics regarding what new requirements, if any, will be expected of the multifamily industry right away. As such, the industry will need to look out for new regulations to provide more information on the White Paper’s potential impacts.
Data Collection and Analysis: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be collecting information to identify practices that unfairly prevent applicants and tenants from accessing or staying in housing. This means that multifamily operators will need to be prepared to provide data and information to these agencies as part of the data collection and analysis process.
Rent Increases: The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it will launch a new public process to examine proposed actions promoting renter protections and limits on egregious rent increases for future investments. This means that multifamily operators will need to be aware of any new regulations or guidelines that may be put in place regarding rent increases, and adjust their pricing accordingly.
Credit Reporting Practices: The CFPB will coordinate with the FTC to promote enforcement of accurate reporting by credit reporting systems, and to hold background check companies accountable for any unreasonable procedures. The paper also encourages resident credit programming and practices, such as helping tenants build and improve credit through reporting positive rent payments to credit bureaus. This means that multifamily operators will need to be aware of any new initiatives and penalties to consider how they can incorporate them into their property management practices.
Eviction Prevention and Relief: The White Paper emphasizes the importance of eviction prevention, diversion, and relief. This means that multifamily operators will need to be aware of any new regulations or guidelines that may be put in place regarding evictions and make sure that they are followed.
How the Multifamily Industry has responded:
The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) has expressed concerns that the new actions announced by the Biden-Harris Administration to protect renters and promote rental affordability could “lead to duplicative and onerous regulations that are already being addressed at the state and local level.” As well, they argued that these efforts will not “address the nation’s housing shortage and could discourage much-needed investments in housing.”
The National Apartment Association (NAA) emphasized its commitment to promoting industry resident services and practices, but has also made clear “the industry’s opposition to expanded federal involvement in the landlord-tenant relationship.” The NAA believes that “complex housing policy is a state and local issue and that the best solutions utilize carrots over sticks.”
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) expressed disagreement with the new protections for renters. Chairman Jerry Konter believes that the federal government should ‘focus on strengthening existing programs like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit’ in order to increase the supply of affordable housing. Konter believes that “if the Administration is truly committed to helping America’s renters, it will champion solutions that will enable builders to construct more apartments and homes to reduce the nation’s deficit of 1.5 million housing units.”
Multifamily operators may expect to see changes to fair housing laws, data collection and analysis, rent increases, and eviction prevention and relief.
Overall, the release of the White House’s White Paper on the ‘Renter’s Bill of Rights’ may be a significant development for the multifamily industry, but it is too soon to tell. Multifamily operators will need to be aware of the immediate impacts and any new regulatory requirements that may be put in place as a result of this White Paper. They will also need to consider how they can incorporate resident-centered property management practices into their business, and be prepared to communicate any changes to tenants and other stakeholders.