Biden Considering Tenant Protections
January 23, 2023
As we previously covered, progressive lawmakers and tenant groups are urging the White House to adopt renter protections via administrative action and executive orders, i.e., without Congress.
Why it matters: While rent control is not likely to be among the enacted policies, notice requirements and evictions limitations could be included. Politico reported the housing industry is concerned White House action could create new problems, especially as recent data show the national median rent has declined over the past four months.
Go deeper: Progressive Democrats in Congress sent a letter to Biden with a list of policy suggestions:
- GSE-Focused Protections: “Directing the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to establish renter protections for individuals residing in properties financed with government-backed mortgage properties, including anti-price gouging protections, just cause eviction standards, habitability standards, and protections against source-of-income discrimination. To prevent future abusive landlord practices, FHFA must enforce these standards and make public any steps it takes to hold landlords accountable.”
- Excessive Rent Limitations: “Directing the Federal Trade Commission to issue new regulation defining excessive rent increases as a practice that unfairly affects commerce and enforce action against unfair rent gouging practices.”
- HUD Rent Gouging: “Directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue guidance to entitlement jurisdictions on the importance of mitigating cost burden and adopting anti-rent gouging measures as an important action for affirmatively furthering fair housing to ensure equal access to fair and affordable housing for all renters.”
- Investigate Corporate Landlords: “Encouraging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in conjunction with the Department of Justice and HUD, to investigate instances of corporate landlords discriminating against tenants unlawfully.”
- Encourage Local Action: Encouraging states to use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan to protect renters from the threat of rent inflation and corporate greed in the rental market by investing in homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes, as well as extending and strengthening emergency rental assistance programs. The Administration should also encourage states and localities to enact much-needed renter protections.
Our thought bubble: While the President has broad power to change federal housing policy via regulatory agencies without Congress, any action will likely be challenged in court. This may temper the scope of what the White House issues, but agencies like the CFPB and FTC have broad authority under existing laws that they could use to pressure change via lenders or other institutions. The FHFA has broad authority over the GSEs and their products, but it has more limited power to affect outstanding loans.
The bottom line: We expect a continued focus on institutional owners of housing, both multifamily and single-family rental. Please contact David McCarthy (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.