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The White House’s Renters Bill of Rights Is Likely More Talk Than Action

A new White House proposal for protecting renters has elicited strong reactions from both the multifamily industry and tenants’ rights groups. Despite the storm of strongly worded statements from groups like the National Apartment Association and National Multifamily Housing Council, it’s unclear what, if anything, the guidelines for protecting renters will do.

The “Blueprint for a Renter’s Bill of Rights” is explained as a set of five principles that appear to be more thoughts than concrete actions. The document starts with a legal disclaimer saying that the principles aren’t legally binding and don’t constitute U.S. government policy. The fact sheet for the so-called Bill of Rights includes actions to increase fairness in the rental market. These actions involve directing the agencies like the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Federal Trade Commission to identify unfair background check policies and limit “egregious rent increases,” among other things.

The White House’s move hasn’t gone far enough for housing advocates while multifamily industry groups say intricate housing policy is a state and local issue and shouldn’t be interfered with by the feds. The Renters Bill of Rights is likely more so a good photo-op for the Biden administration than a true piece of legislation. Last year, a congressional committee completed an extensive investigation that documented egregious eviction policies of corporate landlords during the pandemic. Despite this, the White House has declined to take any action. Recent reports show the average American household is rent-burdened, and tenants’ rights groups are applying more pressure than ever. But multifamily owners will likely need to worry more about local policy than action from the feds anytime soon.

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