Blog Statement RE: White House Renter Protections & Blueprint for Renters’ Bill of Rights

Jan. 30, 2023

Contact: Jessamyn Garner

YIMBY Action applauds the Biden-Harris Administration for putting forth a Blueprint for a Renters’ Bill of Rights and a series of federal actions to increase Renter Protections and Housing Affordability for Renters. Housing stability is a core objective of the YIMBY Action policy platform and this proposal marks a significant step toward achieving it.

Millions of Americans rent their homes, yet no comprehensive federal laws protect renters. Some local and state governments have stepped in to provide a patchwork of protections, but in most communities, renters are still subject to extreme rent hikes, unjust evictions, and a lack of legal representation. Even for those who have some protections available to them, the burden is often on the renter to learn what those protections are and how to use them to stay housed.

The federal actions announced by the White House work to increase renter protections across the country and include important components that go further than previous administrations. They include:

  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will examine proposed renter protections and limits on egregious rent increases for new federally-backed mortgages.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will identify practices that unfairly prevent applicants and tenants from accessing or staying in housing in order to inform enforcement and policy actions. This is the first time the FTC has taken action related to tenants’ rights.
  • The White House commits to holding quarterly meetings with renters & advocates to continue the conversation on renter protections & will launch a Resident-Centered Housing Challenge, a call to action to housing providers and other stakeholders to make their own independent commitments that improve renter quality of life.

This marks an important step toward empowering tenants, giving them much-needed tools, and reducing unjust evictions. Prioritizing renters, listening to their concerns and experiences, and taking action based on their feedback are actions necessary to protect renters and increase housing stability across the country. Patchwork renter protections passed at the local level are bandaids that only protect a small subset of renters. Bold, federal action to protect renters and increase affordability means consistent protections for renters regardless of the state they live in.

But it’s far from the only step we’ll need to achieve housing stability and affordability for everyone in the US. While this plan is a significant step forward, there are additional protections that must be implemented in order to properly safeguard renters across the country. For example, the National Low Income Housing Coalition recommends a number of additional protections that YIMBY Action supports, including but not limited to:

  • Holding corporate landlords accountable for documented, egregious and often unlawful behavior, especially during the first two years of the pandemic;
  • Expanding the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, and source of income;
  • Creating “just cause” eviction protections to ensure greater housing stability and prevent arbitrary and harmful actions by landlords; and
  • Establishing anti-rent gouging protections for renters and require landlords to disclose any and all fees in advance of lease signing.

In addition to acting as a guide for federal policy, the principles outlined in the Blueprint for a Renters’ Bill of Rights should be used by local and state governments to guide their own renter protections. Additionally, pro-housing and pro-tenant activists must work together to make sure the White House continues to make progress on renter protections.

YIMBY Action is looking forward to the implementation of this historic plan and will continue to advocate for increased renter protections at the federal, state, and local levels.