PolicyLink Urges FHFA to Secure Tenants' Housing Futures Through Multifamily Tenant Protections
In January 2023, the Biden Administration took unprecedented action on tenant issues by releasing the Blueprint for a Renters’ Bill of Rights, which uplifted five principles of tenant protections that are necessary to promote fairness for renters across the country. Among other agency actions, the Blueprint called on the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to conduct stakeholder outreach to identify the opportunities of enforcing tenant protections such as rent regulations.
On May 30, 2023, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a Request for Input on multifamily tenant protections that could expand protections to millions of tenants across the country. The RFI generated over 3000 public comments, two-thirds of which were from tenants and allies calling for the implementation of tenant protections such as rent regulation, just cause eviction protections, and the prohibition of source of income discrimination. To read the comments, visit this FHFA website and select “Tenant Protections” from the dropdown menu.
On July 31, 2023, PolicyLink submitted a comment to the FHFA and encouraged the agency to implement and enforce a range of tenant protections that will advance equity and fair housing in the private rental market. Our recommendations to FHFA included:
- Partnering with HUD to release regularly updated Fair Housing Guidance that provides GSEs with clear and timely expectations on how to fulfill their AFFH duties;
- Recommending that HUD issue a rule or guidance explicitly recognizing that a lack of tenant protection policies has a disparate impact on renters of color, thereby violating the Fair Housing Act;
- Creating equitable tenant screening practices and require that landlords of properties with federally-backed mortgages adopt those tenant screening practices as a condition of agency financing;
- Requiring a prohibition on source of income discrimination as a condition of its financing, thus requiring all borrowers to accept vouchers;
- Developing standard fair lease provisions and require landlords of federally-backed homes to use them;
- Taking action to prevent excessive rent increases in properties with federally-backed mortgages through rent regulation that caps rents at 3 percent annually;
- Imposing just cause eviction protections as a condition for receiving FHFA financing;
- Expanding the tenant right to counsel to tenants of federally-backed homes, and guaranteeing this right by providing funding to states that enact such a policy.
- Articulating a clear set of habitability standards with which borrowers must comply through regulation that protects tenants from landlord retaliation.
- Incorporating a tenant and community opportunity to purchase for all buildings with FHFA-backed mortgages to create opportunities for preservation and long-term affordability;
- Creating a rental registry that is publicly searchable and accessible to the public, in which all federally-backed multifamily homes are listed.
Read comments submitted by PolicyLink and our partners below:
- Homes Guarantee campaign
- National Housing Law Project
- Alliance for Housing Justice
- Local Progress
- National Low Income Housing Coalition
- Academics, economists, and climate researchers across the U.S.
- Senate Leaders, led by Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown
- Senator Chuck Schumer
- Senior Associate Tram Hoang’s op-ed in The Hill
- More Perfect Union’s story on the Homes Guarantee campaign
Learn more about FHFA and the various tenant protections that PolicyLink and our partners encouraged FHFA to consider:
- PolicyLink’s Anti-Displacement Toolkit
- An Introduction to FHFA
- NLIHC’s Priorities for the FHFA RFI
- Homes Guarantee Comment Guidance One-Pager
- Federal Housing Finance Agency Request for Input
- White House Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights
- PRRAC Scan of State, Local, and Federal Source of Income Discrimination Laws
- NCCRC Right to Counsel Resources
- Freddie Mac 2023 National Survey of State-Level Tenant Protections