The National Tenants Bill of Rights

The National Housing Law Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, and Tenant Union Federation created the National Tenants Bill of Rights to correct the power imbalance between tenants and landlords that fuels racial inequities and puts renters at greater risk of housing instability, harassment, eviction, and homelessness. The comprehensive policy agenda was written with direct input from tenant leaders, people with lived experience of housing instability, legal aid experts, and advocates nationwide. 

The Problem

More than 114 million people in the United States rent their homes, and the current housing market deprives them of their basic rights. Millions of tenants are forced to make impossible choices between rent and other necessities, like medicine or food for their children. Faced with threats of eviction and homelessness, tenants often endure egregious rent increases, landlord harassment, and unlivable living conditions with few options for recourse against their landlords. Institutional investors and corporate landlords have exploited the lack of tenant protections to amass excessive profits and power, putting small landlords at a disadvantage and harming tenants and their communities. This instability is amplified for tenants of color, disabled tenants, families with children, and older tenants, whose rental housing options are limited by historical segregation and present-day discrimination. The lack of renter protections perpetuate housing instability and, in worst cases, homelessness. When tenants have the rights they deserve, their lives and their communities improve. Tenants need a national solution to meet the scale of this problem.

The Solution

The National Tenant Bill of Rights sets out seven essential rights that establish a baseline of tenant protections in the rental housing market:

  • The Right to A Fair Application – To ensure fair opportunity for all, landlords should only consider information relevant to an applicant’s ability to perform their obligations as a tenant. 
  • The Right to A Fair Lease – Leases should clearly define the duties and rights of both landlords and tenants and avoid predatory and deceptive terms.
  • The Right to Freedom from Discrimination and Harassment – To ensure a basic level of privacy and quiet enjoyment, tenants should have the tools to prevent this behavior. Tenants also need the federal government to robustly enforce federal anti-discrimination laws to prevent landlord abuses.  
  • The Right to Habitable Homes – When something is in need of repair, tenants should have a clear way to communicate their concerns to a landlord and the landlord should be obligated to fix habitability concerns promptly.  
  • The Right to Reasonable Rent and Costs  – To protect tenants from financial shocks that put them at risk of eviction and further harm, safeguards are necessary to prevent rent gouging and excessive or hidden fees. Landlords should be limited to reasonable rent increases, and they should only be allowed to assess fees that have been clearly disclosed in the lease.
  • The Right to Organize – To correct the power imbalance between tenants and landlords, tenants must have the ability to organize without fear of retaliation or eviction from landlords, owners, and management. 
  • The Right to Safeguards Against Eviction Tenants should be guaranteed a basic level of due process in eviction proceedings and have protections from illegal evictions and evictions without good cause. 


Take Action!

You can help build tenant power:

  • Join tenants nationwide in endorsing the National Tenants Bill of Rights and sharing it with others! Local, state, and national organizations, individuals, elected officials, and candidates for office can endorse the National Tenants Bill of Rights!
  • Show your support for the National Tenants Bill of Rights on social media and share your story about why tenants deserve rights! Use the hashtags #ProtectTenants and #TenantsBIllofRights.
  • Urge your elected officials to advance the tenant protections included in the National Tenants Bill of Rights at the local, state, and national level.