NHLP and Key Senators Demand Federal Protections for Renters
Advocates and Senators Urge FHFA to Strengthen Crucial Tenant Protections
This week, key Senate leaders including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and many others, spoke out for renters’ rights. A group of senators issued a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) highlighting how the lack of adequate federal tenant protections makes “renters vulnerable to steep rent increases and deteriorating housing conditions.” Senator Chuck Schumer also sent a strong letter to the FHFA.
The Senators made a momentous demand for limits on egregious rent hikes at Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed properties.
Their demands align with the recommendations in NHLP’s own letter, which reflects the results from our survey of 185 housing advocates from the Housing Justice Network (HJN) and other networks across more than 40 states.
The HJN survey results support the need for a minimum floor of federal tenant protections, especially for tenants of color and low-income tenants who often face higher eviction rates, poorer housing conditions, and higher barriers to affordable housing. A minimum federal floor is also necessary given problematic state preemption of local tenant protections in Florida, Texas, and other states that are hostile to tenants’ needs; as well as the the rise of multi-state corporate landlords and institutional investors in the private rental market. Corporate entities increasingly use evictions, predatory fees, abusive lease terms, and other exploitative business practices to make tenants more vulnerable than ever.
NHLP calls for FHFA to strengthen key tenant protections in properties with federally-backed mortgages to prevent evictions and ensure equitable access to housing. FHFA should:
- implement good cause protections to prevent discriminatory, retaliatory, or arbitrary evictions;
- complement good cause with rent stabilization;
- ensure that tenants have a right to cure nonpayment of rent and other lease violations;
- limit non-rent charges during tenancy;
- limit application fees that create barriers to rental housing;
- address habitability and conditions issues in a way that protects both tenants and the buildings they live in; and
- prohibit abusive lease terms, including lease terms that waive tenants’ rights provided by state law.
These letters are in response to FHFA’s recent Request for Input (RFI) on protections for tenants living in multifamily properties backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This RFI arose from the White House’s Blueprint for Renter’s Rights and is the latest in a series of actions by the Biden Administration to protect tenants in today’s housing market.
NHLP is proud to partner with the Homes Guarantee Campaign and their tremendous work in raising tenants’ voices to advocate for federal rent regulation. We stand with the Campaign in demanding broader-reaching tenant protections including caps on excessive rent hikes, tenant screening reforms, junk fee elimination, and tenant organizing.
NHLP applauds FHFA’s actions to strengthen tenant protections in properties with federally-backed mortgages, which is consistent with the agency’s statutory mandate to ensure that the GSEs operate in a safe and sound manner as well as the agency’s duty to affirmatively further fair housing.