January 27, 2023
I was interviewed for a CBS in Austin (and other local Sinclair affiliates) news story, Biden Administration Proposes ‘Bill of Rights’ to Protect Renters in Tight Housing Market. The text of the story opens,
Data shows that more than a third of Americans — about 44 million people— rent their homes. As rent prices soar amid inflation and supply struggles, the White House has just announced a plan to address the problem.
The national average rent-to-income (RTI) reached 30% for the first time in our 20+ years of tracking history, up 1.5% from year-ago or 0.2% from Q3, keeping the growth rate constant throughout the second half of last year,” a new report by financial services firm Moody’s Analytics says.
Now, the Biden administration is hoping to ease some of that market pressure with regulations that would include potential limits on rent hikes in certain properties.
The proposal is meant to make renting more affordable and protect tenants but some close to the issue say they don’t want the government to get involved.
The rent hikes have affected people of all age groups in cities nationwide but now, in a non-binding “Blueprint For a Renter’s Bill of Rights,” the Biden administration provides guidelines to protect them.
According to the plan, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will explore ways to take action against practices that prevent people from getting and staying in housing.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says it will propose requiring certain tenants who miss a rent payment to get 30 days’ notice before ending their lease. For certain properties, the Biden administration also asked the federal housing finance agency to look into potential limits on rent hikes.
Rents have gone up dramatically in many communities in ways that we didn’t expect as you said during the COVID crisis. I think we’re seeing major major long-term trends that are playing out that isn’t great for renters,” said David Reiss, a professor at the Brooklyn Law School.
Reiss believes the White House’s multiagency approach is more about looking at best practices for processes like eviction but it isn’t dramatically changing the landlord-tenant relationship.
The National Apartment Association provided a statement saying that they’ve “made clear the industry’s opposition to expanded federal involvement” in that relationship, adding that “complex housing policy is a state and local issue.”
Reiss says since rent regulation is currently left up to every state, it’s important for renters to know their rights.
“You want to know if you have a right of notice as to when you’re rent is gonna increase and what happens if a landlord doesn’t give that to you. You’re going to want to know if there’s a limitation on rent increases, and you want to make sure that your rent does not increase at a higher level than that,” Reiss said.