HUD Action: Boosting Fairness and Renter Protections in the U.S. Housing Market

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced three new actions to increase fairness in the rental market and further renter protections in housing. The White House released a fact sheet highlighting actions to protect renters, available here.

First, HUD is sending messages to public housing agencies and property owners to remind them of their obligations and to share best practices for informing rejected applicants about why they were turned down for housing. This action makes the rental screening process more transparent and gives renters greater ability to correct any errors that may occur. Second, HUD is supporting renters by making available $10 million for tenant education and outreach in properties supported by the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program. Such funding is critical to supporting capacity building efforts that enable tenants to better engage with property management and help sustain safe, clean, and quality affordable housing.

Third, HUD is announcing that it will soon issue a proposed rule addressing notification requirements for evictions due to nonpayment of rent in certain subsidized housing properties. Under this proposed rule, when tenants face eviction for nonpayment of rent in public housing and properties with project-based rental assistance, housing providers would need to provide those tenants with written notification at least 30 days prior to lease termination. These actions advance commitments made in the Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights released by the Biden-Harris Administration early this year.

“We must provide renters with the necessary resources to safeguard their interests and enhance their communication with landlords,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “HUD is dedicated to collaborating with renters and ensuring they are well informed about their rights.”

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Over 44 million households, or roughly 35 percent of the U.S. population, live in rental housing. HUD and the Biden Harris Administration has laid out its plan to support renters and their ability to live with dignity and agency. As a part of that commitment, HUD has made meaningful conversation and engagement with tenant leaders about its policies a priority. On Tuesday, HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman hosted the “National Conversation @ The Community Table”, an opportunity for tenants, advocates, and stakeholder organizations to engage in dialogue about the principles within the White House Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights as well as share recommendations regarding additional commitments that they believe would be helpful to communities across the country.

Additional information about the actions taken include:

  • HUD Adverse Action Notice. HUD program offices sent messages encouraging public housing authorities and multifamily-assisted property owners to include adverse action notices in writing as part of the denial letter that they are required to send when applicants are denied due to issues flagged on tenant screening reports or other background checks. Other agencies, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, joined HUD in sending out messages to owners and operators of federally assisted or financed housing that they oversee about their obligations under FCRA. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission issued updated guidance for landlords on how to comply with FCRA, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shared a blog highlighting agencies’ actions and the importance of giving tenants the opportunity to discover and correct issues contained in tenant screening reports.
  • $10 Million for Tenant Outreach and Education. With this new funding that supports tenant education and outreach in properties supported by the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) program, HUD reaffirms the Biden Administration’s commitment to quality affordable rental housing and strong tenant protections. The program aims to engage tenants in efforts to preserve eligible properties as affordable housing, and to provide tenants with information on their rights and responsibilities. Funding can be used for training and technical assistance as well as to help establish tenant organizations and support their ongoing operations. Applications must be submitted by January 1, 2024.
  • Providing more time for tenants to avoid eviction. HUD has committed to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require that tenants of public housing and properties with project-based rental assistance receive a written notice at least 30 days prior to lease termination for nonpayment of rent. This proposed rule would curtail preventable and unnecessary evictions by providing tenants time and information to help address nonpayment violations. Tenants living in public housing and in properties with project-based rental assistance are already entitled to receive a 30 day notice in cases of non-payment of rent. However, if finalized, the proposed rule would permanently memorialize this requirement in HUD’s regulations, allowing the agency additional latitude to effectively communicate and implement these protections. As part of the rulemaking process, tenants and other parties will also be able to provide their comments and perspectives to help HUD make sure this rule assists with preventable evictions.
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