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White House, HUD and CFPB detail new actions and priorities to protect renters

Tenant screening fairness, education, outreach and promotion of commercial-to-renter conversions headline an inter-agency effort to protect renters

Multiple agencies across the federal government including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have all renewed their efforts to protect tenants renting in multifamily housing units as costs continue to climb, according to an announcement from the White House.

“[HUD], the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), [CFPB], the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and [FHFA] are each releasing guidance or best practices to landlords, operators, and stakeholders who rely on tenant screening reports when evaluating applications from renters,” the White House said in its announcement. “This guidance communicates the administration’s expectations on informing renters of what information in their screening report is responsible for their application being denied.”

For HUD, the department has announced $10 million in new funding for “tenant education and outreach in properties it supports,” and “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,” the White House said.

HUD also separately announced “an $85 million first-of-its-kind competitive [Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing)] funding opportunity for jurisdictions and new guidance for providers of affordable housing will help communities address local housing challenges,” the department said.

On a call with reporters on Thursday morning, White House Chief Domestic Policy Adviser Neera Tanden described how the administration is promoting more widespread conversion of commercial buildings to residential space, following up on a research grant detailed by HUD this week on the topic.

“With high rates of commercial vacancies across the country, we see a tremendous opportunity for conversions to residential housing,” Tanden said.

Also on Thursday in conjunction with the announcements, the CFPB released a blog post describing how “federal housing agencies strongly encourage landlords to provide tenants written notice of their rights.”

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

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