There is no doubt that housing has become significantly more expensive over the past several years. Not only has this impacted home buyers, but it has also impacted renters as well. As such, the Biden-Harris administration released a Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights on January 25, 2023. The blueprint outlines five key principles for renter protections along with their descriptions below.
Protections for renters
- Safe, quality, accessible, and affordable housing: Renters should have access to housing that is safe, sanitary, and free of discrimination. Housing should also be affordable, taking into account the household’s income and other expenses.
- Clear and fair leases: Leases should be written in plain language that is easy for renters to understand. They should also be fair, and should not contain any hidden fees or terms that could harm renters.
- Education, enforcement, and enhancement of renter rights: Renters should be educated about their rights, and should have access to resources to help them enforce those rights. The government should also take steps to enforce renter protections, and to strengthen those protections where necessary.
- The right to organize: Renters should have the right to organize and advocate for their rights. This includes the right to form unions, to bargain collectively, and to strike.
- Eviction prevention, diversion, and relief: Tenants should be protected from unnecessary evictions. The government should provide resources to help renters avoid eviction, and should create a fair and equitable eviction process.
Although the ultimate goal of providing more affordable housing for renters seems to be universally accepted, the opinions on the strategies implemented vary. For example, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) believes relief efforts would be better directed towards generating more affordable housing supply and direct rent assistance. NAR President, Kenny Parcell, was quoted as saying: “Federally enacted policies can potentially drive housing providers out of the market, which will have an immediate and long-term impact of making rental housing even more competitive and, therefore, more expensive for renters.”
In closing, we continue to deal with an inventory challenge for affordable housing throughout the country. With this said, increased supply will be critical for meeting these needs. For government programs to be successful, offering incentives to homebuilders to build more affordable housing may be a better path.