Renters Bill of Rights: Housing Industry Expresses Concern About One-Size-Fits-All Legislation


Recently, the White House unveiled its proposal for a Renters Bill of Rights, a set of principles which aim to “increase fairness in the rental market and further principles of fair housing.” The document addresses a range of issues including eviction, rent control and fair housing. While some advocates for renters have welcomed the initiative, there has been opposition from the housing industry, with some arguing that the federal government should not be involved in regulating the landlord-tenant relationship.

Nicole Upano, AVP of Housing Policy & Regulatory Affairs at the National Apartment Association, said she’s concerned about federal involvement in this area. She argued that state and local laws are better suited to regulating the landlord-tenant relationship as they are tailored to the particular market.

“We would be disappointed in any sort of one-size-fits-all policy around landlord-tenant operations because that just doesn’t align with the reality of the industry and the markets,” Upano told REDnews.

Upano also noted that the principles outlined in the Renters Bill of Rights are non-binding and do not represent any immediate changes to federal policy. She suggested that the focus should be on advocating to federal agencies that are responsible for implementing existing policies, rather than on creating new policies at the federal level.

“We look forward to working with the White House in areas where we align, such as the Housing Supply Action Plan,” said Upano. “We agree that there are both short and long-term solutions to resolving the housing affordability challenges that renters are facing, but we just disagree on the path to get there.”

David Mintz, VP of Government Affairs for the Texas Apartment Association, echoed Upano’s concerns about federal involvement in landlord-tenant relations.

“Policies affecting the landlord-tenant relationship should be dealt with at the state level, not in Washington, D.C,” said Mintz.

Mintz also expressed concern that any new regulations could have unintended consequences.

“Anything that increases regulatory barriers and compliance costs ultimately impacts housing quality and affordability,” he pointed out.

Mintz also raised questions about the impact of an artificial limit on rent, which he believes would be a flawed policy that would hurt the ability of rental housing providers to maintain existing properties and deter new development.

“With Texas’ continued population growth, we need to make sure there aren’t any artificial barriers that impede the market’s ability to keep up with demand,” he said.

Rent control could impact property values and, therefore, public services.

“Texas school districts and local governments rely heavily on property tax revenue,” said Mintz. “Any policies, like rent control, that lower property values, will end up hurting tax revenue.”

Finally, Mintz said he worries about the impact of potential new regulations on small, independent rental property owners. He notes that many of these owners are already facing challenges due to pandemic-era policies that make it difficult to seek legal remedies when residents fail to pay rent.

“Rising property taxes, insurance premiums and other operating expenses are also a concern,” Mintz said. “With potential new and costly regulations, we’ve heard from members, particularly small, independent owners, about how these new policies may make it even more difficult to own and manage rental property.”

While there is opposition to the Renters Bill of Rights, there are also those who support the initiative. For example, Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, has praised the principles outlined in the document, stating that they would provide much-needed protections for renters who are struggling to afford housing.

In conclusion, though the proposed Renters Bill of Rights has generated both some support from renter advocates, opponents argue that it represents unwarranted federal involvement in landlord-tenant relations. Ultimately, the success of the initiative will depend on whether it is able to strike a balance between protecting renters’ rights and the needs of the housing industry