We read the Biden administration's proposal to protect renters from discrimination and unwarranted rent hikes. Here are the 3 biggest takeaways.

We read the Biden administration's proposal to protect renters from discrimination and unwarranted rent hikes. Here are the 3 biggest takeaways.
A "for rent" sign outside a house.ejs9/Getty Images
  • The Biden administration announced several new protections for renters on January 25.
  • New initiatives include investigating cases of discrimination and investing in affordable rentals.

The Biden White House moved on Wednesday to bolster fair-housing protections and affordability for more than 44 million renter households, or roughly one-third of the US population.

Some of the new initiatives include empowering the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to collect information on different ways landlords discriminate against renters, according to a fact sheet released by the White House. This includes the use of algorithms, tenant background checks, and how sources of income are evaluated on rental applications.

Landlords who manage public-housing units are also required to provide tenants with a 30-day notice before terminating their lease for nonpayment of rent. At the same time, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, an independent organization that helps regulate the mortgage market, will create new policies that encourage development of affordable-rental units.

Insider reviewed the documents the White House released concerning the new initiatives. Here are three of the biggest takeaways.

Renters could get their own bill of rights

The White House's plan to protect renters includes a "renters bill of rights," an initiative that could expand access to affordable housing, enhance opportunities for renters to learn about their legal rights during the eviction process, and provide renters with a federal right to organize tenant unions.


The idea comes as many renters continue to organize in order to combat what they see as unwarranted rent increases and evictions.

A nonprofit group in Oakland, California, called Moms 4 Housing recently demanded that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors pass a legislative package that includes tenant protections similar to the ones proposed by the White House, The Oaklandside reported. Activists in San Antonio made similar demands to their city council, according to the San Antonio Express.

Evictions are top of mind for many in the federal government

Evictions have been a hot topic of debate since the pandemic began, as demand for rental housing skyrocketed. Federal agencies like the Treasury have earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars to help prevent local evictions through emergency-rental-assistance programs. But data from Princeton's Eviction Lab shows that evictions are increasing in cities ranging from Las Vegas to Boston and Philadelphia despite the additional funding.

Meanwhile, a growing number of households are choosing to rent as home prices and mortgage rates remain well above their pre-pandemic levels. Data from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies shows that the number of renter households in the US increased by 870,000 between the first quarter and the third quarter of 2022.

This demand is one reason why rents in the US increased by 5% year over year in December, to an average of $1,979 month, according to Redfin's rent tracker. It's also one reason why the US rental-vacancy rate — which measures the proportion of rental units that are available — is at 5.8%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That's the lowest level the bank has measured since the third quarter of 1984.


The White House needs help from private companies and state agencies

Officials also announced a new call to action, called the "Resident-Centered Housing Challenge," to landlords and property managers to make fair housing and affordability commitments that go above and beyond the White House's guidelines.

The challenge will begin this spring and could impact up to 15 million households. Early supporters of the challenge include the National Apartment Association, the National Association of Realtors, and state agencies like the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Some home builders like Jerry Konter, the chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, disagreed with the new protections for renters. Konter said in a statement that the federal government should instead focus on strengthening existing programs like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to bolster the supply of affordable housing.

"If the administration is truly committed to help America's renters, it will champion solutions that will enable builders to construct more apartments and homes to reduce the nation's deficit of 1.5 million housing units," Konter said.