Federal Advocacy Outlook: Washington Heads into 2024


By Greg Brown and Nicole Upano |

Undoubtedly, the past year featured record attention on rental housing policy at all levels of government, especially nationally. From the halls of Congress to numerous executive branch agencies, federal lawmakers are exploring high-stakes policies that could impact the rental housing industry—with more activity expected in the year ahead.

To help cut through the noise, here is an update on the National Apartment Association’s (NAA) progress to pursue responsible housing policies and push back on increased regulatory activity that works to federalize landlord-tenant law, as well as some key developments to expect in 2024.

Today’s Federal Landscape

In Congress, representatives in both chambers continue to focus on federal funding levels for the new year. In November, Congress passed and President Biden signed a continuing resolution (CR) that set two deadlines for current funding to expire. Four federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), are funded until Jan. 19, 2024, while additional agencies and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) were extended until Feb. 2, 2024.

During this process, NAA worked to secure a critical amendment in the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Fiscal Year 2024 (FY2024) spending bill that would add funding to the Community Development Fund for the HUD PRO Housing Grant program, closely aligning with the aims of the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act. Notably, this amendment was the only Democratic amendment accepted by the Republican-controlled House.

Congress has a considerable amount of work to complete ahead of the two CR expiration dates. For one, the current proposed spending levels in the House are more than 8% below what the Senate has allocated, including for YIMBY grants, support of the HOME Investment Partnership Program, Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) and rental assistance. A conference committee would need to convene to reconcile the differences between the two bills. NAA will continue to promote our priorities – including advocating for an extension of the NFIP – throughout this process.

On the regulatory front, the White House Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights (the Blueprint) has spurred unprecedented regulatory activity focused on the rental housing industry. Announced last January by President Biden, the Blueprint directed more than 20 federal agency actions intended to increase fairness in the rental market and further principles of fair housing – among taking other steps to help guide future policymaking at all levels of government. While the past year has largely been a year for federal agencies to collect feedback and public information as they contemplate new rules, NAA expects more direct, enforceable agency actions to be announced in 2024.

Sustainable Solutions on Capitol Hill

In Congress, NAA continues to push for sustainable policy solutions that address both the root cause of affordability challenges – a historic undersupply of housing– and that protect the nation’s rental housing infrastructure for future generations of renters.

Over the past year, NAA secured the reintroduction of three priority pieces of legislation – all with bipartisan support. In the coming months, NAA will continue to work alongside lawmakers to find vehicles and avenues for these important pieces of legislation to become law.

  • First, the Respect State Housing Laws Act would end the CARES Act’s notice to vacate requirement, a clear federal overreach over state and local eviction laws. NAA continues efforts with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to get a provision striking the notice requirement into the must-pass spending bills early next year.

  • The YIMBY Act, reintroduced in both the House and Senate, would incentivize local communities to remove barriers to apartment development. The outlook for this bill is promising and NAA also achieved a bipartisan win when Democrats and Republicans in the House joined together to create a $100 million grant program to help states and localities increase housing supply.

  • Finally, the Choice in Affordable Housing Act, also reintroduced in both chambers of Congress, would enact needed common-sense reforms to the Section 8 HCV Program. Streamlining inspections and the PHA experience will help entice more owners to come back to the program; requiring “source of income” in fair housing laws is not the right policy solution to solve for this issue.

Unprecedented Regulatory Activity

As federal agencies have started to collect public comments in their efforts to develop new rules aligning with the Blueprint, NAA has engaged members to help ensure the voice of the rental housing industry is heard and valued in these policy deliberations.

  • Resident Screening: In May, NAA and the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) submitted formal comments responding to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) joint request for information on screening practices. The comments, sent alongside 972 comments from NAA members, reinforced the necessity for owners and operators to access relevant information about prospective residents.

    In the letter, NAA and NMHC emphasized that “resident screening serves as a critical part of property management and operations. It allows housing providers to evaluate whether a potential resident is capable of and likely to fully comply with the terms of their lease… Moreover, screening helps us identify and counter the increasing risk of rental fraud – including the evolving threat of synthetic fraud. Fundamentally, we rely on resident screening tools to establish sustainable relationships with our residents and ensure the financial viability of rental communities.”

  • Renter Protections: In July, NAA and NMHC responded to the Federal Housing Finance Administration’s (FHFA) request for input on potential renter protections – which could include a form of federal rent control – for enterprise-backed multifamily properties. NAA members also sent more than 3,000 comments to FHFA, reiterating that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to landlord and tenant laws in an industry that fundamentally operates at a local level.

    In our response, NAA also shared that according to preliminary results from a survey conducted from July 11-21, 2023, more than 78% of housing providers who use or plan to use Enterprise-backed financing would be discouraged from using Enterprise products if more federal requirements were imposed. 

    While other Blueprint actions have been announced, those announced by the CFPB, FTC and FHFA have the highest potential impact on the rental housing industry. As we enter the new year, agencies are likely to issue guidance, solidify new rules or enter the formal rulemaking process to create new ones – which is where the Blueprint will impact industry operations through tangible and enforceable actions.

    Along those lines, the Federal Trade Commission recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, targeting so-called “hidden” and “bogus” fees across the economy, including rental housing. In a press statement, NAA President and CEO Bob Pinnegar stressed that “policymakers must understand that layering additional regulations will heavily impact housing operations and harm the affordability and availability of rental housing, ultimately hurting the very individuals they seek to protect.” As we approach the deadline for comments on Jan. 8, 2024, NAA will submit formal comments and engage affiliate partners and members in the process.

Amplifying Your Voice

As always, your participation in all of these efforts has never been more important than they are today. There are many options for how you can contribute. To learn more, contact Seth Turner, Senior Manager of Grassroots Advocacy & Stakeholder Engagement.

Greg Brown is SVP, Government Affairs, and Nicole Upano is AVP, Housing Policy and Regulatory Affairs, for NAA.