Standing Strong for the Rental Housing Industry


NAA’s response to the White House Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights.

By Nicole Upano 

Spurred by the launch of the Biden-Harris Administration’s White House Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights (the Blueprint) in January 2023, the National Apartment Association’s (NAA) federal regulatory advocacy work, bolstered by the active engagement of its members, has reached new levels over the past year. From in-person advocacy to robust rulemaking responses, NAA’s efforts are amplifying the voice of housing providers nationwide and standing strong for an industry that houses more than 40 million renters.

As the Blueprint surpasses its first anniversary – and its formal opportunities for public comment come to a close – NAA continues to utilize every opportunity to ensure the industry’s voice is heard before the White House and agencies before they announce any changes to federal housing policy. Here are the top takeaways for rental housing owners and operators.

NAA Stops Expansive Executive Order

In the months before the Blueprint was announced, both renters’ advocates and rental housing industry coalition partners met with White House officials as they sought to develop a concrete plan to advance President Biden’s housing agenda. Over several months, NAA engaged in good faith efforts with the White House, explaining the operational realities of rental housing and opposing federal intervention into the highly localized landlord-tenant relationship. With certainty, NAA’s advocacy helped avert a sweeping and expansive executive order proposed by renters’ advocates that would have resulted in immediate, binding policy changes, such as:

  • Federal Rent Control—limiting rent increases in federally backed or federally assisted housing to 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index or 3%, whichever is lower.
  • National Right to Lease Renewal for Tenants—implementing “just cause eviction” requirements for federally backed and federally assisted housing that eliminates housing providers’ right to nonrenewal and allows termination of tenancy only by court order.
  • Federal Penalties for Noncompliance with the CARES Act’s 30-day Pre-Eviction Notice Requirement—monitoring of federally-backed properties for noncompliance and referring noncompliant housing providers to relevant federal and state agencies for enforcement actions.
  • Initiation of a Federal Trade Commission investigation into rental price setting—intending to identify so-called “rent-gouging” practices that constitute unfair, deceptive and anticompetitive practices that inhibit market power.
  • Prohibiting rental housing fees that inflate housing costs while adding little to no value to tenants—including application and screening fees, security deposits and failure to disclose utility costs.

Instead, the White House announced three actions to advance the President’s housing agenda in the rental market in January 2023. The actions included:

  1. Unveiling the Blueprint, which lays out the direction that President Biden prefers to guide future housing policymaking at all levels of government.
  2. Proposing more than 20 federal agency actions intended to increase fairness in the rental market and further principles of fair housing.
  3. A call-to-action to state and local governments to adopt laws that align with the Blueprint’s principles.
  4. Launching a Resident-Centered Housing Challenge, a voluntary call-to-action for housing providers and stakeholders to improve the quality of life for renters.

The actions ultimately unite around five key principles meant to shift what the White House views as a power imbalance between housing providers and their residents in the rental market but are notably nonbinding and did not constitute any immediate policy change. Rather, they direct agencies to consider future rule changes that urge renters to have access to:

  1. Safe, Quality, Accessible and Affordable Housing
  2. Clear and Fair Leases
  3. Education, Enforcement and Enhancement of Renter Rights
  4. The Right to Organize
  5. Eviction Prevention, Diversion and Relief

Read more about NAA’s Blueprint advocacy at

Leading the Way through Rulemaking

Over the past year, the White House and federal agencies – including those that typically interact with housing policy and those that do not – have begun taking steps as directed in the Blueprint. Primary actions in 2023 and into the early months of 2024 included “requests for input” and “notices of proposed rulemaking” by several agencies, which guarantee a forum for public comments as agencies contemplate new rules.

As agencies have moved through this process, NAA has remained engaged with every potential action that could impact industry operations. While the following is far from a comprehensive list of all the Blueprint’s actions, it provides an overview of the most pertinent actions thus far as well as the work NAA has done to support members across the country.

NAA's Response to Blueprint Agency Actions

  • Resident Screening
    • Agency Action: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is exploring ways to act against unfair practices that prevent consumers from obtaining and retaining housing. This began with a joint request for information with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to help identify related practices and advise enforcement and policy actions.
    • NAA's Take: A criminal background check is one important part of the overall resident screening process. Criminal record screening is an essential function, which helps owners and operators mitigate risk and ensure the safety and security of residents and community staff.
    • NAA's Action: Submitted joint letter to the FTC and CFPB alongside the National Multifamily Housing Council; submitted supplementary filing with member stories collected to highlight real-world experiences with these tools and mobilized nearly 1,000 members.
  • Inspections
    • Agency Action: HUD launched the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE), which standardizes required inspection protocols for public housing and HUD-assisted housing like units utilizing Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.
    • NAA's Take: These changes better align the program with HUD’s mission to ensure HUD-funded housing complies with minimum health and safety standards and eliminate scoring based on arbitrary curb appeal-related factors. HUD should continue to seek industry input to enhance the program’s utility.
    • NAA's Action: Facilitated virtual and in-person opportunities that have allowed hundreds of housing providers to learn more about the changes to their compliance responsibilities and to provide real-time feedback to HUD leaders.
  • Renter Protections / Rent Control
    • Agency Action: The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced a request for input that asked stakeholders to comment on whether additional landlord-tenant requirements should be imposed on enterprise-backed multifamily properties, namely through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. One such policy proposal could include a form of federal rent control.
    • NAA's Take: There can be no singular federal approach to the highly local landlord/tenant relationship. Additional requirements would disincentivize participation in Fannie and Freddie programs. Federal rent control would be devastating to housing affordability and availability for renters.
    • NAA's Action: Submitted comments to the FHFA alongside industry partners; established campaign for affiliate partners to submit comments; mobilized more than 3,000 members and provided FHFA with customized landlord-tenant research to help the agency better understand the breadth of the existing state and local policy landscape.
  • Eviction
    • Agency Action: HUD issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require Public Housing Agencies that administer a public housing program and owners of project-based rental assistance properties to provide at least 30 days’ notification of lease termination due to nonpayment of rent.
    • NAA's Take: The proposed rule would interfere in a highly local process, exacerbate eviction court backlogs and disincentivize participation in HUD programs – worsening housing supply and affordability challenges.
    • NAA's Action: Led industry partners to submit comments to HUD; established campaign for affiliate partners to submit comments and mobilized more than 3,000 members.
  • Fees
    • Agency Action: The FTC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to prohibit American businesses from charging so-called “unfair” or “deceptive” fees and require all-in pricing disclosures including rental housing.  Note: This was an additional action added after the Blueprint’s initial introduction.
    • NAA's Take: NAA urged the FTC to exempt the rental housing industry from the proposed rule. It is virtually impossible to predict all rental housing fees and disclose them in advertisements as the rulemaking requires.
    • NAA's Action: Submitted comments and led real estate coalition comments submitted to the FTC; established campaign for affiliate partners to submit comments and mobilized nearly 4,000 members.

In-Person, Direct Advocacy

Alongside participating in the formal rulemaking process, NAA is meeting with federal agency leaders and staff as they move forward with their commitments outlined in the Blueprint. Much like congressional advocacy, these in-person meetings allow for more meaningful sharing of personal stories that show the magnitude of proposed policy changes.

Some highlights of NAA’s in-person federal regulatory advocacy include:

  • White House Meetings: NAA is engaging with White House officials on the impact of federal policy changes to housing providers, renters and housing markets and reiterating that states are best suited to regulate the landlord-tenant relationship and tailor policies to meet the needs of local communities. NAA continues to emphasize housing providers’ voluntary efforts to support their residents with resources and help them avoid eviction as well as significant waves NAA has made to increase fee transparency amongst the users of our national lease program, Click & Lease.
  • FHFA Meetings: NAA staff and industry leaders met with FHFA staff throughout 2023. Cindy Clare, Past Chair of NAA and Chief Operating Officer of Bell Partners, Darion Dunn, Managing Partner at Atlantica Properties, and Ian Mattingly, President at LUMA Residential reiterated the industry’s concerns with new federal requirements to FHFA staff. If these policies, like rent control, are imposed, it will discourage housing providers’ use of Fannie and Freddie-backed financing, instead causing them to seek alternative sources of financing such as CDFIs or more costly loans on the private market. Ultimately, this will interfere with the federal government’s ability to attain its housing goals. During a meeting with Director Sandra Thompson, Clare, and NAA member Bonnie Smetzer, past President of the Florida Apartment Association and Executive Vice President at Asset Living joined other real estate industry leaders to emphasize the dire consequences of rent control on housing providers, renters and housing markets.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Meetings: NAA staff met with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) officials several times throughout 2023 to educate them on the nuances of the rental housing industry. At the encouragement of the FHFA and the White House, the Enterprises continue to consider adding expanded tenant protections like rent control and eviction protections to their loan requirements. NAA consistently and forcefully reminded them that additional federal requirements are impracticable in highly localized rental markets and that their exploration of applying landlord-tenant requirements for manufactured housing loan requirements to multifamily is unworkable.
  • HUD Meetings: NAA engaged with HUD leaders throughout 2023, including hosting Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman at NAA’s Advocate conference. NAA continues to highlight its concern with efforts to make source of income a federally protected class in fair housing laws, the CARES Act 30-day pre-eviction notice requirement for HUD-assisted housing, and caution against deepening resident screening limitations - given that screening is a critical tool to help reduce foreseeable risks to their residents - employees and rental communities.   
  • CFPB Meeting: NAA engaged with CFPB leaders on resident screening practices to discuss ongoing industry practices related to resident screening risk management solutions, rent payment data furnishing issues and anticipated year-ahead priorities and concerns.

Resident-Centered Housing

In response to the White House’s Resident-Centered Housing Challenge, NAA made a commitment to promote resident services and practices across the industry. Over the past year, NAA has worked internally and alongside housing providers of all portfolio types to develop the following resources as a part of its Challenge commitment. Learn more about and view each of these resources at

Leasing Guide for Renters: NAA’s newest resource, Leasing 101, guides prospective renters through the holistic rental application and leasing process. From developing a budget to searching for a rental home to signing a lease and understanding associated costs, the informational guide aims to help renters as they navigate their renting experience.

Case Studies in Resident-Centered Property Management: To identify relevant member programs and services, NAA culled through 2,500 NAA website pages to surface relevant items. Additionally, NAA surveyed its members, focusing on affordable housing c-suite, regionals, property managers and independent rental owners, distilling survey results down to 36 “best-in-class” responses. The resulting eight case studies are easily replicable by small, mid-size and large operators. These case studies highlight NAA member programs that help renters build positive credit history, provide financial counseling and education, avoid eviction and enhance their quality of life.

Know Your Costs Summary: Launching in 2024, NAA’s lease product – NAA Click & Lease – will now include a “Know Your Costs” summary sheet on the first pages of every lease. The summary will display costs associated with the residency and represents both NAA and the industry’s steadfast and longstanding commitment to transparency in the leasing process. The groundbreaking summary sheet will appear on leases for more than eight million apartment units nationwide.

Over the coming months, NAA will continue to stand strong for the rental housing industry through robust advocacy that amplifies the perspectives of our members nationwide. Thank you for your support and engagement over the past year. Many of the Blueprint’s actions are just beginning, and more concrete rules are anticipated in the year ahead. As always, your participation in these efforts is paramount.

Stay updated with the latest in housing politics and policy at and make your voice heard at

Nicole Upano is AVP, Housing Policy and Regulatory Affairs, for NAA.