On July 19, the White House announced a crackdown on “junk fees” in the rental housing market.
These costs, which include application, move-in, and online payment fees, have been criticized as excessive and unexpected for renters.
Zillow, Apartments.com, and AffordableHousing.com responded to the White House's call for transparency by pledging to display all fees upfront on their platforms. Zillow's Cost of Renting Summary feature, which breaks down all costs for a rental listing, launched the same day as the announcement.
But some politicians don’t just want fees to be explained – they want them banned.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) supports the White House's junk fees initiative and has also published comprehensive strategies to combat these fees at the state, local, and private levels.
Meanwhile, Florida Rep. Maxwell Frost is leading the charge in Congress with the introduction of the "End Junk Fees for Renters Act." If passed, this legislation would ban application and screening fees and require late fees to be credited toward the next month's rent.
The White House’s latest campaign to end rental housing junk fees follows an earlier call to action by HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge in March. In an open letter addressed to the housing industry, Secretary Fudge urged stakeholders to improve practices and transparency in the rental market.
However, some housing professionals argue that the fees serve a purpose and that a blanket ban would be harmful. Greg Brown, senior vice president for the National Apartment Association, said in defense of these fees, “One-size-fits-all fee policies fail to acknowledge operational realities, and interfere with housing providers’ ability to invest in and maintain their apartment communities for their residents.”
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Bills to ease Texas housing crisis fail quietly – The Texas Tribune
A California bill would cap renters’ security deposits – The New York Times