NLIHC, National Housing Law Project, and Tenant Union Federation Launch National Tenants Bill of Rights to Enshrine Federal Tenant Protections – Endorse TODAY!

NLIHC, the National Housing Law Project (NHLP), and the Tenant Union Federation (TUF) released on June 25 the National Tenants Bill of Rights (NTBOR) to shift the balance of power between renters and landlords that continues to fuel racial and social inequities. Solutions to our nation’s housing crisis must include strong and enforceable tenant protections to help prevent housing instability and homelessness, redress long-standing racial and social inequities, and advance housing justice. Written with direct input from tenant leaders, people with lived experience of housing instability, housing law experts, and advocates nationwide, the NTBOR provides a bold, legislative framework to enshrine tenants’ rights throughout their tenancy in private as well as federally assisted properties. NLIHC urges advocates – including individuals, organizations, elected officials, and candidates for elected office – to endorse the National Tenants Bill of Rights today!

Our nation’s 114 million renters deserve safe, stable, and healthy homes. With corporate landlords and private equity investors continuing to take advantage of the exploitative housing system, it is the federal government’s duty to take immediate action and pass legislation to enshrine comprehensive federal tenant protections and empower renters across the country. NLIHC, NHLP, and the TUF will use the National Tenants Bill of Rights to build momentum at the national level, but any level of government can use this policy as a roadmap for strengthening tenants’ rights in the rental market.

“The National Tenants Bill of Rights would provide historic and unprecedented local, state, and federal protections for renters and improve the systemic power imbalance between landlords and renters that continues to both put renters at increased risk of housing insecurity, eviction, and homelessness, and fuel racial inequity,” said NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel in a press release. “The Tenants Bill of Rights was written with direct input from renters and tenant leaders, putting forward a bold vision for how our housing market can center and prioritize the needs of renters. NLIHC is committed to working with advocates nationwide to advance the critical protections included in the Tenants Bill of Rights at all levels of government.”

The National Tenants Bill of Rights sets out seven essential rights that establish a baseline of tenant protections in the rental housing market. These rights follow a tenant’s experience from applying for housing and signing a lease to living in their home and eventually ending their tenancy. The National Tenants Bill of Rights includes rights to:

  1. A Fair Application – Discriminatory screening practices by landlords and tenant screening companies prevent prospective tenants from being fairly considered when they apply for housing. To ensure fair opportunity for all, landlords should only consider information relevant to an applicant’s ability to perform their obligations as a tenant.
  2. A Fair Lease – Leases shape the legal relationship between landlords and tenants, often reflecting the imbalance of power. To correct this imbalance, leases should clearly define the duties and rights of both landlords and tenants and avoid predatory and deceptive terms.
  3. Freedom from Discrimination and Harassment – Home should be a sanctuary for tenants. Currently, tenants are vulnerable to discrimination, violations of privacy, and harassment by their landlords. To ensure a basic level of privacy and quiet enjoyment, tenants should have the tools to prevent this behavior. Tenants also need the federal government to robustly enforce federal anti-discrimination laws to prevent landlord abuses.
  4. A Habitable Home – Tenants deserve to feel safe in their homes. Safe homes include working appliances and fixtures, reliable utilities, effective pest control, and prevention from deadly health hazards. When something is in need of repair, tenants should have a clear way to communicate their concerns to a landlord and the landlord should be obligated to fix habitability concerns promptly.
  5. Reasonable Rent and Costs – Rent is often the largest expense in a household’s budget, and financial stability is largely absent in a system where landlords hike rents dramatically higher and at a faster rate than the growth of wages. To protect tenants from financial shocks that put them at risk of eviction and further harm, safeguards are necessary to prevent rent gouging and excessive or hidden fees. Landlords should be limited to reasonable rent increases, and they should only be allowed to assess fees that have been clearly disclosed in the lease.
  6. Organize – To correct the power imbalance between tenants and landlords, tenants must have the ability to organize without fear of retaliation or eviction from landlords, owners, and management.
  7. Safeguards against Evictions – Tenants should not have to risk losing their homes in eviction court in a manner of minutes. Tenants deserve a basic level of due process in eviction proceedings as well as protections from illegal evictions and evictions without good cause.

NLIHC, NHLP, and TUF encourage advocates to endorse the National Tenants Bill of Rights here. This form allows individuals (denoted by “renter” or “homeowner”), organizations, elected officials, and candidates to endorse the platform.

Read the press release from NLIHC, NHLP, and TUF here.

For more information, read the full National Tenants Bill of Rightssection summaries, and a factsheet. Promote the National Tenants Bill of Rights on social media with these social media graphics!

Individuals, organizations, and elected officials and candidates can endorse the National Tenants Bill of Rights at: