Biden’s plan to cap rent hikes in certain units: Here’s what to know

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The Biden administration decided this week to limit rent increases in certain affordable housing units across the country.

While some housing experts criticized the move, tenant advocates said the new rule, which will cap rent increases at 10%, will help people stay in their homes.

“Rent is still too high, but this cap will bring stability to more than a million tenants,” said Tara Raghuveer, director of the National Federation of Tenants Unions.

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However, Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO Bob Broeksmit said capping rent increases would only worsen the housing affordability crisis.

“Rent control has consistently proven to be an ineffective policy that discourages new construction, distorts market prices, and leads to a decline in the quality of rental housing – exactly the opposite of what is currently needed in rental markets. across the country,” Broeksmit said.

Here’s what renters should know about the new protection, announced April 1 and now in effect.

Who is eligible for the new ceiling?

The cap applies to units that receive funding from the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, the nation’s largest federal affordable housing program, experts say. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition estimates that approximately 2.6 million rental units in the United States are currently subject to LIHTC rent and income restrictions.

To find out if you reside in such a unit, you can look at your lease — check the word “tax credit” or the letters “LIHTC” — or ask your landlord, said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project . .

You can also ask your state housing agency, he said.

Some agencies have an interactive map and list of all available LIHTC properties on their website, Roller said.

Another option is to request documentation from your local registrar’s office.

“All LIHTC properties are subject to a regulatory agreement that must be registered for the property,” he added.

There is also a public LIHTC database, but housing advocates have warned that it is outdated. A tenant can also check with the National Housing Preservation Database.

How much can my rent increase?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses income limits each year to calculate the maximum amount of rent a landlord can charge a LIHTC tenant, according to the National Housing Law Project.

These assessments are complicated, but under the new rule, annual rent increases in the future should not exceed 10% on eligible units, according to the National Housing Bill.

This will help “keep seniors, families with children, people with disabilities and lower-income renters in their homes,” Roller said.

What happens if my landlord tries to increase my rent more?

If a tenant suspects their landlord is ignoring the new rules, they should alert their landlord of the government’s updated policy and provide them with a copy of the official HUD announcement, Roller said.

“This policy can be difficult to understand and explain, so we strongly recommend that tenants contact their local free legal services provider to help them determine whether the cap applies to them and, if it is case, to challenge illegal rent increases,” he added.

At Justshelter.org, people can search for local resources for tenants, including such legal help.

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