Renters Bill of Rights: What You Need to Know

March 8, 2023


Steven Salisbury

Lease agreement, suggested things that will change under Renters Bill of Rights

You may have heard about a Renters Bill of Rights proposed by the Biden-Harris administration. This wide-reaching proposal sets forth five principles to guide lawmakers as they make policies around housing. The principles cover a range of topics from Access to Safe, Quality, Accessible, and Affordable Housing to Eviction Prevention, Diversion, and Relief. While digesting legal jargon may not be your expertise, our friends at the National Apartment Association (NAA) are well-versed in this area. That’s why Beyond Rent podcast host Joe Easton sat down with the NAA’s Nicole Upano to learn more. She provided valuable information about what property managers need to know and expect with the Renters Bill of Rights, as well as actionable next steps. Here, we’ll break down Nicole’s advice.

Listen to the full conversation here.

What is the Renters Bill of Rights?

First and foremost, Upano makes it clear that the Renters Bill of Rights is not, in fact, a law. Rather, this proposal consists of “five non-binding principles for advancing a renters bill of rights.” That is to say, the proposal doesn’t necessarily change anything…yet. Rather, lawmakers should use the principles as a guidebook to understand where the Biden-Harris administration stands on the issue of fair housing.

The principles outlined suggest renters should have access to: Safe, Quality, Accessible, and Affordable Housing; Clear and Fair Leases; Education, Enforcement, and Enhancement of Rights; The Right to Organize; and Eviction, Prevention, Diversion, and Relief. Currently, the property management industry works to address several of these issues, but the Renters Bill of Rights would extend these efforts into other areas such as resident screening, rent control, and more.

The Biden-Harris administration proposes these principles in response to a perceived imbalance in landlord-tenant relationships. “The NAA fundamentally disagrees [with this assertion],” says Upano. While there seems to be a general perception of landlords as the “bad guys,” Upano refutes this notion. “91 cents of every rent dollar [gets] used for operational costs like maintenance, taxes, ever-increasing insurance, and paying employees a livable wage.” As a result, the NAA has been in constant conversation with the White House to advocate against nationwide policies. Rather, due to the hyperlocal nature of the business, the NAA believes that laws and policies related to housing should reflect the needs and wants of the community which they affect.

According to Upano, creating nationwide, cookie-cutter policies can have counterproductive effects. In an effort to create fair-housing opportunities for all, increased regulations can deter property owners from participating, ultimately limiting the quality and quantity of affordable housing.

What Can Property Managers Do?

While the NAA advocates for property managers at a national level, Upano suggests that state- and local-level advocacy will help solidify property managers’ interests at the legislative level. “Housing providers are pillars in their communities. They’re very involved in community outreach and supporting their residents’ needs. [It’s important to] make sure they’re providing that personal touch and speaking to their members of congress [as well as] state and local officials to put a face to the property managers.”

In talking with state and local representatives, property managers can illustrate how proposed policies might negatively impact renters and property managers. The Renters Bill of Rights itself alludes to the fact that “our nation’s rental market is defined by a patchwork of state and local laws and legal processes that renters and rental-housing providers must navigate.” Although the proposal cites this as a key contributor to housing insecurity, Upano remains firm that keeping legislation from being enacted at a federal level can help close the housing supply gap.

How This Affects You, the Property Manager

While this proposal is not a law—and therefore will not immediately make an impact—it stands to have implications for property managers everywhere. Namely, it could lead to enacting policies that prevent rent increases in lockstep with rising operational and supply costs. Further, it could make it more difficult to turn away potentially problematic renters, thereby negatively impacting your community.

Because the rental-housing market is still defined by a patchwork of state and local laws, it’s important to find area-specific information. As the NAA is a national advocate for property managers, Upano says their website is a valuable resource for all property management professionals. However, while the NAA is an umbrella advocate for all property managers, there are industry-specific associations that can provide nuanced input around how these policies would impact your business specifically. For example, check out associations like the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), and the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). This will allow you to understand the potential effects of the Renters Bill of Rights on your community so you can take action as you see fit.


The Renters Bill of Rights stands to have a wide-reaching impact on the property management industry. Operating with a (refuted) understanding of an imbalanced landlord-tenant relationship, the Biden-Harris administration aims to make housing fair for all renters. However, with federal-level policies typically come unintended consequences. Each industry and business will experience different effects based on the type of property rented. Therefore, Nicole Upano, AVP of Housing Policy & Regulatory Affairs at the NAA, stresses the importance of getting involved with property management associations to gain a specialized understanding of how the Renters Bill of Rights may impact your community specifically. Further, she suggests that, once you understand these implications, you can speak with state and local representatives to advocate for your industry.

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