Here's what tenants need to know about Biden's plan to cap rent hikes for some affordable housing units


The Biden administration moved this week to limit how much rent can rise 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 to stay in their homes.

“The rent is still too damn high, but this cap will provide stability to more than a million tenants,” said Tara Raghuveer, the director of the National Tenant Union Federation.

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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 a failed policy that discourages new construction, distorts market pricing, and leads to a degradation of the quality of rental housing — the exact opposite of what is currently needed in markets throughout the country,” Broeksmit said.

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

Who qualifies for the new cap?

The cap applies to units that receive funding from the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, the nation’s largest federal affordable housing program, according to experts. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition estimates that around 2.6 million rental homes across the U.S. have current LIHTC rent and income restrictions.

To learn if you are in such a unit, you can look on your lease — check for the word “tax credit” or the letters “LIHTC” — or ask your landlord, said Shamus Roller, the 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 a list of all LIHTC properties available on their website, Roller said.

Another option is to ask your local recorder’s office for documentation.

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

There is also a LIHTC public database, but housing advocates warned it was outdated.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

How much can my rent go up?

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

These assessments are complicated, but under the new rule the annual rent increases, going forward, shouldn’t exceed 10% on eligible units, according to the National Housing Law Project.

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

What if my landlord tries to raise my rent by more?

If a tenant suspects that their landlord is ignoring the new rules, they should alert their property owner to 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 highly recommend that tenants contact their local free legal services provider to help determine if the cap applies to them and if so, challenge unlawful rent hikes,” he added.

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

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