HUD Takes Aim At Rental Housing Fees

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking aim at transparency in rental housing fees in a bid to make life more affordable for the average American.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced commitments by some of the biggest rental search platforms to address unexpected and junk fees.

Zillow,, and all said they will provide tools renters can use to calculate exactly how much their rental will cost. Zillow is adding a Cost of Renting Summary to its active apartment listings, while is launched a new calculator that includes these fees on its website. will require listings to disclose all fees and charges upfront. 

“[M]any renters today face fees that are hidden, duplicative, or unnecessary as part of the housing search and leasing process. These fees limit options for renters and strain household budgets,” Fudge wrote in an open letter to the housing industry addressing this issue.

A recent report from the National Consumer Law Center found that excessive– and sometimes illegal– fees can jeopardize housing and financial stability, as well as unfairly impact renters’ credit reports.

HUD cites rental application fees that exceed the actual cost of background checks as an example of an undue fee burden, as well as “convenience fees” for paying rent online, mail sorting or trash collection fees, and “January fees” with no specific description also fall under HUD’s scrutiny.

“Too often, renters are hit with unexpected fees on top of their rent,” Fudge said. “Today’s announcement shows the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to lower costs for renters and build a fairer, more transparent rental housing marketplace.”

The agency also released a brief highlighting strategies to encourage fairness in the market that can be applied at the state, local, or private sector levels.

The Biden Administration has targeted fees alongside “anti-competitive practices” in a recent push to bring costs down for Americans.

Biden also introduced new draft merger guidelines released by U.S. antitrust enforcers and said his administration would crack down on price-fixing in food and agricultural markets.

“It’s about basic fairness,” Biden said to his 18-agency Competition Council. “Folks are tired of being played for suckers.”

Many housing advocates have applauded the move. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called it “welcome news for American small businesses, workers, and consumers” in a statement.

But others have criticized the White House for not going far enough.

“We’re thrilled the Biden administration is talking about junk fees in the rental housing context,” Ariel Nelson, a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, told MarketWatch. “[But] disclosures, standing alone, are kind of a weak form of protection for consumers. They don’t do anything to lessen or eliminate the fees.”

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