Rep. Carbajal Urges Federal Trade Commission to Protect Renters, Lower Rental Costs by Banning Hidden Housing Junk Fees

As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) considers implementing new rules prohibiting hidden fees in a range of sectors across the U.S. economy, Congressman Salud Carbajal is pushing the federal agency to crack down on burdensome junk fees that can rack up thousands of dollars in additional costs for American renters.

Rep. Carbajal joined 9 other House Democrats in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan urging the agency to finalize regulations that would prohibit unfair and deceptive practices related to fees that can misrepresent the total costs of rental housing and other goods, including live event ticketing and short-term lodging.

“As the third of Americans who are renters struggle to afford rising rent prices, with over twenty million renters reporting that the increasing cost of rent threatens their financial security, added and dishonest feesmake it even harder for them to secure affordable housing,” wrote Rep. Carbajal and the other members. “The balance of power weighs heavily in favor of landlords, particularly given the severe shortage of affordable housing and the combination of rising rents, inflation, and wage stagnation. The severe shortage of affordable housing deprives renters – especially low-income renters –of any meaningful way of walking away from landlords who tack on junk fees before, during, and after the lease term. To help empower renters, we encourage the Commission to issue industry-specific interpretative guidance and explore future trade regulation rules specific to rental housing junk fees.”

Specifically, Carbajal and his colleagues highlight rental application fees, which can cost hundreds of dollars for each prospective renter – totaling thousands in a competitive market where families are competing for limited supply, and undisclosed add-on charges for a rental property that are assessed through the life of a lease, especially those that are not disclosed in a rental agreement.

“[The FTC’s] proposal would end this problem by requiring landlords to advertise the full price of rent, including additional mandatory fees, upfront. This would not only help renters more accurately budget for their rent, but it would also drive down rent prices in the long term by enhancing market competition since renters will be able to compare their options easily and quickly,” the members wrote.

You can read the full text of the lawmaker’s letter here

The letter was also signed by Representatives Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Kevin Mullin (CA-15), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Judy Chu (CA-28), Greg Casar (TX-35), and Dan Goldman (NY-10).

Congressman Carbajal is a member of the Congressional Renters Caucus, and is committed to ensuring every Central Coast family has access to affordable quality housing.

Last month, Rep. Carbajal announced $260,000 in federal grants to support housing and homelessness assistance programs on the Central Coast and $550,000 in grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco to help first-time home buyers on the Central Coast.

He also in November introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at improving housing access and affordability for Central Coast veterans, the Home for the Brave Act.

Last fall, construction on a new affordable housing community in Guadalupe began thanks in part to funding Rep. Carbajal directly secured in the 2022 federal budget.

Rep. Carbajal’s work in Congress has also delivered $4 million to support the operation of the Anderson Hotel in San Luis Obispo, which provides housing options to low income individuals in the region.

Rep. Carbajal is one of the co-authors of the Housing for All Act, a landmark bill that would provide ten years of new and increased funding for construction of new housing units, rental assistance, hotel and motel conversions, and more.

Rep. Carbajal originally introduced the Housing for All Act in 2022 alongside California Senator Alex Padilla and Representative Ted Lieu. 

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