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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB, FTC to conduct inquiry into high housing costs for renters

Federal Issues CFPB FTC Consumer Finance Artificial Intelligence Landlords

Federal Issues

On July 25, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra shared prepared remarks for the Community Table on a White House Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights to address high housing costs for renters. Chopra raised concerns about corporate investors imposing high rents and charging renters with what the director described as “junk fees and other aggressive tactics.” He mentioned that corporate investor owners, including private equity firms, are more likely to evict tenants, even when controlling for other factors, and that corporate investor ownership of rental units has risen to over 45 percent. Chopra also emphasized the growing use of artificial intelligence and social scoring in the rental process, stating that such changes can lead to rent hikes and denials of housing due to an algorithm's definition of "high-quality tenants." The remarks suggested that tenants are not being given appropriate opportunity to correct inaccurate information in their background checks, despite the legal requirement for companies to inform consumers when using such information for adverse rental decisions. The speech also stressed the CFPB's commitment to identifying inaccurate AI and illegal practices that lead to misleading data and clarified that name-only matching, a common but illegal practice in screening, can result in inaccurate information, disproportionately affecting individuals with common last names. To address these issues, Chopra announced a joint inquiry with the FTC, to collect feedback from the public about their experiences with tenant screening.