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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission Put Nation’s Largest Landlords on Notice About Tenants’ Pandemic Protections

May 04, 2021 / Source: CFPB

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Acting Director Dave Uejio and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter sent notification letters to the nation’s largest apartment landlords, which collectively own more than 2 million units. The letters remind these landlords of federal protections in place to keep tenants in their homes and stop the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended until June 30 a temporary moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent, and the CFPB has issued an interim final rule, which takes effect today, establishing new notice requirements under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

“Landlords should ensure that FDCPA-covered debt collectors working on their behalf, which may include attorneys, notify tenants of their rights under federal law. Nearly nine million households are at risk of eviction due to the economic effects of COVID-19, but no one should lose their home without understanding their rights,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio. “We will hold accountable debt collectors who move forward with illegal evictions.”

“With millions of families nationwide at risk of eviction, it's vital that landlords and the debt collectors who work on their behalf understand and abide by their obligations,” said Acting FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. “We are continuing to monitor this area and will act as needed to protect renters.”

The notification letters are the latest public action by the CFPB and the FTC in support of the CDC moratorium. The CDC order generally prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent, if the tenant submits a written declaration that she is unable to afford full rental payments and would likely become homeless or have to move into a shared living setting if evicted. This prohibition applies to an agent or attorney acting on behalf of a landlord or owner of the residential property.

The letters ask landlords to examine their practices to ensure they comply with the CDC Moratorium and the FTC Act and remediate any harm to consumers stemming from any such law violations. It also encourages landlords to notify FDCPA-covered debt collectors working on their behalf, which may include attorneys, of the CDC moratorium, applicable state or local moratoria, and those parties’ obligations under the FTC Act and FDCPA, including the CFPB’s interim final rule.

Effective today, the interim final rule requires debt collectors to provide written notice to tenants who may have rights under the CDC moratorium and prohibits them from misrepresenting tenants’ ineligibility for protection from eviction under the CDC moratorium. On March 29, 2021 Acting Director Uejio and Acting Chairwoman Slaughter issued a joint statement regarding their agencies’ work to help stop illegal evictions and protect American consumers facing economic hardship due to COVID-19.

Neither the CFPB nor the FTC has determined whether the letters’ recipients have violated the law.

Read a sample letter. 

More information about the CFPB’s interim final rule requiring notices to tenants is available here.

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov