On Jan. 25, 2023, the White House announced President Joe Biden’s Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights and several related initiatives “to increase fairness in the rental market and further principles of fair housing.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) will undertake key initiatives in the effort. Allegedly, anti-competitive information-sharing is in the crosshairs, building on a recent antitrust enforcement focus.
The renters bill of rights sets out the administration’s principles for protecting tenants:
- safe, quality, accessible and affordable housing;
- clear and fair leases;
- education, enforcement and enhancement of renter rights;
- the right to organize; and
- eviction prevention, diversion and relief.
The White House’s blueprint outlines a series of initiatives across government agencies to advance these principles, with several involving antitrust enforcement agencies.
First, the FTC will look to flex its FTC Act authority to target “acts and practices that unfairly prevent consumers from obtaining and retaining housing.” As part of this effort, the FTC and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will issue requests for information to identify unfair housing conduct and the impact on renters. This information will be used to inform enforcement actions.
Second, the DOJ will convene a workshop of subject-matter experts on “modern methods of information-sharing in consumer-facing markets.” The goal of the workshop is to lay the groundwork for potential updated guidance around what qualifies as anti-competitive information-sharing. Information exchanges have been a focus of DOJ’s antitrust enforcement efforts in recent years, especially as algorithms aggregating data across industries become more commonly used to inform business decisions.
These two initiatives continue the administration’s “whole of government” approach to antitrust enforcement first announced in Biden’s July 2021 executive order. McGuireWoods’ team of experienced antitrust attorneys are monitoring these latest developments and others growing out of the executive order. The team is available to respond to your inquiries about the effect of these initiatives on your business.