AffordableHousing.com today announced it will join the White House and a compendium of government agencies and other private sector companies in large-scale efforts to end junk fees and ensure that Americans are provided with honest, transparent pricing. More than 100 million property searches per year are performed on AffordableHousing.com–the largest platform for affordable housing in the nation.
“For decades, families have relied on us to help them find affordable housing,” says Richard Cupelli, CEO at AffordableHousing.com. “We take pride in advocating for these families, so it was a natural fit for us to join forces with the Administration and other socially responsible companies to help protect consumers in our industry.”
On July 19, 2023, the White House published a Fact Sheet announcing its crack-down on junk fees in the rental market, highlighting private-sector commitments supporting this initiative made by the three major rental housing platforms: AffordableHousing.com, Zillow, and Apartments.com.
Late last year, the President called on federal agencies, Congress, and private companies to take action to address junk fees across the economy. The initiative aims to ensure Americans are provided with honest, transparent pricing. By February 2023, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced proposed rules limiting credit card late fees. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalized a rule requiring cable and internet providers to list fees up front. And the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a requirement for airlines and booking services show the full price of a plane ticket, including baggage and other fees.
In March, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge released an open letter to housing providers and state and local governments, encouraging them to adopt policies promoting greater fairness and transparency of fees faced by renters. Substantial research shows such fees obstruct comparison shopping, impede competition, and lead to consumers paying more.
A long-standing resource for families seeking affordable housing, AffordableHousing.com has policies in place supporting this transparency and protecting its customers from unfair fees.
Renters can search available properties free on AffordableHousing.com, and property owners are required to be upfront about all refundable and non-refundable rental fees and costs. AffordableHousing.com also does not charge rental application fees.
“Our socially responsible technology platform has allowed us to establish the largest network of affordable housing in the nation,” says Cupelli. “We understand the accountability that comes with our standing in the industry and the trust that our customers place in us.”
As a hub for housing agencies across the nation, AffordableHousing.com also allows state and local governments to have their own customized website that serves their local community, enforces their specific regulatory requirements, centralizes all affordable housing, and simplifies the application and approval process.
“We are working with AffordableHousing.com to implement the Vermont Affordable Housing Hub, which will allow families to easily find and apply to all affordable housing in the state,” says Kathleen Berk, Executive Director at Vermont State Housing Authority. “By utilizing AffordableHousing.com’s custom housing hub to build our state-specific site, we can streamline compliance with state laws, which have strict application fee guidelines. We can also add safeguards to protect our families by providing the Clear and Fair Lease template for property owners to use. These leases will also comply with affordable housing programs, like Section 8.”
AffordableHousing.com also rewards reputable property owners. Those with a history of good standing can qualify for a Trusted Owner Badge, which ensures their credibility to prospective renters on the site and increases consumer confidence. Trusted Owners also receive prominent listing status.
Earning and maintaining status as a Trusted Owner requires providing various levels of documentation to verify qualifications and authenticity, adhering to all relevant federal, state, and local laws, and complying with the site’s reasonable fee guidelines.
Together with its research partner, Learning Collider, AffordableHousing.com is conducting research into the real cost of administrative fees, the impact of fee transparency in rental listings, and the effectiveness of platform features like the common application for rental and government programs—an endeavor that the company has been urging agencies to adopt for years.
“Our research partnership with AffordableHousing.com has allowed us to analyze the impacts of rental fees on low-income families in real-time,” says Peter Bergman, Professor at UT Austin and Director of the Learning Collider research lab. “Together, we are advancing research to identify junk fees and establish transparent fee practices, easing the path to affordable rentals for families across the U.S.”
The President announced in latest White House Fact Sheet, released on July 27, 2023, further plans to protect renters, naming AffordableHousing.com as an ally in the initiative and endorsing the site’s plans to deploy additional consumer protection tools by the end of the year, including “Clear and Fair” digital leases, which will align with the principles outlined in the White House Blueprint for a Renter Bill of Rights. Property owners who use these “Clear and Fair” digital leases will be acknowledged on AffordableHousing.com.
About AffordableHousing.com: For more than 20 years, AffordableHousing.com has provided innovative technology and real solutions that help solve some of the most complex challenges impacting the availability of affordable housing in the United States. By simplifying access to available resources, AffordableHousing.com boosts participation in government programs, increasing the much-needed supply of affordable housing nationwide, and providing more homes to more families.