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House Committee Advances Bill to Expedite Emergency Rental Assistance; Treasury and FHFA Loosen Fannie, Freddie Mortgage Purchase Restrictions

  • September 16, 2021

House Financial Services Committee graphic

The House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) on Sept. 14 advanced the “Expediting Assistance to Renters and Landlords Act of 2021” by a vote of 28-22 after a hearing last week that focused on urgent reforms needed to the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). (Bill text and section-by-section)

  • H.R. 5196 would allow property owners to directly apply for rental arrears after meeting certain requirements. Landlords could apply for pandemic-related rental aid without getting the tenant’s signature, but could not evict those tenants for 120 days. (HFSC memorandum, Sept. 7 and PoliticoPro, Sept. 14) 

Assistance for Property Owners 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program graphic
  • Treasury reported that as of July 2021, only 11% ($5.1 billion) of the $46.6 billion in authorized federal rental assistance funds had been spent by state and local governments to assist approximately one million renters. (Committee Memorandum, Sept. 7) 

  • The issue of eliminating significant bottlenecks to deliver billions in rental assistance to landlords and tenants has grown more urgent in recent weeks after the Supreme Court’s Aug. 26 decision to halt the federal eviction ban. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 27)

  • Treasury this week announced it will speed up delivery of the remaining $13 billion in federal rental aid by targeting the high-performing state and local government grantees. (Treasury news release, Sept. 14)

  • National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) Chair David Schwartz (Chairman and CEO, Waterton) testified Sept. 10 on behalf of the rental housing industry at the HFSC hearing “Protecting Renters During the Pandemic: Reviewing Reforms to Expedite Emergency Rental Assistance.”

  • Schwartz supported the ramp up of rental assistance benefits and streamlining onerous application and documentation requirements, yet cautioned against the imposition of new requirements that create new barriers for property owners to participate in ERAP programs. (YouTube, full hearing and NMHC news release, Sept. 10)

  • Schwartz will join Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer and NMHC President Doug Bibby in a Sept. 23 multifamily webinar hosted by RealEstateConnect that will cover the economic outlook and tax law policy changes under consideration in Washington. (Register here)

Fannie, Freddie Restrictions Suspended

Fanne Mae and Freddie Mac logos

  • Treasury and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) this week suspended Trump-era restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the Biden administration reviews revisions affecting mortgage purchases. (American Banker, Sept. 14)

  • The suspended provisions include limits on Fannie and Freddie cash windows (loans acquired for cash consideration), multifamily lending, loans with higher risk characteristics, and second homes and investment properties. (FHFA news release, Sept. 14) 

Treasury stated, “FHFA will continue to measure, manage, and monitor the financial and operational risks of the Enterprises to ensure that they operate in a safe and sound manner and consistent with the public interest. During the suspension, FHFA will review the suspended requirements and consult with Treasury on any recommended revisions.” (Treasury news release, Sept. 14) 

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