H. R. 702
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 1, 2023
Mr. Horsford introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To protect consumers from price gouging of residential rental and sale prices, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Housing Oversight and Mitigating Exploitation Act of 2023 or the
HOME Act of 2023.
Unconscionable pricing of residential rental and sale prices during emergencies
It shall be unlawful for any person to rent out a dwelling unit or sell any single-family housing, in an area and during a period of a housing emergency covered by a proclamation issued under paragraph (2), at a price that—
is unconscionably excessive; and
indicates the lessor or seller is exploiting the circumstances related to a housing emergency to increase prices unreasonably.
Housing emergency proclamation
The President may issue a housing emergency proclamation for any area within the jurisdiction of the United States, during which the prohibition in paragraph (1) shall apply, that includes the geographic area covered and the time period that such proclamation shall be in effect.
may not apply for a period of more than 30 consecutive days, but may be renewed for such consecutive periods, each not to exceed 30 days, as the President determines appropriate; and
may include a period of time not to exceed 1 week before a reasonably foreseeable emergency.
In determining whether a person has violated paragraph (1), there shall be taken into account, among other factors, the aggravating factors described in subparagraph (B) and the mitigating factor described in subparagraph (C).
The aggravating factors described in this subparagraph are the following:
Whether the amount charged by such person grossly exceeds the average price at which the housing unit was offered for rental or sale by such person during—
the 30-day period before the date on which the proclamation was issued; or
another appropriate benchmark period, as determined by the Administration.
Whether the amount charged by such person grossly exceeds the price at which the same or a similar housing unit was readily obtainable for rental or purchase in the same area from other sellers during the energy emergency period.
The mitigating factor described in this subparagraph is whether the quantity of any housing dwelling units such person made available for rental or sale in an area covered by the proclamation during the 30-day period following the date on which the proclamation was issued increased over the quantity such person made available for rental or sale during the 30-day period before the date on which the proclamation was issued, taking into account any usual seasonal demand variation.
It shall be an affirmative defense in any civil action or administrative action to enforce subsection (a), with respect to the renting out or sale of housing by a person, that the increase in the rental or sale price of such housing reasonably reflects additional costs that were paid, incurred, or reasonably anticipated by such person, or reasonably reflects additional risks taken by such person, to rent or sell such housing unit under the circumstances.
Rule of construction
This section may not be construed to cover a transaction on a futures market.
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall enforce violations of subsection (a) of this section—
in the same manner, by the same means, and with the same jurisdiction, powers, and duties as the Federal Trade Commission has under the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.) with respect to violations of a rule defining an unfair or deceptive act or practice prescribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) of such Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)); and
as though all applicable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act were incorporated into and made a part of this section, except that any reference in such terms and provisions to the Commission shall be treated as referring to the Secretary.
Enforcement at retail level by State Attorneys General
If the chief law enforcement officer of a State, or an official or agency designated by a State, has reason to believe that any person has violated or is violating subsection (a), the attorney general, official, or agency of the State, in addition to any authority it may have to bring an action in State court under its laws, may bring a civil action in any appropriate United States district court or in any other court of competent jurisdiction to—
enjoin further such violation by such person;
enforce compliance with such subsection;
obtain civil penalties; and
obtain damages, restitution, or other compensation on behalf of residents of the State.
The State shall serve written notice to the Secretary of any civil action under subparagraph (A) before initiating such civil action. The notice shall include a copy of the complaint to be filed to initiate such civil action, except that if it is not feasible for the State to provide such prior notice, the State shall provide such notice immediately upon instituting such civil action.
Authority to intervene
Upon receipt of the notice required by subparagraph (B), the Secretary may intervene in such civil action and upon intervening—
be heard on all matters arising in such civil action; and
file petitions for appeal of a decision in such civil action.
For purposes of bringing any civil action under subparagraph (A), nothing in this paragraph shall prevent the attorney general of a State from exercising the powers conferred on the attorney general by the laws of such State to conduct investigations or to administer oaths or affirmations or to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documentary and other evidence.
Limitation on state action while federal action is pending
If the Secretary has instituted a civil action or an administrative action for violation of subsection (a), a State attorney general, or official or agency of a State, may not bring an action under this paragraph during the pendency of that action against any defendant named in the complaint of the Secretary or another agency for any violation of this Act alleged in the complaint.
Rule of construction
This paragraph may not be construed to prohibit an authorized State official from proceeding in State court to enforce a civil or criminal statute of such State.
Low-Income housing assistance
Deposit of funds
Amounts collected in any penalty under subsection (d)(1) shall be deposited in the Housing Trust Fund established under section 1338 of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 (12 U.S.C. 4568).
Use of funds
To the extent provided for in advance in appropriations Acts, the amounts deposited in the Fund shall be used to increase and preserve the supply of rental housing affordable to extremely low- and very low-income families, including homeless families, in accordance with such section 1338.
Effect on other laws
Other authority of federal housing administration
Nothing in this section may be construed to limit the authority of the Secretary under any other provision of law.
Nothing in this section preempts any State law.
HUD investigation and report on housing prices
The Secretary shall conduct an investigation to determine if the prices for rental housing units or sale of single-family housing are being manipulated by reducing housing capacity or by any other form of market manipulation or artificially increased by price gouging practices.
In conducting the investigation under paragraph (1), the Secretary may consider the impact of mergers and acquisitions in the real estate industry, including mergers and acquisitions involving developers, managers, owners, and investors.
Not later than 270 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Congress a report on the investigation conducted under subsection (a).
The report shall include—
a long-term strategy for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Congress to address manipulation of rental housing markets and markets for sale of single-family housing, and in preparing the strategy the Secretary shall utilize data on race, gender, and socioeconomic status; and
a description and analysis of how non-occupant investors in single-family housing impact underserved and minority communities.
Exemption from Paperwork Reduction Act
Chapter 35 of title 44, United States Code, shall not apply to the collection of information under subsection (a).
Authorization of appropriations
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section $1,000,000 for fiscal year 2024.
Housing cost monitoring and enforcement within HUD
Establishment of the housing monitoring and enforcement unit
The Secretary shall establish within the Department of Housing and Urban Development the Housing Monitoring and Enforcement Unit (in this section referred to as the
Duties of the unit
The primary responsibility of the Unit shall be to assist the Secretary in protecting the public interest by continuously and comprehensively collecting, monitoring, and analyzing rental housing market data, data for markets for sale of single-family housing, and data on investor-owned, non-owner occupied housing units, in order to—
support transparent and competitive market practices;
identify any market manipulation, including by collecting and analyzing data on race, gender, and socioeconomic status, any reporting of false information, any use of market power to disadvantage consumers, or any other unfair method of competition; and
facilitate enforcement of penalties against persons in violation of relevant statutory prohibitions.
In order to carry out the responsibility under subparagraph (A), the Unit shall assist the Secretary in carrying out the following duties:
Receiving, compiling, and analyzing relevant buying and selling activity in order to identify and investigate anomalous market trends and suspicious behavior.
Determining whether excessive concentration or exclusive control of housing-related infrastructure may allow or result in anti-competitive behaviors.
Obtaining a data-sharing agreement with State and local jurisdictions, housing agencies, and relevant public and private data sources to receive and archive information on housing purchases by institutional investors within a given area.
Investigations of excessive housing purchases
The Secretary shall monitor purchases of single-family housing in each housing market area in the United States, as determined by the Secretary, to determine whether any single purchaser of such housing, including any purchaser that is an institutional investor, is purchasing an excessive amount of such housing made available for sale in any such market area. If the Secretary determines that any single purchaser has purchased more than 5 percent of the single-family housing made available for sale in any market area over a 3-year period, or if, in aggregate, large institutional investors have purchased more than 25 percent of the single-family housing made available for sale in any market area over a 1-year period, the Secretary shall conduct an investigation to determine the purposes of and circumstances involved in such purchases, including price gouging, market manipulation, and unfair investment practices that drive homeowners out of the market.
Identification of unfair screening practices
The Secretary, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection shall jointly—
carry out a program to collect information to identify practices that unfairly prevent applicants and tenants of rental housing from accessing or staying in housing, including the establishment and use of tenant/applicant background checks, the use of algorithms in tenant screenings, the provision of adverse action notices by landlords and property management companies, and the use of information regarding tenant income sources; and
submit a report to the Congress annually describing the information collected under the program carried out pursuant to paragraph (1).
Limitation on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac investments
Subpart A of part 2 of subtitle A of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 (12 U.S.C. 4541 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
Limitation on enterprise investments
The Director shall, by regulations issued after notice and opportunity for interested parties to comment at a public hearing, establish standards and criteria for the purchase by the enterprises of mortgages on multifamily rental housing as the Director considers necessary to ensure basic renter protections and prevent egregious rent increases for tenants in such housing.
Review of anti-competitive behaviors
The Attorney General of the United States and the Federal Trade Commission shall jointly conduct a review to identify any anti-competitive behaviors in the single-family home and residential rental markets, including anti-competitive information sharing, and not later than the expiration of the 12-month period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act shall submit a report to the Congress setting forth the findings of such review.
For purposes of this Act, the following definitions shall apply:
Except where specified otherwise, the term
Secretary means the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
single-family housing means a residence consisting of 1 to 4 dwelling units, but does not include a dwelling unit in a condominium or cooperative housing project.