FTC Announces Proposed Rule on Junk Fees

The proposed rule would target rental housing fees. Here’s what you need to know.

3 minute read

Update (11/9/2023): 

Just under a month after its announcement, the Federal Trade Commission officially published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish a Trade Regulation Rule on Unfair or Deceptive Fees (Docket No. FTC-2023-0064). This broad rule which touches a large swath of the American economy would target so-called “junk fees” in rental housing.

Formal publication in the Federal Register starts the 60-day comment period. Comments are due no later than Monday, January 8, 2024. The National Apartment Association will continue amplifying the rental housing industry’s voice in its comment response to this administrative action.  

Original Article (10/11/2023):

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced a notice of proposed rulemaking which would prohibit “hidden and falsely advertised fees” and require all-in pricing across industries, including rental housing. The announcement comes as part of President Biden’s ongoing efforts to crack down on junk fees and bring down costs for consumers, closely aligning with his administration’s work on the Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights.

The National Apartment Association (NAA) has always encouraged transparency throughout the leasing process and tenancy. The federal government’s proposed actions interfere with legally-binding lease contracts and ignore realities of operating rental housing. The proposed rule oversimplifies the advertising and leasing process; all fees, including contingent, optional and usage-based fees, cannot be predicted with certainty at the time of application.

If  implemented , the proposed rule would:

  • Prohibit “hidden fees” - covered businesses that offer goods and services to consumers would be prohibited from advertising prices that hide or leave out mandatory fees; and
  • Prohibit “misleading fees” - covered businesses would be prohibited from misrepresenting fees and be required to disclose upfront the amount and purpose of the fees and whether they are refundable.

The proposed rule would also require all businesses to quote total prices at the start of the purchasing process, remove false or misleading information about fees from the marketplace, and allow the FTC to secure refunds for harmed consumers and seek monetary penalties against businesses that do not comply with its provisions.

Today’s announcement is the continuation of the federal government’s rulemaking process. The FTC received 12,000 comments during its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking. While you can count on NAA to actively engage on behalf of the industry, NAA will need your help to ensure our voice is heard during this stage of the process. Comments will be due 60-days from publication in the federal register. NAA will keep members and affiliate partners apprised of updates.

NAA continues our federal regulatory advocacy efforts to ensure that agencies throughout the federal government, as well as Congress and the White House, understand our industry’s unique operational realities.

Read NAA's press statement.