Notification letters of federal protections in place to keep tenants in their homes to deal with the coronavirus crisis were sent Monday to the nation’s largest apartment landlords by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agencies said.
The letters were sent to companies that, the agencies said, collectively own more than 2 million apartment units nationwide. CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio and FTC Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter jointly signed the letters.
“The letters remind these landlords of federal protections in place to keep tenants in their homes and stop the spread of COVID-19,” according to a release from CFPB. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended until June 30 a temporary moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent, and the CFPB has issued an interim final rule, which takes effect today, establishing new notice requirements under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).”
“Landlords should ensure that FDCPA-covered debt collectors working on their behalf, which may include attorneys, notify tenants of their rights under federal law,” Uejio said in the release. “We will hold accountable debt collectors who move forward with illegal evictions.”
Slaughter, also quoted, said that “with millions of families nationwide at risk of eviction, it’s vital that landlords and the debt collectors who work on their behalf understand and abide by their obligations.”
According to the agencies, the letters ask landlords to examine their practices to ensure they comply with the CDC Moratorium and the FTC Act and remediate any harm to consumers stemming from any such law violations. The letters also, they said, encourage landlords to notify FDCPA-covered debt collectors working on their behalf, which may include attorneys, of the CDC moratorium, applicable state or local moratoria, and those parties’ obligations under the FTC Act and FDCPA, including the CFPB’s interim final rule.
A key aside in the agencies’ release: “Neither the CFPB nor the FTC has determined whether the letters’ recipients have violated the law.”