Legal & Regulatory

Renter Rights Are Changing: What Homeowners Need To Know In 2024

Written By Melanie Kershaw

Last Updated May 14, 2024

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Tenant rights are in the spotlight in 2024. From rent stabilization to air conditioning, it seems every month there is a new vote or proposal for renter rights. 

But while some homeowners feel nervous about the impact or limitation on their rental income, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Renting is a two-way street. Treating your residents well makes good financial sense for the profitability and longevity of your rental home. 

To make it easier to uphold the homeowner-resident relationship (and stay on the right side of the law) here are some tenant rights and changes to be aware of in 2024. 

5 changes to tenant rights that all landlords should know

1. More cities are adopting a ‘Renter Bill of Rights’

In 2023, The White House issued a blueprint for a ‘Renters Bill of Rights’. It’s not federal policy or law, but it did kickstart a number of tenants rights campaigns at a local level. 

The Renter Bill of Rights outlines five principles for rental housing:

  1. Safe, quality, accessible and affordable housing
  2. Clear and fair leases
  3. Education, enforcement, and enhancement of renter rights
  4. The right to organize
  5. Eviction prevention, diversion, and relief

As a homeowner, it’s worth being aware of these recommendations as your local city might propose ways to make them law. There are already many tenant ordinances being introduced across the country (e.g. San Diego and Tacoma). 

Related: California Rental Laws Are Changing in 2024: What Landlords Need To Know

2. Eviction laws are evolving 

When COVID-19 protections ended, a number of cities opted to keep ‘just cause evictions’'. In 2024, more homeowners need to have a justifiable reason for evicting a tenant from their rental home. This is to protect good residents from being ousted for the purpose of raising rent above local caps or stabilization measures. 

Tenant protection laws are also seeing evictions evolve to include things like:

  • Offering relocation payment if residents can’t afford new rent or you want to move back into the home
  • Limitations on evictions of educators and families during school terms
  • The right to hold eviction proceedings remotely
  • Changes to notice periods or period to resolve issues before an eviction is filed

If you ever need to file an eviction, be sure to check your local city ordinances to see how 2024 changes may impact this decision. 

If you’re a Belong homeowner, contact us first so we can advise the best course of action and shield you from legal costs with eviction protection. 

Related: How To Avoid Costly Evictions With Belong’s Game-Changing Safety Net For Homeowners

3. Screening and discrimination laws have changed

If you manage your own tenant screening, you need a standard applied to all applicants to avoid discrimination under Fair Housing Laws. But in 2024, you should also check for local extensions to this law. 

For example, ‘Source of Income’ discrimination is where an applicant is rejected for using government housing vouchers/rental subsidies. New York outlaws this and as of January 1st, California requires homeowners to accept evidence other than credit history for voucher holders to show they can pay their portion of the rent (such as a benefit or bank statement). 

Then there are new ‘first come, first served’ laws, like the City of Seattle’s ‘First in Time’ requirement. Seattle homeowners need to accept the first qualified applicant, rather than pooling applications. This means less choice and control for homeowners, but it also reduces the risk of bias and potential discrimination against renters.  

Pro Tip: Eliminate the screening headaches and legal minefield by letting Belong find you the best long-term residents for your home. We’ll even guarantee their rent and protect you from any costly evictions. Learn more about becoming a Belong homeowner. 

4. “Junk fees” are under the microscope

Some homeowners and property management companies (not Belong!) charge an application fee or screening costs to potential renters when looking for new tenants. In July 2023, The White House also called out the hidden costs of renting and the “junk fees” that plague the industry. 

Since President Biden brought the problem to light, several states have introduced bills to crack down on hidden rental housing fees. Expect to see more in 2024 and real estate search platforms commit to showing the true cost of renting in the listed fees.

Massachusetts and Vermont have already outlawed application fees. Virginia, Wisconsin, California and New York cap what homeowners can pass on and some cities give applicants the right to have the fee returned if they aren’t successful.  

Before listing a rental home in 2024, make sure you’re on top of any local changes and be prepared to include all extra costs upfront in your price, especially if you’re charging extra fees. 

If your home is looked after by Belong, you can relax. Transparency is one of the many issues that Belong addresses for homeowners and their residents. 

Discover Belong: See why thousands of US homeowners are ditching outdated Property Management in San Francisco, Austin, San Diego, Los Angeles, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and more.

5. Security deposits are getting a shake-up 

Many tenant-landlord laws permit homeowners to ask whatever they like for a security deposit. There have been few controls over when to return the money or how damages were claimed. 

This is still the case for some regions, but many jurisdictions are tightening their policies on security deposits to avoid exploitation of residents. Local legislation varies, but new rulings include: 

Pro Tip: Belong gives residents the flexible option to pay their security deposit in installments, so you don’t need to forgo this safety net for the sake of breaking down costs.

Local laws can override your lease agreement

While lease agreements are legally binding, you can’t sneak in a disclaimer about your property to change the rules e.g. accepting the home in a poor condition or changes to the security deposit. Local ordinances and state laws override any agreement in your lease. It’s important to ensure that everything is above board before you sign on any new residents. 

This can also be an issue when using one of the many free lease agreement templates available online. Be wary that these documents may not be updated to 2024 standards or may be void by local laws. The safest way to ensure you have a legally binding contract is to engage professional services such as a real estate lawyer or an experienced management company like Belong. 

Discover Belong 

With Belong, your rental home and residents are in good hands. Belong is a proptech company on a mission to fix long-term renting by focusing on modern innovation and services that support everyone. 

See why thousands of US homeowners are ditching outdated Property Management in San Francisco, Austin, San Diego, Los Angeles, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and more.

Disclaimer: We don’t enjoy using the word ‘landlord’. We prefer to refer to members in our network as homeowners and residents, since we’re on a mission to upend and redefine the traditional landlord-tenant relationship. That said, this article refers to legislation so we needed to use the legally defined terms. This article should not be considered legal advice, please research local laws or speak to a lawyer regarding your individual rights and circumstances

About the author

Melanie Kershaw

Mel Kershaw is a Content Lead at Belong. With an extensive background working with technology companies including Eventbrite and Yelp, she’s always looking for ways to create educational and informative articles that simplifies tech and solves problems for her audience.