On March 29, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a joint statement saying that Landlords that evict or threaten to evict Tenants without advising the Tenants of their rights under the various eviction moratoria may be engaging in deceptive and unfair practices and will be monitored and investigated.
The FTC and CFPB added that there have been “reports that major multistate landlords are forcing people out of their homes despite the government prohibitions or before tenants are aware of their rights.”
The joint statement goes on to say that “both agencies will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices, including under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. We will not tolerate illegal practices that displace families and expose them — and by extension us — to grave health risks.”
So what does this mean to landlords? It means that you should add some language to any notice that you serve a tenant, whether that be a 5-Day, 14-Day, 28-Day or 30-Day notice related to the non-payment of rent or any other non-rent related breach, advising your tenant that they may have protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium or any other state or local moratoria that is applicable.
It also means that landlords should add similar language in every eviction complaint that they may file as well as any other communication with your tenant that mentions eviction or the threat of eviction.
While you may not be a “major multistate landlord” you certainly don’t want to be on the wrong side of an investigation by the FTC or CFPB.