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Oct 31 -- The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), HUD, invites comments to OMB by December 8, 2023 regarding the proposed 2024 Rental Housing Finance Survey. [Comments due 30 days after submission to OMB on November 8.]

The Rental Housing Finance Survey (RHFS) provides a measure of financial, mortgage, and property characteristics of rental housing properties in the United States. RHFS focuses on mortgage financing of rental housing properties, with emphasis on new originations for purchase-money mortgages and refinancing, and the characteristics of these new originations.

The RHFS will collect data on property values of residential structures, characteristics of residential structures, rental status and rental value of units within the residential structures, commercial use of space within residential structures, property management status, ownership status, a detailed assessment of mortgage financing, and benefits received from Federal, state, local, and non-governmental programs.

HUD requests clearance for the proposed questions to be used on the 2024 Rental Housing Finance Survey (RHFS). Data collection will occur between June 24, 2024, and November 30, 2024.  

Estimates derived from the RHFS sample will help public and private stakeholders better understand the financing, operating costs, and property characteristics of the rental housing stock in the United States. Many of the questions are similar to those found on the 1995 Property Owners and Managers Survey, the rental housing portion of the 2001 Residential Finance Survey, and the 2012, 2015, 2018, and 2021 RHFS.  

Policy analysts, program managers, budget analysts, and Congressional staff can use the survey's results to advise executive and legislative branches about the mortgage finance characteristics of the rental housing stock in the United States and the suitability of public policy initiatives. Academic researchers and private organizations also will utilize the data to facilitate their research and projects.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) needs the RHFS data for the following two reasons:

1. This is the only source of information on the rental housing finance characteristics of rental properties.
2. HUD needs this information to gain a better understanding of the mortgage finance characteristics of the rental housing stock in the United States to evaluate, monitor, and design HUD programs.

The 2024 RHFS questionnaire content is substantially similar to the 2021 RHFS questionnaire, with the following exceptions:

a.    Addition of one question about military-owned housing: This question will identify properties that are owned by the military.  These properties will receive a limited set of questions as all the questions do not make sense for these types of properties.
b.    Addition of one question about manufactured homes: This question will help determine if a property should be considered out-of-scope.
c.    Addition of two questions about property addresses being part of a larger complex: These questions will help determine if the property was defined accurately and that will provide more accurate data. Additionally, these questions will help determine duplicate cases, i.e., multiple sample addresses belonging to the same property.
d.    Addition of one question about appraisal waivers: In conversations with the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA), they noted that appraisal waivers are becoming more common, but that more data is needed on them. This question will therefore allow HUD to gather more information on the extent of the use of appraisal waivers.
e.    Addition of one question about how rental payments are received: This question will allow HUD to understand how rent payments are received, potentially identifying sources of data on rents that would be timelier than surveys like ACS. Because there is some preliminary evidence that landlords have been slower than other industries to move to online payment systems, this question would allow us to gain a baseline understanding of which forms of payments landlords accept.
f.    Addition of two questions about rental units that were previously available as long-term rentals: These questions will allow HUD to  assess the effect of AirBNB and similar short-term rental arrangements on housing markets.
g.    Addition of two questions about rental application fees: These questions will allow HUD to  better understand the upfront costs of renting units that may be applied in altering rules on the use of voucher subsidy funds to improve voucher recipients’ leasing success.  
h.    Addition of one question about security deposits: This question will allow HUD to better understand the upfront costs of renting units that may be applied in altering rules on the use of voucher subsidy funds to improve voucher recipients’ leasing success.
i.    Addition of three questions about ownership of additional properties: These questions will allow HUD to better distinguish institutional investors from mom-and-pop landlords.
j.    Addition of one question about green mortgages: This question will allow HUD to  understand how its loan programs could be improved in a way that helps multifamily rental property owners reduce their operating expenses and improve the nation’s rental housing stock. The question can also help gauge the level of public interest among rental property owners in making green improvements and their perception of the return on investment for those improvements. When applicable, government-sponsored entities (GSE) can use various multifamily green building certifications that a rental property owner may already have to offer preferential loan pricing. GSEs can also use rental property owner commitments to make improvements that reduce energy and water consumption by specific levels to offer incentives like preferential pricing, free energy audits and additional loan proceeds.
k.    Reinstating a previously removed question about condominiums: This question identifies properties that are individually owned condominiums and helps ensure the accuracy of the data.
l.    Removal of one question about the percentage of units available for daily or weekly rental.

HUD RHFS: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/rhfs/home.html
Census RHFS: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/rhfs.html
PD&R submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202310-2528-004 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for newly added technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-23985

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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