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Idaho bill would override cities' caps on rental fees

Idaho House Bill 45 would remove all and any forms of rent control.

BOISE, Idaho — It's a tale that feels as old as time. The Treasure Valley's housing and rental market continues to get hotter and more residents are feeling the squeeze. After the City of Boise passed a resolution that limited rental application fees, the state legislature is now working on a bill that would override local governments' effort to manage rents and would end all rent control.

Idaho House Bill 45 would put into Idaho law that "A local governmental unit shall not enact, maintain, or enforce an ordinance or resolution to regulate rent, fees, or deposits charged for leasing private residential property."

The bill would also prevent any rent control, including rent, fees or deposits and allow landlords to change the amount charged for rent within 15 days of the end of the month.

Boise City Councilmember Lisa Sanchez put forth a resolution in 2019 that set a cap for rental application fees at $30. The resolution was passed with the intent to stop landlords from collecting fees from prospective tenants who weren't even up for consideration and to clarify that those fees can only be used for hard costs like background checks and credit reports.

Sanchez testified against the bill on Tuesday, saying the city's resolution has worked so far.

"It would be so harmful if we could not put these sorts of ordinances in place," she said. "We would like to be able to offer these protections to our renters. We don't have anything preventing property managers from pocketing money that they would take in rental application fees. Since we've had this ordinance in place, it has worked beautifully."

During Tuesday's testimony, several property managers spoke in favor of the bill. One property manager who owns assets in Moscow said if security deposits were limited it would affect how much tenants with little or no rental history could be charged for a security deposit.

"I'm in favor of this change," Dan Shoenberg, co-owner of Palouse Properties, said. "If deposits were regulated and there is a maximum deposit amount, our standard deposit is equal to one month's rent, if we ran a background check on a tenant and they were marginal in terms of their credit history and their rental history, it would not allow us to do some things like add an extra deposit for security on behalf of the owner because they would be taking more risk." 

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