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House Bill 626 — Rental application fees

House Bill 626 — Rental application fees

by
Parrish Miller
February 21, 2022
Parrish Miller
February 21, 2022

Bill Description: House Bill 617 would impose a host of new regulations on property owners who are seeking renters. 

Rating: -3

Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market?

House Bill 617 creates Section 6-321A, Idaho Code, to impose a host of new regulations on property owners who are seeking renters.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit a property owner or a property manager he employs from charging a rental application fee unless there is a rental unit currently available and the owner "discloses, prior to accepting the application, any criteria that the owner or property manager will review as a condition of accepting the applicant as a tenant in the residential unit, including criteria, if applicable, related to the applicant's criminal history, credit score, income, employment or employment history, or rental history."

A separate subsection would prohibit a property owner or a property manager he employs from charging an application fee to more than two applicants for a given rental unit, unless the applicants agree "in writing" to be placed on a waiting list. Even under these circumstances, an application fee can only be charged to the first and second in line on the waiting list. 

(-1)

The bill would also prohibit a property owner or a property manager he employs from processing more than two "background checks at a time for an available rental unit" and would require the property owner to compare applicants only "to pre-existing rental criteria and never to another renter."

This provision is particularly objectionable as it prevents a property owner from examining multiple rental applicants and selecting the one the owner believes is the best fit for the property in question. 

(-1)

House Bill 617 amends Section 6-320, Idaho Code, to say that an applicant who suspects a property owner of violating the new section created by the bill (analyzed above) "may file an action against ... the owner or property manager collecting the application fee ... for damages and specific performance." 

(-1)

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