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Senate Bill 1039 — Property, reasonable fees

Senate Bill 1039 — Property, reasonable fees

Parrish Miller
February 3, 2023

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1039 would impose new regulations on property owners who have renters.

Rating: -2

NOTE: Senate Bill 1039 was amended to say the bill would "apply to rental agreements entered into or renewed on or after July 1, 2023," and "nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the amount that can be charged for rent." This amendment does not change our rating or analysis of the bill.

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?

Senate Bill 1039 would create Section 55-314, Idaho Code, titled, "Limitation on Fees for Tenants of a Rental Property." This law would impose a requirement that "any fees imposed on a residential tenant, including fees for the late payment of rent, shall be reasonable." 

This regulation is troubling, particularly because the word "reasonable" is not defined. This makes the regulation ripe for litigation, which would require property owners to defend their fees as reasonable. 


Senate Bill 1039 would add an additional regulation stating, "An owner may not charge to the tenant of a rental property a fee, fine, assessment, interest, or other cost in an amount greater than that agreed upon in the rental agreement or that is not included in the rental agreement, unless (i) The rental agreement is an oral agreement; or (ii) The rental agreement is written, and the owner provides the tenant a written thirty (30) day notice of the change in the fee, fine, assessment, interest, or other cost."

While most fees are contained in rental agreements, this regulation includes items not found in them, including fines, assessments, interest, and "other costs." As just one example, a property owner may need to charge a renter for a repair or clean-up expense caused by the renter's behavior or carelessness. Such a charge could not be explicitly spelled out in the rental agreement because the need for and amount of the charge could not have reasonably been anticipated.


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