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Sánchez proposes ordinance to separate residential & commercial rental deposits

Tamarack Resort Q4 2020
City Council Tuesday with Margaret Carmel

Boise City Council is considering an ordinance to secure your rental security deposit. 

City Council Member Lisa Sánchez brought forward a proposal requiring landlords to hold security deposits in separate accounts. The concept would add protections in the event a landlord sells a property or enters bankruptcy. It would apply to both residential and commercial properties. 

“As we’ve learned over the last few years renters don’t have much protection in our community and with the rising costs of rent and those very few protections that exist, anything we can offer to provide security to our renters is greatly needed and greatly appreciated,” Sánchez, who is a renter herself, said. 

[Over $10 million in rental assistance still available to low-income Idahoans]

Adding protections

The proposal would not require landlords to return security deposits. It would only require landlords to separate the deposits so they can be traced back to the tenant in the event of a sale or bankruptcy court proceeding. City of Boise Law Clerk Mary Grant said this ordinance will not try and overrule federal bankruptcy law, but it will protect the deposits to the fullest extent of the law. 

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“We will not preempt any bankruptcy law, but the ordinance does specify it is housed by the landlord and it is a separate account we have provided as many protections from bankruptcy proceedings as we can,” she said. 

Lisa Sánchez
City council member Lisa Sánchez

This was only the first discussion on the ordinance, but council members were supportive during the brief discussion. City Council Member Patrick Bageant said he has to complete similar financial designations in his work as a lawyer. While he acknowledges it makes things more difficult, he said it helps. 

“I don’t have any philosophical problem with (the ordinance) at all,” he said. “If (money) doesn’t belong to you, you should keep it separate. It’s not yours. But it does add a pretty complex layer of financial tracking to my life and I assume it will for landlords as well.”

This is the second ordinance brought by Sánchez to protect renters. Last year, she brought an ordinance regulating application fees and process for tenants to apply for residential units. This change capped application fees at $30.

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Margaret Carmel
Margaret is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at margaret@boisedev.com or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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