A new bill hopes to protect Idaho renters some protections from late fees from their landlords.
Sen. Ali Rabe, D-Boise, introduced legislation earlier this month requiring late fees for tenants behind on their rent to be “reasonable” and any fees would have to be spelled out in the lease. Right now, there is no limit on what late fees can be charged to tenants and they do not need to be warned ahead of time what those fees will be.
Rabe said she had originally hoped for a bill capping late fees at 10% of the monthly rent, but due to concerns from Republicans, she opted for the term “reasonable” instead. This would allow tenants to have some standing in court to object to landlords levying large fees for late rent.
“The fees must be reasonable and that can be subjective, but if there is a dispute it can be resolved by a mediator and a court who will determine what that reasonable means,” Rabe said. “That’s a pretty common tact we take in our constitution.”
This bill would also apply to oral leases, which are legally binding in Idaho. Even though the lease is a spoken agreement, it would require the late fees charged to be in writing before they could be charged.
Rabe said the bill received a high level of support the bill received in its hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee, which included rental housing advocates, private landlords, the Southwest Idaho chapter of the National Association of Property Managers and the Idaho Apartment Association.
After the hearing, Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Burley, requested the bill go to the amending order due to some concerns he had about the bill and how it would interact with the fraud statute of Idaho code. Anthon did not return calls to his office for comment.