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Rental late fee bill dies on House floor

The Idaho House turned down a bill adding minor protections for renters on its first day back in session after an unexpected recess due to COVID-19.

In a 28-40 vote, legislators voted down legislation from Sen. Rabe, D-Boise, requiring rental late fees to be spelled out in leases and 30 days notice for landlords to change fees. This would have also applied to oral leases, which are legal in Idaho.The legislation was supported by the Idaho Apartment Association and the Idaho chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers.

[BSU: Evictions down 30% in 2020 due to rental assistance, court closures]

This bill was watered down from Rabe’s original proposal, which required rental fees be “reasonable” so renters could fight exorbitant fees in small claims court. It was amended in the Senate to remove the “reasonable” requirement at the request of Senate Majority Caucus Chair Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Burley in committee.

Necessary protections? Or overreach?

In Idaho, there are no regulations on rental late fees charged to tenants. Landlords can levy any late fees without informing the tenant in writing and without any notice at any time.

Rabe, executive director of eviction prevention nonprofit Jesse Tree, expressed disappointment with the vote on Twitter Tuesday.

“The Representatives (who voted no) don’t want tenants to have transparency around the fees they can be charged,” she said. “Staff at Jesse Tree worked with a tenant yesterday who was charged a flat $500 late fee that they had no notification of. I guess that’s fair.”

Conservative lobbying group Idaho Freedom Foundation opposed the legislation because it infringed on private property rights and it was a “heavy-handed attempt to micromanage the terms of a private contract.”

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev senior reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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