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Legislation introduced to end Boise’s rental application fee cap

A new proposal introduced by a Meridian legislator could overturn the City of Boise’s cap on rental application fees. 

On Monday, Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, stood before the House Business Committee with proposed legislation adding rental application fees and deposits to Idaho’s state statute preventing rent control. He called it a “clean up bill” to address a topic left out of the original rent control prohibition voted on decades ago. 

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“In the current statute, it doesn’t have anything about fees and deposits,” he told the committee in his brief remarks. “That was probably missed 30 years ago.”

The Business committee voted unanimously to introduce the bill for a hearing, discussion and a final vote. Because it is still in RS form, the specific language of the bill is not yet available as of this writing. 

The only question from legislators came from Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls. He asked if this piece of legislation would also apply to short-term rentals like Airbnb as well, and Palmer said it wouldn’t. 

‘It’s disappointing’

Currently, the City of Boise is the only city in Idaho with any regulations on rental application fees.

City Council Member Lisa Sanchez proposed the ordinance in 2019, which limited landlords to charging $30 for rental applications. It also laid out rules requiring landlords to post criteria for their rentals and limit the number of applications they collect depending on the availability of units. Once a unit is rented, they can no longer accept applications. 

At the time, the ordinance was opposed by the Idaho Apartment Association and some local landlords. 

Rep. Greg Ferch, R-Boise, introduced a similar bill last year in the House Rules & Judiciary Committee, which frequently oversees issues related to renters and evictions. It died on a narrow 8-7 committee vote, never making it to the House floor. 

The City of Boise’s Government Affairs Director Kathy Greismeyer said it is frustrating to see legislation aimed at the rental application fee cap in the midst of the deepening housing crisis impacting Idahoans statewide. 

“It’s disappointing (the state) would come in and attempt to take away one of the few opportunities we have to respond directly to community residents’ needs in a way that gets after what we’re going for,” she said. 

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. 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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