Boise City Council member to propose rental application fee ordinance

Posted at 10:51 AM, Sep 09, 2019

BOISE, Idaho — Boise City Council member Lisa Sánchez says she will present a proposed ordinance to Mayor Dave Bieter and her fellow Council members Tuesday that could set parameters for the collection of residential rental application fees for units located within the City of Boise. She plans to present the proposal during the Council’s Tuesday work session.

“Since early on in my tenure on City Council, residents have expressed their concerns about the difficulty that they have in finding an available rental unit. Due to the shortage of units, residents are having to put in multiple applications, each of which comes with a different application fee,” said Sánchez. “These fees are creating a financial hardship for many of our residents from all walks of life, and it became clear to me that this is a problem that needs to be addressed.”

“Currently, there is no limit in Boise on how much a property owner can charge a potential renter to apply for a unit. There are no criteria on how the applications will be judged, no designation for what the application fee is going toward, and not even an assurance that a unit is actually available,” Sanchez pointed out.

The ordinance she plans to present would:

--Require that, before an application can be taken or accepted, the criteria on which the application will be judged must be disclosed, along with the amount that will be charged for the application fee.

--Require that property owners shall only advertise, take applications and screen applicants for units that will be available within 30 days. If an applicant has been screened, the unit has been offered, and a deposit has been placed, it will no longer be considered available and no other applications will be allowed. If a unit is not available, the applicant will have the option to consent to be screened and placed on a waiting list.

--Designate that the amount that can be charged by any property management company for a unit in the City of Boise shall not exceed the actual cost of the screening process or $30, whichever is lower. An explanation and receipt detailing how the fee was used, and any copies of paperwork or correspondence that were generated as a result of the screening must be provided to the applicant.

--Stipulate that current tenants of a unit shall not be charged an application fee to move to another unit under the control of the same property owner.

--Violations would be an infraction, punishable by a $100 fine. Second or subsequent violations would be considered a misdemeanor and would also be punishable under those guidelines. Complaints of violation must be filed within six months.

The work session will be held at 3:30 p.m. at Boise City Hall in the Maryanne Jordan City Council Chambers.