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Inside the Statehouse: New bill addresses security deposits and late fees

House Bill 462 aims for more transparency.
Posted: 9:21 PM, Feb 14, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-14 23:21:34-05

BOISE, Idaho — A new bill was introduced in the Statehouse that attempts to curb abuse of power by landlords and add protections for tenants.

6 On Your Side's Madeline White started our coverage on this last Friday, with a bill regarding a fair warning time period for raising rents by Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) -- one of the first bills proposed in years to address the affordable housing crisis.

Now, in a separate housing-related bill, Boise Democrat Rep. Melissa Wintrow aims to improve transparency between landlords and tenants.

"What I'm hearing from people is they're just getting this bill -- and they can't figure out why they're being charged, and for what." said Wintrow.

When getting back your security deposit while moving out of a unit, has something like this ever happened to you?

"Somebody was charged $250 for cleaning their apartment. And then, the person went and asked the assistant, 'Why am I getting charged $250 for cleaning?' And she admitted, 'Well, here's the receipt -- it was $150 for the cleaning.' And they just decided they would jack up the bill another hundred dollars!" said Wintrow.

Wintrow wants to protect Idaho consumers from sketchy security deposit withholdings that are kept from you beyond normal wear and tear.

"If there are any repairs or cleaning, it should be itemized and given to the tenant so they have a transparent look at what they're being charged for," said Wintrow.

Also on the bill? A tenant's right to have a walk-through inspection with a landlord before moving in, and before leaving the property.

In an article on magicvalley.com, former Idaho Attorney General Jim Jones made mention of the bill as one "worth considering," writing, "This legislation will protect renters from having to either pay bogus damage claims or risk injury to their credit rating for refusing to pay."

Another part of House Bill 462? Regulating how much landlords can charge for late fees on rent.

"The late fees that we put in the bill would be two days of prorated rent, or $75. Whichever is less," said Wintrow.

She says not every landlord does this, or withholds security deposit fees unfairly, but that consumers need protections.

"We need to create a system where no one feels tempted to do that, and that everybody's rights are being afforded. And that it's a transparent and fair process for everyone," said Wintrow.

This bill is expected to receive a hearing on Wednesday. 6 On Your Side will keep you updated.