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2016: Year in Review

Posted by paul on December 21st, 2016


What a year!!! We have been very busy this year at the UAA working to ensure that your rights and your voice are represented at all levels of Government, and that our members are educated about legal changes that impact them.

Here is a brief overview of some of the most important issues that have come up in 2016.

New developments with "Assistance Animals" under Fair Housing

“Assistance Animals” continues to be the most contentious and problematic Fair Housing issue faced by landlords. However things have improved some this year as the Government has clarified that certifications issues by internet companies that do not have a treatment relationship with the tenant are not considered a legitimate way of verifying that a tenant has a disability and needs an assistance animal.

Read more here.

Housing Authority Reform and the Section 8 program

During the 2016 Legislative session the UAA asked the Utah State Legislature to consider altering state law to make it voluntary to work with a Housing Authority (current law requires all landlords with 4+ units to accept housing). Because the bill encountered enough opposition it was decided to study it during the summer. Since then the UAA is happy to report that the Housing Authorities have seriously undertaken in house reforms to insure that they protect the interests of landlords. We have worked with the housing advocates and legislature to create a package for the 2017 legislature that will expand affordable housing initiatives and further reform the Section 8 program to protect participating landlords.

Read more here.

Ogden Good Landlord Pilot Program

In October of 2016 Ogden City launched a new pilot program as part of their Good Landlord initiative. In an effort to be fair to people with a criminal history without exposing the community to undue risk the city will now make it so that those who would be otherwise excluded from renting in Ogden because of their criminal history can obtain a waiver from the city if they can demonstrate that they pose less risk to the landlord and the neighborhood.

Read more here.


Federal Guidelines on how to handle applicants with a criminal history

On April 4, 2016 HUD issued a Guidance relating to using Criminal History on applicants for rental housing. This Guidance was based upon a recent Supreme Court decision on disparate impact. The Government says may be a disparate impact upon minorities and thus, violate the Fair Housing Act for a landlord to utilize criminal history to deny an applicant. However, landlords can still refuse to rent to individuals with a criminal history provided that they can clearly point to a legitimate business reason for the policy.

Read more here.

 

Changes to the Eviction Hearing Process

On November 1, 2016 a new eviction procedure rule approved by the Utah Courts went into effect designed to prevent “frivolous evictions”. In essence the new rule requires that landlords have to provide tenants who they are evicting with the following at least 48 hours before the hearing: a copy of the rental agreement, eviction notices, itemized rent leger, and contact information for any witnesses that might be called. Tenants have the same requirements for notification of any defense they intend to use during the hearing.

Read more here.

Update with meth rules, and progress with the County Health Departments

Until recently Utah was the only state in the US that allowed a controversial type of testing for methamphetamine contamination that can result in false positives and require landlords to spend thousands of dollars needlessly. The state has worked with the UAA this year to create a new rule that will prevent such abusive practices.

Read more here.

What’s next for 2017?

The next legislative session is rapidly approaching. We anticipate several issues about affordable housing being raised. We are also prepared to defend the Rental Housing Industry from any bills or proposals that would unnecessarily or unfairly impact the rights of landlords and property managers. As always, if you have an issue you would like to see addressed by the state or by your city, please contact the UAA Government Affairs committee by emailing info@uaahq.org.

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