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2017 Legislative Update: Week 2

Posted by paul on February 6th, 2017

Week II

This week was very busy. Following are updates on bills that affect our industry.

Issues we are following

HB 202 Trespass Amendments
This bill passed committee on Wednesday and was supported by the Real Estate industry. It would allow a tenant who invites a guest in to give that guest a notice to leave. If the guest still did not leave, the tenant could call law enforcement to remove the guest under the trespassing law. This would be helpful to landlords who are forced to evict tenants who allow unauthorized guests in that refuse to leave.
HB 202 is sponsored by Rep. Bran Greene (R), Utah County 

HB 83: Rental Housing Application Disclosure Amendments
This proposed law is one that we are cautious about. The purpose is to make it so that landlords must disclose their rental criteria before they can accept an application fee. This is best practice and what the UAA teaches landlords they should do. We met with the sponsor this week and agreed to consensus language that requires landlords, before accepting an application fee or deposit, to disclose the rental criteria they will review will will prevent a cause of action against landlords or property managers or allow tenants to be let out of their lease. We will keep you updated on its progress.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Bruce Cutler, (R), Murray.

HB 178: Good Landlord Amendments 
This is a bill which prohibits cities from requiring that landlords deny criminals as a requirement to be in a Good Landlord fee reduction program. It passed the house business and labor committee 8-5 and will go to the full house. We oppose the bill only on the basis that it's part of our deal with the cities toreducing business license fees. Ogden has indicated that if it can't require landlords to deny high risk criminals, it will get rid of its Good Landlord program and charge landlords full price. We fear other cities would follow. Passage of this bill could cost landlords millions of dollars a year. The bill is backed by the ACLU and criminal justice reform advocates.
Representative Brian King says "(If this passes) nothing prohibits landlords from doing background checks on their own and renting to whom they please - but said government should not coerce them into that decision," which we agree with. If his bill passes, landlords wouldn't lose any rights. But they risk having fees go up considerably. We wish Representative King cared as much about landlords' fees, as he does about the principle of government non-interference with private business transactions. We wish representative King would either address disproportionate fees along with this bill, or pull it back until a comprehensive arrangement could be made that makes sure landlords' fees don't go up. We will keep you posted as the bill progresses through the process. 
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Brian King, (D), Salt Lake City.

HB 36: Affordable Housing Amendments 
This bill has now passed the full house and passed a Senate Committee this week. There are 3 components of funding with one time money that the governor has put in the budget and is being sponsored by Representative Becky Edwards:
  • $3 million for the Olene Walker Housing Trust Fund,
  • $4 million for the State Tax Credit Housing Fund, and
  • $1 million for a Rental Housing Guarantee Fund.
Executive Director Paul Smith explained to the committee how all three funds are used to create affordable housing and made a special pitch for the $1 million for a rental subsidy guarantee fund.
"Many landlords are hesitant to take a risk renting to people on section 8 housing vouchers, not because they are bad people, but because if they do any damage or have to be evicted, they typically have no income or assets to go after. This makes it hard for those voucher recipients to find housing. So this guarantee fund is a way for the state to say to landlords that if you are willing to take a risk on these good people, if there is damage or costs that could not otherwise be recovered from the renter, then the state will make it up. That will open up more affordable units for Utah families and give landlords the security they need to take risks and provide housing to low income families. It's really a win/win."
This fund will allow landlords who are damaged by a Section 8 housing voucher holder to apply for reimbursement. In essence, the State of Utah would be a limited guarantor and mitigate damage to the landlords by reimbursing for the costs of evictions, property damages, and attorney's fees. Landlords will have to obtain a judgement to qualify. 
The bill is sponsored by Rep Becky Edwards, (R), Bountiful. 

Other Bills we are Tracking
Here are the other bills which we are tracking that will impact our industry:

HB 196: Division of Real Estate Amendments sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer (R), Huntsville. This annual bill cleans up issues that come up with the Real Estate division where clarification and modifications are needed in the law. We are watching carefully to make sure nothing slips in that could end up hurting our businesses.

SB 52: Rental Amendments sponsored by Lincoln Fillmore (R), South Jordan. This bill provides that a court will award costs and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party under a suite filed under the Fit Premises Act.

SB 146: Constable Amendments sponsored by Lincoln Fillmore (R), South Jordan. This bill cleans ups and clarifies some of the requirements and duties of Constables under state law. 

If you have questions or suggestion contact

We need your help

Please take 5 to 10 minutes to participate in a short advocacy survey for the NAA Advocacy 365 Program to help us identify grassroots key contacts as we gear up to fight for the apartment industry in a new legislative environment, which includes significant proposals to reform our federal tax code.

The need for authentic, personal advocacy is critical at the federal, state and local levels, no matter what the issue.  The NAA's Advocacy 365 Program is individual citizens, like you, forming relationships with elected officials and communicating to them the impact issues have on our industry.  NAA's Key Contacts are citizen stakeholders that serve as ambassadors from the apartment industry to an elected official or their staff by being an informed voice for our industry 365 days a year.  Whether you already have a relationship with your current elected officials or would like to develop a relationship with them, NAA will provide the support needed to cultivate that relationship and empower you on behalf of our industry.

Key advocacy contact can only provide a tangible value for our industry only if they are uncovered and leveraged. NAA's new Key Contact identification and mobilization tool is custom designed to do just that.  Simply click this link to begin the short survey

As always, thank you for standing with the Utah Apartment Association and NAA!
Paul Smith
Executive Director

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