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2017 Legislative Update: Week 3

Posted by paul on February 13th, 2017

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

Issues we are following

HB 36: Affordable Housing Amendments
This is the funding bill for $8 million to go into affordable housing this year. The most important piece to us is the $1 million to go to a section 8 housing guarantee fund where landlords who are damaged by tenants on section 8 can get the state to cover up to $5,000 in damages. We have put a lot of work into getting that money for the industry. We hope this bill will be a win/win by protecting landlords and opening up more housing opportunity for tenants who are on section 8 vouchers.

The bill is now on the third reading calendar in the Utah State Senate after passing the House. With the support of the UAA and other industry advocacy groups it is expected to pass with no problem. The bill is sponsored by Rep Becky Edwards, (R), Bountiful. 

HB 83: Rental Housing Application Disclosure Amendments
This is a bill written by tenants group who are trying to protect hard to house applicants who sometimes end up paying multiple application fees and still get denied. The language we compromised makes it a requirement that landlords disclose what criteria we will review towards accepting an applicant, before accepting an application fee or deposit. However, failure to do so does not excuse a tenant from lease compliance or create a cause of action.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Bruce Cutler, (R), Murray. It is currently awaiting further action from the House.

HB 178: Good Landlord Amendments 
This bill prohibits cities from requiring landlords to deny applicants with criminal history. We oppose the bill only on the basis that it's part of our deal with the cities on reducing business license fees. Ogden has indicated that if it can't require participating landlord's to deny high risk criminals, it will get rid of its Good Landlord program and charge landlord's full price. We fear other cities would follow. Passage of this bill could cost landlords millions of dollars a year and significantly increase the instability of many communities.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Brian King, (D), Salt Lake City. It is still being considered by the House.

HB 196: Division of Real Estate Amendments
Every year the DRE runs a "cleanup" bill, which we work with them on. We support changes this year that give more authority to the Real Estate Commission to determine when owners are exempt from licensure. For instance, to manage properties for others requires a real estate license, but managing your own doesn't. However, what about property for immediate family members? The division has always considered this ok, but there were never specific rules. This division has always considered any ownership interest sufficient to manage your own without a license but it wasn't clear. This bill will allow the DRE to clarify those rules.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer (R), Huntsville. It has passed the House and is being considered by the Senate.

SB 146: Constable Amendments 
Constables are a monopoly appointed by counties who have no interest in keeping costs to consumers down. This bill fixes constables by allowing anyone who wants to be a constable, meets minimum requirements and training, to become one and serve papers for evictions and collections. We need more constables to keep costs down for evictions and collections and support this bill. 
The bill is sponsored by Lincoln Fillmore (R), South Jordan. It is currently under review by the Senate Judiciary committee.

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

HB 202: Trespass Amendments.This bill would allow tenants whose guest won't move to serve trespass notice and have the trespassers removed by police.

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.

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