Utah bill seeking to stop hidden rental fees clears House

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Utah bill seeking to stop hidden rental fees clears House

By Katie McKellar, Deseret News | Posted - Mar. 3, 2020 at 8:19 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — A bill aiming to prevent renters from being caught off guard from hidden fees and to stop “bad” landlords is making its way through the Utah Legislature.

HB211, which would require landlords to disclose the full cost of rent and all fees to a potential renter before accepting an application fee or any other payment, cleared the House of Representatives on Monday without any opposition.

The goal of the bill, said sponsor Rep. Marsha Judkins, R-Provo, is to help renters in an already tough housing environment as prices continue to skyrocket along the Wasatch Front and throughout the nation.

She argues the bill would help both renters seeking affordable leases as well as landlords seeking reliable renters.

“If our goal is to achieve stable and responsible renters, then it is imperative to make them aware of the costs they are incurring when they enter into a rental agreement,” Judkins said.

Judkins says most rentals require application fees to apply, and often a deposit of first and last month’s rent even before a lease is signed. She said some renters have found themselves in a disappointing situation when they go to sign the lease and they discover hidden fees. If they want to walk away, they lose their application fees and deposit, which could amount to thousands of dollars.

Judkins said her bill seeks to stop that “bad behavior” from landlords.

If renters do discover any hidden fees, Judkins said her bill would allow them 15 days to submit a request for their money back, and the landlord will get seven days to return the money.

“This transparency of fees will not only protect the tenants, but it also protects the landlords,” Judkins argued, saying it will create a more “stable renting situation for both.”

The House passed the bill on an 72-0 vote. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Katie McKellar

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