Chapter 16

Residential Rental Application Fees - Requirements And Prohibitions

5-16-1: Purpose

A. The City of Boise City, Idaho ("City") finds that residential rental application fees should be regulated to protect applicants from unnecessary and predatory collection practices. The purpose of this chapter is to establish rules and regulations for the collection and return of residential rental application fees within the City.

B. Residential rental application fees have recently become unduly expensive and not reflective of the actual costs of performing background and credit checks on potential renters. High application fees act as a barrier to segments of the population seeking to secure suitable housing.

C. All Boise residents should have access to housing without having to overcome excessive financial and regulatory barriers to achieve that access. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-2: Legal Authority

Idaho Code sections 50-301 and 50-302 authorize the City to exercise its police power for the protection of the public welfare, prosperity, health and peace of the City, its residents, and the community. The prohibitions set forth in this chapter are intended to supplement and enhance, and not supersede, State landlord-tenant law and the Idaho Consumer Protection Act, as set forth in Idaho Code Title 48, Chapter 6. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-3: Scope

This chapter shall apply to all residential rental units, as defined herein, within the boundaries of the City. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-4: Definitions

APPLICANT: A prospective tenant for a residential rental unit, who signs or intends to sign a lease or other contractual agreement in relation to the unit.

RENTAL APPLICATION: The written document used by a rental property owner to determine if an applicant is qualified to become a tenant of a residential rental unit.

RENTAL APPLICATION FEE: Any cost, payment, charge or any other kind of expenditure or renumeration, including administrative costs, that a residential rental applicant is required to pay in order to have his or her rental application considered by the rental property owner.

RENTAL PROPERTY OWNER: The legal owner of a residential rental unit, and his or her agent or representative, including a property management company or its representative.

RESIDENTIAL RENTAL UNIT (UNIT): A building or portion of a building used as a dwelling for one or more persons that is offered for rent or lease for periods of time greater than thirty (30) days. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-5: Disclosure Of Application Criteria

Before accepting a rental application, a rental property owner must disclose to the applicant, in writing, the criteria on which the application will be judged. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-6: Disclosure Of Application Fee

Before accepting a rental application fee, a rental property owner shall disclose in writing to the applicant the rental application fee amount. The applicant shall not be charged more than the disclosed rental application fee for that application. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-7: Availability Of Units

Rental property owners shall only advertise rental units, receive applications, screen applicants, and accept application fees for rental properties when such rental properties are actually available and ready for occupancy or are expected to be available for occupancy within a reasonable time period; provided, however, that an applicant may consent to be screened and placed on a waiting list. For purposes of this chapter, a rental unit is no longer considered available if a different applicant has been screened by the rental property owner, has been offered the rental unit and accepted it, and has placed a deposit on the rental unit. A rental unit may be considered available if a tenant of a unit has declared they will not be renewing a lease or have otherwise vacated the property. Rental property owners shall document the date and time that deposits are placed on rental units. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-8: Application Fees

Application fees for rental properties shall not exceed the actual cost of the screening process or thirty dollars ($30.00), whichever is lower. The actual cost of the screening process includes only the hard costs associated with a background check.Labor costs and other soft costs associated with application process must be excluded. Hard costs may include, but not be limited to, the following: national, state and local criminal background checks, credit reports, rental history records and/or reference checks, eviction records and/or employment verification. Each adult who intends to reside in a residential rental unit may be charged an application fee. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-9: Disposition And Use Of Application Fee

Within ten (10) days of receipt of an application fee, a rental property owner must provide an explanation for the disposition and use of the application fee and provide a receipt to the applicant detailing how the application fee was used. An application fee shall be refunded in its entirety if a rental property owner does not incur hard screening costs. A rental property owner shall also provide the applicant with any paperwork or copies of electronic correspondence generated as result of the screening process, to the extent permitted by State and Federal law. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-10: Current Tenants

A current tenant of a residential property unit shall not be charged an application fee to move to another rental unit owned by the same rental property owner. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-11: Penalty

A violation of this chapter is an infraction, punishable as provided in section 1-4-2 of this Code. A second or subsequent violation within one year of a prior conviction shall be a misdemeanor, punishable as provided in section 1-4-1 of this Code. A complaint filed under the provisions of this Chapter must be filed within ninety (90) days of the alleged violative conduct. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-12: Exemption

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any rental property owner who does not charge a rental application fee. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)

5-16-13: Private Right Of Action

There is no private right of action that is created by this section or money damages available to any person based on this chapter. (Ord. 56-19, 12-17-2019)