The 2016 Legislative Session ended last Thursday at midnight. It was very productive for the rental housing industry. Following is a Recap of the bills we were watching/supporting.
Senate Bill 175 Fair Housing Option Amendments – Sent by the Sponsor to Interim Study Session
Thanks to the hundreds of UAA members who engaged with and communicated support of this bill to their Senators, SB 175, which would eliminate mandatory Section 8 as a protected class, had enough votes to pass the Senate.
The bill would have made Utah the 42nd state to allow landlords the FREEDOM to choice whether to participate in an onerous government program. It would have allowed landlords who had bad experiences working with housing authorities (the local agencies that administer the Section 8 program), to refuse to work with them. This bill was never about not working with low income tenants. We love the Section 8 tenants, it’s the housing authorities who are often hard to work with. Like 41 other states, the UAA and the Realtors believe that mandatory participation in a government program actually reduces, not increases, affordable housing opportunity because landlords who hate working with housing authorities just find ways to not rent to any low income tenants. That hurts more Utah renters than the 11,000 on Section 8 vouchers. The bill sponsor, Senator Margaret Dayton from Orem, believed strongly that letting landlords choose whether or not to work with housing authorities will put market pressure on them to improve, and will remove the incentive for landlords to raise their standards too high for low income renters to qualify.
Approximately 5 minutes before the vote, the Governor’s office, the Salt Lake City Mayor, Salt Lake County Mayor, Salt Lake Chamber and the Downtown Alliance made the UAA and the Realtors, the two primary groups pushing for the bill, the following offer.
If we would ask the sponsor to send the bill to interim study, allow all sides to work towards consensus on the issue for a year, they would:
Most of these organizations have a reputation of acting in good faith. Board positions on all 20 housing authorities for industry members would allow us to influence and monitor the rouge housing authorities from the inside. It also gains the UAA tremendous political capital to be reasonable and accommodating, so we agreed to the proposal and the sponsor sent the bill to interim study.
For those of you who worked hard on the issue and care deeply about it, being disappointed might be a natural reaction. Sometimes in politics it’s better to take the long view. We think it will be a good thing to take an additional year to educate stakeholders, build a coalition of support, and give people an opportunity to realize the sky won’t fall and things will actually be better if we follow the other 41 states in letting business freedom and market forces help solve the issue. We have not given up on the issue, we made tremendous progress this year, and will work hard to move the cause further along next year.
HB 189 Unlawful Detainer Amendments – Passed
This law is great for landlords because it clarifies we do not need to evict people who took possession of the rental property without any rights. This includes people who move in without our verbal or written approval like trespassers and even friends of a tenant who stay after the tenant moved out. We will still have the same procedures in almost all evictions, but in some cases where police departments wouldn’t help us (trespassers) and told us we needed to do evictions, we no longer have to. Look for upcoming training on this new law.
HB 30 Good Landlord Amendments – Passed
Representative Gage Froerer spearheaded and passed legislation that was delayed last year to adjust good landlord / disproportionate business licensing programs at the city level. Many groups have been involved in the process, including cites, tenants groups, and the real estate industry. The legislation does the following: