City Cast

3 Questions About Housing Policy Changes

Blake Hunter
Blake Hunter
Posted on August 10
As federal renter protections end this summer, the Boise City Council is weighing some new safeguards for our still-growing market. (Getty)

As federal renter protections end this summer, the Boise City Council is weighing some new safeguards for our still-growing market. (Getty)

Last week, City Cast Boise contributor and Idaho Statesman reporter Ian Max Stevenson joined Emma to discuss proposed renter protection policies that the Boise City Council is considering. Here’s more info on the possible changes, if they get approved.

Q: What changes are Boise’s leaders proposing to protect renters?Q: What changes are Boise’s leaders proposing to protect renters?

A: The Boise City Council is proposing an ordinance to help renters through four policy changes.

  • The first would add language prohibiting retaliation against renters, an effort to allow renters to do things like ask for maintenance or raise other concerns without the fear of it coming back and biting them somehow.
  • The second would require landlords to give new tenants a document explaining their rights and responsibilities. City officials have said that they would create such a document and basically expect landlords to give their tenants the link to this document. This would be like the notices that a lot of people get from their landlord if you live in an older building informing you about the dangers of lead paint and the like.
  • The third provision would expand the city’s non-discrimination rules to include no source of income discrimination. The idea here would be for landlords to have to treat income from child support or a voucher program the same as income from a job.
  • And the last provision has to do with situations where a landlord decides to demolish a building — perhaps to build a larger building. In those cases, landlords would be required … to give tenants their full security deposits back. The idea here is that even if a tenant perhaps damaged a wall or something else in the unit that generally would require fixing and some maintenance that a landlord might deduct from your security deposit for … that means that sort of maintenance isn’t necessary [because the building is going to be destroyed in the future], so you should get your full security deposit back.

Q: What did council members have to say about these provisions?

A: Overall, I think council members seemed pretty supportive of the proposals, though there may be some disagreement about some of the specifics when it comes back to the council down the road. For instance, council member Patrick Bageant said that he did not think gift income should be included in the non-discrimination provision, because he thinks that it’s reasonable for a landlord to have questions about a person’s ability to pay rent if they’re relying on money from a gift to pay that rent. He also said that on the list of non-discrimination items, he thought small business income should be included there, because he thinks it can be hard for small business owners to secure loans and get other types of funding. But I think we’ll see down the road if there are other council members who have issues with some of the other provisions, too.

Q: Is there a city Boise was looking to for guidance on this?

A: The mayor’s housing advisor said that she’s been looking around the region at different changes and different policies that other places have implemented. For instance, Tacoma, Wash., recently passed some new protections requiring extended notice for rent increases and caps on late fees. Eugene, Ore., has also passed some protections like capping security deposits and the like, and requiring some relocation assistance. Given the really high rents around the country in recent years [as well as federal COVID rental protections ending recently], a lot of communities have considered ways to protect renters, who tend to be lower income than homeowners.

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