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New bill requires renters fees be included with price of rent

Posted at 5:47 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 19:47:44-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers on Utah’s Capitol Hill discussed a bill requiring renters to see all fees up-front before signing a lease.

House Bill 68 was brought before committee Wednesday but was tabled before a vote to clarify some language.

“I’ve definitely experienced the hidden fees,” Alexander Munzio said.

During nearly a decade of renting in Salt Lake City, Munzio learned what you see isn’t always what you get.

“It’s just dishonest. It’s not full transparency. It’s a little misleading,” said Munzio.

Mandatory ‘media packages’ are commonplace along the Wasatch Front and can tack on $100 or more, along with parking fees.

One South Salt Lake property manager requires renters to pay communal electricity, pest control, and a service fee on top of $1,540 rent for a one-bedroom apartment.

“It seemed like, how can landlords do this,” Rep. Marsha Judkins said, Republican from Provo.

Rep. Judkins sponsored House Bill 68, that would require all fees included up-front with the price of rent. It came after learning some single mothers needing affordable housing would pay an application fee only to learn later an apartment was out of their budget.

“There are very good landlords out there. But there are predatory who use this type of practice just so they could get somebody in the door and get these application fees or deposits,” said Rep. Judkins.

The bill also caps late fees at 10% of rent and allows potential renters to get an application fee and/or deposit back if the numbers changed by the lease signing.

Lawmakers debated the same bill in 2020.

After the Utah Apartment Association lobbied for the removal of any punishment against property owners who fail to disclose the fees upfront, time ran out before the final vote could be taken.

In a statement to FOX13 News, Utah Apartment Association Executive Director Paul Smith wrote, in part, “We don’t oppose the bill. Changes were made to last year’s version that makes it more clear.” Smith added that most housing providers already disclose all costs up front.

“You want to know what you are going to be spending. It’s just obvious,” said Munzio.

The bill will be back in committee later this session.