3/7/18 Update: HB 656 will not be heard this year as the House leadership is trying to wrap up the session!

There’s a bill in the Idaho Legislature that, put simply, is full of bad ideas.

Among the issues we have with House Bill No. 656 are:

  • It allows landlords to evict tenants for any criminal conduct on the premises;
    • Currently, the only crimes the statute specifically allows landlords to evict their tenants for involve drug trafficking.
    • Now, tenants who throw a party that gets out of hand (disturbing the peace, battery, cannabis use, etc.) could be evicted under the statute.
    • We are also concerned that victims of domestic violence could be facing eviction if  the abuser is arrested.
  • It seems to allow for a three-day notice to be served only via mail;
    • Currently, landlords must attempt to serve the notice on the tenant. If that fails, they must mail a copy of the notice and affix a copy to the door.
    • Tenants don’t always check the mail every day. A served or posted notice is much more effective.
    • (Note that there is an odd drafting issue in Section 2 (6-304) that may mean that diligent attempts to serve the notice are still necessary. If 6-304(1) is actually supposed to be a part of the preceding title and is supposed to end in a period, then the service attempt is still necessary. Even then, posting is much more appropriate in order to ensure tenants have the proper notice.)
  • The bill allows for an expedited process for any lease of a tract of land under five acres;
    • The current code only allows an expedited process for the nonpayment of rent or if the tenant is trafficking controlled substances.
  • Finally, the bill may allow landlords to add unreasonable fees to a lease and require a tenant to pay them or be evicted through the expedited process.
    • Less-scrupulous landlords already apply payments to fees first and then claim tenants have not paid their rent. There is no reason to exacerbate this issue.

The balance of power in the landlord/tenant context is already on the side of landlords. This bill unnecessarily creates more of a power imbalance.

There will be a hearing on the bill on March 5th at 1:30 PM at the Capitol. Baldauf Masser will be there to voice our opposition. We hope you’ll join us!

If you are interested in making your voice heard and aren’t sure how to do it, email me or call me and I’d be happy to walk you through your options.