2010 Tenant Law Changes

When looking for an apartment or home to rent, there are already a thousand things flying through your head. Don’t let current tenant laws slip you by.

When looking for an apartment or home to rent, there are already a thousand things flying through your head. Don’t let current tenant laws slip you by. There have been several updates to some laws affecting renters and landlords that went into effect this year.

Excerpted below are some of the changes that could affect you as outlined by the Metro Multifamily Housing Association Legislative Synopsis.

Landlord Tenant Coalition Bill
Creates a 60-day no-cause eviction period for tenancies where all tenants have lived in the rental unit for more than one year. The 30-day no-cause eviction period remains for tenancies where any tenant has lived in the rental unit for less than one year. Tenants may still give the landlord only a 30-day notice. Concerning one-year fixed-term tenancies: At any time during the fixed-term tenancy, the landlord or the tenant may terminate the tenancy without cause by giving the other notice in writing not less than 30 days prior to the specified ending date for the fixed term or not less than 30 days prior to the date designated in the notice for the termination of the tenancy—whichever is later. In the event of a property sale, a 30-day notice may still be given within certain limits.

Changes to fees and deposits

Before the landlord enters into new written rental agreement with an applicant or accepts any payment from an applicant, the landlord must provide the applicant with a written list of all deposits, fees and rent. The landlord and applicant may agree to amend the written list before entering into the rental agreement. For the list to be incorporated into the written rental agreement, it must describe all of the fees that the landlord may charge. A landlord now must supply a receipt for any security deposit paid by the tenant. A lease-break fee may be charged but is limited to one-and-a-half times the monthly stated rent. If a lease break fee is assessed, a landlord cannot additionally recover any unpaid rent or recover damages relating to the cost of renting the dwelling unit to a new tenant.

Regarding collecting for damages: The landlord is not required to repair the damage caused by the tenant in order to claim against the deposit for the cost to make the repair. Labor costs must be based on a reasonable hourly rate, i.e., an hourly rate of a certified contractor would be higher than an hourly rate charged by the landlord.

Carpet cleaning may be subtracted from the security deposit if:
•    The cleaning is performed by use of a machine other than a common vacuum cleaner specifically designed for cleaning or shampooing carpets.
•    The carpet was cleaned immediately prior to the tenant moving into the rental unit.
•    The written rental agreement provides that the landlord may deduct the cost of carpet cleaning regardless of whether the tenant cleans the carpet before delivering possession.
•    The loss of use of the dwelling unit during the performance of cleaning or necessary repairs if the cleaning or repairs are preformed in a timely manner.

The following is a breakdown of allowable fees that must be included in the written rental agreement for the authority to charge:
•    Late rent payment fee
•    Non-sufficient funds check fee plus any bank charges
•    Smoke alarm tampering/removal fee

Non-Compliance fees for written rules or policies are allowed, not to exceed $50, for only the following circumstances:

•    Late payment of utility or service charge that the tenant owes the landlord
•    Failure to clean up pet waste from premises
•    Failure to clean up garbage, rubbish, or other waste from premises
•    Parking violations and improper use of vehicles within the premises

Current customary fees that are no longer allowable:
•    Administrative fees
•    Move-in/Move-out fees
•    Pet fees (pet deposits unaffected)
•    Cleaning fees (cleaning deposits unaffected)

Towing Legislation
Before towing, the truck operator must photograph each vehicle in violation, noting the date and time. If the owner or operator of a vehicle is present at the time of tow the tower is required to drop the vehicle at no charge. If the vehicle is in the process of towing, tower may charge a fee to drop the vehicle.

Monitored towing occurs when a property owner contracts with a towing operator to patrol and tow without notice if vehicles are illegally parked. In 2007, the legislature passed safeguards of formal notification and readable signage at each stall or entrance alerting residents and guests of monitored towing. In 2009, further restrictions to monitored towing were passed. Monitored towing may now only occur in specific circumstances.

The tower may tow without prior owner/agent notification for the following reasons:
o    Motor vehicle blocks or prevents access by emergency vehicles
o    Motor vehicle blocks or prevents entry to the premises
o    Motor vehicle blocks a parked motor vehicle

Monitored towing is allowed to correct any posted parking infraction as long as landlord has issued parking tags or other devices that identify authorized vehicles, and there are clear and readable signs in each parking stall or posted at each entrance to the parking facility notifying of monitored towing.

If the parking facility has assigned space parking, the owner/agent of parking facility must first notify the assigned tenant prior to towing a vehicle from that assigned space.

The landlord is also directed to provide tenants with parking tags or other devices to be used on a vehicle other than the tenant’s primary vehicle if the tenant wants to park a vehicle on the premises in lieu of the tenant’s primary vehicle. Effective date: Jan. 1, 2010

Smoking Policy Disclosure

Beginning Jan. 1, 2010 landlords must disclose in writing the smoking policy for the premises on which the dwelling unit is located. This disclosure is not required to be given to existing tenants. The rationale behind this law is to highlight the smoking policy as an amenity of the unit or complex, and to ensure an applicant is aware of the smoking policy in order to make an informed choice on where to live.