Today I’m going to talk to you about the new truth in renting law. That’s HB 68, which was the bill that was passed and last month and it was signed into law by governor Cox. It’s going to be going into effect as of May 5th, and it’s going to impact all of us, landlords and real estate investors.
If you’re not the landlord and you’re using a property management company, hopefully, they know about this and will be starting to implement some practices to work with this new law.
This HB 68 bill essentially requires landlords that when we’re leasing a property and we’re advertising it for rent; that we need to disclose the fixed fees. So rent or any other recurring fees that a tenant would have to pay has to be in the advertising. It can be in the advertising as well as in the application disclosure section.
If the rent or the utilities are fixed or any other sort of monthly fees, you need to put that in your advertising. This law is about protecting tenants from getting into a situation where they feel like this bait and switch. Like we’re trying to slide a hand and entice a tenant to apply. But then when we give them the lease, it’s a different rate or there’re additional fees.
In my opinion, it’s kind of shady business. We’ve been disclosing all of the fees upfront for years, so this is not going to impact our business much, but there are quite a few landlords who will do this.
Usually what happens is that the tenant pays the $25, $40, $50, or even $100 application fee and they can’t get it refunded because “it’s non-refundable”. They will say something like “you applied, if you don’t want the lease, take it or leave it” or something along those lines. This law it’s just something that’s been put in place to protect tenants. This is something that we’ve actually supported. We’ve worked with the UAA and various groups to make this an agreeable law, make it a solution to help people out.
What would happen if you don’t disclose the application or in the ad the recurring fees is if that tenant is presented with the lease and it’s different, they can request a refund and they just have to dispute it at that point. The provision is that it has to be done within five days of having been given that lease. They have to request a refund and they just have to dispute it at that point.
The tenant can request from the landlord a refund of their application fees or any fees that they’ve paid at that point and they can get those refunded back. There is recourse if the landlord does not provide a refund. So as you’re looking at your advertising, I encourage you to make sure that they match what you’re stating on the lease so that you don’t have this sort of issue. It’s just good business to do that and it’s also good customer service. You don’t want to have a tenant expecting one thing and they go to sign the lease and it’s completely different.