Today we want to give you an update on two of the big bills that were pushed forward during this legislative session one that’s passed and one that has not and I’ll share with you some thoughts on those, as well as some lease updates or recommendations based on the current and past legislative sessions and other things that have been going on in our world of property management and owning rental properties.
The first thing I want to share with you is HB 268. This was a bill that was put forward to amend the fit premises act (this act applies essentially to Utah). It requires landlords to keep properties at a certain standard and to respond in a certain amount of time when there are issues, habitability issues, but also it requires to give notice to the resident for entering their unit.
Currently, it’s 24 hours notice or whatever is agreed upon in the lease agreement. This bill would amend that by stating it is just simply 24 hours notice and you cannot modify it based on the contract. There would be three exceptions to the 24 hours notice: a court order, emergencies or abandonment. We know as landlords that there are so many other reasons why we might need to go into the unit without giving a full 24 hours notice. What about suspicion of illegal activity? Or potential abandonment?, where we don’t know that it’s abandoned but we have to verify. There’s so much gray area about this, that luckily this bill was actually not passed so we don’t have to worry about it this year. It may come up again in the future. And again, the UAA, our government affairs committee, and many others will continue to combat this specific bill.
Bill number two is HB 68. And this is essentially requiring renter expenses to be disclosed fully on the rental ads, meaning that before someone were to apply for a property, you would need to disclose all the potential charges: what the late fees would be, utility fees, those sorts of things being disclosed. This gives the tenant the option to get their application fees back or their deposit back with no consequence in the event that they go to sign the lease and the charges are different than what you advertised.
This bill did pass and so it will be signed into law. There’s going to be some best practices that will be shared with you, we’ll be able to get some information out on how we can actually respond to this, making sure that we’re doing things properly.
Now, this is a bill that we actually supported with the UAA and those that have been working towards some middle ground with different people. That’s one thing about this business: we can’t just fight everything. We have to have some compromises, gives, and tags, as well as seeing what is in the best interest of our residents that we care about. It’s not always about the landlord and protecting the landlord’s rights because there are some bills that can benefit both sides. And this is one of those for us.
We’ve always taken them upon ourselves at Keyrenter to advertise what the tenants are going to get. Have you ever bought a car where you are sold something completely different than what you go to sign for? when you see all the fees and the numbers, just the bottom line numbers are so much different than what you were expecting. It can be frustrating. For many residents that have struggled with that same thing, it can be frustrating to see a rent price advertised at $1300 a month, and then it turns out their monthly expenses are closer to $1800 a month, so we can do a better job of advertising and disclosing all charges. This bill will require us to do that.
The second thing I want to share with you today is about the lease agreement and some of the modifications that are being recommended. Many of you know that we use the services of Kirk Cullimore, he’s our landlord attorney. He represents us and gives us training and gives us insight on the legal side of owning and managing rentals and working with tenants, but also on the contract side.
So we look at Cullimore and their agreement, and just about every few years, they modify and update based on what they’ve learned from the many court cases that they’ve had the many situations and working with different landlords across the state.
They give us updates to the leases and they give some recommendations. This year there were 22 substantial or significant updates to the lease agreement. I’m not going to bore you by going through all 22 items right here and now but you can see what those changes are by clicking here: Summary of Utah Lease Changes 2.2021
These will be starting to get incorporated into our current leases as well so that we can have the latest and greatest cutting-edge lease that helps protect us and our property owners and allows us to operate rental properties in the best possible way.