The 2012 Utah legislature considered several items that affect the rental housing industry. Following is a recap of the session and how it may affect you.
HB 249 Single Family Zoning Regulations – Dean Sanpei (R), Provo.
This bill made a technical change to the law clarifying that cities can limit the number of unrelated individuals in a home with an accessory apartment. We were able to add language to the bill that will help fix a major problem in Utah caused by cities not wanting to follow state law that allows landlords to rent up to 4 unrelated individuals in most cities, and 3 unrelated individuals in cities with a University. The provision gave authority to the Utah Land Use and Property Rights Ombudsman to issue opinion letters when cities go too far in enforcing occupancy limits. For instance, some cities have rules that two families (like two brothers who are both married and their wives wanting to share a house) can’t share a residence or that a family can’t rent a room to a college student. The ombudsman would issue an opinion letter in these cases that the city was wrong in its legal interpretation that can be used as a defense by the property owner.
SB 210 Process Service Amendm-ents, Steve Urquhart (R), St. George.
This bill expands to private investigators the ability to serve specific types of service including for evictions and collections. Prior to this change, only sheriffs and constables could do lock outs or remove property from a premises, but counties have cut back the number of constables so there are not enough to do the work and the costs had gone way up. This bill provides more access to this essential public service.
SB 216 Political Subdivision Amendments, Kenneth Sumsion (R), American Fork.
This bill requires cities with good landlord classes to honor training taken in any other good landlord city. It also will force Salt Lake City to lower its fee for non-participating landlords to no more than their actual disproportionate cost (from $322 to $85), exempts from disproportionate fees any landlord who owner occupies a four-plex or smaller, requires an appeals process for anyone kicked off a GL program and removes the automatic right cities have to inspect every three years (making it cause and complaint based inspections only). On the last day of the session a provision that exempted some legislators who are professional realtors from doing training was removed.
HB 302 Land Use Penalties, Mike Morley (R), Springville.
This is our favorite bill of the session. It requires cities to give a separate notice and reasonable time to correct any zoning or code violation, it requires cities provide notice to a property manager (in addition to an owner) if requested, and makes it clear cities have to give a reasonable time to correct each separate violation. This is extremely important for landlords because cities were giving one notice on a rental property and then, 18 months later if there was a violation were issuing immediate fines. Also, cities were refusing to notify property managers so they could fix violations of the tenants and instead sending notice to a PO Box of an owner that was rarely checked.
SB 173 Fit Premises Act Amendments, Ben McAdams (D), Salt Lake City.
This bill requires landlords to list the website of the Utah Fit Premises Act in their rental agreement and to provide an inventory and inspection to the tenant before renting them a unit. It also allows tenants to get out of a lease they signed prior to move in, if the apartment is not ready as promised.
In addition to these bill the UAA also was successful is beating back a bill that required return of all deposits even if tenants owned balances.
For more information on the 2012 Legislative Session and how it impacts our industry, you are invited to use the legislature’s website www.le.state.ut.us which has text of bills, records of votes, and recordings of hearings.