(Feb. 12) – A bill to put the brakes on runaway fees for prospective tenants made a successful debut today in the House Finance Committee.

Currently, there are no limits on what landlords can charge as a rental application fee and there are no safeguards to assure that the fee aligns with the actual cost of screening. The unregulated collection of rental application fees has made the affordable housing crisis worse. In a recent survey of Colorado residents conducted by 9to5 Colorado, respondents reported fees as high as $145 per person.

HB18-1127, sponsored by Reps. Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora, and Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, is part of the House Democrats’ affordable housing agenda. It limits the fee a landlord may charge a prospective tenant to the landlord’s actual screening costs.

Landlords would also have to disclose their criteria for tenant selection in advance, and in the event an application is denied, landlords would be required to provide a written notice explaining which criteria were not met, so the applicant can take steps to correct the deficiency.

“Rental application fees should be used to cover the costs of screening potential tenants, not to generate additional profits,” Rep. Kennedy said. “This bill adds three common-sense requirements for landlords: disclose your tenant screening criteria, don’t charge more than it costs to screen, and if someone’s application is declined, tell them why.”

“The people who will be helped most by this bill are the ones who are sleeping on somebody else’s couch so they can save up the money for their application fees, their rent and their damage deposit,” Rep. Jackson said. “In today’s market, affordable housing is harder to find than ever. This bill will make that struggle a bit easier.”

The Finance Committee voted 7-6 to send HB18-1127 to the House floor.

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