The Top 5 Craziest Rental Housing Laws of 2019

While catching up to the latest rental housing laws at the end of each year can be a little intense, legislators had a field day with 2019. This year some crazy rental housing laws were passed… some good, some scary, and some downright surprising. Take a look at our top 5 craziest rental laws passed this year and see if your city or state made it on our list.

5. The Crazy Good: Service Animal Documentation Illinois

Rental property owners and property managers, rejoice! Illinois’ new law on assistance animal documentation is crazy good, and an answer to many properties’ prayers.

With this law, rental owners who receive a request to make an exception to the no-pet policy (on the basis of the need for an assistance or service animal) will be able to require the applicant/tenant to provide reliable documentation of the disability and disability-related need for the animal. While this law prohibits pet-related deposits, fees, or a pet-related assessment fee for service animal requests, it does allow properties to charge renters for any repairs related to the animal (minus normal wear and tear). This is one crazy law we hope will spread.

4. The Crazy Scary: Resident Screening Restrictions Portland, OR

On the flip side, Portland, OR’s screening ordinance is one law we do not want to spread. This ordinance restricts the property owner’s ability to perform resident screening, by giving them two options: 1) use the city’s “low-barrier” criteria or 2) adopt an individualized assessment model.

Unfortunately, this law already went into effect on October 1, 2019, and isn’t unique. Minneapolis, MN also passed a similar two-option ordinance this year. There have been quite a few (thankfully, failed) attempts this year to change how rental properties vet their applicants across the nation, making laws like these potentially crazy scary.

3. Bye, Eviction Records New York

In the same vein as setting crazy scary resident screening limitations, New York has decided rental property owners should say goodbye to eviction records. Their new law penalizes rental property owners who deny an applicant based on a pending or prior landlord-tenant litigation. It also establishes a “rebuttable presumption” that an owner is in violation if they request eviction records from a resident screening company or inspect related court records and the applicant is denied.

While this rule might make you want to say, ‘Bah Humbug’, you’ll want to stay away from violating it as it could cost you between $500 – $1,000 for each violation.

2. Rent Control, Eviction Regulations, and Relocation Fees… Need We Say More? California

Sound the alarm – rent control is officially here! After years of back and forth, California finally passed a behemoth rent control law. Not only does this new law limit annual rent increases to 5% plus a change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for a maximum total increase of 10%, but it also imposes new “just cause” eviction rules and requires relocation assistance or rent waivers for “no-fault” evictions. Oh, and did we mention new notice requirements too?

This law has been the talk of the town within the industry as it affects pretty much all of the rental properties in California in one way or another (remember, you have to provide notice if you aren’t subject to this law too).

If you haven’t already, take a look at our deep dive into this new law and download our full 2019 legislative round up… as this is not the only crazy law California has passed this year.

1. A Renter’s Right to a Roommate Seattle, WA

The law that takes the cake is Seattle’s roommates rights ordinance. While California’s new rent control law came in close as it passes so much change and affects so many, when it comes to true crazy rental housing laws, Seattle’s ordinance came right out of left field.

This ordinance gives residents the right to add a roommate, family member, or family members of a roommate to the lease so long as it’s compliant with the unit’s occupancy limits and 30-day notice is provided. That’s it. Owners are prohibited from imposing conditions, including additional resident screening criteria.

Regardless if the rental housing law might be a little crazy, it’s important to be mindful that all of the housing laws passed in 2019 invoke some sort of change. From notice requirements to eviction procedures to new protected classes, make sure your rental properties are staying up-to-date with all of 2019’s new laws.

What do you think of our ranking? Are there any other laws you'd rank high on the crazy scale? in the comment section!

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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