Advocates for affordable housing access have frequently pointed to application fees as a barrier for renters. The amount low-income applicants can afford for upfront fees and deposits is often limited. With each property requiring its own rental application, initial costs can quickly add up in the search for available housing.
Three Colorado lawmakers believe they have a solution to reduce those fees and assist low-income citizens in obtaining affordable housing. Rep. Domonique Jackson [D], Rep. Chris Kennedy [D], and Sen. Stephen Fenberg [D] are sponsoring a bill limiting rental application fees to assist citizens in obtaining affordable housing. Rep. Domonique Jackson cited applicants paying multiple or exorbitant screening fees while applying for homes as the primary reason for the bill.
Measure BH18-1127 is not an entirely groundbreaking proposal. Several states already have similar legislation in place. One example is the cap California placed on how much a landlord can charge for an application screening starting in 1997. The fee is adjusted annually corresponding with the Consumer Price Index.¹ Massachusetts prohibits landlords from charging an application fee by limiting what fees can be requested before tenancy begins. Chapter 186, Section 15B of Massachusetts law states landlords can only request first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and the purchase and installation cost for a lock and key upfront.² In 2017, the City of Seattle changed its Rental Agreement Regulation Ordinance to limit deposits and fees charged at the beginning of a new rental agreement.³
Reducing application fees increases an applicant’s likelihood of finding affordable housing. MyScreeningReport.com® was created to be reusable with a purpose. An applicant pays once and can then share the report with as many prospective landlords as necessary for 30 days. To find out more about reusable screening reports, visit www.myscreeningreport.com.
Measure HB18-1127 has cleared the Colorado House Finance Committee and now heads to the House for debate. You can find more information regarding the proposed Colorado application fee legislation at the Colorado General Assembly site.
Summary of Measure HB18-1127:
• Limits the fee to cover a landlord's costs for a personal reference check or for obtaining a consumer credit report or tenant screening report;
• Requires a landlord to provide each prospective tenant with written notice of the landlord's tenant selection criteria and the grounds upon which a rental application may be denied before accepting an application or collecting an application fee; and
• Requires a landlord to provide a prospective tenant with an adverse action notice if the landlord takes adverse action on a prospective tenant after reviewing the prospective tenant's rental application.4