What is “source of income”?
Source of income means any lawful, verifiable source of money available to a potential tenant at the time they submit a rental application. It may be paid directly or indirectly and may include income from any lawful occupation (including self-employment), any government or private assistance (including housing vouchers, social security, or nonprofit assistance), child support, retirement benefits, pensions, and other sources.
Why was this necessary?
The City of Boise is dedicated to ensuring the residents with any lawful source of income have adequate access to housing and are not denied on an arbitrary basis. Source of income discrimination creates an unnecessary barrier to finding secure and suitable living arrangements.
Who does this apply to?
The prohibition on discrimination applies to all landlords and property managers with residential rental units in Boise, except for those landlords that own and self-manage two or fewer units. There is also an exception for employers who provide or support housing for its employees.
What are some examples of practices that are prohibited?
Examples include denying a rental application, charging higher rents, or otherwise treating an applicant or tenant differently based on their source of income.
What is a Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher? What is a VASH voucher?
The Housing Choice Voucher program (commonly referred to as Section 8) provides assistance to households to afford safe housing. VASH vouchers are similar and are available specifically to veterans. Both types of vouchers are administered locally by the Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority. A household using a voucher is responsible for finding housing in the rental market and the subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the Housing Authority. The family pays the difference between the actual rent and the amount subsidized by the voucher.
Does this mean a landlord can’t have a “No Section 8” policy?
Yes. A blanket “No section 8” policy would be a violation of the ordinance.
Does this mean a landlord must rent to a tenant who does not meet their screening criteria?
No. A landlord can still have whatever lawful screening criteria they desire, including screening for credit scores and previous evictions. A landlord can also still have a required income-to-rent ratio, if all sources of income available at the time of application are included in the calculation in consistent manner among all applicants.
Does this impact a landlord ability to set their own rents or evict tenants for lease violations?
No. Landlords can set rents at whatever level they desire and can enforce leases regardless of a tenant’s source of income.
Can landlords still use their own lease?
Yes. If a tenant is using a Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher, there may be a lease addendum required, but landlords can use their own leases.
Could this result in additional responsibilities for landlords?
Depending on the source of income, landlords may need to complete paperwork to directly and reliably receive voucher payments and allow an inspection of the property to ensure that it meets basic housing quality standards.
Does the ordinance require that a landlord count a time-limited voucher/assistance as income?
The ordinance requires that landlords use consistent selection criteria in evaluating an application, regardless of the applicant’s source of income. If a landlord’s standard practice is to require verification of income, but not to require information about whether that income is time-limited, that practice should be applied to all applicants.
What are the consequences of a violation?
The City always seeks to educate businesses and landlords and to gain voluntary compliance. Continued violations of the ordinance could result in an infraction or a misdemeanor.
Where can alleged violations be reported?
Alleged violations can be reported to the Clerk’s office, either by email at email@example.com or by phone at 208-972-8150 (option 4). Complaints must be filed within 6 months of the alleged violation.