Rental Application Fee Ordinance

In fall 2019, Councilmember Lisa Sánchez presented a rental application fee proposal that addressed concerns with rental fees within the City of Boise. The proposal was later approved by City Council, making it an ordinance in the City of Boise. The ordinance specifically outlines application criteria for rentals, requirements for property owners, a set amount for rental fees, rules for current tenants, and potential fines. Taken in total, these criteria are aimed at creating greater transparency in the assessment and processing of rental application fees, as well as helping renters better manage the fees associated with rental applications.

Violations of this ordinance will be an infraction. Second or subsequent infractions will be considered a misdemeanor and punishable under those guidelines.

Violations of the ordinance can be reported by email to or by phone at 208-972-8150 (option 4).

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Ordinance Overview

Application Criteria

Require that, before an application can be taken or accepted, the criteria on which the application will be judged must be disclosed, along with the amount that will be charged for the application fee.

Property Owner Requirements

Require that property owners shall only advertise, take applications and screen applicants for units that will be available within a reasonable time period. If an applicant has been screened, the unit has been offered, and a deposit has been placed, it will no longer be considered available and no other applications will be allowed. If a unit is not available, the applicant will have the option to consent to be screened and placed on a waiting list.

Set Amount

Designate that the amount that can be charged by any property management company for a unit in the City of Boise shall not exceed the actual cost of the screening process or $30, whichever is lower. The actual costs that are allowed are only hard costs for items such as a background check, credit report, or another legal filing, as written in the ordinance. Soft costs such as labor may not be charged as part of the application fee.

Requires Explanation

An explanation and receipt detailing how the fee was used, and any copies of paperwork or correspondence that were generated as a result of the screening must be provided to the applicant.

Rules for Current Tenants

Stipulate that current tenants of a unit shall not be charged an application fee to move to another unit under the control of the same property owner.

Potential Fines

Further stipulate that violations would be an infraction, punishable by a $100 fine. Second or subsequent violations would be considered a misdemeanor and would also be punishable under those guidelines. Complaints of violation must be filed within six months.

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