House Republicans vote against HB 233
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News from Montana House Democrats
HELENA— On Feb. 9, Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee opposed a bipartisan solution to help renters desperate for housing when they voted against reconsidering HB 233. HB 233 would ensure that Montanans get a refund of their rental application fees when they aren’t chosen for the housing they apply for.
“This is a no-cost consumer protection bill. It is a sad day when elected officials use their voice to make the system less fair for Montana workers and families who rent,” said sponsor Rep. Kelly Kortum (D-Bozeman). “House Republicans chose to ignore the third of Montanans who rent their homes, and left them without a meaningful way to address their rising housing costs.”
Judiciary Committee Vice Chair Laurie Bishop moved to reconsider the Committee’s previous action to table HB 233. Committee Republicans previously voted to kill the bill in January.
This vote follows a floor vote on a previous week where Republicans voted against providing property tax relief for renters. The current housing crisis is hitting renters especially hard, leaving them competing for homes and forced to spend hundreds of dollars simply applying for a place to live, with no guarantee that they’ll get a roof over their head for that money. Many Montanans testified in support of this bill, sharing personal stories of their struggles to find housing and paying large sums to apply for a rental they will never get to live in. Some spend as much as a month’s rent in application fees for apartments that will never be theirs.
HB 233 protects potential renters from gouging, while providing landlords the ability to collect appropriate fees in the rental selection process. For example, a landlord could keep the costs of running a background check, but would have to refund the rest of the unused application fee.
Hannah VanHoose, House Democrats Chief of Staff, Hannah.VanHoose@legmt.gov
Hadley Stack, House Democrats Communications Director, Hadley.Stack@legmt.gov