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News >  Idaho

Idaho lawmakers want to forbid homeowner groups from blocking AirBnB rentals

The Idaho state Capitol under gray skies on Tuesday. (Betsy Z. Russell)
The Idaho state Capitol under gray skies on Tuesday. (Betsy Z. Russell)

BOISE – Homeowner associations in Idaho couldn’t restrict owners from renting their property on a short-term basis unless they already had the restriction when the property owner bought the place, under legislation that passed the Idaho Senate on Tuesday.

The bill – a win for Airbnb and similar rental companies – passed on a 20-14 vote, after senators ardently argued both for and against the bill.

Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, argued against the change and noted the bill has an emergency clause, making it effective as soon as it becomes law.

“This bill is the legislative imposition of siding with one party to a contract. For me this is a dangerous legislative precedent,” he said.

The bill, which earlier passed the House on a 60-6 vote, declares, “No homeowner’s association may add, amend or enforce any covenant, condition or restriction in such a way that limits or prohibits the rental, for any amount of time, of any property, land or structure … unless expressly agreed to in writing at the time of such addition or amendment by the owner of the affected property.”

Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, said he didn’t have a problem with the “add” or “amend,” but drew the line at “enforce.” “I don’t buy that,” he said. “To me, you signed on to a deal, and now we’re giving you an out – that it doesn’t have to be enforced. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’ll be voting no.”

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, spoke in favor of the bill, which was backed by the Idaho Association of Realtors.

“It’s not an imposition on a contract,” he said. “That contract is being applied in ways never intended, never understood, that devalue the property by taking away fundamental rights to the use and enjoyment of that property after the purchase.”

Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, said short-term rentals put a commercial entity in the midst of a residential area.

“I think if you’re renting your house every day to a different group of people and paying motel and commercial taxes, that’s what it is, so I’ll be voting no.”

Some homeowner associations in Idaho have moved to limit short-term rentals, with the growing popularity of online home vacation rentals like Airbnb and VRBO; the bill would prevent the associations from making any move to block that.

If Gov. Butch Otter signs the bill, it would become law immediately.

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