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Gov. Reynolds signs bill allowing landlords to reject Section 8 housing renters

Big Ten web

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Governor Reynolds put pen to paper, signing nearly 40 bills on Friday, one of which will now allow landlords to turn away potential renters who pay with Section 8 housing vouchers.

Senate File 252 was approved by the Iowa Senate and Iowa House just a couple days apart back in March. The bill prevents cities from having ordinances that prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to applicants who use the federal housing program.

Three cities, Iowa City, Marion, and Des Moines currently have such ordinances. Iowa City added its ordinance in 2016.

Effective immediately, all other cities in the state are banned from creating any new ordinances. Starting January 1, 2023, landlords in Iowa City, Marion, and Des Moines will be allowed to resume turning away Section 8 renters. This is meant to allow for a transition period to allow tenants time to evaluate their options if landlords do plan on kicking them out.

The Iowa City Tenants Union and Iowa City city staff told KWWL last month that they were worried about the effects of the bill.

"If all of a sudden all landlords are able to opt out of the program, this program becomes useless," Laura Widman, Legal Liaison for the Iowa City Tenants Union, said.

The union educates renters on their rights as tenants and helps them resolve disputes with landlords. Widman said Iowa City's ordinance has helped level the playing field and removing it will leave low-income renters with too few housing options.

Rachel Kilburg, Assistant to the City Manager, said the ordinance has helped Iowa City with its equity goals.

"It just ensures that residents are able to obtain fair housing," Kilburg said.

Rep. Dave Deyoe, R-Nevada, chaired the bill in the house and said its important to protect the rights of landlords.

"There are some landlords that just simply would rather not have to get involved with the extra paperwork or inspections...The best way to make housing more affordable is to increase the amount of housing that we have in the state," Deyoe said.

Republicans called the bill a win for landlords who shouldn't be required to consider renters who take part in the program. Democrats argued the bill will make it harder for low-income residents to find affordable housing. They add it could lead to landlords using "source of income" to cover for other forms of discrimination like for a person's race or disability.

Trevor Oates

Executive Producer

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