New Iowa Law Bans Localities From Requiring Landlords to Consider Section 8 Tenants

Politics

DES MOINES, Iowa — Landlords in Iowa will soon have the protected freedom to turn down low-income renters.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 252 into law Friday, which forbids local governments from requiring landlords to consider tenants using federal housing vouchers such as Section 8.

The law will void ordinances in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Marion which forbid landlords from ignoring Section 8 renters. It takes effect in 2023.

The bill sparked a heated debate on the House floor when it was first introduced in March.

“What’s more local than the individual property owner?” said Rep. Julian Garrett (R-District 13, Indianola) in defense of the bill. “What about their rights?”

“This bill goes after the most vulnerable people,” countered Rep. Tony Bisignano (D-District 17, Des Moines) on the floor. “This comes right at the poorest people.”

Iowa Landlord Association president Andrew Leitzow remarked to WHO 13 in March that the bill would make it easier for landlords to operate.

“The biggest issue is the five or six different hoops that you have to jump through with federal housing, the extra inspection that’s required,” Lietzow said.

Des Moines landlord Jack Hatch criticized the law after it passed. He believes the state control could make local affordable housing shortages worse.

“This should be guided by the needs of the local communities,” Hatch said. “This is going to hurt single women with kids and make it more difficult for them, especially when we’re coming out of a pandemic.”

Hatch rents out hundreds of federal housing units across Des Moines, which he claims are 96% occupied. He says he will continue renting to voucher recipients after the law takes effect and hopes other landlords do the same.

“They are good tenants. I don’t care where the money comes from,” Hatch said. “Neither should state government, and neither should the governor.”

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