In Idaho, as with any other state, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established (even without a written lease), and with this relationship comes rights and responsibilities for both parties.
Basic Landlord Responsibilities
Keep the rental fit to live in. The landlord is required to provide housing that is habitable and to make repairs in a timely manner when required.
Quiet enjoyment. The landlord is required not to disturb the tenant’s rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space.
Basic Tenant Responsibilities
Pay rent on time. If the tenant does not pay rent in full and in a timely manner, the landlord has the right to take action to end the tenancy.
Cover excessive damages. Tenants are responsible to cover the costs of damages to the property beyond normal “wear and tear”.
With that said, Idaho varies from other states on additional rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. Idaho law even varies on both the interpretation of the above rights and the rules on handling violations.
Warranty of Habitability in Idaho
Landlord Responsibilities. Landlords in Idaho are responsible for maintaining a healthy and safe environment in and around all of their rental units. This includes meeting the state’s warranty of habitability, which outlines which amenities must be provided to make a unit safe and comfortable for human occupation. These essential amenities (which must also be maintained in working order) include:
- Doors and windows that lock
- Walls, floors, and roofs that are waterproofed
- Running hot and cold water
- An HVAC system
- Adequate plumbing
- Safe electrical wiring, outlets, and lighting
- Sanitation facilities
- A trash can (for garbage removal services)
- Smoke detectors
In general, these warranty of habitability provisions only apply to single- and multi-family dwellings. However, similar habitability regulations also apply to condos and mobile homes in Idaho. Those types of dwellings are covered under their own set of landlord-tenant laws.
Tenants in Idaho also play a role in this warranty of habitability. Specifically, they must promptly notify their landlord of any issues that arise among these essential amenities. After being notified, that landlord must make all requested repairs within 3 days. Otherwise, a tenant may be able to claim that the landlord has become negligent in their duties, thus making their lease agreement void.
Tenant Responsibilities. Tenants in Idaho are chiefly responsible for maintaining the day-to-day physical conditions of their unit. To that end, a tenant must keep their unit “clean” in a manner that other tenants or the physical property does not come to lasting harm. If this cleanliness standard is broken, an Idaho landlord may ask that tenant to remedy the problem in 3 days. If they fail to clean up, then the tenant becomes open to eviction.
Idaho tenants may also undertake “alternative action” if they feel that their landlord has inadequately addressed an otherwise essential repair. However, this right to “repair and deduct” only applies to the installation of smoke detectors. Otherwise, Idaho tenants cannot withhold rent for any reason. However, they may give notice and sue their landlord to comply with the state’s habitability statutes.
Evictions in Idaho
Most landlords in Idaho provide a defensible reason for resorting to eviction. These are a few of the most common reasons that you or your landlord may sight when working towards formalizing an eviction:
- Nonpayment of rent – A tenant in Idaho may be compelled to pay rent after any applicable grace period ends. To do this, a landlord must issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay after the first of the month (or any applicable grace period). If the tenant in question still refuses to pay, the landlord may commence the formal eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer.
- Violation of lease terms – If a tenant is found to be violating one or more of their lease agreement responsibilities, an Idaho landlord may request that they change their conduct with a written 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. If, after the third day, the tenants behavior is not cured, then their landlord may proceed with a formal eviction by filing a Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer. Serious damage to the property may also elicit a 3-Day Unconditional Quit Notice, after which the tenant will be forcibly evicted (if necessary).
- Illegal Acts – Among other illegal activities, the state of Idaho empowers landlords to evict tenants that delivery, sell, or produce illegal drugs on their property without notice. This kind of eviction can be served by filing a Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer with as little as 24 hour advance notice.
Evictions without a lease. When an Idaho tenant and landlord are engaged in renting relationship without an active lease, the landlord must still provide a certain amount of advance notice before evicting that tenant. As such, tenants who rent from month-to-month are entitled to 30 days of advance notice before they can be evicted.
That being said, tenants who rent without a lease but do utilize a fixed-term rental agreement are not entitled to any further amount of advance notice. This is because they inherently know when they are expected to move out once the agreement concludes. In either case, tenants who refuse to vacate after the stated eviction date may be compelled to leave when their landlord files a Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer suit.
Illegal Evictions. Tenants in Idaho are protected from unlawful evictions that their landlord undertakes for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons. Regarding retaliation, landlords cannot attempt to evict a tenant who requests a repair to an essential amenity. In the same vein, tenants cannot be evicted in retaliation for joining a tenant union.
With regards to discrimination, a landlord’s eviction attempt may be voided if it is found that they initiated the action solely because the tenant belonged to a protected class. This prohibition also applies to landlords who attempt to evict individuals with service animals, which are not legally considered “pets” under Idaho state law.
Security Deposits in Idaho
When it comes to security deposits, these are the limitations and guidelines that all landlords in Idaho must follow:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – Idaho’s current statutory guidance relating to security deposits does not place a limit or maximum upon how much a landlord can charge. This includes pet deposits, which are similarly uncapped when it comes to their total value.
- Interest and Maintenance – Idaho landlords are not required to maintain their security deposits in any particular type of account, including an escrow. In the same vein, these landlords are not required to incur interest on any held deposit funds, nor are they required to pay out such interest if they do choose to accumulate it.
- Time Limit for Return – If the tenant’s lease agreement ends on a fixed date, their landlord must return any and all security deposit funds within 21 days. Otherwise, that landlord has 30 days to return any remaining security deposit funds. If deductions are necessary, these remaining funds must be accompanied by an itemized explanation of said deductions.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If an Idaho tenant’s security deposit is not returned on time or does not include an itemized list of deductions, then that that tenant may take legal action against their former landlord to recover those funds.
- Allowable Deductions – Idaho only allows landlords to make deductions from a security deposit if those reasons for deduction are explicitly spelled out in the adjoined lease agreement. Otherwise, no deductions are allowed.
Lease Termination in Idaho
Notice Requirements. Tenants in Idaho who maintain a fixed-term lease are not required to give notice to their landlord notice if they intend to terminate their lease. However, for tenants who lease on a month-to-month or year-to-year basis, tenants must provide 1 month’s advance notice prior to their intended termination date.
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. The easiest way to terminate a lease early in Idaho is for a tenant to evoke an early termination clause in their written lease agreement. However, in the absence of such a provision, these following methods for legally breaking off a lease may also suffice:
- Active Military Duty – Federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – If a landlord fails to uphold their obligations under the Idaho warranty of habitability, they may open the door for a tenant to terminate their lease. Specifically, if any of the essential amenities listed in that warranty are not properly provided or maintained, then a tenant may petition to break off their lease due to the safety hazard continued tenancy possess.
- Landlord Harassment – Though Idaho lacks a statewide statute on when a landlord may enter an occupied unit, it still forbids landlords from breaching any entry rights requirements outlined in an individual lease agreement. Landlords that routinely do so may be found liable for harassment, which can in turn cause a lease to become void.
In Idaho, a tenant may still be required to pay rent on their unit after the have otherwise terminated their lease. This obligation ends when a new tenant takes over the lease through a sublet, which most landlords allow for. Landlords in Idaho are not required to seek out new tenants to cover your lease on your behalf, though, so tenants pursuing an early lease termination must be proactive if they wish to save themselves money.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Idaho
Rent control & increases. Currently, Idaho does not impose any type of “rent control” upon landlords operating within the state. As such, Idaho landlords are free to raise the rent on their units as much as they want without needing to provide any form of justification. These landlords do need to provide notice to their tenants before raising rent, though, to the tune of 15 days in advance of the month when the increase will take place.
Rent related fees. Idaho does not currently maintain a statute limiting how much a landlord can charge a tenant as a late rent payment fee, either in full or on a per diem basis. However, Idaho does require that any fees charged for this purpose be listed in the applicable lease agreement.
Idaho also allows landlords to charge a kind of fee for returned checks. Specifically, the landlord must sue their tenant in small claims court to recover three times the value of the check or $100 (whichever is greater). Otherwise, a flat bounced check fee may not be enforceable in Idaho.
Housing Discrimination in Idaho
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. Under Idaho’s current fair housing legislation, no groups of people other than those outlined in the federal Fair Housing Act are eligible for fair housing protections. However, Idaho does maintain statewide legislation that defines mental impairments, chronic alcoholism, blindness, and AIDS as “disabilities” that earn comparable protection under the law.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The Idaho Human Rights Commission dictates that certain actions, when taken against a protected class, may constitute housing discrimination. Among other possible actions, the following business practices are prohibited when they unreasonably or unfairly target a protected class:
- Refusing to show a rental property when it is otherwise available
- Indicating a preference or prohibition towards certain individuals in an advertisement
- Limiting access to financing options due to an applicant’s minority status or disability
- Attempting to induce applicants to live in a neighborhood that is judged to be intentionally segregated
- Failing to allow reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
The Idaho Human Rights Commission currently handles complaints regarding housing discrimination. Complaints of this nature can be filed online. However, individual results may vary with this process because this government-sanctioned organization does not explicitly state what kinds of penalties they typically apply to landlords found in violation of state or federal civil rights laws.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Idaho
You should also take some time to read and understand these supplementary landlord-tenant laws for Idaho. More often than not, these topics become the subject of dispute when a leasing relationship turns sour.
Landlord Entry. Idaho does not maintain any specific statutes that dictate a landlord’s right to entry. As such, they are allowed to enter whenever they need to, without notice or reason, by default. Instead, the state requires landlords and tenants to work out an entry system that defines how much notice must be given and what reasons (such as providing repair services or showing the apartment to prospective tenants) can justify entry.
This same lack of statutory clarity applies to emergency situations as well. That being said, most tenants in Idaho still accept the belief that landlords may enter without notice when an emergency strikes – even when an established advanced notice policy is in place.
Small Claims Court. Many types of landlord-tenant disputes can be heard by Idaho’s small claims court. Specifically, claims that have not passed the 4 or 5 year statute of limitations (for oral and written contracts, respectively) and are valued at up to $5,000 may be heard in this venue. Eviction cases are not handled in small claims court, though; instead, they are heard in county courts where the property in question is located.
Mandatory Disclosures. Idaho landlords only need to make two kinds of mandatory disclosures to their tenants (though other optional disclosures are available to tenants by request). The first disclosure relates to the presence of lead-based paint in units built prior to 1978. More information on this type of disclosure can be found here. Idaho landlords must also provide the names and addresses of all property owners to tenants before their tenancy commences.
Changing the Locks. Idaho law does not explicitly prohibit tenants from unilaterally changing their own locks. Doing so may cause strain in a leasing relationship, though, so it is advised that a tenant always provide at least a new key copy to their landlord after undertaking this kind of renovation.
Landlords, on the other hand, may not change a unit’s locks without the permission of the unit’s inhabitants. This is made clear due to the state’s prohibition of lockouts as a means of forcing a tenant’s eviction.
Idaho Landlord-Tenant Resources
If you still have questions about your responsibilities under Idaho’s landlord-tenant laws, check out these digital resources for a deeper level of insight into these important statutes:
Landlord and Tenant Manual – This handbook, published by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office, details nearly every consideration a landlord or tenant may need to make before, during, and after a lease agreement. Landlords in particular can utilize the example forms and checklists included in this guide to get their formal documentation system up and running.
Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities – This concise pamphlet breaks down each party’s responsibilities under Idaho’s current landlord-tenant laws. This informational handout also includes contact information for legal aid in settling a landlord-tenant dispute, which individuals from both parties might find useful.
Idaho Department of Insurance – Renter’s insurance is another common topic of dispute among Idaho landlords and tenants. This website can help guide both parties through the process of identifying which types of coverage are appropriate to their situation.