Bill would allow landlords to garnish PFDs

JUNEAU, Alaska — Landlords would be entitled to garnish the Permanent Fund dividends of renters under a bill approved by a House committee.

House Bill 282 updates the Alaska Landlord and Tenant Act for the first time in decades, the Juneau Empire reported Thursday.

The House Judiciary moved the bill Wednesday to the full House. It would have to be passed by both the House and Senate before the legislative session ends April 20 to become law.

Among other things, the bill allows landlords to garnish the PFDs of tenants to cover repairs that cost more than the renter’s security deposit.

Landlords “have to have recourse somehow,” said the sponsor, Rep. Doug Isaacson, R-North Pole.

If approved, Alaska would become the ninth state to define “normal wear and tear” of a rental unit as “without negligence, carelessness, accident, misuse, or abuse of the premises or contents” by the tenant or visitors.

The state labor department said about 91,000 of Alaska’s housing units — or 36 percent of all housing units in the state — are rentals.

The bill would require landlords and tenants to sign a checklist or other form describing the unit before someone moves in to make sure there is no improper garnishment.

Also included in the bill are provisions for the landlord to collect an additional pet deposit and an allowance to extend the deadline for a landlord to return a security deposit, from 14 days to 30 days.

Landlords can currently seek up to two months of rent as a deposit. The law allows a third month of rent to be required as a pet deposit.

“Pets can be very damaging to an apartment, so a lot of landlords say no pets. This gives the landlord the ability to let the pet come,” Isaacson said.

It also makes legal the rental of units that don’t have running water or electricity, if both parties agree to that at the beginning of the rental term. Isaacson said this was done to make sure these types of homes common in the Fairbanks area are covered in law.

Another provision of the bill allows landlords to evict tenants involved in illegal activities, including prostitution.

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