2019 Bills

SB 107: Keeping the Peace Without Restricting Rights

This bill was held in committee. 

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

If a family can make some extra cash by renting out a spare room in their home, they shouldn’t be criminalized for doing so—especially if the neighbors don’t even notice. Yet, various local governments across the state have banned individuals from utilizing their own homes in this way. They also regulate the number and type of animals one can own, how a home business is operated, and even what a front yard can look like—some even go so far as to dictate the specific height and species of plants that are allowed.

Most city codes set the penalty for these type of property violations as a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Introducing people into the criminal justice system for such petty violations is an overtly unjust practice that needs to be stopped. To read more about what this looks like in practice, read our policy brief here.

Senator Lincoln Fillmore introduced Senate Bill 107 to help protect the rights of homeowners to peaceably use their property as they wish, so long as they don’t bother neighbors. Under this bill, law enforcement won’t be able to charge individuals for violating restrictive ordinances unless they are actually causing a problem that neighbors complain about.

For example, if a nearby neighbor reports an individual for being too loud or having trash in their yard, then law enforcement will be able to handle the problem. A short-term rental causing problems could be shut down under this proposal, while a person sharing a single bedroom without any neighbors knowing or caring would not be criminally punished for doing so.

Property rights matter, and deserve protection—along with a statewide standard that Utahns can predictably rely upon.

To learn more, watch this video.

  • Shelly Cluff

    Does the bill have a specific list of what are enforceable violations with a complaint? For example, can a neighbor complain that they ‘don’t like people coming and going’ from a neighbor’s room rental? Or does it need to be something more concrete like noise or property appearance?

    • cboyack

      Any city’s existing ordinances would be enforceable so long as there is a complaint and a demonstrable nuisance burden on neighbors. The mere presence of people probably would rise to that level.

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