Cost of security deposits on the rise for renters

By Christi Warren

JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri renters could be charged higher security deposit fees under a bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

The bill, proposed by Rep. David Sater, R-Cassville, would increase the amount a landlord can demand at the outset of a leasing agreement.

It would replace the previous statute, which limits the amount a landlord can ask for to no more than two months’ rent, increasing the amount to three months’ rent.

Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City, accused the bill sponsor of a “conflict of interest,” pointing out that Sater and a number of other committee members are rental property owners.

Kander, noting his own status as a landlord, said to avoid such a conflict, should he have supported the bill, his vote would have been “present,” or a non-vote. He asked the committee to follow suit; instead of voting for their own financial concerns, to consider their tenants’.

“In a time when it’s not great economic times, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me that we would take steps to make it more difficult for folks to be able to afford a place to live, Kander said.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, voted yes on the bill. He called the piece of legislation “evolving” and said he believes future versions of the bill will include more of a compromise. Kelly said he is currently working with the chairman of the judiciary committee, Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, to “come to a better resolution.”

Kander, however, said he doesn’t think the bill requires a better resolution.

“I don’t see a problem there that requires a solution, I see it more as a solution in search of a problem,” said Kander.

The bill passed 7-5.