The State Senate has completed work on HB 171 – a bill that exempts a tenant from rent payments when his or her residence is destroyed though no fault of the person renting the residence. Under common law a tenant is required to continue to make lease payments even if a home is destroyed as a result of a tornado or other so-called act of God or a criminal act in which the person renting was not involved.

Senator Bill Stouffer (R-Napton) says many people look at this kind of situation and assume the law would not require anyone in this situation to make payments, but that is not the necessarily the case.

“It’s one of those things that everybody thinks would be logical,” said Stouffer. “But under common law the tenant was still obligated to pay lease payments even if the residence was destroyed.”

Stouffer believes that while it would be difficult to find any landlord who would insist on payments being made by someone who had lost a residence, the landlord could make the demand.

“A lot of the laws don’t get exercised but they were put in at some point back in history,” said Stouffer. “Life changes and every once in a while we need to go back and see what those law are and update ’em.”

A minor amendment makes the Senate version different from the original House bill. So, the legislation now returns to the House, where lawmakers can accept the Senate change or ask for a House-Senate conference committee to iron out the discrepancy before the bill can be sent to Governor Jay Nixon.

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