”I don’t know how they expect people to continue to pay these astronomical fees on top of already high rent.”
Rep. Analise Ortiz (D-24) has been a renter her whole adult life, so she knows what it’s like to have to pay annoying additional fees.
“There are so limited options of apartments that you can move into,” she told The Copper Courier. “And I’ve lived in apartments before where there have been these nonessential fees for trash valet and things of that nature, and they really add up.”
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She introduced HB 2083, which would bar landlords from forcing renters to pay fees for nonessential services, like door-to-door trash pick-up, package delivery services, and smart-home technology.
The bill also includes language requiring landlords to be more upfront about fees like these before a renter puts in an application.
“Rent is too high,” Ortiz told The Copper Courier. “So many Arizonans can agree with that, and we have to find solutions now.”
Shelling Out for Unwanted Services
J, who wished to be identified by first initial only to avoid retribution from her landlord, faced a nearly $300 rent increase as her lease renewal for her Phoenix apartment approached.
Then she found out her property management company also planned to instill a mandatory $129 per month fee for a package of nonessential services. She was told the monthly fee would cover Cox Gigablast internet, a package delivery service, valet trash, and two smart-home technology upgrades: a keyless entry pad and a thermostat that can be controlled via smartphone.
There was no option to opt out, raising her total monthly housing costs by about $429, or over $5,100 per year.
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“I don’t know how they expect people to continue to pay these astronomical fees on top of already high rent,” J told The Copper Courier. “You know, it’s very frustrating because you’re almost backed into a corner. You’re forced to pay for things that you don’t need or necessarily want and that you’re not expecting to have to pay.”
A manager at the apartment complex allowed J to renew her lease early, avoiding the extra nonessential services package that was going into effect a few months after. But next year, she will have to make the decision to stay and pay the fee or find somewhere else to live.
“We’re looking to purchase, because if we don’t purchase, we will almost be forced to stay there because there’s nothing more affordable,” she said. “Everything is more expensive for less.”
‘The Dumpster Is Only a Few Feet From Our Door’
One thing J does currently have to pay for is valet trash, which costs $30 per month. Valet trash is a doorstep waste collection service where a private company collects trash left outside apartment doors. She said she would opt out if she had the option because the dumpster is close to her apartment.
“I can take the trash out. I’ve been taking trash out for years,” she said. “I don’t need anyone to come pick it up.”
Jen, who asked to be identified by first name only to avoid retribution from landlords, also had to pay for trash pick-up at her last apartment in Mesa. Her fee was $25 per month.
Jen said she was made aware of how much she would have to pay in total monthly fees when signing her lease, but she didn’t realize how expensive the trash itself was. She said she was also unhappy with the service provided.
“You could only have so much garbage and it could only weigh so much,” she said. “It was only four days a week. It was kind of nuts.”
Jen recently moved into a rental home in Mesa that no longer requires trash pick-up, but she does have to pay about $18 per month for smart-home technology that she doesn’t use. She said she believes renters should have the choice to opt out of services like these.
“Maybe to me 18 bucks a month isn’t that big a deal when you’re already paying over two grand, but to a lot of people, that’s a meal,” she said. “It adds up.”