Effective July 1, 2017, rental houses who provide equipment to the general public and contractors were given more options to combat the problem of equipment not being returned when due.
Based on an earlier law constructed for the video rental business, the new act now uses the much broader term 'equipment rental property', which covers any equipment the rental house may contract to lend.
According to the ARA, hgihlights of the the new law include:
- The statute applies to those who rent equipment with the intent to deprive, those who take the equipment without consent, or anyone who lawfully obtains use and fails to return it or fails to return it by the agreed upon time.
- There is a notice provision of 48 hours. If a customer in lawful possession of the equipment fails to pay fair market value or fails to make arrangements to return the equipment within 48 hours after receipt of written notice and demand, that is evidence of intent to knowingly deprive the owner.
- A renter shall have a defense to prosecution if he or she pays fair market value of the rental equipment or returns the property within 48 hours of arrest, with any rental charges owing, not to exceed 120 days and value of damage to the property, if any.
By clarifying intent to deprive services, this law makes it clear that when a piece of equipment is not returned to the rental house the owner of the equipment stands to lose income the machine would have produced had it been available to be put out to rent again.
This gives the rental house the power to report the past-due rented equipment as a theft and allows for criminal charges to be filed. Before, equipment rental companies were limited to taking civil actions.The penalty for theft can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the value of the property.
ARA of Iowa began pushing for the bill during ARA of Iowa’s Legislative Day on Feb. 14, 2017. The state association also worked in coalition with members of the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association.
A poster explaining the content of the law can be downloaded here.