Uncategorized October 31, 2019

Renting in Seattle: Landlord Update

More than half of Seattle residents live in rental housing. Landlords and property managers are vital partners in keeping Seattle a great place to live.

New! Five Tenant Bills Recently Enacted by City Council

City Council recently passed five separate tenant protection bills that you should know about. Below is a summary of the bills.

Three bills are effective on November 3, 2019 

Rent Payment Regulation (SMC 7.24.030.E Amended)
The intent of the bill is to accommodate renters who have difficulty using an electronic payment method for their rent by requiring alternative payment options.  This does not require landlords to accept cash payments.

  • Requires landlords to give receipts if tenants pay rent in cash and when requested for other payment types
  • Landlords must give tenants a nonelectronic option to pay rent which includes periodic charges such as third-party billing for utilities.

Rental Registration Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) Registration Required Before Serving Eviction Notices (SMC Sections 22.206.160.C and 22.214.075 Amended)
The intent of this bill is to require a rental unit to be registered prior to the service of any eviction notice (14 Day Pay or Vacate, 10 Day Comply or Vacate, 3 Day Notice to Quit).  Previously, the requirement was triggered at the point an eviction lawsuit is filed in Superior Court.

  • Landlords required to register with RRIO before serving any eviction notice
  • Notices issued by landlords who are not registered will not comply with the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance

Information about Tenant Rights Statement Required on Notices (SMC 22.206.180.K Amended)
The intent of this bill is to ensure that renters always know how to get help when they receive a notice from their landlord.  It provides standardized language to include on notices.  Failure to include the language may make the notice invalid.

  • Notices that impact tenants’ rights must contain a reference to City information and resources, including:
    • Notices to Terminate, Quit, Comply and/or Vacate
    • Notice to Increase Housing Costs (Rent)
    • Notices to Enter the rental unit
  • SDCI is currently drafting a ‘Director’s Rule’ providing the exact language requirement and will notify landlords when complete.  Until, the rule is published, the following language is sufficient:

If you need help understanding this notice or information about your renter rights, call the Renting in Seattle Helpline at (206) 684- 5700 or visit the web site at www.seattle.gov/rentinginseattle.

Two bills have later effective dates.  Mayor Durkan has instructed SDCI to consult with stakeholders including the landlord community before they are implemented.

Domestic Violence Damage Relief Bill (SMC 7.24 Amended)
The intent of the bill is to protect tenants experiencing domestic violence from having to pay for damages caused by their perpetrator.

  • Tenants experiencing DV cannot be held liable for damages to their rental unit caused by their abuser
  • A landlord mitigation fund was created to reimburse landlords who repair damage in rental units that was caused by DV preparators
  • Effective Dates:
    • Ordinance effective January 1, 2020
    • Landlord Mitigation Fund effective July 1, 2020

Restriction on Landlord’s Ability to Limit Roommates (SMC Sections 7.24.030.H, 7.24.031, and 7.24.032 Amended)
The intent of the bill is to increase housing affordability for renters who need to share housing with family and roommates.

  • Requires landlords to allow a tenant’s immediate family, one additional unrelated roommate, and the unrelated roommate’s family members to reside together, up to the legal occupancy limit
  •  Tenants must notify the landlord when the occupants change
  • Landlords may screen occupants and require them to join the rental agreement
  • Exemptions for tenants receiving federal housing subsidies and in homes where the landlord also lives on the property
  • Effective date: July 1, 2020

Updates will be made soon to the www.seattle.gov/rentinginseattle to reflect these new bills.  If you have questions or need assistance, please do contact the helpline at (206) 684-5700.

Landlord Training: Save the Date

Our next landlord workshop is:
Thursday, December 5
1:00 –  4:00 p.m.
The Mountaineers
7700 Sandpoint Way NE

We will send out a registration link to Eventbrite closer to the date for you to enroll in the workshop which will cover fair housing laws as well as rental regulations including the newest legislation.