Uncategorized October 26, 2016

Important changes to rental housing laws in Seattle

Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO)
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.Source of Discrimination: Public Meetings
The City of Seattle has expanded fair housing protections based on renters’ source of income. The new law prohibits discrimination against renters who use subsidies or alternative sources of income to pay for their housing costs, such as Social Security or child support. It also sets a new “first-in-time” rule (effective January 1, 2017) that requires landlords to screen rental applications in chronological order, and to offer tenancy to the first applicant who meets all the screening criteria.

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is developing administrative rules for the Source of Income Ordinance, and invites you to attend a public meeting to discuss it:

Public Meeting #1: Thursday, October 27 at 6:00 p.m. at New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave South. Learn about ordinance requirements, ask questions and raise areas that are unclear and that may require administrative rules.

Public Meeting #2: Thursday, November 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Bitter Lake Community Center, 13035 Linden Ave N. Learn about ordinance requirements, ask questions and comment on the proposed administrative rules.

Childcare and language interpretation will be provided at each meeting. To request an accommodation or language interpretation please call (206) 684-4514.

Space is limited.  Click here to register for your preferred meeting date and visit here to learn more about Seattle’s Source of Income Ordinance.

Enhanced Tenant Protections
The City has enhanced a number of tenant protections. Key changes are:

  • The City now prohibits increasing housing costs if a housing unit fails to comply with the Rental Registration Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) checklist until the failures are corrected.
  • New notice requirements for changes to a rental agreement: notice must include details about how the tenant may obtain information on their rights and obligations.
  • The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections is now responsible for regulating rent increase notices and prohibited acts such as illegal entry by a landlord, utility shut-off or raising rent in retaliation for a tenant asserting rights.

You can learn more about these requirements at www.seattle.gov/rentinginseattle.

Tenant Relocation Assistance Avoidance
The City of Seattle has amended the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO) to prohibit rent increases ahead of development activities such as remodeling or demolition of a property. In many cases, development activities that require displacement of a tenant require a relocation license and payment of relocation assistance to low-income tenants.

If you are planning development work on your property, please call the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections at (206) 615-0808 to avoid delays and to determine whether a tenant relocation license will be required for your project.

Selling or Re-Occupying a Unit
New notice requirements to tenants when selling or reoccupying a unit are:

  • Amount of notice required to be given to a tenant when selling a single-family home was increased from a minimum of 60 days to a minimum of 90 days.
  • Amount of notice required to be given to a tenant when the owner wishes to occupy the tenant’s unit was increased from a minimum of 20 days to a minimum of 90 days.
  • Owners may request a hardship exception to shorten the notice period in certain circumstances.
Low-Cost Weatherization 
The Seattle Office of Housing provides weatherization services for qualifying apartment buildings for little to no cost to the owner. Services include heating system upgrades, insulation, fans, air sealing, and other improvements. In exchange, the owner agrees to restrict rent increases for at least three years and prioritize renting to low-income tenants. To learn more, call (206) 684-0255 or visit www.seattle.gov/housing/housing-developers/multifamily-weatherization.Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance – Update
The final due date for rental housing properties to register with the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance is December 31st, 2016. Over 25,000 properties, representing 140,000 rental units have registered.

Inspections are required every 5-10 years. The City randomly selects about 400 properties per month for inspection. For more information about RRIO, including a video explaining the inspection process narrated in 10 languages, please visit www.seattle.gov/RRIO.

For Other Information on Rental Housing in Seattle