You've got a tenant in place, they are paying rent, and everything seems to be going well. But now what? Being a housing provider is more than just collecting the rent. Your rental is an asset and part of managing that asset is making sure that it stays in good shape. Another concern is around maintenance, although this is true in apartments, it's even more true in single family homes: maintenance is an on-going project. There is always something to do! The best way to address maintenance concerns before they become a crisis is through regular inspections. RHAWA recommends that you inspect your rentals every 6 months at a minimum. It might seem tedious to take the time to do an inspection but it is an important part of your rental business. Regular inspections can and will save you money!
Call to Action!
Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee to hear Rent Control bill on Tues, Jan. 30 @ 8 am
On Tuesday, January 30 @ 8 am, the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee will hear SB 6400 which would end Washington's ban on rent control and allow cities to enact rent control. This comes on the heels of rent control receiving a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee this past Tuesday. RHAWA had a strong showing of members at the January 23 hearing and we need to continue that momentum as we approach cutoffs for bills to receive votes.
We need landlords to attend this hearing and voice your strong opposition to the proposed bill. Carpools are being arranged for the trip down on our Connect member discussion forum. Click here to log-in and find a carpool down to Olympia.
Two ways to comment on this issue
Why does RHAWA oppose rent control?
Resources on rent control
When people get into the rental housing industry and buy their first income property, they often buy a distressed house and fix it up, even if it is a personal home that they are turning into a rental. However, this solution can be expensive if the new housing provider can't do much work on their own. A more expensive, albeit easier, option is to buy a rental property that has been fixed up. The so-called "turnkey" rental property is an attractive option for investors who like a more hands-off approach to their rental property and don't want to put in time to fix up the property and make improvements. On the surface, this can seem like an ideal solution for an investor who is ready to jump into the industry.
Cameron Cowan | Knowledge Steward
Property taxes have been in the news lately because of the new federal tax bill that caps the deduction of property taxes at $10,000. However, property taxes are important in the rental housing business because they are a large expense for most rental housing owners. As Washington state has no state income tax, property taxes are the primary way the state collections revenue (besides sales tax). While you can't entirely eliminate this expense in your business, it's important to keep track of it, as well as, regularly evaluate it for fairness.
Sean Martin | External Affairs Director and Interim Executive Director
Next Tuesday, January 23 @ 10 am, the House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 2583 which would end the State's ban on rent control and allow cities to enact rent control. If this bill is passed by the legislature it is not a question of if rent control happens, but when and where - Seattle is not the only city that would enact rent control.
Ethan Blevins | Attorney | Pacific Legal Foundation
If government can strip you of choice just because unconscious bias might influence that choice, its power would have no bounds. But that is precisely what Seattle is doing to its landlords. In Yim v. City of Seattle, Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging an anti-discrimination law that prohibits landlords from choosing their own tenants. Today, we filed our opening brief to ask the Court to invalidate this oppressive and brazen violation of fundamental rights.
As we head into the spring season, bed bugs might come up again in your rental property. While Bed Bugs are not typically common, we get calls here at RHAWA with members trying to handle a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs aren't medically harmful but they do cause small red bites on the skin and cause lots of irritation. It's never a good idea to just let the bed bugs live in your rental. Lack of response to the infestation is bad for tenant relations and is against the law.
Here are some quick things to consider when it comes to bed bugs:
On May 30, 2017, the Rental Housing Association of Washington filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle’s Move-in Fee Ordinance. We argue in the lawsuit that the ordinance is illegal under both state statutory and constitutional law.
Will you please join us today in supporting our efforts in court by making a contribution to the RHAWA Legal Defense Fund? Your contribution will help to directly fund our success in court and preserve our ability to take legal action in the future should the need arise.
As a member of RHAWA, we know that you care deeply about the security of your investment and your financial future. You’ve put too many thousands of hours of time and dollars in to managing your property to allow one city to dictate the financial terms of your leases, and force you into interest-free loans to your renters. You should be able to determine the amounts and types of safeguards to protect yourself against financial loss.
This lawsuit also represents more than just a fight against Seattle’s out of control rental housing policies. The rights of rental housing owners state-wide are at stake as we fight to ensure that Seattle’s unimaginative, illegal rules don’t spread to other jurisdictions.
Small independent landlords provide most of the affordable housing in Seattle. Unfortunately, instead of seeing RHA and its members as partners in solving housing issues, the illegal regulation of fees and deposits portrays rental property owners as nothing more than political scapegoats.
The move-in fees lawsuit filed by RHAWA joins a growing list of legal challenges which will shape the rental housing industry’s ability to provide safe, affordable housing for the next generation.
Last year we raised over $100,000 and I know that with your continued support I know that we can do even better in 2018. Expanding our budget will allow us continue fighting to achieve an outcome you deserve. The legal environment is changing and RHAWA can only fight for our members when we have the resources to do so.
You can track our progress at www.rhawa.org/legal-defense-fund.
Thank you for your ongoing support and the belief you’ve placed in RHAWA to protect the security of your rental investment interests, and our industry’s future.
Make your donation today by sending a check to: RHAWA LDF, 2414 SW Andover St, D207, Seattle, WA 98106 or by calling Geoff Schertz at 206-905-0606
Adam Purkey | Membership Engagement Manager
January 31st is one of the most important days of the year for RHAWA members, and one of the best opportunities for you to affect policies made that affect all landlords at the state level. RHAWA’s Legislative Day on the Hill is your best opportunity to voice your concerns directly to the officials that make these laws and enact meaningful policy changes. Independent landlords continue to battle against onerous laws on both the state and local level seemingly giving tenants every possible advantage when it comes to the landlord-tenant relationship. We need your stories, your experiences, and your ideas to present to the legislators to provide them with alternatives solutions as they consider new bills in 2018.
This day is so important for our members because we arrange meetings to give you time to sit down and discuss the issues that matter most with your representative in person. The voice of the tenants is a loud one, and we need to provide a strong, unified voice for property owners to ensure that your rights as landlords are not drowned out by the other side. Legislators hear from our lobbyists and our staff, but hearing firsthand accounts from actual landlords has a much greater impact. Those stories are the ones they will remember when it comes time to cast a vote that affects this industry. Your story could be the difference in how they choose to proceed.
Once you arrive at the Hotel RL in Olympia, we will make sure that you have everything you need during the day. You’ll start by having lunch and a briefing from RHAWA’s lobbyist Kyle Woodring which will get you up to speed on the prominent issues of the day even if you haven’t been closely following them. From there, we will shuttle you to the Capitol campus where you will have time to hear from an array of state representatives in the RHAWA room during the day. We also book individual appointments with your district representative so that you can speak with them directly about the things that matter most to you.
This chance to meet with your legislators in person is one that you should absolutely take advantage of to make your voice heard!
This event is underwritten by the RHAWA Political Action Committee and is absolutely free for RHAWA members. Leg. Day is your time to show up, speak up, and help enact the changes we as a community need to see made in order for landlords to succeed in the future. You can rely on us to get you everything you’ll need during the day, and we’ll rely on you to join us in Olympia on January 31st!
Full details can be found at https://www.rhawa.org/legday.html
Sean Martin | External Affairs
Stanford University researchers recently published a new study on the impacts and effects of San Francisco’s rent control policies and the results, well, they speak for themselves. RHAWA has long held that rent control is a failed policy, has far more unintended consequences which harm the housing market than there are good outcomes, and discourages the production of rental inventory to meet demand. On this, economists are near unanimously in agreement.
Before we share the how’s and why’s of rent control failures, let’s start with the summary in the direct words of the researchers.
“Taken together, we see rent controlled increased property investment, demolition and reconstruction of new buildings, conversion to owner occupied housing and a decline of the number of renters per building. All of these responses lead to a housing stock which caters to higher income individuals. Rent control has actually fueled the gentrification of San Francisco, the exact opposite of the policy’s intended goal.”
That’s quite the indictment of a policy long-favored by tenant advocates and politicians who expressly claim that rent control is the only way to ensure housing affordability and to prevent gentrification. In fact, it’s now been announced by Rep. Nicole Macri that legislation will be introduced in the 2018 session in an attempt to overturn the state ban on rent control.
Of the details included in the Stanford study, the more interesting points include:
Less rental housing supply costs tenants substantially
Owners of rent controlled properties substitute toward other types of real estate that are not regulated by rent control. In particular, rent-controlled buildings were almost 10 percent more likely to convert to a condo or a Tenancy in Common (TIC) than buildings in the control group, representing a substantial reduction in the supply of rental housing. Consistent with these findings, there is a 15 percent decline in the number of renters living in these buildings and a 25 percent reduction in the number of renters living in rent-controlled units, relative to 1994 levels.
These effects are counterbalanced by landlords reducing supply in response to the introduction of the law. We conclude that this led to a city-wide rent increase of 7% and caused $5 billion of welfare losses to all renters.
High-rent areas are much more likely to gentrify due to financial incentive for landlord to remove tenant.
Decreased social mobility and less housing opportunity for newcomers
“Rent control increased the probability a renter stayed at their address by close to 20 percent." The beneficiaries of rent control have no motivation to move, meaning less housing opportunities are made available to renters new to the market.
Decline in numbers of renters
here is an eventual decline of almost 30 percent in the number of renters living in rent-controlled apartments, a decline which is significantly larger than the overall decline in renters in the city. This is because a number of buildings which were subject to rent control status in 1994 were redeveloped in such way so as to no longer be subject to it. These redevelopment activities include tearing down the existing structure and putting up new single family, condominium, or multifamily housing or simply converting the existing structure to condos.
This study points to the simple fact that rent control is bad for the cities where it is in place and would simply be a disaster to Seattle. RHAWA will continue to work with law makers and local leaders to find solutions to the housing supply problems in Seattle that include the community and other stakeholders. Keeping the market open allows the Greater Seattle area to keep building and exploring free-market alternatives to dangerous regulations that simply do not work.