Sean Martin | Director of External Affairs
An initiative filed in early-March – filed by Devin Silvernail, a tenant advocate from San Francisco – would require landlords to open their books to renters in Seattle. Signature gatherers have until September 13 to collect 20,638 valid signatures for it to be eligible for the November ballot.
I-127, labeled “What’s in my rent?,” would require all new leases to include a cost breakdown of the rent, including the base rent, taxes, maintenance and administrative costs, and any other costs associated with rent. The breakdown would also be required when rent increases are given.
Renters would be given the right to request proof of costs within 21 days of being requested, the purpose of which seems unclear as rent control is illegal in Washington State.
The proposal would tie the City’s rental registration and inspections ordinance in to the equation, allowing “property owners and landlord have five years to voluntarily provide (rent cost breakdown) information” before becoming mandatory for all landlords, with $20 monthly penalties for those who fail to do so. Landlords would be fined $100 per month for failure to provide the disclosure to their renters if requested.
After five years, the information would be included in each rental property registration or renewal, and an online portal would remain open for renters to report subsequent rent increases.
The biggest red flag in all of this which screams “rent control" is a provision which would allow renters to complain to the city if they believe the landlord provided false information. The city would be allowed to investigate if the information is correct. If landlords do not comply with the City’s requests, or correct the information, renters could pursue arbitration and the landlord would be liable to pay the difference in rental cost if the information provided were proven to be false.
RHAWA is monitoring this issue, as well as reviewing the proposal.
This week, local elections have been in focus here at RHAWA. Our list of endorsed candidates for the primaries are now out and listed below. RHAWA interviews candidates first with a survey and then in person to determine if they recognize rental housing as a valuable asset to the community. RHAWA also looks for their commitment to allowing rental housing to function as a market-based industry, and for their willingness to work with the rental housing industry toward the common goal of providing safe and healthy housing.
Cameron Cowan | Knowledge Steward
Pets and pet policies are one of the major stressors that landlords may face. Animals can often equal damage. Here are some best practices to help mitigate the risk and danger from a pet. Many cities are “pet friendly.” As a landlord, you will have to balance the inherent difficulties of pets with having quality tenants.
One of the many questions we get at the Resource Desk here at RHAWA has to do with service animals. Service animals are not pets and are not regulated in the same way as pets. While the tenant is responsible for any damage, you cannot charge the usual fees and deposits for service/therapy/companion animals.
Next week, on Thursday, July 13, Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold is hosting a town hall discussion panel focused on a proposal which will effectively make convicted criminals a protected class in housing. The proposal would prevent landlords from using criminal records older than two years from the date of conviction - not the date of release from prison - when screening applicants
RHAWA needs a strong showing of its membership at this event to send the message that public safety matters, and that landlords are not responsible for solving societal problems which they have not created.