Local Government August 2022

Posted By: Alex Robertson Advocacy , Government ,

Since the ARCH letter in April, several King County cities have been discussing and moving to pass the regulations recommended in the letter. Issaquah, Redmond, Newcastle, Kenmore, and Kirkland have begun advancing their regulations. Shoreline has decided to wait until next year's workplan. The remaining ARCH cities have not taken action as of writing this article. At the same time, Seattle’s rent roll disclosure ordinance has gone through a long process to end up vetoed.

Kenmore passed their first round of tenant protections back in March, limiting late fees, move-in costs and requiring additional notice for rent increases. They met in June to discuss a Kenmore RRIO, local just cause, relocation assistance, roommate protections, and a criminal screening ban. After their discussion the council decided to move forward only with a ban on abusive or deceptive practices and a local just cause. We continue to engage the council and work on these policies as the council moves forward considering these regulations.
Issaquah, Redmond, and Kirkland are all working off nearly identical draft ordinances. Redmond stripped away the 180 days notice for increases over 10%, leaving only 120 days for 3% or greater. Beyond that all three are considering a cap on move-in fees of one months rent and a cap of late fees of 1.5% of one months rent. At the time of writing this article, none of these cities have passed these regulations as of yet, but they do have meetings scheduled to discuss and potentially pass these proposals towards the end of July.

Shoreline has discussed the regulations and indicated that they wanted to take the issue up in next year's workplan. We continue to monitor the City Council to see if they will bring it back up before then.

In Newcastle, there is a proposal to pass not only the three regulations recommended by ARCH but a suite of additional regulations including modification of rent due date, and banning the requirement of a Social Security Number in tenant screening.
The Seattle City Council met on July 5 to vote once again on CB 120325 that would've required housing providers to disclose vacancy status and rent rates. The vote to overrule the veto failed, getting five out of the six necessary votes. This is a huge win after a multitude of housing providers shared public testimony and the Washington Center for Real Estate Research (WCRER) shared a letter cautioning against this ordinance. The ordinance first passed the Council with a 5-4 vote in early June.

The Mayor's letter that accompanied the veto cited the lack of funding for the program, implementation time, and the letter from James Young, the director of WCRER, as reasons for the veto. The ordinance would've required Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection to administer and enforce the program but did not contemplate the cost of that increased burden. Additionally, the stated intent of the ordinance was to gather rental data for use in the upcoming comprehensive plan but the concern is that the program wouldn't be implemented in time to gather meaningful data. Finally the Mayor's veto referenced Director Young's letter, where he addressed many issues with the ordinance. The primary point referenced by the Mayor is the case made by Director Young that mandating the disclosure or private, commercially sensitive information is unlikely to yield reliable data.

RHAWA met with councilmembers and the Mayor's office multiple times from when the ordinance was introduced, to the veto being issued. We could not have gotten this win without the support of our members. Thank you to all the members who testified in the various committee and council meetings, as well as emailed and called their councilmembers. It cannot be overstated how monumental this is for housing providers. In many ways this ordinance could've been a gateway towards rent control.

To stay up to date on local policy issues, keep and eye out for our emails and calls to action and check out the blog to keep up to date on current proposals. RHAwa.org/blog/advocacy