Local Government September 2022

Posted By: Alex Robertson Advocacy , Government ,

The recommendations from A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) continue to be a major topic of discussion among King County cities. Redmond and Kirkland have now passed their own versions of the ARCH proposal. The 15 ARCH cities started working off nearly identical draft ordinances. In an effort to have uniformity across cities to help limit confusion for tenants and housing providers, we now have many different versions of the same proposal. Each city took the ARCH recommendations and made their own changes to it. In many ways, this actually introduces more complications and confusion on which city has which sections and what the limits might be.

Redmond decided to pass the ARCH proposal, but added on additional provisions that ban the requirement of a social security number for tenant screening and allow tenants on a government subsidy to adjust the rent due date. Redmond also made the penalty for violating the ordinance, which had only a five-day effective date, double damages or three times the rent.

Kirkland also passed the ARCH recommendations, but with their own changes. With a 45 day effective date, Kirkland decided to remove the late fee cap but pass the rent increase notice and move-in fee cap provisions.

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 and continue 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.

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

Meanwhile 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.

While ARCH recommended three policies, the stated intent was to introduce uniformity and eliminate confusion between cities. As demonstrated by these 5 of the 15 ARCH cities, that is not what has happened. We now have multiple different versions of the recommended provisions. Some being struck, some being added, and some being changed. In nearly all of these jurisdictions, ordinances and regulations have been passed that are brand new and are different from not only the state law, but their neighboring cities.

We reached out to and engaged with every ARCH city on these recommendations and cautioned them that this might happen. The proposals made by ARCH do not address the housing crisis or do anything to lower the costs of providing housing. Not only that, there is now more confusion for tenants and housing providers than ever. There are 10 more ARCH cities, Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia all poised and ready to discuss or pass more regulations. In a time where housing providers are already fleeing the market due to over regulation, additional regulations, limitations and confusion will only serve to worsen the housing crisis.

The City of Olympia has also begun to take action. Not quite all the ARCH proposals, but something similar. The City Council had a first reading of an ordinance that would require additional notice for rent increases in line with the ARCH recommendations. The proposed ordinance would also cap move in fees at one month's rent. Finally, the proposal would cap pet deposits to 25% of one month's rent and ban all other pet related fees, such as pet rent. RHAWA is engaging the City Council and sending Calls to Action for our Olympia members. The hearing for second reading and likely final passage will more likely than not be before this edition of the newspaper is published. Stay tuned for updates as they occur.

To stay up to date on local policy issues, keep an 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.