Mayor Harrell Rent Roll Disclosure Veto Sustained in Seattle

Posted By: Alex Robertson (deleted) Advocacy,

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.

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.

There will be more ordinances and proposals coming through the Sustainability and Renter's Rights Committee and in front of the Council. Stay tuned for future calls to action as we will need the support of all of our members again very soon.

CB 120325 would've done the following:
  • Require housing providers to disclose the following information to a research university decided on by the city:
    • Vacancy status
    • Square footage
    • Number of bedrooms
    • Number of bathrooms
    • Monthly rent
    • Monthly utilities
    • Length of current lease
  • The research university will use that data to report to City Council for use in policy decisions.
  • This information must be provided twice annually by April 15 and October 15.