Weatherize Your Building to Reduce Costs and Improve Your Investment

30. November 2016 12:20 by Admin

Todd Burley, Communications Director, City of Seattle

Ms. Chung recently bought a four unit apartment building in Seattle that was constructed in 1979. Like many older multi-family buildings, it was far from energy efficient. The heating systems were old and outdated, and it had little to no insulation. This meant higher utility costs and a decrease in tenant comfort and satisfaction.  

She wanted to keep her rents affordable for her long-time tenants, but also wanted to improve the efficiency and durability of her building. This is where the City of Seattle’s HomeWise Weatherization Program comes in. This program provides heating system upgrades, insulation, fans, air sealing, and other improvements for little to no cost to the owner.  In exchange, the owner agrees to restrict rent increases for at least three years and prioritize renting to low-income tenants. At least half of the existing tenants must qualify as lower-income to participate in the program.

“I live in the neighborhood,” states Chung. “This is a long-term investment for me.”

HomeWise is a win-win. Tenants get increased comfort, satisfaction, and lower utility bills, as well as stable rents. Owners benefit from lower maintenance costs, improved durability of the building, an increase in their property value, and more satisfied tenants that may result in less turnover.

 “Our weatherization program has a 30 year track record of working with property owners to improve their buildings and decrease energy and utility costs,” stated Jennifer LaBrecque, program manager for the HomeWise Program. “We are very interested in reaching more small property owners who are renting to lower-income households and could take advantage of this program.”

In 2015, the City of Seattle weatherized 575 homes, but only eight units were in small multi-family buildings with four units or less. “We know that many of our members could benefit from this program,” said Sean Martin, RHAWA External Affairs Director, “so we are excited to work with the City to spread the word.”

For more information on the HomeWise program, visit http://www.seattle.gov/housing/housing-developers/multifamily-weatherization or call (206) 684-0255.

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November 2016 12:20

Seattle landlords facing jail time over move-in fees?

23. November 2016 14:47 by Admin

Perhaps the most insulting aspect of legislation which would cap move-in fees charged to tenants, and force landlords to loan those fees out for a 6-month, 0% payment period, is that City Council now wants to imprison any landlord who violates this legislation. Jail time for a violation that is clearly civil in nature is a new low for Council, and is the newest illustration that City Council does not value landlords who provide safe, affordable, and accessible housing.

7.24.150 Alternative criminal penalty

Any person who violates or fails to comply with any of the provisions in this Chapter 7.24 and who has had at least two or more citations and one notice of violation issued against them for violating this Chapter 7.24 within the past three years from the date the criminal charge is filed shall upon conviction be guilty of a misdemeanor subject to the provisions of Chapters 12A.02 and 12A.04, except that absolute liability shall be imposed for such a violation or failure to comply and none of the mental states described in Section 12A.04.030 need be proved. The Director may request the City Attorney prosecute such violations criminally as an alternative to the citation and notice of violation procedures outlined in this chapter. 

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November 2016 14:47

Write Seattle Council in opposition to caps on move-in fees and deposit payment plans

26. September 2016 08:18 by Admin
Looking to write Seattle Council in opposition to CB 118817 but don't know where to start? Consider using the sample letter below. Landlords are strongly encouraged to add their own context or personal experiences.
 
Seattle Council email addresses: bruce.harrell@seattle.gov; lisa.herbold@seattle.gov; kshama.sawant@seattle.gov; rob.johnson@seattle.gov; debora.juarez@seattle.gov; mike.obrien@seattle.gov; sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov; tim.burgess@seattle.gov; lorena.gonzalez@seattle.gov 
 
Dear Councilmember,

As an independent landlord in Seattle I am writing to ask that you vote NO on CB 118817 which would enact caps on all tenant move-in costs and force landlords to provide payment plans on those costs.

CB 118817 is poor policy. Independent landlords place themselves in a position of financial risk every time they turn the keys over to a new tenant. Move-in fees are the only means available to an independent landlord, such as myself, to mitigate those risks. In fact, the ability to charge move-in fees, which are overwhelmingly refundable, allows me to keep monthly rents lower.

Independent landlords are not financial lenders with unlimited capital and an ability to absorb financial losses by spreading risk over thousands of units. Forcing me to provide payment plans - essentially a 6-month term, 0% interest loan - as requested by a renter is simply unfair.
 
This proposal is also a disaster for the very people intended to be helped by it - lower-income renters. As an independent landlord I have the flexibility to work with renters, many of whom need help in qualifying for a unit. I can do this by lowering screening criteria or waiving certain criteria in exchange for larger security payments up front (known as Adverse Action). Cap on move-in fees will not only remove my ability to offer adverse action to underqualified renters, they will also push me to raise my standards to ensure a qualified renter presents the lowest amount of risk possible - particularly in light of the recent "First in Time" ordinance.

I am asking you to consider basic economics when an independent landlord rents their property without sufficient, up-front financial guarantees to ensure things such as damages and unpaid rent will be covered. The unintended consequences of CB 118756 are numerous, and will force me to find other ways of mitigating those risks.

Please vote NO on CB 118817.

Thank you,

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September 2016 08:18