Seattle publishes new Q&A information on First in Time ordinance

2. February 2017 07:13 by Admin
On January 1, 2017, new requirements for applicants and tenant screening went into effect for properties that are located within the City of Seattle. These new requirements, referred to as “first-intime” requirements, require landlords to provide notice of their screening criteria to applicants and to offer tenancy to the first qualified applicant who provides a completed application.
 
Click here to access the Q&A online. 

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) is responsible for administering and enforcing this ordinance. SOCR also provides technical assistance to rental housing providers. Enforcement of the first-in-time protections begins on July 1, 2017.

This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document addresses some of the most common questions about Seattle’s new First-In-Time requirements (Seattle Municipal Code 14.08). If you have a question that is not covered by this FAQ, please contact SOCR at 206-684-4500 or email them at discrimination@seattle.gov.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This FAQ should not be used as a substitute for codes and regulations. The reader is responsible for compliance with all code and rule requirements.

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February 2017 07:13

Criminals next in line to be "protected" from landlords?

23. January 2017 09:52 by Admin

Seattle's Office of Civil Rights is close to pushing forward its proposal to create what amounts to a protected class status for individuals with arrest and conviction records when applying for rental housing. Not included in the details here, but discussed is the possibility of anti-bias training for landlords being added to this process.

Mayor Ed Murray is expected to receive a final version of the draft by mid-February.

Included in the proposal are restrictions which would prohibit landlords from:
- Inquiring about, nor carrying out, an adverse action against an applicant because of an arrest record belonging to the applicant or a member of their household.
- Inquiring about, nor carrying out, an adverse action against an applicant because of any conviction records belonging to the applicant or a member of their household which are more than two years beyond the date of final disposition.
- Carrying out an adverse action based on a conviction record of prospective occupant, tenant, or members of their household, unless the person has a legitimate business reason.

Click on the document attachment below to read the full draft proposal.

FairChanceHousingORD_v1_1-20-2017.pdf (243.28 kb)

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January 2017 09:52

Pet rent banned in Seattle as Council caps move-in fees

23. January 2017 09:34 by Admin

On December 16, 2016, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed Council legislation which restricts the total amounts landlords may charge for move-in fees. This legislation took effect January 15, 2017, and enacts the following:

Move-in fees are defined as Security Deposits and Non-Refundable Fees. Pet fees/deposits charged at time of move-in are their own category of payment - see below for more.

- Total move-in fees may not exceed the first full month’s rent.
- Landlords may not charge any other fees at move-in.

Non-refundable fees

- May not exceed 10% of the first full month’s rent, with exception to tenant screening fees if they exceed 10% of the first full month’s rent and are based on actual cost and do not exceed customary costs charged by a tenant screening service in the City of Seattle.
***Landlord must provide, personally or by mail, prospective tenants with a receipt for any fees charged for the cost of obtaining the screening report.
- Landlords charging non-refundable cleaning fees may not deduct additional cleaning fees from the security deposit.

Payment plans required for move-in fees and last month’s rent if requested by tenant.

- Rental agreements greater than 6 months – six equal, consecutive monthly installments
- Rental agreements 1 – 6 months – four equal, consecutive monthly installments
- Tenants and landlords may agree to other terms
- Exemptions from payment plans; not required if no last month’s rent is charged, and total move-in fees are 25% or less of the first full month’s rent. 
***Landlords must apply any money paid by the tenant to the rent first, and then to any other owed costs, unless a three-day or 10-day notice has been served for non-payment of non-rent costs.

Pet Deposits / Fees (per pet)

- Pet damage deposits may not exceed 25% of the first full month’s rent, and cannot charge any other fees for the allowing a pet.
- Tenant may elect to pay the deposit in three equal, consecutive installments.
- Landlord cannot withhold any amount for damages not caused by the pet, and cannot charge any costs for service animals.
- A separate, monthly pet rent charge is not allowed as a part of any new agreement signed January 15, 2017 or later. Landlords may, however, charge a higher total monthly rent in consideration for allowing pets.

Holding Deposits / Fees

- Holding deposits or fees are not restricted in any way by this law, due to State preemption (RCW 59.18.253).
- Landlords must use an Agreement to Enter in to Lease prior to accepting any holding deposit or fee money.
- Due to the “First in Time” law, and its rules regarding minimum criteria, it is recommended that landlords requiring a holding deposit or fee of any applicant as a part of the application process include that information in their minimum screening criteria.

Example chart for 1-year lease

 

Month 1

Month 2

Month 3

Month 4

Month 5

Month 6

Month 7

Rent

$1000

$1000

$1000

$1000

$1000

$1000

$1000

Application Fee ($45)

$45

0

0

0

0

0

0

Non-refundable Fee ($55)

$9.17

$9.17

$9.17

$9.17

$9.16

$9.16

$0

Security Deposit ($900)

$150

$150

$150

$150

$150

$150

0

Pet Deposit

($250)

$83.34

$83.33

$83.33

0

0

0

0

Total

$1,287.51

$1,242.50

$1,242.50

$1,159.17

$1,159.16

$1,159.16

$1,000

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January 2017 09:34