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, 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

- 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.
- Monthly pet rent is not allowed as a part of any new agreement signed January 15, 2017 or later.

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

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