For renters and landlords alike, major changes are happening to Seattle’s rental scene. We’ve outlined the most significant changes below.
New “Source of Income” Anti-Discrimination Policies
- Prohibits discrimination against renters who use subsidies or alternative sources of income to pay for their housing costs, such as Social Security or child support. This is meant to protect renters who might otherwise be discriminated against because of their source of income.
- Creates a new “first-in-time” rule (effective January 1, 2017) that requires landlords to screen rental applications in chronological order. Landlords must offer tenancy to the first applicant who meets all the screening criteria.
Enhanced Tenant Protections
- Owners/landlords cannot increase rent if a housing unit fails to comply with the Rental Registration Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) checklist until the failures are corrected.
- When changing a rental agreement, that notice must include details about how the tenant may obtain information on their rights and obligations.
- The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections is now responsible for regulating rent increase notices and prohibited acts such as illegal entry by a landlord, utility shut-off or raising rent in retaliation for a tenant asserting rights.
- You can learn more about these requirements here.
Tenant Relocation Assistance Avoidance
- Owners/landlords cannot increase rent ahead of development activities such as remodeling or demolition of a property. In many cases, if an owner/landlord want to development his/her property, but that development would displacement the tenant, the owner/landlord must obtain a relocation license and pay for relocation assistance to low-income tenants.
- If you are planning development work on your property, please call the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections at (206) 615-0808 to avoid delays and to determine whether a tenant relocation license will be required for your project.
Selling or Re-Occupying a Unit
- Owners/landlords who plan to sell a single-family home must give tenants a minimum of 90 days notice (increased from 60 days).
- Owners/landlords who plan to occupy a tenant’s unit must give that tenant a minimum of 90 days notice (increased from 20 days).
- Owners/landlords may request a hardship exception to shorten the notice period in certain circumstances.
- The Seattle Office of Housing provides weatherization services (heating system upgrades, insulation, fans, air sealing, etc.) for qualifying apartment buildings 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.
- To learn more, call (206) 684-0255 or visit here.
Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance
- The final due date for rental housing properties to register with the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance is December 31st, 2016. More than 25,000 properties, representing 140,000 rental units have registered so far.
- Inspections are required every 5-10 years. The City randomly selects about 400 properties per month for inspection.
- For more information about RRIO, please visit www.seattle.gov/RRIO.
The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is developing administrative rules for the Source of Income Ordinance (“first-in-time” rule). It will offer two public meeting to discuss it:
- Public Meeting #1
- Thursday, October 27 at 6 p.m.
- New Holly Gathering Hall (7054 32nd Ave. S)
- Learn about ordinance requirements, ask questions and raise areas that are unclear and that may require administrative rules.
- Public Meeting #2
- Thursday, November 17 at 7 p.m.
- Bitter Lake Community Center (13035 Linden Ave N)
- Learn about ordinance requirements, ask questions and comment on the proposed administrative rules.
- Childcare and language interpretation will be provided at each meeting. To request an accommodation or language interpretation please call (206) 684-4514.
- Space is limited. Click here to register for your preferred meeting date and click here to read more about Seattle’s Source of Income Ordinance.
For Other Information on Rental Housing in Seattle
- Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (information regarding the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in the City of Seattle)
- Seattle Office for Civil Rights (information on fair housing)
- Seattle Programs for Multi-Family Properties (information on energy savings, utility savings, incentive programs, recycling, and more)