As a landlord or future landlord what does this mean to you?
Landlords listen up. If you are currently renting your home in Seattle, the Seattle City Council passed a new law on residential rental housing.
On Jan. 15, 2017, Seattle unveiled new rules limiting the amount a landlord/lessor can charge for security deposits and other associated fees that can be charged at the beginning of a new rental agreement. The limits include:
- Security deposit plus move-in fees cannot exceed the amount of the first full month’s rent
- Pet deposits are limited to 25% of the amount of first full month’s rent
- Non-refundable move-in fees are limited to only tenant screening reports, criminal background checks, credit reports, and cleaning fees
- Total non-refundable move-in fees are limited to 10% of the first full month’s rent
Payment Plans Required – Landlords must allow an installment plan to pay a security deposit, a pet deposit, move-in fees, and last month’s rent. The payment plan must be structured as follows, unless otherwise agreed to by the landlord and tenant
- For rental agreements of 6 months or longer — 6 consecutive and equal payments
- For agreements between 30 days and 6 months — 4 consecutive and equal payments
- For month-to-month agreements — 2 equal installments; except for pet deposits, which can be paid in 3 equal monthly installments
Security Deposit Returns – The requirements for security deposit returns have not changed. However, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections may now investigate and take action if a landlord improperly withholds a deposit return or in other cases where the City’s rental agreement regulations are not followed. Important points in the existing security deposit return requirements are:
- The tenant and landlord must have signed a move-in condition checklist
- Security deposits must be returned within 21 days of the tenant leaving the property
- The reasons for withholding any portion of a deposit return must be itemized in writing and provided to the former tenant within 21 days of tenant vacating the property
The new deposit and move-in fee limits and payment plan requirements do not apply to tenants in an owner-occupied single-family dwelling, including attached accessory dwelling units.
Check out the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections 'Renting in Seattle' website to see how this could affect you. Information for tenants is also being updated to reflect the new law. A new version of Information for Tenants must be provided to each tenant household with each new rental agreement.