New Seattle Residential Rental Rules Take Effect

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.

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