The Seattle City Council recently passed two new rental ordinances? One requires a six-month notice of any rent increase. The other requires the landlord to pay moving costs to any low-income tenant who vacates because of a cumulative rent increase of 10% or more.
- Low-income is defined as no greater than 80% of median income. (Approximately $63K for an individual and $94K for a family of four.)
- The calculation of the economic displacement relocation assistance payment will be three times the average rent charged in the previous twelve months.
Mayor Durkan vetoed both bills. Her letter* cites in part:
- A large portion of these small unit properties are in the hands of small landlords.
- Small owners themselves are facing the economic uncertainties of COVID-19 and the ever-rising costs in Seattle. For example, property taxes increased by 17% in 2020 over 2019 due to school levy increases.
- Imposing this ordinance with no carve out for our small-scale property owners … could reduce the number of affordable rental units as many property owners just will be unable to absorb these losses and many will sell the properties for owner occupied housing.
These bills may violate Washington State’s constitution which bans rent control. Mayor Durkan concluded with the hope that the “Council will reconsider the impacts on the smallest owners and pass a new law that does not unfairly and maybe illegally burden those owners.”
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Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing.
*The entire letter is available here: