seattle rent ordinance

Photo: Seattle City Council/Flickr

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously last week to pass an ordinance that will limit the move-in charges landlords are allowed to require, reports The Seattle Times. It will also give renters the right to pay their move-in costs in installments.

Proponents of the legislation assert that many renters in the city don’t have enough money to cover a large security deposit, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, screening fees, cleaning fees and other costs.

The ordinance, which was proposed by council member Kshama Sawant, will make it so that tenants will not be charged more than their first month’s rent for their security deposit and any nonrefundable fees. The legislation will also limit tenants’ pet damage deposits to 25 percent of their first month’s rent.

If Mayor Ed Murray signs the ordinance it will take effect 30 days after that time. If he doesn’t sign it, renters will have to wait longer.

Some landlords are not happy about the legislation. The property owners opposed to the ordinance who spoke at last week’s council meeting said they are not large corporations with multiple apartment complexes, and described themselves as “small landlords” with modest holdings, says the Seattle Times.

They said the legislation may prompt them to raise rent or force them to sell their properties. They also warned that it could result in older rentals being torn down and replaced with more expensive buildings.

To mitigate those effects, council member Rob Johnson sponsored an amendment that exempts landlords who live on-site. The council voted 5-3 to approve it.

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