Deposit Reform Takes Effect

What you need to know:

  • Landlords will have to accept payment plans for the upfront costs to moving into a rental (security deposit, last month’s rent and non-refundable fees)
  • Payment plans are based off the length of the lease, and for leases six months or longer, the tenant payment plan can pay these fees and last month’s rent in installments in as many as six equal monthly installments. Renters can request a longer repayment plan with a landlord’s agreement.
  • The total cost of the security deposit and nonrefundable fees must not exceed one month’s rent, with the exception of a pet deposit
  • Pet deposits may not be more than 25% of your rent for one month and no other pet fees can be charged

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection will enforce this legislation and landlords who repeatedly violate it will face civil penalties. Call their help line to report violations (206) 615-0808.

We want to hear from you! Will you benefit from this legislation? Have you had trouble finding affordable housing in Seattle in the past? Click this link to tell us more.

Seattle Renters Celebrate a Victory in the Fight for Housing Justice

Seattle City Council Today Passes a Bill that Reforms Move-in Fee Requirements

SEATTLE – Washington Community Action Network (Washington CAN!) today celebrates a victory with the community after the Seattle City Council votes to approve legislation that puts a cap on move-fees (security deposit, nonrefundable fees, and last month’s rent) when renters lease a unit. Council Bill 188817 also allows renters to pay these fees in installments in lieu of one large, up-front payment that’s currently required.

“This win today shows how important it is to organize around issues that will actually make a difference in the lives of low-income communities and communities of color in Seattle,”said Washington CAN! Seattle Organizer Xochitl Maykovich, “Seattle City Council has made a good step towards bringing housing justice to the city by passing this legislation.” A coalition of dozens of organizations, such as the Seattle Education Association, testified in support of this legislation.

Washington CAN! has organized around this issue throughout the past year. Washington CAN! released a report on Seattle’s housing crisis in July after conducting a survey with more than 300 Seattle renters. Survey respondents shared their personal experiences regarding economic evictions, substandard housing, and housing discrimination. Results showed 87% of respondents cited high move-in fees as the biggest barrier to finding affordable housing in Seattle.

Six councilmembers voted the bill out of committee last month after working on this legislation for several weeks. Councilmember Gonzalez introduced amendments at the committee hearing to add anti-retaliation measures to the legislation.

“This amended bill ensures that more low-income workers can live in the community where they work. Exorbitant move-in fees should not be the factor that determines whether you live in a home versus out on the street,”said Councilmember Lorena González. “I’d especially like to thank the organizers who helped amplify the voices of those who struggle to even apply for rental housing. This is a vital step toward increasing equity and affordability in Seattle.”

“This is a great win for people in Seattle who are struggling to move into housing,”said Washington CAN! member Gina Owens. “I’m happy the council recognized the disparity and passed a bill that will mean a lot to low-income people who just want a decent roof over their heads.”

Council Bill 118817 goes into effect early in 2017.

Housing Justice Now: Deposit Reform PASSES!

We’ve been pushing for months for the Seattle City Council to address the exorbitant move-in costs landlords charge tenants. In a housing report we published, high move-in costs were listed as the top barrier to finding affordable housing.

Monday, the Seattle City Council approved the bill that will put a cap on move-in fees and allow renters to pay installments. This is a huge win for Washington CAN! and for Seattle’s low-income communities and communities of color. We are so grateful for our members who stood in front of the council and put a face to this problem as they told their stories of rental struggles.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant championed this bill and her tireless efforts to push it through were admirable. The unanimous vote by council members sent a great message to the city that they recognize the housing crisis that’s happening now and they are here to do their part.

This bill goes into effect in 2017. We will have more details on how it will be enforced and what renters should know.

What the media is saying:

Seattle Times: City Council approves limits on renters’ move-in costs, taking aim at housing crisis

The Stranger: Your Next Landlord May Be Required to Offer You a Payment Plan for Deposits and Other Move-In Fees

Crosscut: Council makes life easier for renters, caps move-in costs

KOMO: Seattle approves plan to ease rental move-in fees

Seattle Weekly: Council to Vote on Limits to Renter Move-In Fees

My Northwest: Landlords lament: Council caps move-in costs for Seattle renters