Seattle Council votes unanimously to cap move-in fees for renters | KUOW News and Information

Seattle Council votes unanimously to cap move-in fees for renters

Dec 13, 2016

There are new limits on how much Seattle landlords can charge for move-in fees. The City Council unanimously approved the rules Monday after months of debate between tenant advocates and landlords.

The ordinance will allow tenants to pay move-in fees and security deposits over several months, instead of all at once. Those one-time deposits cannot cost more than one month's rent. Landlords can still charge pet deposits, but they cannot be more than a quarter of one month’s rent.

The ordinance is a victory for Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who sponsored it.

Sawant: "While extremely important for tenants, this is an extremely mild legislation. Landlords will still get the security deposit and last month's rent, just a little later than they have gotten it in the past."

She said the measure will make it more affordable for people to rent in Seattle and will help people who need to find new housing quickly, like victims of domestic violence.

But some landlord groups say the law is overreaching. Sean Martin, from the Rental Housing Association of Washington, thinks landlords will become stricter in other ways to make up for lost move-in fee revenue.

Martin: "There are only two outcomes from this: higher rents [and] higher screening criteria."

The measure will not apply to landlords who live on the property where the rental unit is.

The regulations could be in effect as soon as mid-January.