Seattle City Council kicks back Sawant’s cap on move-in fees

The pro-renter agenda of District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was dealt a setback Monday when the City Council voted to send her bill capping move-in fees back to committee for further refinement.

“You can not tell struggling renters they have to wait” because you need more meetings, the D3 rep said prior to Monday’s 7-2 vote to refer the bill back to Sawant’s energy committee where it had previously passed in September. Council member Mike O’Brien sided with Sawant saying there had been sufficient discussion of the bill that would restrict landlords to charging tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and would allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments. 

Despite the committee’s approval of the bill last month, District 5 representative Debora Juarez came to chambers prior to a full council vote on the measure with a proposal to kick the bill back, citing concerns from the city departments that would need to enforce the restrictions. A sufficient majority of the council agreed with most pledging support for the spirit of the bill and its planned January 1st, 2017 implementation. Council president Bruce Harrell pledged that Sawant’s committee would be given a time to meet despite the busy upcoming budget schedule before December 13th so that the bill could be in place in time for the New Year.

Before the vote, Sawant said the move to stop the bill in its tracks was an example of the way the City Council works against its citizenry. “Jam it up as much as possible,” she said of her colleagues’ response to progressive legislation, but “ram the process through” for the police and business interests.

Tuesday night, Sawant will host her annual People’s Budget Town Hall for “activists, human service providers, and community members” to “organize and fight for a budget that meets the needs of ordinary people in Seattle.” CHS examined the mayor’s proposed budget from a Capitol Hill point of view, here.



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10 thoughts on “Seattle City Council kicks back Sawant’s cap on move-in fees

  1. It’s surprising that the Council is willing to pass laws denying small landlords any choice of who moves into their property — but pushes back on limiting move-in fees.

    Regardless, my guess is most of Sawant/Herbold’s anti-property owner agenda here will be litigated, deemed illegal, and overturned at great expense to the city.

    • i think last friday’s display of dissent from voters, other than the typical sawant parrots, showed the council that this city isn’t all far leftist zombies and that they shouldn’t be scared to say, “no, we’re not going to pass that bill just yet.”

      i’m all for helping the homeless and ensuring that lower income citizens get the assistance they need to continue living in the city. but let’s not rush to pass laws that haven’t been thoroughly thought through just so a couple of council members can put another notch in their “agenda belts.” let’s make sure our laws are fair and enforceable.

  2. All this does is discourages informal landlords from renting units. I was one! I had a good stable tenant, but sawants rumblings made me nervous to rent in Seattle going forward. I sold my property on cap hill this summer; the buyer was an investor in rental properties and later I saw that they re-rented it back out for a 20% increase in the price.

  3. “ram the process through”

    yeah, sawant, like you try to do with all the legislation you present before the council. in fact, this very bill was one that you tried to shove down the council’s throat without allowing more time for discussion and tweaking of the specifics so that it’s actually fair, actionable and sustainable.

    i’m glad the council pushed the vote on this. from what i’ve read, the bill was put together by outside interest groups with little time for the full council to weigh in on adjustments. sorry, sawant, you can’t keep putting together ordinances in private chambers and expect they’ll just float through voting.

  4. I support and testified for the move-in fee cap and time-payment concept, but felt that the Council brought up legitimate concerns at the meeting while still supporting a January 1 implementation date. I value Sawant’s leadership, but feel in this case her sanctimonious digs were unprofessional and uncalled for, not to mention the catcalls from her grass-roots supporters. Surely we are better than this.

  5. The purpose of requiring a tenant to pay a security deposit is to pay for damages a tenant might do. Tenants can do a LOT more than one-month’s worth of damage!!! By capping the amount a landlord can charge to one-month’s rent, you are forcing the landlords to charge higher rents compensate. So the good tenants that don’t cause the damage end up paying for the ones that do cause the damage!

    I am a landlord. I never charge for last-month’s rent at move-in. I typically only charge one-month’s rent as a deposit. And I have a policy allowing for a payment plan for the move-in costs. So in many ways I am already complying with Sawant’s plan. However, if there is a tenant that would not normally passing the screening process, say because of a past evict or maybe a bankruptcy, I will often work with that tenant. I will still rent to them with the caveat that they pay 2-month’s rent as a deposit. With Sawant’s plan, I could no longer do that! With Sawant’s bill passes, I will only be able to rent to perfect tenants. All the other tenants will be left out in the cold!

  6. I laugh every time I read Sawant described as “the District 3 Representative.” The only thing she “represents” is herself.