No, District 3 rep Kshama Sawant hasn’t joined the NASCAR circuit. Those 26 logos she is sporting this week represent what she says are “the 26 community, labor, and faith organizations” calling on the rest of her City Council colleagues and Mayor Ed Murray to pass legislation capping move-in fees in Seattle, the political battle Sawant has put most of her local muscle behind in the final months of 2016.
The bill again worked its way out of committee and will be in front of the full city council Monday afternoon. UPDATE: The bill has passed — along with an amendment described below. New renters can expect the restrictions to be in place sometime early in the new year.
— Washington CAN! (@WashingtonCAN) December 12, 2016
“The council passed a strong version of the Move-in Fee Legislation out of committee,” a letter posted by Sawant signed by representatives of the 26 organizations reads. “We urge you to pass this legislation at full council without exempting any landlords or passing other amendments that weaken the legislation.”
The full council will consider a proposed amendment from District 4 rep Rob Johnson representing Northeast Seattle would “exclude single-family residences where the owner maintains a permanent residence.”
Sawant and the community groups say that any additional amendments would “drastically reduce the number of tenants who will benefit” from the legislation:
Properties with one to four units make up a substantial portion of the rental market in Seattle. According to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection, 21,702 rental properties have one to four units, 1,910 rental properties have five to 10 units, and 2,591 rental properties have more than 10 units. Because some deadlines for registering small properties have not yet passed, the number of registered rental properties with one to four units will go up.
Sawant’s bill has traveled an unusually circuitous path. In September, District 5 representative Debora Juarez successfully lead an effort to kick the bill back to committee, citing concerns from the city departments that would need to enforce the restrictions.
Under the measure, landlords could only charge tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and would need to allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments. In addition to pushing the bill back for more work on enforcement, Juarez was able to successfully amend the bill to allow landlords to decline to offer an installment plan for move-in costs if costs remain less than 25% of the monthly rent.