(Image: Excelsior Apartments)
Outcomes of a new effort at City Hall to study rental housing trends show challenges for both tenants and landlords — and that larger developments are asking for higher rents than smaller buildings.
A group of researchers from the University of Washington surveyed both landlords and renters in the Seattle area to learn about the state of the rental market and the effectiveness of recent ordinances enacted by the City Council.
While the Seattle Rental Housing Study did not deal with broader trends, such as overall rent prices, it did deal with the attitudes of those involved in the rental market. The research was required by two city ordinances passed in 2016 and included in the 2017 budget. Ordinance 125114 prohibits unfair practices for screening and choosing tenants and Ordinance 125222 limits security deposits and non-refundable move-in fees.
Despite their goal of aiding renters, the team’s focus groups had no familiarity with the new ordinances and were skeptical about their effectiveness.
“All of the renters that we spoke to in all of the focus groups, they expressed a high level of barriers to housing access,” research lead Kyle Crowder said at a July 24th meeting of the Seattle City Council’s renters rights committee about recent movers his team surveyed,
The barriers renters are referring to are more numerous than just the lack of affordability in Seattle, but that was one of the most frequently cited issues.
“The renters that we spoke to in our focus groups feel squeezed financially by the housing market,” Crowder, a professor of sociology at the UW, said at the meeting. “That was a common theme.”
Other problems mentioned by renters were a “lack of transparency in application/leasing process” and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or source of income, especially for voucher recipients, according to the study. Continue reading