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Court upholds Seattle’s pro-renter cap on move-in fees

Kshama Sawant-driven cap on move-in fees that can be charged to renters in Seattle has been upheld by a King County Superior Court judge.

The Seattle City Council approved legislation capping fees in fall 2016 but the new law has been tied up in court by a lawsuit brought be the pro-landlord Rental Housing Association of Washington group.

Under the measure from the District 3 representative, landlords can only charge tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and need to allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments.

The legislation was driven by research conducted by the Washington Community Action Network, an advocacy organization working on housing justice, conducted a survey study on Seattle’s housing crisis. Researchers found almost 90% of respondents said that the biggest barrier to moving into more affordable housing was the prohibitively expensive up-front fees a landlord can charge a new tenant.

It’s not clear what’s next for the cap law. The landlord advocacy group hasn’t said yet if it plans to appeal the ruling.


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3 thoughts on “Court upholds Seattle’s pro-renter cap on move-in fees

  1. Interesting choice of words when you describe the players involved here. RHA is described as a “pro landlord group” while WA CAN is described as “an advocacy organization working on housing justice.” I think the language chosen betrays a bias. Why not describe RHA (an advocacy organization working on housing issues) in the softer terms you used to describe WA CAN, whose interests have now morphed to focus almost entirely on “pro tenant” positions?

    • Apparently they think Sawant’s not getting the love she deserves here.

      It’ll likely be overturned under a different legal theory. Anyway, landlords will just use workarounds to get money to protect their investment. (Much higher rents, anyone?)

      You can tell Sawant’s never owned rental property, or lived among her victim class (I have) and seen the kind of damage they can do.

  2. If I were still a landlord, the only thing this would do is make me even more selective on choosing tenants— and actually LESS likely I’d rent to the very people who can’t afford the up-front costs. The people who don’t need to pay it in installments actually end up better off. Talk about unintended consequences.