Post navigation

Prev: (06/12/24) | Next: (06/13/24)

Audit shows Seattle’s house and small building rental market is dwindling, down 19% in five years

A report on Seattle’s rental housing shows the city is experiencing consolidation of ownership with larger property owners and a quickly-shaping decline in small rental properties ranging from fourplexes to single family-style homes.

The report from the Department of Construction and Inspections utilizing data from the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance Program was presented (PDF) to the Seattle City Council’s Housing & Human Services Committee Wednesday as part of an audit to improve the program.

The registration program has struggled with technical limitations and resources and the audit found oversight of the program requiring landlords to register properties and undergo inspections has weakened, City Auditor David Jones said.

Landlords with smaller holdings including many single-property owners have said it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue renting in the city as regulation requirements have increased making it more likely that the properties would be sold to a smaller and smaller market of larger real estate and development companies. The city has convened a Small Landlord Stakeholder Group to try to stem the tide.

According to the report presented to the council committee Wednesday, early efforts may have slowed the transition but the number of low-unit properties including houses and building with up to four units has plunged 19% in only five years. Meanwhile, even the number of large properties registered under the program has dropped as ownership is consolidated and fewer, larger landlords emerge.

According to the rental registration program report, small rental properties represented 40% of the units in Seattle’s rental market in 2018. Five years later, that total is down to 36%.

The report doesn’t address the impact on rents and tenants rights from the consolidation but it does include updates on recommendations that have been in place trying to slow or reverse the trends. According to a city survey of landlords, 74% said the city’s regulations were difficult to implement or follow. The report says recommendations for the city to provide more resources to support smaller landlords are “pending.”

The report also acknowledges that smaller landlords may have a more difficult time meeting standards and face more complaints than larger landlords. “Single-family and small multi-family rental properties were subject to more tenant-landlord and housing
complaints filed with SDCI compared to large multi-family properties,” a summary of the report reads. The report says the total number of landlord-tenant complaints filed
with SDCI has also increased.

Another recommendation might be the most significant. “If the City of Seattle wants to preserve single-family and small multi-family property rental housing, it should consider enacting policies that support the continued presence of this type of property in Seattle’s rental market,” the recommendation reads. “When considering such policies, the City should involve stakeholders most impacted by rental housing policies.”

The status of that recommendation? Also “pending.”

 

CHS SHORT AND SWEET SUMMER SUBSCRIBER DRIVE -- PLEASE HELP KEEP CHS PAYWALL-FREE!
Subscribe to CHS to help us pay writers and photographers to cover the neighborhood. CHS is a pay what you can community news site with no required sign-in or paywall. Become a subscriber to help us cover the neighborhood for as little as $5 a month. ☀️Summer☀️ is the most challenging time to keep our subscriber total up. Thanks for any help and for spreading the word about CHS!

 

 

 

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

64 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cameron
Cameron
1 month ago

I’m curious how they define “1 unit” – I rented a townhouse that was part of a large townhouse complex, but was owned by one guy who used a rental management company so I’m not sure if that would count. Other than that I’ve lived in small/medium apartment building but all of them had more than 4 units.

dying breed
dying breed
1 month ago
Reply to  Cameron

It’s one unit within a single property registration. Usually that means a house, townhouse, MIL/ADU, DADU, though it can also mean a single rental condo registered by an owner, even if there are also other condos for rent in the same building (under other registrations by other owners).

hill possum
hill possum
1 month ago

Ultimately, this is what we’re aiming for, right? No more single-family zoning, increasing numbers of 5-over-1s, etc. The denser the occupation of a plot, the more likely it is to have a large building with a management company running the day-to-day.

Billy bee
Billy bee
1 month ago
Reply to  hill possum

I had a similar thought, but I think with this data it’s hard to tell if this is density increasing, or this is people who would have rented their MIL apartment pulling it off because the rules were too complicated for them. The way the report’s recommendations are written it sounds like the later? ::shrug::

Jules James
Jules James
1 month ago

A survey where 3/4ths of landlords regard city regulations to be “difficult” to follow did not offer the choice of “impossible” to follow. City Hall behaves as if landlords should not control the product, customer selection, or the price. There is no pleasure in that for owner-operators. So fee managers take over, causing tenants to pay an extra 15% while receiving a much less quality-motivated product. Glad that City Hall is at least willing to study the unintended consequences of its wrong-minded legislation.

Marcus
Marcus
29 days ago
Reply to  Jules James

I was going to build a DADU and an MIL on my property but decided against the headache. I’m not going to build something I have no control over. Why would I?

Local
Local
1 month ago

One answer would be to exempt DADU secondary units and MIL from need to legally evict a tenant for nonpayment etc. A lot of this type of unit have disappeared into Airbnb.

Gene D.
Gene D.
1 month ago

If you want MORE of something, you make it easier to get, keep and maintain and you make the process uncomplicated. If you want less of something, you make it hard to get, complicated and difficult to keep and maintain. This works for almost everything in life, including rental properties. 

By passing so “tenant protections” and so many “anti-housing provider” rules, laws and regulations, you make owning and offering rental property difficult and complicated, especially for smaller housing providers. 

There’s a lot of risk involved in owning rental properties. Values go up and down, expensive home maintenance issues appear, it’s hard work with the hope of pay-out but not the assurance. Therefore, housing providers want a good rate of return or the risk isn’t worth it. If you eliminate or greatly reduce the potential or possibility of profit, you will lose many small housing providers. 

If a big apartment building with 100 units has 1 or 2 people not performing or paying rent, that represents 1 or 2% of their holdings. If Mom & Pop have a duplex or 4-plex and 1 or 2 people are not paying rent, that could be 50 or 100% of their holdings that are underwater. 

Over the last 5 years, Seattle and King County has enacted dozens of new ordinances that taken together, significantly increase the risk to the small housing provider while increasing their costs. The result is an ongoing departure of rental housing as the providers (landlords) sell and leave the market. These homes typically become owner occupied, rather than continuing as rentals. According to the latest data from Seattle’s Rental Registration and Inspection Program, Seattle has had a net loss of 3,050 properties and 9,759 units since May 2021. During that time, just 27 rental units were added to the market. I imagine we would see the same loss of rental units county-wide.

While designed to help tenants what these new rules and laws will do will make rentals less available and more expensive as property owners and landlords take measures to secure and protect their property. And we are seeing those exact results here, in this article.

HTS3
HTS3
1 month ago
Reply to  Gene D.

Interesting, though not surprising that we just hear “crickets” from the usual landlord bashing readers of the blog. If this were an article about the horrible landlords raising rents or not fixing units there would be 30 or 40 comments on the bandwagon by now. In these times where we want more housing not less, it does seem that we, as in the City, need to be supportive of small landlords. Gene D. is right.

Glenn
Glenn
1 month ago
Reply to  Gene D.

Preach.

Matt
Matt
29 days ago
Reply to  Gene D.

Your numbers for the drop in properties since 2021 doesn’t seem to match what they have shared with the council in this report, care to share your source?

They also shared the stat that around 1-in-5 landlords who stopped renting had converted to owner occupied units for themselves or a relative.

You also have conveniently ignored that they reported a higher incident rate of reported complaints with single and low unit landlords, which seems like something that could be probed further.

Local
Local
29 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Converting to one occupied is one of the ways of meeting a for cause eviction requirement….

Glenn
Glenn
29 days ago
Reply to  Matt

I suspect those complaints are related to the complexity of housing provider/tenant regulations in Seattle, and the relative inexperience of single and low (small) landlords. The situation is ripe for problems and resulting complaints. My leases used to be two pages and are now fourteen, plus I am required to provide new and renewing tenants over forty pages of landlord tenant information, voter registration information, etc. The business of being a housing provider in Seattle has gotten more complex, causing many of the nascent providers to exit the market. No surprise there.

Matt
Matt
29 days ago
Reply to  Glenn

What does having to provide voter registration information have to do with anything about this? UW provides that with class registration every quarter without issue, do you have a problem with encouraging civic engagement? I have really enjoyed that Seattle really encourages voter registration and tries to make it as easy as possible, I’m sorry that is a problem for you…

Glenn
Glenn
28 days ago
Reply to  Matt

You try so hard to miss the point Matt. Or maybe it just comes easy for you.

Matt
Matt
27 days ago
Reply to  Glenn

You’re the one that decided to randomly mention voter registration amongst you’re anecdotes. BTW, 14 pg leases are common across the country, I think access to cheap legal software and a highly litigious society led to much of that, it has nothing to do with the council.

Whichever
Whichever
29 days ago
Reply to  Gene D.

100% – small landlords don’t want to, or more likely can’t risk, to deal with the current environment. A small group of citizens landlord bash and push this stuff through – and to no one’s surprise, now you’ve less small landlords. So now they can enjoy their corporate landlords who have the wherewithal to extract every last penny out of their tenants.

Dan
Dan
29 days ago
Reply to  Gene D.

I was previously renting my 1-bedroom condo in Capitol Hill with parking and W/D in unit for $1650 which I was continuously told was under the market value but I liked and empathized with my tenant and wanted to keep him in the unit. However with annual increases in property taxes, HOA dues, insurance dues (cause of building break-ins), etc., I ended up losing money on the unit and the burden of renting my condo became too much of a headache. So before my tenant’s lease was up I let him know that the unit was going up for sale. Unless you have multiple units or an entire complex being rented out, it does not make fiscal sense to be a small-owned landlord in this city.

Eli
Eli
29 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Likewise, if you wanted to ever bring the rent up to market value after years of voluntarily going below-market — you now trigger a big tenant payout depending on their income level.

There’s no incentive to ever go substantially below-market due to a tenant’s circumstances, since you’re now locked into it, and financially penalized for returning the apartment to normal rent.

Jules James
Jules James
26 days ago
Reply to  Eli

For a brief moment I considered renting out my last vacancy for below market. Then I realized I can’t. I can’t select a deserving person for a good deal. I had to give that deal to the first person who qualified — either on their own or with government-given rent vouchers. Sorry — market rate, compliments of Your City Hall!

Matt
Matt
29 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Please tell me when condos have ever been considered a sound financial investment…

Casey
Casey
1 month ago

This is what happens when the city decides bad tenants can decide not to pay rent and remain in the property months or even years before being evicted. The eviction moratorium and similar rules have pushed small landlords to sell.

The result is good tenants who pay their rent on time suffer because of the bad tenants whom large landlords are better equipped to manage.

Reality
Reality
1 month ago

Seattle’s leftist leadership over the last decade totally went off the rails. This is just another example of the consequences of their failed policies that played to their base but in reality degraded the quality of life in Seattle for everyone including their base. We will be digging out of the Sawant/Mosqueda/Morales/Gonzales/O’Brian/Herbold/Strauss/Lewis hole for years.

Below Broadway
Below Broadway
29 days ago
Reply to  Reality

Straight to the Gulag with this one. WrongThink will not be tolerated, Comrade.

Eli
Eli
1 month ago

Absolutely. I’ve had to hand mine off to professional management given all the new laws.

And when you can no longer choose your own tenants (and are legally required to ignore upfront clear warning signs of a problematic tenant), it’s pretty scary business to be in.

And with maybe a 2-3% cap rate after all the expenses, a small building in Seattle is a terrible investment, too.

Greystar and RealPage should be throwing a thank-you party to Seattle city council.

Katherine
Katherine
1 month ago

As a small landlord (owner of a single family home who rents the first floor to a roommate), I can verify that the past few years of literally dozens of new and constantly changing regulations have been extremely stressful on us. I have seriously considered no longer renting out my space, despite the financial hardship it would cause me, because of the increased risks and stresses, and I may not rent it again the next time it is vacant. This would remove a very pleasant and affordable place to live from the market. I know other small landlords who feel the same and are getting out of the rental market. I really do not believe this is good for anyone, including tenants and the city as a whole, which is in dire need of more rental housing.

Below Broadway
Below Broadway
29 days ago
Reply to  Katherine

Strange all the usual Marxists issuing proclamations about “the privileged owner class” are nowhere to be found in this comment thread. What happened, Comrades? We won! The property owner running dogs have surrendered!

Monswye
Monswye
28 days ago
Reply to  Katherine

I’m a small landlord — 30 years’ standing — with two single-family rentals. One has been empty for the past year and a half (it’s simply not worth the risk of taking on a new tenant) and I’m currently preparing it for sale. The other is occupied by a relative (at market rate); when he leaves, I will sell that too. Both houses are what used to be called “affordable.” They will both almost certainly be torn down and replaced by owner-occupied single-family homes that are three times as large. Selling price of the new homes will be $2–3 million, so no chance of them remaining rentals. Even after paying the substantial taxes I’ll incur, I’ll still make more by investing the remaining proceeds in an index mutual fund. I will lose the diversity of owning real estate, but I’ll sleep more soundly at night.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago

OK so you are a small landlord in seattle. Lets say you have a single 4-plex. You got into the game by selling your house to buy it ; lived in a unit for the first 5 years and eventually bought another house and rented out all 4 units in the plex. In the 20 years you’ve been operating Seattle rental rules have gone from only having ‘just cause’ (of which fixed term lease expiration was a one) to having the current slew of regulations on top of WA LL/T rules.

Ways you get get into serious trouble today that didn’t used to be:

1) You have to let people move in with effectively no deposit if they request it. At most you are guaranteed 1/3 of a months rent up front prior to move in. Thats if your actual “deposit” is equal to one months rent and you don’t charge a last months rent up front or any nonrefundable fees. This leaves you with much less margin to deal with nonpaying tenants meaning you have to either eat more losses or start E-word proceedings faster if the tenant gets into trouble; or both.

2) You aren’t allowed to consider criminal history except with narrow exceptions. This blanket ban on criminal history screening means a prospective tenant wtih a history of arson,assault, burglarly, attacking or harassing their neighbors and prior landlord and such could potentially be approved without the landlord ever knowing. Keep in mind many landlords are women and many smaller landlords don’t have property management services meaning they have to deal with troublesome tenants directly.

3) tenants can use the roommate law to end-run any screening and move in anybody they want – and for SFR’s as many people as they want – after the initial move in. All they have to do is claim the new roommate(s) are “family” by extremely broad definition and the landlord has zero recourse. Once new roommates are in – whether or not they signed anything the old ones can disappear into the wind and the new occupants can continue the merry go round of occupants. (to be considered “family” you only have to have coffee with your prospective roommate and call it a “date”)

4) Unevictable classes of tenants. There are some exceptions for smaller properties but in general families with kids or who are employed by the school ssytem are unevictable regardless of what they do or why. They are directly protected from september til june, and only need rely on eviction court delays and legal maneurvering to stay in your unit over the summer and then do it all over again (see 6). There is also a blanket ‘winter’ eviction ban due to ‘cold’ temperatures that covers all low income tenants for 3 months of the year.

5) Many local and regional elected leaders hate your dedication, planning, and success that allowed you to acquire and be successful owning that 4-plex and have made it clear you are the enemy of the people. They can’t stand the fact that you might make money by providing housing, and that you own property they would rather see somebody else (or their own interests) own. They would love to see you forced into providing that housing to their preferred constituency for free for as long as they determine you have the assets to continue doing it, or until you sell out to their interested on their terms. (which might in fact be outright expropriation)

6) If and (eventually) when you do have to take an eviction to court, you will find intentionally delayed proceedings, HJP organization in place to oppose ALL evictions regardless of merit or impact to your viability as a housing provider. HJP ascribes to the all-private-landlords-are-evil philosohy and will take everything they can from the landlord for their tenant client regardless of the merits of the landlords case. This is done via delays, legal manuevering, focusing on technicalities, and forcing landlords to sign documents sealing the court case to hide the eviction from future landlords.

SO given all this, and the 4 calls a week you are getting from developers wanting to replace your 4-plex with a cluster of townhouses, and that increasingly large lump sum starting to look better than the monthly income as you consider the next chapter in your life, would you not start thinking about selling out?

MEANWHILE consider all the people of the next generation looking for something to invest in and a side gig. How many of them who might have considered buying a fourplex looked at seattle laws and said “nope”, leaving much reduced competition among buyers of such properties. Remaining buyers are more likely to be older, more experienced landlords, institutional or organizations operationg rental housing, or developers. Its no suprise that many people buying newer homes in the city that come with ADUs are only using them as airbnb’s or as someplace for mom and dad to stay a month or two a year instead of putting them on the long term rental market.

Its no surprise that missing middle rental housing is increasingly missing given all this.

dying breed
dying breed
1 month ago

I watched a bit of the meeting and noted a discussion of $53 million in public funding to build 400 home for extremely low-income renters, while higher low-income renters (measured by area median income) didn’t have much funding targeting building for them.

Well, here’s a solution to “create” another 400+ homes that costs ZERO public dollars, and it’s likely to bolster the stock of long-term “naturally affordable” housing: Make it a public virtue, rather than a socialist sin, to be a small housing provider. Seriously, there are so many opportunities for regular Seattleites to offer housing in their homes or on their properties that are not on the rental market now because it’s become too risky for many.

For any current, previous, or would-be small housing provider whose been paying attention, there’s much well-placed fear and little trust in the system to be balanced or fair to both tenant and landlord.

The City should reverse or modify much of the recent punitive legislation passed under the guise of “tenant protections.” And so-called tenant activists should be honest and support sensible revisions in support of balanced regulations that foster humans offering housing to other humans—and in support of non-profit housing providers remaining viable so they can serve those most in need effectively. (Unless what they really want is what they’re getting…fewer housing options for moderate and low-income people, rents extra inflated due to real additional costs and risks, and fewer owner/operators (e.g. mom n pops) where a real person is invested in the community and knows your name. Is that what they really want…because it guarantees them a cause and/or a job?)

Suzi
Suzi
29 days ago

Small landlord here. It’s just not worth it anymore. I used to enjoy meeting and working with tenants, I was their advocate when problems arose. Now the attitude seems to have changed; it’s adversarial and defensive, with city codes and rent regulations strangling many situations that were easily worked out before. I myself am now planning to sell a duplex we purchased two decades ago because of costs and headaches. It will either go to a hedge fund or leave the rental market altogether. Wrong direction, Seattle.

Brian
Brian
29 days ago
Reply to  Suzi

housing activists (and leftist activists in general) seem to thrive on the conflict. Everything is the ‘people’ e.g. the righteous and wronged majority vs. the landed gentry, or business owners, or people who live in single family homes, or people who see both sides of most issues, etc.

Matt
Matt
29 days ago
Reply to  Brian

Literally 3/4ths of Seattle is zoned for single family homes, meanwhile people sleep on the streets and people complain because their income properties have become too much of a headache… 🙄

Jules James
Jules James
26 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Please draw in other completely irrelevant facts to justify your blindness to reality. If you don’t like for-profit housing, you are welcome to try a government monopoly as a landlord. Just be ready for a 6 month wait to fix your broken toilet.

Matt
Matt
25 days ago
Reply to  Jules James

It’s all interconnected, the city has set aside 75% of the land exclusively for SFH (and for a long time excluding many other things) that has had and continues to have a major impact on our housing policy today. Some of the most desirable areas of the city are exclusively set aside for SFH and therefore tend to acrue into the hands of the wealthy and fortunate few whom can then use that property as equity to have income property. This is all a massive subsidy from the city, state, and federal government for a very selective few. Imagine if we gave this sort of funding and onramp to housing for the general population rather than a foolish campaign to sell home ownership as a way to combat “Communism”… Instead we have a small number of boomers that have sucked at the government teat their whole lives and think that is what they deserve and everyone else must fight for it… 🙄

Brian
Brian
24 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Do you think magnolia, broadmoor, windermere, tangletown, and <fill-in-your-favorite-neighborhood-you-can’t-afford-here> would still be desirable if it were rezoned and redeveloped for 8 story apartment blocks? Do you think the people that live in a ‘hood who have done all the right things to make the area desirable will all trade in their SFRs for apartments and stay? No. They will go someplace else where they can build the lifestyle they want to live which in many cases includes their own 4 walls, yard, and picket fence.

You can take over a patch of land, but ultimately its the people living there who make much of it what means to live there. Coveting a place other people live which they have made ‘desirable’ is fine and dandy but forcibly changing everything about it to try to make it more accessible to others may end up destroying what made it desirable in the first place.

How about instead of trying to change places already successful we focus more on improving areas that behind the curve? I bet a lot more people already living in those areas will WANT to stay; vs. fantasies of bulldozing swathes of existing neighborhoods to build endless zoning-maximized apartment boxes.

wrongo bub
wrongo bub
24 days ago
Reply to  Matt

3/4/of Seattle is NOT zoned for single family homes

but nice try at propagating disinformation

Matt
Matt
24 days ago
Reply to  wrongo bub

Fair enough, it’s not explicitly SFH anymore, but I still see estimates of 2/3rd to 3/4ths of Seattle as exclusionary low density zoned and no plans to change that any time soon in the upcoming comprehensive plan

Brian
Brian
24 days ago
Reply to  Matt

you mean 3/4ths of seattle is zoned for triplexes. They already effectively eliminated SF zoning. But yes, meanwhile people live on the street. Its because many of those people can’t afford housing at ANY price. And because some of them choose the lifestyle (something like 16% of people accept shelter on average when camps are cleared) and some are so mentally ill or drug addled that frankly pulling up their pants in the morning is the biggest challenge they can handle. No amount of free apartments or rezoned neighborhoods will help them. They need to be institutionalized, against their will if necessary until they are stable enough to make decent decisions – then maybe supportive housing could be helpful to them. Yes, this means we need to bring back / expand some of said institutions.

Matt
Matt
24 days ago
Reply to  Brian

Harrel and his stooges on the council are doing all that they can to drag their feet and do as little as possible with the states efforts to promote middle housing…

As for everything else you’ve written, the primary reason people experience homelessness is because they cannot afford housing, drug addiction is often something picked up after the fact, but yes, we will need sober housing and lots of treatment centers for our neighbors dealing with homelessness and drug addiction.

Liz
Liz
27 days ago
Reply to  Suzi

I was a small housing provider that owned a two unit house on Capitol Hill. I bought it in 2004 to use as a rental. I could keep the rents competitive and below market as the years went by, since the mortgage was getting paid down. I was able to rent to first-time renters and people with no credit history as I was protected by the rental agreement. It was a partnership – my tenants got a safe, quiet house in a beautiful neighborhood and I was able to pay the mortgage, taxes, maintenance and repairs from the rents. I was banking on the house increasing in value as the years went by.
However, the city council and their activist sycophants began to demonize housing providers because we were a threat to their socialist agenda. Our concerns were mocked and ignored.
It was too financially risky for me in this hostile environment, so
I ended up selling to owner-occupiers. Now 7 people who could have lived in a vintage home with a yard and views of Lake Washington, with no prior rental or credit history, with below-market rents, are denied that kind of housing.
And anyone who buys intending to rent now must have higher rents, because the cost of a house ( the house itself and interest rates) have gone up immensely since I bought back in 2004. And they have to factor in the additional potential costs of the anti-landlord ordinances.
Incidentally, I asked Ms. Herbold to her face ( she sponsored the roommate bill) about the rights of TENANTS regarding this bill. What if one of my renters is uncomfortable with her roommate moving in someone who has made advances to her, or who engages in risky conduct that endangers all of them? ” Oh,” she said. ” I never thought of that. I’ll have to get back to you.” She never did.

Nandor
Nandor
29 days ago

Ummm we told you so? The city has done as much as possible to chase small owners out of the market by making it a huge headache to even try and ensure it is nearly impossible to turn even a small profit…

Below Broadway
Below Broadway
29 days ago

We did it Seattle! We got rid of “the ruling class!” You Marxists sure must be proud

Matt
Matt
29 days ago

By definition we need to fit more people into the same amount of space. How do we do this without having fewer single and low-unit buildings and more multi unit buildings? This seems like common sense unless we decide to just build smaller and smaller single and low-unit buildings… There’s no reason that multifamily housing cannot be family friendly, and they must be if we want to survive on this planet in any viable way, there is just not enough space for everyone otherwise…

dying breed
dying breed
28 days ago
Reply to  Matt

The drop in rental housing is heavily in properties with 1 unit up to 20 units. (The city’s periodic reports further breaks down to registrations with 1 unit, 2 to 4 units, 5 to 20, 21-50, etc. up to 200+).

There are a lot of living spaces, both rooms and full units, in still-existing smaller properties. Like it or not, fewer of those are getting rented out long-term, and you can read some of the reasons above. Large apartment buildings of 100 or 200+ units add to total supply (mostly studios and 1 bedrooms) but they are not the whole solution for all people at all stages of life or in all neighborhoods. I don’t see anyone here saying stop building, or even to stop tearing down under utilized small properties on high value land … The point is that ideologically driven laws and rhetoric are contributing to a loss of rental housing on the market that is owned and or operated by small independent landlords. This is a self-inflicted problem largely caused NOT by attempts to bring density…Rather it is caused by small landlords being driven out or discouraged from creating or maintaining rental housing on the market due to dramatically increased risk and demonizing rhetoric against housing providers. This is leading to loss of an important component of Seattle’s housing supply, loss of opportunity for aspiring homeowners, and rising rents.

In reality, a healthy housing ecosystem is diverse, with many types of housing available and a diversity of owners/operators. From corporations to real people.

Nandor
Nandor
27 days ago
Reply to  Matt

There are plenty of cities in this country that are not stuffed to the brim.. there are even areas of declining population. There’s no reason absolutely everyone who desires it should be guaranteed a place here.

Matt
Matt
27 days ago
Reply to  Nandor

So it’s okay for tech companies to come in and displace everyday workers making unnecessarily large salaries to mostly make millennial convenience apps? Tenant protections are there for a reason, and often protect the most vulnerable. There’s a strong tenants union in WA that advocates for tenants rights. It sounds like maybe all the small property owners should try something similar, or better yet, how about we put all this ridiculous money and energy into social housing that benefits us all? 🤷🏻‍♂️

Nandor
Nandor
26 days ago
Reply to  Matt

I’d just as soon see the companies spread out too… These days there’s little to no reason to have all of your workers in one place and certainly no reason to jam new ones into an already overcrowded area. Struggling city’s would no doubt be overjoyed to see jobs and cash flow come their way.

Matt
Matt
25 days ago
Reply to  Nandor

Okay, so were you supportive of the head tax and other initiatives to hold these large companies accountable for their role in exacerbating the Seattle housing crisis? The tenant laws were a response to state and local leaders wooing tech companies with cheap TARP money after the recession that ended up decimating the housing market. Rather than demonizing protections for renters, whom make up the majority of people in the city, why not fight for more protections for small property owners or against the politicians that continually prioritize property developers and larger businesses over the broader community?

Nandor
Nandor
25 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Who is demonizing anyone…. Just pointing out that you got what you wanted, but that you didn’t get the outcome you wanted is no surprise. I’m not for property developers, big business or renters for that matter. The only way housing costs will fall here, at this point is to decrease the desirability of living here.

Matt
Matt
25 days ago
Reply to  Nandor

What do you know at all about what I wanted… I’ve seen the US on this path since I was a teenager decades ago…

Do you realize how insane you sound when you talk about housing costs and the desirability of living here?

Nandor
Nandor
23 days ago
Reply to  Matt

The big ‘you’, as in all of the you who supported applying onerous rules to small landlords…. And do you know how insane you sound when you try to decouple the desirability of living here and the cost of housing? Duh… when more people want a resource that is scarce the cost of it goes up. Whether you like that or not it’s very basic economics.

Matt
Matt
16 days ago
Reply to  Nandor

The costs and those theories are not basic, they are centuries of policies that have favored capital, personal ownership, and the prosperity of a select few over the desirability of living somewhere for the entire community. Let’s spend a few centuries trying something better maybe?

Brian
Brian
24 days ago
Reply to  Matt

“tech” workers are ordinary workers in seattle. It takes 150K of income just to think about buying a modest house. And there is a hell of a lot more to “tech” than phone apps. Virtually everything about your life is better, cheaper, and easier because of a computer program doing something somewhere.

Matt
Matt
24 days ago
Reply to  Brian

You’re right, they also make price fixing software to skyrocket rent costs…

Most software developers in Seattle make unnecessary junk or help create a model to create more layers of complexity between those earning the money and those being exploited…

Nandor
Nandor
23 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Really… the software developers I know make things that sort apples, regulate power generators, run large HVAC systems.. useless stuff like that…

Matt
Matt
23 days ago
Reply to  Nandor

Oh great, let’s live in our well AC’ed apple utopia with your friends 🤣🤣🤣

Nandor
Nandor
22 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Whatever, have fun with your over simplified view of life where everyone else is causing your problems. I’m sure you’ll go far.

Matt
Matt
21 days ago
Reply to  Nandor

Yes, I’m the one with overly simplistic takes blaming everyone else for my problems, what was it you had stated before?!? It was the big “you” that got what we wanted… 🤣🤣🤣

Yes, the software developers I am friends with do neat things like build tools to track emissions, but the vast majority I have met are doing things like building out new Alexa apps or something very similar, or they are building out a model for some industry that they say is going to completely revolutionize it, but I’ve only ever see it really displace workers and make investors rich.

Rather than glorify tech workers and technological solutions, we should be embracing and supporting the everyday workers and work that make cities run (you know those people we called essential workers?)

wrongo bub
wrongo bub
24 days ago
Reply to  Matt

“There’s no reason that multifamily housing cannot be family friendly, and they must be if we want to survive on this planet in any viable way, there is just not enough space for everyone otherwise…”

The vast majority of your beloved multi-family buildings being built in Seattle are almost exclusively comprised of efficiency, studio and one-bedroom units. Pretty far from “family-friendly”. In fact Seattle produces the smallest apartments in the country (https://www.fox13seattle.com/news/smallest-new-apartments) at a whopping 660sqft on average.

So, two things are happening:

1) the housing stock of single family homes with adequate space for a family are being lost to development because the mantra ‘we need any but more housing’ (regardless of size) is driving the rampant rezoning which causes redevelopment and displacement. Affordable rental homes are lost to so-called missing middle townhouses (3 story skinny 1110sqft 3BR 3BA) “homes” not suitable to families or seniors but very profitable to developers. An anecdote – the single family home next door that housed a 3-generation family unit of 9 was replaced with 3 townhouses with a total population of 6. So much for “fitting more people into the same amount of space”.

2) because developers are not required to produce larger sized units in multi-FAMILY zones (as they are in other municipalities), they choose to make more profitable small units. Single family home rents are skyrocketing not only because of the crazy set of regs that others in comments have pointed out, but because there simply is a dearth of family-sized units driving rents for larger rental units through the roof.

Simple supply/demand economics – developers bidding up land costs because of yields from higher zoned density, and the more-than-doubling of household income with the unfettered tech invasion – is allowing house prices to sore. We have produced a situation where homeowners that used to provide rental housing are cashing out or getting out.

Instead of attacking single family zones (of which 75% of the city is NOT zoned for), try attacking the developer-friendly zoning codes and anti-small-landlord regulations that are really behind this mess.

Matt
Matt
24 days ago
Reply to  wrongo bub

I can be against exclusionary zoning and bad developers that make hand over fist while building crappy buildings. That doesn’t mean that multifamily housing cannot and should not be built for families.

Also, if it was simple supply-demand economics and larger rental units are going through the roof, why are there not more being built?

What in the new comprehensive plan do you think is doing something other than continuing with the status quo?

chHill
chHill
28 days ago

Public housing.

Aboudtt time
Aboudtt time
27 days ago

Will the city council read the comments? Doubtful…as it may be enlightening.

Art Gillick
Art Gillick
27 days ago

How can this possibly be? Am I to be told that tenants forced into providing W2s and proof of making over $100,000 a year to even have a consideration to occupy small family homes at gouged rates x2 to x3 most people in US are paying equitable like mortgages (All while enduring the quaint charisma of ever increasing gunshots, break-ins, gangland style assassinations, drive by shootings, Fentynal Zombie-esque afflicted homeless population siphoning up all of the city with the nation’s highest sales tax rate / lowest concessional return on collected taxations for all those normal hardworking renters who are just interested in paying the highest cost of living in the US peacefully each day as they get into their non electric vehicles and pay an extra $2 dollars more per gallon for no other reason than Governor whose jollies rely on looking down on working class commuters with a sort of elitist righteous-like disdain that exudes a “be richer and drive electric and you wont pay over $100 a fill up” that only a % of a % of leaders in this nation are so incredible disconnected from reality to have the ability to pull off…You are saying that people dont want to rent in that sorta environment? Pshhh, fake news I Say cause….SEATTLE has NEVVVERR been MORE ATTRACTIVE!!!