If you're a renter who lives in one of Seattle's 42,000 rental properties, listen up, this is important: On Monday, the Seattle City Council is slated to vote on new rental housing legislation that will grant tenants broader rights when dealing with bad landlords or slumlords who flout the law.
Word on the street is the council has the votes to pass this important measure, which would:
·Require every rental property to be registered with the city (between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016, depending on the number of units), pay a registration fee, and demonstrate that it meets basic health and safety requirements.
· Allow the city to randomly select at least 10 percent of Seattle's rental stock for an annual inspection. (Inspections are capped per building to minimize owner costs. For example, a building with more than 20 units would have 15 percent or less of its units inspected.) Every five years, inspected properties will be placed back into the inspection pool when their registration expires.
· Allow landlords to select a private inspector who's been certified by the city.
· Ensure that all of the city's registered rental housing stock is inspected at least once a decade.
· Allow citizens to lodge complaints about rentals and have the Department of Planning and Development respond with an interior inspection of the housing unit.
The legislation is a great victory for council member Nick Licata's office, which has worked tirelessly on this issue for years, as well as the Tenants Union of Washington. And, of course, for tenants. Do yourself a favor and, if this thing passes, know your rights.