Kshama Sawant Wants to Make Life Easier for Renters by Capping Landlord Fees

Comments

1
Only thing missing from your article is facts:
-- what are typical fees charged now?
-- how would the system work in Sawant proposal?a typical comparison?
-- any support for claim that transgender/genderqueer people have less money than "others"?
2
@1, the fees I have seen are typically charged by the apartment complexes. Most are usually a couple of hundred dollars in admin fees, though that number can be higher.

The real problem most renters have is the high price of rent as well as the first-last and deposit usually equal to one months rent. Soooo if you are looking at a semi-nice one bedroom apartment that rents for $1500 (I know, I said semi-nice not a rat trap and even that number is a steal) you pretty much need $4500 to walk in the door. THAT assumes good credit.

This proposal is literally standing in front of a raging forest fire, taking a piss and then saying "I helped!! Vote for ME!!!"
3
These proposals are actually quite conservative in light of the situation as it currently exists.

One thing I would suggest - with respect to the credit report charges - which are an extraordinary issue - since landlords can charge an entire room full of seekers 40 bucks a head (meaning every adult moving in - so 80 for couples, so on) - and with the likely that most will have to pay it again and again and again on their search - this is straight-out extortion!

What they need to do - for those who are truly interested in credit reports is the following: let apt seekers run off their current credit report (say, within 60 days, 1-2 month search). They can turn in a copy with the rental application WHEN their rental application is actually up for review - all on its own - apart from the other applications.

Let the landlord deal with seekers one after the other, in order of preference. If they feel they could rent to this person or family - but they just need to make sure the credit report (they are all right about) is current - THEN and only then - does the tenant and family pay the fee AT COST. Assuming it's the same report, they get the apartment. AND - at that point, once they're paid the fee, the landlord is obliged to rent to them unless the report shows otherwise.

You wouldn't believe how much people are paying on an apartment search for these credit report fees. And it's not just "how much it costs." They'll find a way to say that it actually does cost them that much. Their time and labor, so on. And this will save them time and labor.

And maybe there could be something the prior landlord is required to produce upon exiting the apartment - which could be included with the copy of the credit report. (Like a ledger of rent paid on time with a form that says you left the apartment in order.)

I've lived in many places and i've never seen this outrageous situation with credit fees per adult occupant. It's horrible. You shouldn't pay anything - and if you do - only if it's pretty that you'd be getting the apartment assuming it's the same report.
5
Sawant brings it! Love that lady.
6
I'll add - I've never seen a major metropolitan U.S. city without rent control. I lived in NY area where they FROZE the rent - and without these damn apologies. And they already had rent control that limited increases to lower than we're currently paying.

We've paid two increases in one year - one at almost 6 percent and the other over 8 percent. Meaning in one year, our rent went up over 14 percent.

You have to lay laws down, too, as to how often the landlord can raise rents.

The Washington State representatives in Olympia - is it? - they are a DISGRACE on this issue. People should VOTE THEM OUT.

Personally, while KS is stronger than many - she isn't nearly strong enough on this issue. This is not about being "a socialist." This is COMMON SENSE.

Wake up people. If landlords aren't gouging people and driving everything up - you don't need these controls. But clearly that is not the case in the Seattle area anymore. They're taking advantage, so you have to pass laws limiting them. Thank you landlords - we would prefer to do without this too - and you make it incumbent upon us.
7
With re to my comments at 6 and 3:

I'll add, too, that unless you have serious rent control (and, to the best of my recollection, when we had the rent freeze, we had rent control limiting increases to under 2-3 percent) - all the other stuff, like this straddling of costs, for example, doesn't mean much.

In conclusion, it's probably easier and less problematic to simply abolish the fees altogether and couple it with good, strong rent control - limiting increases and limiting how frequently they can increase.

If elected representatives don't support this, don't vote for them. And people who do support common sense like this should start running for office.
8
So folks want stuff, but don't want to pay what the owner is charging. Just move to kent
9
P.S. Re 3, 6, 7

You also have to implement controls on how much it can go up after someone moves out - otherwise they start trying to throw people out so they can raise the rent even more.

I'm concerned about how complicated and "little details" people are making this. With these class divisions, too.

Abolish the fees and put through strong, common sense rent control. Vote for people who talk about this clearly, straightforwardly and without apology.

10
@3,6,7,9 Seeing as how the state forbids rent control advocating for Seattle to introduce it would only waste city money on a lawsuit the city would lose. The same thing as when Seattle tried to ban guns in city parks.

If you'd like other ways of wasting city money see the $60k painted crosswalks in capitol hill or the CD.
11
@10 I've never heard that it's illegal to advocate for rent control. Ever hear of the 1st Amendment?
12
Re 3, 6, 7 , 9, 11

Came back one more time to reiterate that I'm referencing the supposed credit check fees when I'm talking about "fees."

Now, I don't know the in's and out's of this - the other non-refundable fee that I'm aware of is for cleaning. I think there's a certain amount of baloney with this fee, as well, considering how much cleaning we had to do after moving into a unit, but I'm guessing - unless people report abuse with respect to security deposits, it probably helps to keep things in check there, as long as it's a reasonable amount. Just kind of saves people a lot of baloney when leaving the unit.

So you see, I'm not an unreasonable person. And we've always paid rent on time and, short of ordinary aging of unit, left apartments in better condition than they were when we moved in.

But I can see where this city is heading. You can't maintain small town rules - based on mutual decencies - when landlords start acting like it a jungle for taking advantage. Which these large companies - and downtown developers - are doing.
13
@11 Good point you can advocate for it all you want. It just won't matter.
14
A statewide initiative overturning the rent control ban is needed. Other than slumlords and Tim Eyman(who'd mainly be against it because he always has to have a puppy to kick or an orphan to drown) who would possibly oppose that?
15
@14 Morons. There's a lot of them here. They think they're being progressive.
16
In the 90's, in Seattle, down in Eastlake, on Roanoke, I had the sweetest little studio,,brick bldg., water view. $550 a month. For almost ten years the landlord never raised the rent, he had a tennant who had lived there almost 50 years. Rare, but not out of the question.

It was his only building, and he took care of it, and us. I may as well reminisce about JP fucking Patches. But I gotta think, when you give nimwits the power to "hate the Man", you might plan on standing back while they fuck themselves.
17
Let's ban pet rent while we're at it.
18
Don't rent, buy if you can. I know it's very tough and may seem impossible now even with a partner, but the truth is, if you are not currently owning or buying Real Estate and don't have a 401K that you religiously max your contribution to every paycheck, you have nothing! What do you think your future will be wasting 10, 20 years on rent? Move to some place more affordable if you must and live with the commute. At least you will have something to show for you work.
19
@12: I have been a small-time landlord for over a decade, and never has a tenant left one of my units in as good condition (let alone better) as when they moved in, because it's spotless when they move in. If a departing tenant were really to bring it back to that same level of cleanliness I would be thrilled to refund their cleaning fee. But that's never happened, so I think in my case the fee is justified. I agree that a cleaning fee is bogus if the place is dirty when you move in, though.

Regarding the credit check, I view that as an unfortunate necessity. I just charge what the report costs me -- no markup. And I try to avoid running the check on anyone unnecessarily. Probably 80% of prospects who pay the fee end up in the apartment. But it's essential to carefully evaluate a tenant's ability to afford the place before they move in. Once they are in, if they simply stop paying their rent, it costs many thousands to evict them. (Two or three months of lost rent -- or more if your court case fails to go smoothly -- plus lawyer fees, court costs, moving and storage fees for their stuff, etc., as required by law. And of course you still have to pay your mortgage, utilities, taxes and other fees.)
20
@3, 6, 7. 9. 11 . . . Are you willing to have "good, strong" wage control? or "good, strong" expense control? If you argue that landlords are "taking advantage" now, what about times when the job market is good and workers are asking for higher wages? are they "taking advantage"? How about contractors who now charge more for repairs/remodels (a number of handymen, not even real contractors, have recently quoted me $85/hour to work on a remodel). Are they "taking advantage" too? Or is it just landlords?

If you want to have housing that is cheap as a matte of public policy, then the public should pay for it. Don't ask a small segment of the population to subsidize the housing sector.

21
@3: The one semi-intelligent part of your string of comments is the objection to charging a room full of prospective tenants a screening fee. There's no reason to do this and a lot of landlords (usually big complexes) totally abuse this for easy money. You can easily narrow it down to a couple of candidates and run a check just on them - it is not a significant expense. Costs us about $20 to do an online credit check.
22
@14: As a landlord I would probably lose money if we lift the ban on rent control. However, as a citizen I would consider it my duty to support such a proposal if it would promote affordable housing. But would it? Landlords need to make a modest profit (after mortgages, taxes, maintenance, and fees), or at least break even for some years while the property appreciates. If rents are too low to pay for expenses, many landlords might sell their properties and buyers would condo them out, thereby creating even greater scarcity. The remaining units might be rent controlled, but good luck finding one. So rent control would have to be very carefully crafted or it would have the opposite of its intended effect.
23
This will drive most of the small time landlords out of business; they will sell out to corporate landlords. The corporates will set everything up to run according to the book. They will have a well equipped legal staff and all will follow the rules; every thing, every detail will be written down and there will be no exceptions. Basically the city will be further dehumanized.
25
At least Sawant is trying, which is more than Mayor Murray's lip service as Seattle's rent increase of 9.7% leads the country.

Fake liberals like Mayor Murray are more interested in coddling the rich than actually doing anything to help the middle and working class people tricked into voting for him. The results speak for themself, under Mayor Murray Seattle has become the rich man's play ground but the average Stranger reader will reelect him because he's gay - literally the only thing he has going for him.
27
Everyone else here is much more in the know on this topic than I, but I feel compelled to reach back to what @4 said. (Does anyone else take notes w/ pen @ paper before commenting? Why in the world doesn't "The Stranger" employ a more sensible comment system like Disqus?) This microcosm conversation casts into relief the hodgepodge, compartmentalized nature of the economy over all. One product (an apartment) can be rented after jumping through more complex hoops than getting an abortion in Texas, plus its baseline cost can skyrocket with just a couple years, whereas to rent other products, such as DVDs or power tools from Home Depot or a truck from U-Haul, not only is the front end cost and headache-inducing paperwork not so exorbitant, but the baseline costs have stayed basically the same for a decade or more, barring minor increases to keep up with inflation. Why are the costs of some sectors of the economy (rent, college, health care) allowed to move up and up and up -- not pegged at all to either the average consumer's spending ability or the rate of inflation in general -- while simultaneously the costs of the majority of products for sale or rent seem somewhat stable? Economically, it's a system where not only does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing, but also both don't know what either foot is doing -- plus the residual tail wrapped around whatever's holding us back from treating all this equally in a systematic way.

Finally, someone (am I going to scroll & scroll & scroll, then take notes on a legal pad? Obviously, No) pointed out that if you want cheaper rent, you should shop in a cheaper neighborhood/city. What's wrong with that? I live in Olympia and would love to live in the South Capitol Neighborhood, but I accept the fact that I can't afford those nice houses and I make the most of the neighborhood I am in (becoming an officer of the neighborhood association, etc). If enough people can't afford the rent in Seattle that landlords have trouble finding tenants, then they'll lower the cost, right? And if enough people with Seattle tastes move to places like Renton and Burien, than unique businesses catering to them will pop up in those otherwise bland cities, making them even more attractive in their own right. Then maybe rents in those outlying areas would go up too, but that wouldn't matter if...

People (referencing now a third person, whose silly number I'm not going to look up) *Buy a Home in an area where they can afford to do so.* If enough others do the same, and you're locked into a good affordable mortgage (as my wife & I are), then this whole discussion becomes moot, because increased interest in a neighborhood or city might make rents go up (not that that I agree with that happening exorbitantly; see first paragraph) around you, but, while that will cause the value of your investment to increase, it won't add much to your monthly expenditure (barring some increased property taxes for increased property value, but that goes down sometimes, whereas it seems rent never does).
28
It's not going to get cheaper & there will never be enough subsidized housing for everyone who wants/deserves it.
People who cannot afford to live in Seattle should plan to move.
I plan to.
Seattle is great but there are plenty of great places in USA.
29
Hello Stranger, your link to the report is malformed:

Concurrently, Washington CAN! has a report (PDF)

So more people may easily access it, can the link please be fixed?