This bill is very poorly thought out. Capping non-refundable fees is fine (or eliminating them altogether, for that matter - I and most landlords I know don't charge them and consider it kind of slimy to do so). But the reason for the deposit is so that if a tenant trashes the place, you have some recourse.

Not getting the deposit up front negates its purpose. If a tenant has 6 months to put down a deposit (and remember, they are not "paying" a damage deposit - it is the tenant's money & they get it back if they have not damaged the property), the bad ones will do their damage before giving the full deposit and the landlord is left holding the bag in case of problems, an eviction, etc. Also, does the bill make failure to pay the deposit within the 6 month period grounds for eviction as non-payment of rent would be?

The effect of this is going to be the same as the "first-in-time" law - landlords are going to be less willing to take tenants without high qualifications and sterling references. And guess who those tend to be? The lower-earning tenants, those rebuilding after a divorce, people new in town, younger tenants, etc. This bill will not help them.
Layering on regulations (a cost) on landlords only results in pass-along costs to tenants.

"Okay, if I can't secure as much protection, I'll just raise the rent to make the risk worth it."
"Okay, I'll just find some other way to earn it – like an egregious cleaning fee."
"Okay, I just won't spend as much on cosmetic maintenance."
"Okay I'll stick the tenant with landscaping and maintenance."
"Okay, I'll charge a separate rental fee for the washer & dryer."

Just as in NYC and San Fran – with their fucking astounding rents – the liberal pols efforts to control the market, end-up distorting the market. And so rents rise because of, not despite them.

So please O'Brien and Sawant – please push for rent control. Because I own my home --- and that will assure to make me a fucking bazillionaire.
Hey Zoner, @2, go read "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" by Ha-Joon Chang, and then come talk to us about "market distortion". I'm dead serious. Regulations make markets successful. Unregulated markets result in chaos.

Intelligent regulation is the key. To that end dvs99 @1 has some relevant points.

Maybe First Month & Security Deposit need to be paid up front, and last month should be spread across 6-12 months.

Maybe we should cap rents right now... as a moratorium move.. until we can work out the details. Having rents constantly rising is quite the pressure.

Maybe there should be some benefits available to housing people making less than $15/hr.

Maybe there should be some benefits available to landlords who engage renters for more than 1-2 year leases. (property tax breaks?)

Let's make this work for both parties, w/o screwing either. And let's get away from this "market rate" rent bullshit, and get towards a "cost of ownership" basis for rents.

The city council should remember, landlords don't pay for these kinds of extra costs, they pass them off to those renting from them. These probably won't increase my costs all that much, but the city council should really consider if even those small increases, which will be passed on to my tenants through higher rents every month, are worth the lower entry costs for tenants. If they think landlords will be unable to raise rents in the current market to cover the extra expenses, they must be living in a different city.
@4 what extra costs?
@2 living in your parents' basement doesn't make you a homeowner.
You can also look at nice places east of the Cascades as possible places to move. Spokane, Wenatchee, and the Tri-Cities. Also Vancouver on this side. Seattle is done as a livable place. SF north rents are inevitable with bums camping next door to a home that takes half your income. Watch out for that needle!
@7 Why do shitheads like you always tell people to move far away from their jobs and their families for low cost housing? Commuting over the Cascades everyday is a fucking stupid...

Oh wait, you think people are trying to live in the Seattle because they think it's "hip" and "cool" rather than because there's a job for them. Christ, you're even dumber than I first thought.
Assuming that I meant you should commute from Spokane to Seattle everyday is something only a retard would assume. Live AND work somewhere else. U-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d? Take that one word at a time.
@5, the cost to manage a payment plan, not huge, but it will be a cost. If you don't think this would be a cost, perhaps you should petition the city to manage it, paying the landlord up front and collecting from the tenant for six months. It'd cost them just as much as it'd cost landlords after all.

Also if the damage deposit and cleaning fees can not exceed one month's rent, there really isn't enough room for both for a lot of properties. Particularly those with a lower rent. I'd rather keep a damage deposit high meaning the cleaning fees will be worked into the rent, at least while demand is high. Maybe others would have a different take, but they'd be working the damage deposit into the rent, or at least some kind of insurance to cover damage if the deposit isn't high enough. There will also be some extra risk as there won't be enough paid up-front to cover the costs if someone can't make rent on the second or third month, which I expect will mean landlords will be more selective if they can be... which most can.

Like I said, this would lower entry costs but increase monthly rent to make things equal out over a year's lease. Maybe it's worth doing, but the council needs to know that this bill will increase rents.
I don't know the details of the bill, but won't capping fees (rent-control-lite) provide some temporary, nominal relief now but exacerbate the problem over the long haul?
@10 why do landlords always think they should be paid extra whenever they actually have to do their job?
Dear Leader does not appreciate being asked to wage a thoughtful campaign for change -- she demands it now and will call upon her heckling army to disrupt all hearings where she does not get her way. Is it me, or have recent Council chamber activities driving toward moderate policies shocked Dear Leader, to the extent that she gets a sour face? I'm watching all this with glee.
@3 What you don't understand – plainly – is that removing the profit incentive of rental property is why investors don't build property. And with the subsequent reduction in inventory, prices can and will go sky high.

And you might say "There's plenty of money to be made with my 'sensible' regulations." If so, awesome. Build yourself some rentals. Oh, and if others decide not to – that doesn't mean there's not a profit, it just means there isn't a profit sufficient to attract capital?

Oh, and about those subsidies for people who make less than <$15/hr? How will you pay for that now that you've given property tax breaks to long-term renters? (And when in fact its long-term renters that contribute to low fluidity of markets, which raises rents as tenants lunge (irrationally) for urgent units.)

You seem to have the same ideas for using other people's property and capital to fund theories which have already been widely disproven.

Run along and let us adults talk now.
@12-We're not talking about being paid extra for doing our jobs. We are talking about the council mandating a change in the way apts are rented that materially increases risk to landlords (having tenants damage units or not pay rent without the ability to take a deposit that provides some security). Most tenants are fine. However, it only takes one who is irresponsible, vandalistic or just doesn't give a damn to put you in the hole for a while. That is why last month's rent + deposit has become standard.

Really, when you are asking someone to trust you with half a million dollars or so of their property, a reasonable deposit is not too much to ask. Why do you think that car rental agencies insist on having your credit card info?

One thing that IS going to increase costs, though, is the "first-in-time" law. Landlords are going to be forced to keep very careful records of who applied when, and hold on to all of the documentation so they can prove they complied with the law when someone who did not get the apartment sues. That is going to be a Grade-A pain in the ass.
The whole point of a deposit is to mitigate the Landlords risk. If they can't charge it upfront that increases risk.

Increased risk in turn leads to increased rents to justify that risk.

At some point we just need to accept that Seattle's housing issues aren't going to be regulated out of existence.

Please wait...

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