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Shoreline City Council passed tenant protections on December 11, 2023

Shoreline City Council passed tenant protections on December 11, 2023

Written by SJA Real Estate

December 20, 2023

Shoreline City Council passed tenant protections on December 11 by a vote of 6-1, despite significant opposition from housing providers in Shoreline and housing associations. Ordinance 996 establishes new protections for Shoreline tenants and those already provided under the Washington State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA, RCW, 59.18).

SUMMARY OF CHANGES

Many changes are similar to new tenant protection laws passed in Tacoma (Landlord Fairness Code Initiative). The new tenant protections in Shoreline go into effect on Tuesday, December 19th. As of 8:30 am Pacific Time on December 19th, 2023, the Shoreline Municipal Code has not been updated with the new Chapter 9.35 – Residential Tenant Protections.

What has changed in Shoreline:
Notice of Rent Increase
  • 120 days for an increase greater than 3% but less than 10%
  • 180 days for an increase greater than 10%
Move-in fees, deposits, and last month’s rent
  • All move-in fees and deposits cannot equal more than one month’s rent
  • All such fees can be paid in installments
Late Fees
  • Late fees cannot exceed 1.5% of one-month rent
  • Tenant may propose different rent due dates if their primary source of income is government assistance
  • Can request a date to align with the income payment date
Tenant Screening
  • Landlord may request, but not require, a social security number or other tax ID as part of the screening process
Additional Fees
  • All charges, one-time or recurring, in addition to rent, must be included in the rental agreement addendum
  • May not charge a fee for tenant access to common areas or share of utilities for common areas for any landlord duty required by state law, for example, mail room
  • May not charge a fee for issuance of notices to the tenant
Penalties
  • Tenants have the right to sue their landlord for violation of the code.
IMPACT
  • Capping the late fee at 1.5% of the rent disincentivizes one-time rent payments.
  • Increasing the rent increase notice period requires owners and property managers to make decisions about rent increase 4-6 months ahead of the lease expiration, making it hard to adjust to future market changes, especially if the market rents are increasing.
  • Capping the move-in fees and deposits removes financial protections for property owners, like additional deposits for low credit score applicants.
RESPONSE

SJA already has policies and procedures to comply with the new requirements in Shoreline because of similar tenant protections adopted by other cities, like Seattle, where SJA manages properties. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your Property Manager Lead.

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