From Councilmember Herbold: In-district office hours today; recap of move-in-fee vote

West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold has “in-district office hours” today – 3:30-7 pm at the SP Community Center (8319 8th Ave. S.), “walk-in friendly” as described in her newest online update, just published/e-mailed. Also in that update is her report on this week’s council vote on capping move-in fees for renters. Since we hadn’t made note of the vote previously, we’re republishing what she wrote today:

On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to pass the Renters’ move-in fee cap legislation. This legislation will require property owners who rent to work with tenants needing an installment plan to help renters better afford the high upfront costs required to rent. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve announced that 46% of adults could not cover an emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Seattle’s high housing costs make it increasingly difficult to live in Seattle. Even middle-income households, especially families with children, struggle to meet the high prices of housing in most areas of the city.

I also understand property owners need to collect move-in fees to mitigate the risks arising from tenant damage to units and moving out without proper advanced notice. Some suggested an exemption from this legislation for property-owners who rent 4 or fewer units. In lieu of exempting small landlords, the Council did the following: (1) Exempted move-in fees that total 25% or less than one month’s full rent; (2) Exempted owner-occupied units; (3) Adopted language that allows the tenant and property owner to negotiate a different payment plan then the one required by legislation; and (4) Requires that reservation fees, also known as holding fees, be subtracted from the total move-in costs, thus reducing the total subject to an installment plan.

This legislation will be evaluated over the next 18 months and I have asked that the evaluation of this legislation include an analysis of how small and large landlords are impacted by the legislation.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections is charged with implementing the move-in fee legislation. If you have any questions, please contact Geoff Tallent by email at or by phone at 206-684-8452.

Councilmember Herbold’s full online update tackles a few other topics, too – read it in its entirety here.

26 Replies to "From Councilmember Herbold: In-district office hours today; recap of move-in-fee vote"

  • S December 16, 2016 (1:32 pm)

    Stay out of my pocket book.  There is a reason I have high moving rate. 

  • M December 16, 2016 (3:15 pm)

    Makes sense. In the face of a housing supply shortage, let’s make it more restrictive for potential landlords to rent his/house house out. 

    At of the risk of sounding elitist, can we please have at least one city council member that tries to represent the needs and interest of those of us that have above poverty level incomes, own our homes, and drive a car? 

    I completely agree that homelessness, income inequality, and housing affordability are important issues that the city is facing. However, why do we need to dedicate 100% of the councils energy and resources to those issues? Success is vilified in this city. From those of us that pay a lot in property taxes we want representation that will: Clean up all the trash, litter, and needles. Take care of all of the graffiti. Enforce laws so that we can feel same with our families in our city. Ensure that we continue to have a thriving community of arts. Bring back the Sonics. Return this emerald city to a place that I’m proud to live. 

    • J December 16, 2016 (4:04 pm)

      Wow. There’s a lot to unpack there. Success isn’t vilified. Handholding property owners isn’t the city’s job its to make this city work for everyone. If your biggest complaints in life are graffiti and trash count yourself lucky. 

      As a homeowner who pays property taxes too (and so does everyone that rents) creating a system to keep move-in costs lower so people can find better housing is a worthy cause. In case you haven’t noticed – poverty in this city is worse than ever and as responsible citizens I would think the city spending ample time on these issues would be more important than trash or graffiti or even the ridiculous Sonics. 

    • A D December 16, 2016 (4:44 pm)

      I agree.

      • A D December 16, 2016 (8:32 pm)

        I agree with M I should clarify.

    • WS Guy December 16, 2016 (5:11 pm)

      Here’s someone who makes sense.  I’d like a councilmember that puts parks for families on the agenda ahead of parks for homeless camps. 

  • SeattleGrrl December 16, 2016 (4:01 pm)

    Honestly, just like the previous ruling that landlords MUST accept the first “qualified renter”, this is just going to drive rent prices up even higher. Landlords will raise their rents even higher to cover what they would have taken in fees (both non-refundable and so-called refundable that they usually don’t give back even to the most pristine renters). Those fees are part of their profits. If they can’t get them from fees, they will get them through higher rent. Just like they raise the rents even more to keep out the people they didn’t want as renters before the “first qualified renter” ruling that was supposed to force them NOT to just rent to the Amazonians and upper rental class.

    What we NEED is rent caps and more affordable housing not just for the poor, but for the middle class! When you make $90,000 a year and you can’t bloody afford to rent in Seattle anywhere that isn’t a horrible commute, bad neighborhood, or nasty rental, that is just bloody ridiculous! Put a cap on how much profit a landlord can make off a rental. Yeah, I’m saying it, capitalism is all well and good, but there should be limits at the expense of renters!

    • WS Guy December 16, 2016 (5:44 pm)

      Rent caps?  I thought that policy was discredited years ago.  So long as landlords are made villains, don’t expect rental unit supply to go up.

      • Brian December 16, 2016 (7:53 pm)

        Maybe if they didn’t want to be vilified they would use a title that doesn’t have the word “Lord” in it for crying out loud. 

        • Double Dub Resident December 17, 2016 (8:30 am)

          Sloppy logic  as I’m sure they’re being vilified because of their title and how do you even know that “they’re”  even using that label for themselves,  because as far as I see,  the only people really using that label are people talking about “them” 

          • Captin December 17, 2016 (2:22 pm)

            As a small time “landlord” that has struggled to manage renting my first house out I thank you. I have financed a last payment  and been burned. I have had pet damage cause replacement of drywall in three parts of one room and replacement of carpet and padding after treating the subfloor for cat urine. I’ve had 3 internal doors have holes kicked in. I could go on. These we all people referred by people I know! I totally empathize with the challenges of move in fees and housing in general. We should work on making that better. But as one landlord testified at that meeting some tenants that need to be financed a lot of times have a 60″ 4K TV, 2 iPads, a new car, etc.

            I wrote the council and asked that if we were to be forced to finance something interest free and assume greater risk a trade off would be to require renter’s insurance (less that $10month) for tenants. Much cheaper than all the fees but protects the “landlord” more. Seems like a good way to share risk. Fell of deaf ears. I never even got a “thank you for your email” or anything.

        • Captin December 17, 2016 (2:41 pm)

          What’s a better term other than the one that’s been used forever? I’m open to suggestions. Let’s change the wording in all of the legislation. I’m a “landlord” as defined in law, I didn’t choose that term. Words have power yes but how can one “experience homelessness” if they aren’t homeless? Why do we focus so much on how to describe something (which is the same condition no matter what the wording is) than the actual condition? Landlord and tenant is a business relationship no different than renting a car, going parasailing or whatever. Two parties enter into a contract with a fixed period which where it ends with agreed upon conditions and liabilities. That’s it. 

    • AMD December 16, 2016 (7:12 pm)

      I got a different understanding of the policy than you did, I think.  It sounds like they’re talking about payment plans for move-in fees (so people don’t have to have thousands in savings to get a place, which is a huge barrier for getting housing).  I didn’t read that they’re getting rid of any fees so that wouldn’t change what the landlord is taking in, just when they get it.

      Also, move-in fees aren’t part of profits.  They’re to cover costs of turning the place over between tenants (cleaning, etc.) and as a security against a tenants moving out with unpaid utility bills or before the lease expires.  Good landlords refund what is appropriate.  If they don’t, they need to be reported.  I’ve gotten my full refundable deposit back at the last three places I rented.

    • wetone December 17, 2016 (12:31 pm)

      Making 90k a year and can’t afford rent ?     wow where’s all the money going new car, eating out/entertainment, clothes ? If someone making $90k can’t find a nice comfortable place to live here there must be some other debts or bad spending underlying  issues going on.    

  • Diane December 16, 2016 (6:47 pm)

    read the story; this is not “rent caps”

    • TheKing December 17, 2016 (12:30 am)

      No it isn’t about rent caps, more about the city acting like an HOA for landlords. 

  • KT December 16, 2016 (7:48 pm)

    I think the legislation is missing something very important….the rent for the month in which your birthday falls should be pro-rated as that day is rent free, AND the landlord must provide qualified personnel to unload all Uhauls of tenants moving in or first week is free.      

  • K8 December 16, 2016 (9:47 pm)

    Are move in fees different than first month, last month and security deposit?  Is it just a different schedule that they’re talking about or doing away with other additional fees?  It’s been awhile since I rented. 

    • Captin December 17, 2016 (8:42 am)

      In a nutshell it forces landlords big and small to finance a large portion of move in fees over a 6 month period. (Last month’s rent, security deposit, etc) And also limits what some of those fees can be

      • Double Dub Resident December 17, 2016 (9:39 am)

        In a nutshell as someone already mentioned,  it is essentially a government mandated HOA for property owners to tell them what they can and can’t do with their own property 

        • Captin December 17, 2016 (7:39 pm)

          Yep very one sided. I suggested requiring renters insurance as a balancing factor for requiring interest free loans and a greater assumption of liability for “landlors” All I got was radio silence. For every slum lord there’s 1000 good landlords. There are already mechanisms in place to deal with slum lords. Enforce them and punish those a-holes. As for the rest of us: (I have one rental house where rent barely covers my mortgage) get ready for very restrictive conditions. If I can only charge a small deposit and have to finance it when one scratch of my hardwoods can cost $3000 then I better be pretty restrictive right? I am pretty far left and ok with helping out I just honestly really feel like this isn’t going to help. I really feel like it’s going to increase gentrification.

  • Duh December 17, 2016 (7:54 am)

    cant wait to see those move-out bills. If I can’t get them on the front in, I’ll get them on the back end. if they don’t pay, they’ll end up in collections, and there goes any chance at renting in any professionally managed apartment community.  

  • wetone December 20, 2016 (10:51 am)

    Dealing with a situation now where renters broke lease. Bought small rental for investment towards helping with retirement.  If we HAD NOT collected first, last and dd. upfront, we would be out of pocket $2k from unpaid utility bills and loss of rent issues. City’s answer, you can use court system and retrieve loss of money. Doesn’t work for most small investors due to cost and time involved.  With Mayor Murray, Dow Constantine and CC  showing no respect towards small business owners or people having 1-2 rentals, were looking at different options as we can’t and won’t bankroll ones living in OUR investment.   Mayor Murray and CC are really out to lunch, 2017 will be time to show your feelings with direction Seattle has gone/going with Mayor Patchwork, Dow Constantine and CC  in charge  …….. vote  

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