Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Seattle Judge Upholds Cap on Move-In Fees for Renters as Portland Commission Mulls Changes

In one of several ongoing cases between multifamily owners and the City of Seattle over regulations, a judge has ruled that the city can limit deposits renters can be asked to pay Seattle passed an ordinance in January of 2017, limiting nonrefundable fees to one month's rent and pet fees to an additional 25% of monthly rent. The ordinance also required landlords to allow deposits to be paid in installments over six months. Read more in the Seattle Times.

Recently, Portland City Councilor Chloe Eudaly has been working with the Rental Services Commission on a similar proposal. Eudaly's proposal would:

  • Limit the amount of "last month's rent" collected as a security deposit to 50% of total monthly rent.
  • Limit the amount of a security deposit to the equivalent of one month's rent if the landlord does not collect last month's rent.
  • A landlord may not charge for interior painting except what is necessary to repair specific damage made to a wall beyond ordinary wear and tear.
  • Defines "ordinary wear and tear" specifically in numerous instances.
  • Requires the landlord take 3.6% annual depreciation of movable property value into account when charging for repairs.
  • Requires landlord to provide a list of the current depreciated value of the movable property to the tenant at the time of move-in.
  • Tenant has a week to complete and submit a condition report noting any damage to the unit.
  • Outlines inspection guidelines.
  • Requires landlords keep security deposits in an account with or without other security deposit funds that are separate from owner's funds. The account may be a checking, savings, money market, or client trust account. The landlord must provide the bank institution name and account number in writing to the tenant. Interest accrued must be repaid to the tenant when refunded, less a 5% deduction for administrative costs.
  • A tenant may request a receipt of the account and interest earned up to once each year.
  • Outlines notification requirements and termination timelines.
  • The Landlord must report terminated tenancies to the Portland Housing Bureau on a specific form within five business days.
  • Failure to comply with any requirements result in landlord liability to the tenant for:
    • Security deposit
    • A penalty in the amount of 2x security deposit
    • Attorney fees and costs

Read the September 20, 2018 draft here. 

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