Seattle landlords on Tuesday sued the city over a law requiring them to allow tenants to pay move-in costs in installments. The move represented the latest pushback from property owners against a series of new city policies protecting renters. “Our members provide safe and affordable housing," Sean Flynn, board president at the Rental Housing Association of Washington, said.
The 5,400 landlords represented by RHA "set the standard for ethics and best practices in our industry," Flynn said. "Yet, this city council has never missed the chance to lambaste, demonize, and hold landlords responsible for problems they did not create.”
RD House is an Affiliate member of the RHA.
The RHA took the city to court today, seeking to block a law the Seattle City Council approved in December, which requires landlords to allow tenants to pay their security deposits, fees, and last month's rent over the course of a payment plan. The law, which passed unanimously under the sponsorship of city council members Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold, also caps the total amount of security deposits and nonrefundable fees landlords can charge at no more than one month's rent. Nonrefundable fees can't exceed 10 percent of one month's rent unless the cost of the tenant's screening report exceeds that amount.
Josh Whited, the lawyer representing the RHA, called the requirements "onerous." He argued the law violates the state ban on rent control, constitutes an illegal "taking" of private property, and violates landlords' due process rights.
Court precedent in Washington, Whited said, has found that “local governments are not entitled to shift the burden for solving societal problems to individual property owners.”
We will follow this story with updates as they develop.