As many landlords utilize pet fees as a security blanket from property damages, few would be hesitant to accept pet-owning applicants without it. Now that the city of Seattle’s recent legislation (CB 118817) removes the power to charge move-in administrative fees or pet fees, it’s easy to wonder if the amount of pet-friendly housing will decline.
As we reviewed in our Quarterly Legislation Update, CB 118817 caps the move-in amount housing providers can collect from new renters. Effective on January 15, 2017, the law limits acceptable non-refundable fees to the application fee and any one-time cleaning fee charged at the initiation of tenancy. Because of these new limits, other common non-refundable fees charged at move-in (like administrative fees or pet fees) are now prohibited.
In addition to placing limits on non-refundable fees, the Washington Multifamily Housing Association‘s helpful guide showcases that the maximum security deposit is limited to the firs month’s rent (less any non-refundable fees charged) and permits the resident to pay fees, the security deposit and last month’s rent in a payment plan. Pet damage deposits are also limited to 25% of one-month’s rent, regardless of the number of pets owned. Single-family, owner occupied rental homes are exempt.
CB 118817 comes soon after Seattle’s earlier “First-Come, First-Served” law (CB 118755). CB 118755 requires landlords to rent their vacant housing units to qualified applicants one at a time, providing applicants with information on their minimum screening criteria before accepting a prospective renter’s application, and has been under fire ever since it was enacted in January. According to the Seattle Times, a group of landlords are suing the city of Seattle on the premise that it “violates their right to rent property in a nondiscriminatory manner to the people they choose at the price they choose.”
Although there’s no word yet that a lawsuit over the city’s fee limits is in the works, it calls into question whether or not the amount of pet-friendly housing in Seattle will dip in response. While we’ve promoted creating a pet-friendly environment to increase the amount of rental applications you get in the past, removing the safety net of pet-fees and a pet security deposit more than ¼ the first month’s rent, could certainly make many landlords avoid the stress of pet-owning applicants.
What do you think? Do you think this new law would deter you from opening your properties to pet-owning applicants? Let us know in the comment section below & be sure to subscribe!