Whether you are a landlord or renter in Washington State, it is important that you familiarize yourself with state laws governing rental housing. Real estate laws are always changing, including new amendments and laws being passed. A previous post about Washington Rental Housing Laws can be found on Insights, the Poplar Homes Blog. This will go a long way to ensure your rights as a landlord or renter are protected and also helps in ensuring you steer clear of lawsuits related to rental housing laws.
We recommend that you always seek legal counsel from appropriate government agencies or a qualified attorney of law to help you understand these laws and ordinances. You can locate an experienced lawyer easily via the Washington Bar Association.
Source of Income Discrimination
There is already a Washington State law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants because of their sex and/or sexual orientation, race, and other factors.
The law has been amended to include a new ban on landlords refusing to rent out property or expelling renters based on their source of income. These include income from housing assistance from Section 8 housing vouchers, Social Security, veterans’ benefits, etc.
The law has already taken effect in thirteen Washington Municipals including Auburn, Seattle, Kent, and Bellevue, while the state-wide ban will take effect starting from September 30th, 2018.
Fair Chance Housing
This law prevents landlords from refusing to rent apartments to renters with a criminal history. This pertains to criminal convictions, arrests without convictions, juvenile records, and those that are expunged, and sealed or vacated. A juvenile sex offender is protected by this law while adult sex offenders are not. This law went into effect in February 2018.
The only exception to this law is when a landlord rents out an accessory dwelling in their property such as a basement or garage, or shares a common area, like a kitchen or bathroom, with the renter. In such cases, landlords can use the renter’s criminal records as a basis for rejecting tenancy. Another exception is when a landlord manages four or fewer dwelling units.
Seattle Cap On Move-In Fees
A King County Superior Court Judge upheld a recent Seattle law in January 2017 where it limited the number of money renters is required to pay when they move into a new rental home. The move-in fees are now limited to security deposits and non-refundable fees to one month’s rent, and pet deposit fees to a fourth of monthly rent. These fees can also be paid in installments within a six months period.
The Rental Housing Association of Washington sued the City and pressured judges to overturn the law, saying it contradicted the City’s ban on rent control. It was decided in September 2018 that this cap on move-in fees was not related to rent since security deposits are ”fees” and therefore would not be accounted as rental income.
While this law is not newly passed, this ruling further supports renters in the landlords vs. renter tension in Seattle. This law allowed renters to pay these fees on installment over the next six months after move-in.
These are the latest Washington rental housing updates so far in the year.
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