The Kenmore City Council is moving forward with enacting its own restrictions on the amount of notice given to renters before increases are made. If approved, it would be required for tenants to receive a 90-day notice when their rent is being boosted by more than 10 percent over the course of a year.
Council members voted 4-3 in favor of city staff preparing an ordinance change. The action — put to a vote on April 22 — comes after council members requested information on the legalities surrounding rent notification time restrictions in early 2018.
Although the new changes would impact most renting situations, the manufactured or mobile housing communities will continue to have different standards. These new rules would also not impact the eviction process or timelines.
In the state, currently landlord and tenant laws had called for a 30-day notice. But House Bill 1440, recently passed by both the House and Senate, and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, calls for a 60-day notice. Other Washington cities have already adopted 60-day rules including Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver.
This new state law demands the notice, regardless of the rent increase amount. Kenmore’s limit would be on top of this and only apply when a landlord is raising the rent by more than 10 percent.
During the council meeting, councilmembers weighed whether the city should allow the new state law to take full effect before enacting their own city limitation. Some vocalized an agreement with this idea. Others expressed the potential of 60-days not being enough warning for citizens. In a tight housing market it could be difficult to acquire an affordable place, next to work, while keeping their kids in the same school district.
Councilman Milton Curtis said he was in favor of sticking with the 60-day requirement put into place by the state. He cheered that the state doubling the 30-day notice time was a good improvement.
“Anybody have any data that 90 days is better than 60 days?” Curtis said. “Does it benefit anyone other than it just seeming like a good idea? I’m inclined to say, ‘Hey the state has made a good step, in a good direction’ and us not to get into it.”
Mayor David Baker expressed concern for the more vulnerable communities in Kenmore, including seniors living on a fixed income.
“We’ve seen instances or been told of instances where some of the rent increases are vindictive,” Baker said. “Some of the rent increases are happening without [tenants] necessarily being given enough notice.”
He added that he wanted to give them as much time as possible to find a new home or bring about a legal action, when rent amounts fall out of reach.
The vote approving the change is anticipated to take place around May 20, officials said.