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Navigating Tacoma's New Rental Regulations, Measure One: Insights from a Property Manager

Hey there, it's Jason from SJC. I've got some critical information to share, especially if you're a landlord in Tacoma. Let's dive into the details of the recent changes in rental laws – it's essential for all of us to stay informed.

In July 2023, the Tacoma City Council introduced new laws that took effect within the city limits of Tacoma. In addition to those laws, a recently voted-on ballot initiative known as Measure One, a result of a narrow vote by the people, became effective on December 8th, 2023. This stacked even more regulations on top of the ones recently added by the City Council. Here's a breakdown of what you need to know.

Starting off, rental property owners now need a business license from the City of Tacoma if your rental is within the city limits of Tacoma, regardless of whether there's a licensed manager in the picture. A business license is required not just for evictions (which was the case before Measure One) but now even for posting rent increase notices.

The new regulations the City Council imposed in July extend the notice period for running to 120 days. Measure One now changed the requirements regarding rent increases even further. Now, two notices are required, the first between 210 and 180 days and the second notice between 120 and 90 days before the rent increase goes into effect. The notices are also required to include certain information about rental laws in Tacoma. More significantly, if the increase is equal to or exceeds 5%, landlords are obligated to provide relocation assistance, and the amount varies based on the percentage increase but is at least two times the rent amount.

Measure One also introduced several more restrictions on evictions, including prohibiting evictions during the school year if the tenant claims to have a student residing in the property. Additionally, there's a cold-weather eviction ban from November 1st to April 1st.

While Measure One is in effect, the city has made it clear that they won't be responsible for enforcement against landlords. Instead, tenants are directed to groups of attorneys/tenant advocates to file lawsuits for violations of Measure One. The measure allows the landlord to be sued for up to five times the rent amount per violation.

Landlords are limited to a $10 per month maximum late fee and cannot charge any post-notice fees or attorney fees (for evictions). Additionally, no more than an amount equal to one month’s rent can be required for move-in costs for the tenants, including the deposit and screening fees but not including rent. This means that deposits may need to be lowered to account for the screening fees tenants pay. This last regulation limits the flexibility landlords once had in working with individuals who may have been asked for a higher deposit in certain situations; thus, potentially affecting the approval of tenant applications, especially those on the borderline in terms of credit.

These changes do pose new challenges for landlords to know how to navigate and will make having a reliable property manager who is informed and understands the regulations the key to being a successful landlord in the city of Tacoma. If you have questions or need clarification, feel free to reach out. I'm here to help you navigate through these changes effectively. Thanks for tuning in!

Click Here to Link to the City of Tacoma's Rental Resource Page with more information about laws effecting property management in Tacoma WA