Today, I wanted to delve into the recent developments in the rental landscape for Tacoma, Washington. Effective from July 23rd, 2023, the city will implement new ordinances that have significant implications for landlords and property owners. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore these changes, providing clarity and insight to ensure compliance and smooth operations for all stakeholders involved.
1. Business Licenses for Rental Property Owners:
Historically, Tacoma has mandated business licenses for rental property owners. The latest ordinance now imposes an additional requirement. Landlords must have a valid business license in place to proceed with eviction proceedings. Ensuring your business license is up-to-date is essential to avoid any legal complications in the future.
2. Extended Notice Period for Rent Increases:
Under the new ordinance, landlords planning to raise the rent must adhere to an extended notice period. Instead of the state standard of 60 days, the notice period for rent increases is now set at 120 days. Additionally, landlords are required to provide clear information about both the percentage and dollar amount of the rent increase in the notice. This information must be conveyed to tenants during lease renewals and month-to-month tenancies.
3. Security Deposit Repayment Period:
The updated ordinance revises the security deposit repayment period for tenants. Previously, Washington state law required landlords to divide the security deposit over three months if tenants requested it. However, under the new Tacoma ordinance, for properties under a one-year lease, the repayment period extends to six months. Landlords must also include any move-in fees in this payment plan. Adhering to these guidelines will ensure compliance with the law and maintain positive tenant relations.
4. Lease Wording and Handling of Last Month's Rent:
Landlords are advised to meticulously review and update their lease agreements to align with the latest ordinance. Particular attention must be given to the handling of last month's rent. The new ordinance mandates that last month's rent be held in a trust account exclusively for its intended purpose. Landlords cannot apply this amount to any other outstanding payments, ensuring tenants' rights are upheld.
5. Rent-to-Income Ratio:
A crucial aspect of the updated ordinance is the rent-to-income ratio requirement. If your rental property's rent falls below the HUD average for a similar property in the zip code, you may charge 3% or more of the income level as rent. Conversely, if your property's rent matches or exceeds the HUD-determined medium price for the area, charging 3 times or more of the rent amount as the income level is prohibited. Careful consideration of this ratio will ensure fair and equitable rental practices.
6. Pet Policies:
Tacoma's new ordinance introduces changes to pet policies for rental properties. While landlords are no longer allowed to implement breed-specific bans for dogs when accepting pets, they retain the right to decline pets altogether if they choose to do so. Additionally, the ordinance imposes a cap on pet fees, stipulating that they must not exceed a quarter of one month's rent.
In conclusion, Tacoma's new rental ordinances represent a significant shift in the rental landscape for landlords and property owners within the city. Understanding and adhering to these changes is crucial to maintaining a legally compliant and prosperous rental business. As a representative of SJC Management Group, I am here to assist you in navigating these new regulations and ensuring your rental properties remain in good standing with the law. For any inquiries or guidance, do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to supporting your rental endeavors.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content is based on the speaker's understanding of the new law as of the date mentioned and may not encompass all relevant legal aspects. Laws and regulations can vary by jurisdiction and are subject to change over time. If you have specific legal questions or concerns related to the new law or any other landlord-tenant matters, it is essential to consult with a qualified attorney who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances. SJC Management Group does not offer legal advice through this blog and disclaims any liability arising from reliance on the information presented herein. Always seek professional legal counsel for your specific situation.