2017 Changes in Seattle Municipal Code affect Deposit and Move-in fees for Seattle Renters

If you are a renter in the City of Seattle there are big changes to be aware of:

The City of Seattle enacted two new subsections to the Seattle Municipal Code for 2017 involving security deposits and other move-in fees. Here are the most significant changes:

  • The total amount of a security deposit and nonrefundable move-in fees may not exceed the amount of the first full month’s rent
  • Other than non-refundable move-in fees, security deposits, and last month’s rent, landlords are prohibited from charging tenants any one-time fee at the beginning of the tenancy
  • If the tenant has paid a non-refundable move-in fee for cleaning, the landlord may not deduct additional cleaning fees from the tenant’s security deposit.
  • The total amount of non-refundable fees may not exceed ten percent of the first full month’s rent, except that if the cost of a tenant screening report exceeds ten percent of the first full month’s rent, the amount in excess of the ten percent may be included in the non-refundable fee but may not exceed the customary costs charged by a screening service in The City of Seattle.
  • Tenants may pay security deposits and non-refundable move-in fees in installments as provided below and Landlords may not impose any fee, charge any interest, or otherwise impose a cost on a tenant because a tenant elects to pay in installments:

o   For tenancies six months or longer – tenant can pay security deposit and non-refundable move-in fees in six consecutive, equal monthly installments that begin at the inception of the tenancy

o   For tenancies between 30 days and six months – the tenant may elect to pay the security deposit and non-refundable move-in fees in no more than four equal amounts that begin at the inception of the tenancy and are paid in installments of equal duration or, if agreed by the landlord and tenant, according to an installment schedule described in the rental agreement.

o   For a month to month tenancy –  tenant can pay the security deposit and non-refundable move-in fees in two equal installments. The first payment due at the inception of the tenancy and the second payment is due on the first day of the third week of the tenancy

  • A tenant may elect to pay last month’s rent in installments as follows and landlords may not impose any fee, charge any interest, or otherwise impose a cost on a tenant because a tenant elects to pay in installments.

o   For tenancies six months or longer – tenant can pay last month’s rent in six consecutive, equal monthly installments that begin at the inception of the tenancy

o   For tenancies 60 days to six months, tenant may elect to pay last month’s rent in no more than four equal amounts that begin at the inception of the tenancy and are paid in installments of equal duration or according to an agreed installment schedule in the rental agreement.

  • CAUTION: Landlord and tenant can still agree to a different schedule if it is written in the lease. But, a landlord cannot ask you to waive your right to spread out the deposit.

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