Move-in fee reform helps low-income renters find housing without prohibitive fees

Seattle renters in need of a new home have new protections when signing a lease. Tenants know a major deterrent in finding a home is the cost of moving, which can include security deposits, pet deposits and other fees. These fees can get in the way of a quick relocation, which can put some renters in harms way if they currently don't have a home or are residing in an unsafe environment. 

We worked with tenants and advocates to create reform that would curtail harmful costs for those of us moving into a new home. 

What this legislation means for renters:

  • Landlords will have to accept payment plans for the upfront costs to moving into a rental (security deposit, last month’s rent and non-refundable fees)
  • Payment plans are based off the length of the lease, and for leases six months or longer, the tenant payment plan can pay these fees and last month’s rent in installments in as many as six equal monthly installments. Renters can request a longer repayment plan with a landlord’s agreement.
  • The total cost of the security deposit and nonrefundable fees must not exceed one month’s rent, with the exception of a pet deposit
  • Pet deposits may not be more than 25% of your rent for one month and no other pet fees can be charged

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection will enforce this legislation and landlords who repeatedly violate it will face civil penalties. Call their help line to report violations (206) 615-0808.

We want to hear from you! Will you benefit from this legislation? Have you had trouble finding affordable housing in Seattle in the past? Click this link to tell us more.