Auburn Passes Landlord-Tenant Regulations
New Auburn Law - Summary
The city of Auburn unanimously passed a new rental housing code on Tuesday September 8, 2020. The new laws, described in detail below, apply to all residential multifamily properties located in the city of Auburn.
The new laws are set to take effect on October 16. However, an extension the state of Washington’s eviction moratorium will supersede the new laws.
In early July, WMFHA learned the Auburn City Council was seeking to pass a suite of new regulations “in the dead of night” and without any input from the multifamily industry. WMFHA quickly mobilized the association and its members, causing the City Council to delay consideration of this ordinance. Over the next month and a half, despite the council’s refusal to communicate directly with WMFHA, we worked with city staff and were able to remove some of the most challenging regulations proposed.
Specifics of the Law:
- The law requires distribution of specific information:
- The written rental criteria must include a link to a city of Auburn informational website. Where the tenant cannot reasonably access the internet, the landlord must provide the tenant with a paper copy of the required information included on the website.
- A summary of the laws must be provided when they are made available, at the initiation of tenancy and with any renewal of a rental agreement. The initial distribution must be in writing and thereafter may be provided electronically. The landlord must obtain the tenant’s signature acknowledging receipt of the summary of laws or the landlord may draft a declaration if the tenant refuses.
- A Notice of Resources prepared by the city must be provided with any legal notice served (10-day, 14-day, 20-day, 120-day)
- The law sets limitations on rent increases:
- Any increase in rent or non-rent charges must be in writing and signed by the tenant.
- Any rent increase of more than 5 percent requires at least 120 days advance notice.
- In subsidized tenancies, where rent is based on the income of the tenant, the landlord shall provide a minimum of 30 days’ notice and the increase in rent will become effective at the end of the term of rental agreement, or sooner upon mutual consent.
- Rent increase notices must be served in the same manner as a termination notice by knocking and personal delivery, or by posting and mailing.
- The law set limitations on the collection of a security deposit:
- A security deposit cannot exceed the monthly rent.
- An additional security deposit may be added to tenants with pets that is “reasonable.”
- The law limits late fees to $10 per month.
- No other fees may be charged with connection with the lease or rental agreement unless such fee is agreed to in writing at the time of entering the lease agreement.
- A tenant’s failure to comply with the terms of an installment payment agreement is subject to a 14-day notice (provided the state moratorium is not in effect).
- A landlord reviews requests for a reasonable accommodation related to the service of a notice.
- The law requires property owners to provide notice of proposed sale of housing where anyone rents an apartment home at or below 80 percent of AMI except where the property is transferred to a family member, transferred by a will, or that are not listed for sale; or where 20% or fewer of the units are studio apartments and the rent level in these studio apartments is the triggering event.
- The law requires any termination notice to state a reason for the termination (Just Cause Eviction).
- Permissible reasons for termination include:
- The tenant fails to comply with a 14-day notice or habitually fails to comply with a 14-day notice four times in a 12-month period.
- The tenant fails to comply with a 10-day notice or habitually fails to comply with a 10-day notice three or more times in a 12-month period.
- The owners seeks possession for their or their immediate family’s occupancy upon 90 days’ advance notice
- The owner elects to sell the dwelling unit subject to 90 days’ advance notice
- The tenant’s occupancy is conditioned on employment
- The owner seeks to complete substantial rehabilitation, demolish or change the use of the rent units, upon 120 days’ advance written notice
- The tenant, or invitees, have engaged in criminal activity on the premises or public right-of-way abutting the premises including drug related activity, or a crime that substantially affects the health or safety of other tenants or the owner.