City of Kirkland – Notice of “Tenant Protections”: Changes Effective September 18

Posted By: Ryan Makinster Advocacy News ,

On Wednesday, August 3, the Kirkland City Council passed a new “Tenant Protection” Ordinance with several requirements/prohibitions. Thankfully, due to WMFHA GA and member efforts, the council chose to apply a delayed effective date of September 18 as well as protections for renewal notices provided prior to that date.

Now that the adopted ordinance has been published, we want to make you aware so you can update your processes to comply and ensure renewal notices are sent prior to the date of the law change.

The new requirements and prohibitions include:

Notice of Rent Increase

Any rental agreement or renewal of a rental agreement shall state the dollar amount of the rent or rent increase and require:

  • 120 days’ written notice for rent increases greater than (3%)
  • 180 days' written notice for rent increases greater than (10%)

If the rental agreement governs subsidized housing where the amount of rent is based on the income of the tenant or circumstances specific to the subsidized household, the landlord shall provide a minimum of 30 days' prior written notice of an increase in the amount of rent to each affected tenant.

Impact on Existing Lease Provisions

Any notice of rent increases lawfully given to an existing tenant prior to the effective date of this ordinance shall be deemed valid. Otherwise, the notice provisions of this law apply to all rental agreements as of the effective date of this ordinance.

What This Means for Members:
  • Any rent increase notice given to existing tenants prior to September 18 is considered valid

  • If you will be increasing rent by more than 3 percent in the next 120 days, you need to notice your tenants prior to September 18

  • If you will be increasing rent by more than 10 percent in the next 180 days, you need to notice your tenants prior to September 18

Move in Fees & Security Deposits

  • All move in fees and security deposits charged by a landlord before a tenant takes possession of a dwelling unit shall not exceed one month's rent, except in subsidized housing where the amount of rent is set based on the income of the tenant
  • Tenants entering rental agreements with terms lasting six or more months may choose to pay their move-in fees and security deposits in six equal monthly installments over the first six months occupying the dwelling unit
  • Tenants entering rental agreements with terms lasting fewer than six months or month-to-month rental agreements, may choose to pay move in fees and security deposits in two equal monthly installments over the first two months occupying the dwelling unit

Exceptions to move in fees and security deposits

A landlord and tenant may agree, in writing, to waive specific requirements of this chapter regarding the limitations a landlord can require relating to move in fees and security deposits if all of the following conditions have been met:

  1. The agreement to waive specific provisions is in writing and identifies the specific provisions to be waived
  2. The agreement may not appear in a standard form written lease or rental agreement
  3. An attorney for the tenant has approved in writing the agreement as complying with subsections 1 & 2 (above)

What This Means for Members:

  • You can negotiate a move-in fee and security deposit amount that exceeds one month rent, presumably for a higher risk tenant, but must follow specific requirements in 1, 2 and 3 above.

Impact on Existing Lease Provisions

Provisions regarding the amount of move-in fees and security deposit due in a rental agreement that has been entered into prior to the effective date of this ordinance shall remain in effect until the original expiration date of such rental agreement.

What This Means for Members:

  • Any move-in fee and security deposit amount in a current lease or one signed before September 18 is considered legal until the lease term expires

  • Refunds on any move-in fees or deposits for existing leases do no need to be provided to comply with the new one-month limit

NOTE: As always, these are a general interpretations of the changes adopted and do not constitute legal advice;  always consult the actual ordinance language and your legal counsel for compliance requirements.

The City is developing educational materials for housing providers to assist them in complying with the new regulations. These materials will be available on the City’s website when complete. We are also working with city staff to develop a webinar for housing providers. Stay tuned for more info.

Please contact Ryan Makinster with any questions.