Details About Tacoma's New Rental Housing Code

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News,

Tacoma's Rental Housing Code  

Effective February 1, 2019

On November 20, Tacoma City Council passed an ordinance which creates specific renter protections for renters in the City of Tacoma. The law applies to properties in the City of Tacoma only

The majority of the new law becomes effective February 1. However, the council amended the draft ordinance and accelerated the effective date of any notice of rent increase. (more below)
If you’re unfamiliar with how and why the City of Tacoma created this ordinance, please refer to WMFHA’s prior blog posts here and here. More information can also be found in the articles in the section below.

Beginning December 6, all notices of rent increases must be delivered 60 days prior to their effective date. This means that all renewal offers which contain a rent increase effective March 1, 2019, must be delivered prior to December 31, 2018. WMFHA previously sent notice of this change on November 21

Beginning February 1, the following additional renter protections become effective:

  • Requires screening criteria to include a link to the City of Tacoma informational website for providing information about the property and the property owner related to housing code violations and fair housing violations, and a link to the Secretary of State’s office for purposes of providing information on how to register to vote.
  • Requires property owners to distribute information about landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities, unlawful detainer, and fair housing laws. The information must be distributed when the rental agreement is offered and annually at renewal.    
  • Requires property owners to provide a resource summary when any compliance notice is served (3-day, 10-day, 60-day notice to terminate).

<The above requirements are being created by the City of Tacoma at this time.

Concrete language and details are currently not available.>

  • Allows renters to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and/or last month’s rent by installment payment. Installment payment schedules are not applicable when the total amount of the security deposit and non-refundable move-in fees do not exceed 25 percent of the first month’s rent and payment of last month’s rent is not required. For fixed term tenancies longer than three months, the renter has three months to make the installment payments. Costs to obtain a tenant screening report are not included in the installment payment contract and must be paid prior to the tenancy. Any failure by the renter to pay as agreed accelerates the installment payment, making them due immediately. In addition, a 10-day compliance notice is required.
  • When the property owner intends to substantially renovate, demolish or change the use of a rental property, which requires the renter to vacate the rental home, the property owner must provide 120 days notice and provide the Tenant Relocation Information Packet. 
  • All other notices of termination must be provided with at least 60 days notice.  
  • All termination notices must be accompanied by a declaration of service. For 120-day notices based on renovation, change of use or demolition, the renter may request a meeting with the property owner, and the meeting must occur within 20 days of the request. 
  • Requires the payment of Tenant Relocation Assistance, when the renter is required to vacate as a result of substantial rehabilitation, demolition or change of use. At this time, the maximum amount of money a property owner must pay is $1,000 to renters earning less than 50 percent Area Median Income.
  • The law prohibits retaliation and creates an administrative enforcement process for the city to investigate claims of retaliation.

News Coverage of New Law

Tacoma City Council Approves New Rental Housing Code (City of Tacoma)
Tacoma City Council Passes Rental Housing Code Ordinance Restricting Landlords 
(Rental Housing Journal)
Tacoma passes sweeping tenant’s rights ordinance (Q13 Fox)
Tacoma renters’ rights just got stronger (The News Tribune)