Seattle Bans Rent Bidding Websites

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News ,

After receiving a report from the University of Washington Associated Student Body regarding websites that provide rent bidding services, the Seattle City Council moved to place a moratorium on the use of such services for two years.  

The moratorium, which becomes effective 30 days after the Mayor signs the law, prohibits the use of rental housing bidding platforms.  

What is a rental housing bidding platform? It is a type of Internet Listing Service (ILS) where rental housing providers may list an available unit, and allows prospective applicants to bid on certain lease provisions, such as the highest amount of rent they (the applicant) are willing to pay. 

Websites that provide rent bidding services, like Rentberry, do not have any active listings for rental properties within the City of Seattle limits.  The ordinance also directs the Seattle Office of Housing to study the effect rental bidding platforms have on the rental market, but it remains to be seen how anyone will be able to study the effect of a business model prohibited from operating within the City limits.  

Often the smallest legislative policies create the largest media attention.  Both the Seattle Times and The Stranger and many other news outlets cover the ordinance and moratorium.

If you have any questions on this or other laws in the City of Seattle, please contact Brett Waller at (425) 656-9077 or by email at brett@wmfha.org