King County has passed new rental regulations that will increase the cost of rent

By MARK HARMSWORTH  | 
Jun 30, 2021
BLOG

The King County Council Tuesday passed new regulations that will result in higher rental costs in an already competitive rental market.

Already struggling with eviction moratoriums, many small landlords have been hit hard by state and local regulations making owning a rental property as an investment less attractive and increasing costs. The majority of renters, during the pandemic, have continued to pay rent on time, but there are horror stories of renters moving into properties and using the eviction moratoriums as an excuse to spend money that would have been used for rent, for other purchases. Bad renters have taken advantage of the pandemic to get free housing at the expense of the property owners.

Now King County is imposing even more regulations that will make it more difficult for property owners to work with renters.

Included in the new law is a cap on rent increases, limits on move-in fees and a cap on late fees at 1.5%.

While renters are paying rent on time and taking care of the rental property, rental law and restrictions are normally not an issue. Renters and landlords work together for the best deal for both parties. A landlord will offer lower rents and incentives to good renters to keep them in the property. However, in the situation where a renter is refusing to pay rent or damaging the rental property either deliberately or through neglect, it will now cost the property owner more money to recoup the lost rental income and pay for repairs to a damaged property.

More disturbing, in the new law passed by the King County Council to restrict the type of questions a landlord can ask during the rental application process to determine if a renter qualifies to rent a property. Landlords can request, but can no longer require, Social Security Numbers as part of the application process. This will significantly impact the ability to determine the credit worthiness of a potential renter and may also allow a criminal element or someone in the county illegally to more easily falsify rental applications to gain access to a property. Once in the property, the renter can invoke the eviction moratorium provisions and stop paying rent.

All of these new laws will cost more money, increase liability and decrease rental property availability. The increased costs will be amortized across all rents irrespective of a renter is a good or bad tenant.

Decreasing the available rental inventory will drive up rental costs making the rental shortage situation worse.

The new law passed by the King County Council will not result in better renter protections. It will lead to less rental property and higher rents and should be repealed.

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