Burien City Council passes strengthened renter protections
Information from the City of Burien
On October 24, 2022, the Burien City Council adopted Ordinance 804, amending Burien’s existing suite of renter protections originally passed in 2019. The updated renter protections went into effect immediately, before the end of Burien’s eviction moratorium at the end of October. The updates to Burien Municipal Code 5.62 and 5.63 include:
- Rent increases: A new section on rent increases was added. Specifically, a landlord may not increase rent unless they have provided 120 days’ prior notice of a rent increase over 3% and 180 days’ prior notice of a rent increase over 10%. Rent increases cannot go into effect prior to the completion of the term of the rental agreement. Notice of rent increases of 3% must follow requirements set by Washington State law. Landlords are also not allowed to increase rent if the dwelling unit has “defective conditions” making the rental home uninhabitable.
- Move-in fees cap: Move-in fees, including security deposits, nonrefundable move-in fees, or last month’s rent, may not exceed the cost of one month’s rent. Exceptions were listed for subsidized housing where the amount of rent set is based on income.
- Installment payments: In the previous version of the law, tenants in longer-term agreements were allowed to pay move-in fees in installments. The updates now allow tenants in a six-month or longer rental agreement to pay move-in fees in installments. Renters in rental agreements lasting fewer than six months must be allowed to pay fees in two equal installments.
- Just cause eviction requirements: Burien’s existing “just cause eviction” ordinance was updated to add that landlords may not evict residential tenants from rental housing units if the units are not licensed with the City of Burien or if the required rental housing inspection is not completed by the deadline.
- Late fees: Late fees cannot exceed $10 per month. No other fees, such as attorney fees or other legal costs, can be charged to the tenant. Any notice to pay or notice to vacate must include text, in at least 16-point font: “You have 14 days to pay the rent required by this notice. After 14 days, you may pay the rent but will have to include a late fee totaling at most $10.00 per month for each month of rent owed. If the landlord has started a court case to evict you and the case is filed in court, you will need to pay court costs as well before the hearing date to avoid eviction.”
- Social Security numbers: Social Security numbers cannot be required to apply for a rental home. Alternative methods of proving financial eligibility must be accepted. If the prospective renter offers an alternative financial qualification document, the landlord must offer the same terms as if a Social Security number was provided.
- Due date adjustments: Tenants are allowed to adjust the due date of rent payments if their regular and primary source of income, monthly source of governmental assistance, or fixed income source such as Social Security is received on a date that is incompatible with paying rent on the date specified in the rental agreement. Landlords are not allowed to refuse to rent to a prospective tenant or terminate a lease based on a request for a due date adjustment.
- Certificates of inspection: Not complying with inspection requirements will now incur penalties for every day the unit operates without a certificate of inspection. After 30 days of noncompliance, the property will be deemed uninhabitable.
- Information for renters and landlords can be found at burienwa.gov/renting
- Ordinance 804 – Additional Rental Housing Protections
- Burien Municipal Code 5.62: Rental Housing Inspection Program (RHIP)
- Burien Municipal Code 5.63: Rental Housing Policy