Judge Upholds Seattle Move-in Costs Cap

A Seattle ordinance limits move-in costs landlords may demand for residential tenants. The ordinance places caps on fees, and allows tenants to pay fees and pre-paid rent, such as last months rent, in installments.

The Rental Housing Association (RHA), a landlord industry association, challenged the validity of the law. RHA argued that the ordinance violated state law prohibiting rent control by local government, and violated the takings and due process provisions of the Washington state and federal constitutions.

King County Superior Court Judge Susan Amini recently upheld the Seattle ordinance. She held that security deposits and other costs regulated by the ordinance do not meet the definition of rent. The judge held that pre-paid rent is not controlled because the ordinance regulates the timing but not the amount of rent. She also ruled that the ordinance does not violate the takings or due process clauses of the Washington state or federal constitutions.

An appeal is likely.

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