Seattle Landlords Must Provide Voter Registration


A new ordinance requires Seattle landlords to provide voter registration to new tenants.

Seattle landlords are already required to provide an informational packet on landlord-tenant law to each new prospective renter (not only those who sign a rental agreement), at each renewal of a tenancy, and annually to all month-to-month tenants. The landlord-tenant law pamphlet can be given electronically only to existing tenants.

Voter registration will be added to the landlord-tenant law packet, which is currently fifteen pages.  Washington state law also requires a mold disclosure pamphlet.

The voter registration requirement is the latest in a series of new burdens placed on Seattle residential landlords.  The City of Seattle has recently placed caps on move-in charges; required all residential landlords to register their rental properties for inspections; and, required landlords to track inquiries and accept the first qualified rental applicant.

This year Seattle created a Renters’ Commission for the express purpose of recommending new laws that favor tenants. The stated purpose of the Renters Commission is to provide information to the Seattle city government “concerning issues and policies affecting renters” and police landlords by monitoring the “enforcement and effectiveness of legislation related to renters and renter protections, and provide periodic advice on priorities and strategies for strengthening enforcement and effectiveness of renter protections.” [1]

While landlords must have “just cause” to evict tenants, tenants are given the right to terminate a rental agreement upon notice to the landlord if the landlord neglects to provide the voter registration information—even unintentionally. The tenant is also given a private right of action for actual damages, attorney fees, court costs, and penalties of up to $1,000.

[1] See the Renters’ Commission page at seattle.gov.