Big Changes with Tacoma’s Tenant Protection Ordinance

The City of Tacoma has recently passed the Tacoma Tenant Protections Ordinance with adjustments that can have a huge impact on landlords and how they conduct their businesses moving forward.  The City of Tacoma encountered public outcry after the Tiki apartment complex in Tacoma was sold to a developer in April. The apartment complex was known as an affordable rental complex, many of the residents lacked the resources to relocate after they were given just 20 days to relocate.

The Tiki apartment controversy sparked a larger discussion on the laws protecting tenants in the City of Tacoma, which has led to a new bill, recently passed with some big changes for residents and landlords. 

The overarching theme of the new bill is to increase transparency in tenant rights, as well as significant increases on timeframes for major notifications.  The most significant changes are as follows:

Increased Notice Requirements

  • 60 Day Notice to increase rent
  • 60 Day notice to Terminate tenancy for month to month tenancies
  • 120 Day notice to terminate tenancy for substantial rehab or change of use property
    • **Relocation assistance $2,000 for eligible parties (half to be paid by the landlord) The ordinance outlines eligible parties as:
      • “Low-income tenants” means tenants whose combined total income per dwelling unit is at or below 50 percent of the median income, adjusted for family size, in Pierce County.”

Installment payment plans on move-in fees and deposits

This new ordinance outlines a plan for paying all deposits and move-in fees in installments, and tenants cannot be penalized for electing to pay in installments. The payment schedule must be outlined in writing and signed by both the landlord and the tenant.  Landlords are not permitted to charge interest.

Required distribution of information to renters current, future, and potential.

This means that landlords need to provide links to the corresponding City of Tacoma online pages outlining the new ordinances and tenant rights.  If the party does not have access to the internet, it is the landlord’s responsibility to provide a printed document. 

Penalties for non-compliance up to $1,000 per day per unit.

The first violation for one unit will result in a $500 fine. For every additional unit within a three-year period, the violator will be fined up to $1,000.

(1) For the first violation for each affected dwelling unit, $500; and (2) For each affected dwelling unit for each subsequent violation within a three-year period, $1,000.

The ordinance goes on to outline the charges per day if the landlord does not comply with the law:

(1) For each violation from the date the violation begins for the first ten days of noncompliance, $250 per day, per dwelling unit;

(2) For each violation for each day beyond ten days of noncompliance until compliance is achieved, $500 per day, per dwelling unit.

Violations can be waived or reduced at the discretion of the Director if the landlord comes into compliance within 10 days.

These changes go into effect in December, we strongly advise all of our clients and landlords in the City of Tacoma to read the full ordinance, which can be found here.  Feel free to contact us or comment below with any thoughts or questions!

Sydney Chestnut
sydney@heatondainard.com
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