Recommended Reading

June 2024 Issue Spotlights:

Seattle Rental Policy: 10-Year Timeline (2014-2023), December 20, 2023
Seattle Grassroots Landlords compiled this 3-page overview of municipal rental housing policy, 2014-2023. The decade has been an intensely unpredictable regulatory and political whirlwind, with many unintended consequences, and difficult for anyone to keep up with — including small housing providers, renters, legislators, city staff, courts and attorneys, media, housing advocates, and the general public. As Seattle welcomed a new slate of council members to office in January 2024, we offered this resource for much-needed context and as a jumping off point to explore the many impacts and intricacies that need addressing in a holistic way.

Other Key Resources

Seattle's City Auditor released this detailed assessment of the RRIO program at the end of 2023. The main report is 44 pages; with appendices it is 81 pages total.

The #1 recommendation is:

The report confirms that small landlords (single-family rental homes and small multi-family properties) are leaving the Seattle market and that the environment is more favorable for larger-scale landlords. The trend mirrors a national shift towards larger multi-family rental buildings and conversion of single-family rentals to owner occupancy, which reduces the variety of housing options available to renters, in opposition to Seattle’s goal of achieving a mix of housing types for different household types, sizes and incomes.

Pages 23-32 detail “Challenges Faced by Property Owners and Why Some of Them Have Stopped Renting Properties,” including results of a survey of RRIO registrants who have inactive registrations or recently sold properties:

Small Housing Provider Roundtable at Seattle City Council Economic Development Committee Meeting, March 22, 2023

In the second half of 2023, city council did not discuss or move forward with issues and solutions brought forth by small landlords at the Economic Development roundtable in March 2023 or the Fall 2022 SDCI stakeholder group. All legislation continued to move through city council's Sustainability & Renters' Rights Committee, which consistently excluded housing provider input. 

With a new city council taking office in January 2024, we hope for a collaborative, healthier era for municipal rental housing policy and the broader (county/state/regional/national) policymaking influenced by Seattle.

This 21-page document is the result of a staff and stakeholder group process of six online-only meetings that Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections  (SDCI) convened in summer/fall 2022 to advise the City on regulatory and rental market challenges for small landlords and their tenants. The group was asked to:

SDCI's final report is a starting point in reflecting issues raised, but doesn't come close to capturing the scope and urgency expressed.

Small Landlord Stakeholder Group Suggestions, August 28, 2022, By Seattle Grassroots Landlords

This 15-page document was submitted to Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections at the outset of the Small Landlord Stakeholder Group, a series of 6 meetings that took place between late August and early November 2022, as requested by Seattle City Council in their Fall 2021 budget. In the document, we provide an overview of the mission, goals and concerns of Seattle Grassroots Landlords; detailed legislative and administrative suggestions for how City of Seattle can improve conditions for local independent rental housing; and numerous background research links featuring local and national sources. 

Noted Safety Flaws & Suggested Amendments for Seattle's "Just Cause" Eviction Law, May 2021

Seattle small housing provider Charlotte Thistle (who rents rooms to tenants in her shared Columbia City home) worked with attorney Ryan Weatherstone to convey serious flaws in Seattle's Just Cause law re: inability to protect from harrassment and other safety issues, compounded by city council hastily passing a new mandatory lease renewal law.

City council declined to ever follow up on this topic and it continues to negatively impact landlords and tenants throughout Seattle.

Important Findings from 2018 Rental Housing Study, May 2021, By Seattle Grassroots Landlords 

In 2017, Seattle’s Office of City Auditor conducted a Seattle Rental Housing Study (SRHS) to understand the experiences of renters and landlords in the Seattle market and to gather baseline data that could be used for future evaluations. The study was a requirement of a suite of new landlord policies enacted by Seattle City Council in 2016, hurriedly passed without sufficient time to conduct impact evaluations. This document summarizes key findings from the study and links to relevant source material.

From 2017 to 2021, Seattle landlords experienced a tidal wave of complex new laws, with numerous pending ordinances continuing to unfold. This constantly changing regulatory landscape has rapidly increased the burden on small mom-n-pop  landlords, who have traditionally provided some of the most affordable and flexible local rental housing. This document recaps the five-year onslaught of legislation that is dramatically decreasing rental housing availability, affordability and stability of small-scale, community-owned rental housing in Seattle. (Note: this recap was published in 2021 and quickly became out of date, as Seattle City Council continued to pass numerous additional regulatory changes, with no housing provider input. Want to volunteer to help update the "tsunami" recap? Contact us at