Seattle council delays vote on rental fee limits

by: Deborah Horne Updated:

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SEATTLE - It is a familiar argument.

"I cry every day because of the crisis I see," said Renee McCoy, who lives on lower Queen Anne.

The argument is that the city of Seattle is getting too expensive for ordinary people to live there, even as it is experiencing a building boom.

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"I'm not sure who thinks it's so good," McCoy added. "Or if it's good for who? Because it certainly isn't good for the average person."

"We need to ensure that every landlord is required to offer tenants a payment plan for these costs," said a woman who described herself as a struggling black mother. "Otherwise, Seattle will become a playground for the wealthy while the rest of us are forced to leave."

And the Seattle City Council seemed poised to do just that, to force landlords to limit the move-in fees and allow those fees to be paid in installments. 

But the legislation has run into fierce opposition from some landlords. 

"They're not looking at the landlord voice," said Windermere property manager Cassie Walker Johnson.  She says the bill could force some landlords out of Seattle.

"Let's have the landlords help write these bills and these regulations that it make it pro-tenant and pro-landlord," Walker Johnson said.

So when Juarez asked to delay the vote, she was met with jeers.

"My sole purpose is requesting that this very important piece of legislation be referred back to committee," said Councilmember Debora Juarez, to boos.

Nevertheless, the council agreed.

"The motion to refer passed 7 to 2," said City Council President Bruce Harrell. "We will move to the next bill."

He was booed, too.

It almost certainly means there will be changes to the legislation.

Juarez said the council needs the expertise of landlords to make sure the bill's provisions can be enforced.

So, stay tuned.