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Rule could delay rent increase if defective conditions

A Seattle city council committee on housing affordability considered an ordinance Wednesday that would delay a rent increase if a landlord has not fixed defective conditions.

The issue came to the forefront of council conversation when a group of tenants faced doubled rents last October, even though their units were in deplorable conditions.

Here are 6 things you need to know:

1.       If my unit has defective conditions, can I stop paying rent?

This ordinance does NOT suggest you stop paying rent. You should still pay rent on time. If the city determines that a landlord needs to fix something, you could be entitled to a partial refund, or rental credit, for the length of time it took to get the fix done. This would effectively let you pay the old rental rate until the fix is completed.

2.       Is this in effect right now?

No. The Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance committee still needs to take another look at this on June 1. You can continue to submit your comments to the council about this issue.

3.       Do I have a time limit in bringing up a problem in my unit?

Under this ordinance, a tenant would have 10 days after being notified of the rent increase to bring up any issues of defective conditions. The tenant must notify the landlord about this in writing. This ordinance is still being looked over, and this 10-day window may be subject to change.

4.       What if I discover a problem after 10 days has passed?

This ordinance would allow the tenant to notify the landlord in writing within 10 days of discovering the defective condition. Then, the same process would begin for adjusted rent, based on the date of compliance.

5.       How much of an increase is a landlord allowed to charge?

This is already scripted in existing law. A landlord has to give you 60 days’ written notice if your new rent is going to be 10 percent or more than your previous rate. For increases lower than 10 percent, a landlord must give you 30 days’ written notice.

6.       If I think my unit fails housing code, what do I do?You should contact the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.

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