cat-and-dog-resting-togetherOn December 16, 2016, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed legislation which restricts the total amounts landlords may charge for move-in fees. This legislation took effect January 15, 2017, and enacts the following:

– Pet damage deposits may not exceed 25% of the first full month’s rent, and landlords cannot charge any other fees for allowing a pet.

– Monthly pet rent is not allowed as a part of any new agreement signed January 15, 2017 or later.

So you’re probably wondering, how can this possibly be bad? Isn’t it a bonanza for pet owners? Welcome to the reality of unintended consequences.

Pet fees exist for a reason. Pets cause damage. Therefore, it costs more to rent to someone with a pet. The wise landlord charges accordingly. But in steps the ever-wiser government, the chooser of winners and losers and the maker of unintended consequences.

One of the consequences of this legislation is that landlords are going to stop renting to people with pets. Of course, current pet owners paying a pet fee benefit from a temporary windfall – whatever pet fee they willingly agreed to pay will now no longer be charged. At least until the existing lease expires. Then the landlord will be tempted to terminate the lease or require the tenant to get rid of the pet to renew. Sorry Fluffy.

Therefore, as often happens, the legislation intended to help people will actually cause them harm. It will make it harder for pet owners to find housing and existing pet owners will be pressured to get rid of their pets.

Expect an increase in stray animals and an influx of unwanted pets at animal shelters. In the meantime, any higher costs associated with renting to people with pets will be borne by everyone instead of just the pet owners.

Way to go Seattle.

Also see our blog posts “Pet-Friendly Policies Across the Nation” and Thanks for Meddling, Uncle Sam

Keep up to date with the Decker Properties Pet Policy