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February Newsletter

Seattle Bans Pet Fees, Industry Sounds Of

Digested from Seattle Legislation Capping Move-in Fees

Apartment owners in the City of Seattle can no longer charge pet fees, according to legislation passed in December that became effective Jan. 15. The legislation also limited or eliminated other move-in fees. The new law is limited to those properties located in the City of Seattle only and it exempts single-family, owner-occupied rental homes.

The decision led to interesting comments on apartment industry message boards such as MultifamilyInsiders.com. Among them:

“[We’d] like to know where an owner can replace carpet for 25 percent of one months’ rent?”

“I am constantly dismayed at the amount of 'government intervention' in the operations of conventionally financed housing.”

“I see this being challenged fairly soon…It is certainly becoming a lot harder to be a landlord in Seattle.”

“Responsible pet owners get renters insurance to protect the landlord from damage.”

“I wonder if you designate certain buildings or floors as pet friendly and put a unit amenity on those, then you're charging the same rent whether someone has a pet or not. That could be a way around this.”

Industry Alert: Fair Housing Occupancy Standards
Recently, a fair housing complaint was filed against an NAA member company that operates properties in several states. The complaint questions the member's occupancy standards, alleging discrimination on the basis of familial status. It specifically targets the policy restricting occupancy to two-persons per bedroom. We anticipate that this is the leading edge of a trend in fair housing litigation.
 
The "Keating Memo"
The two-persons per bedroom maximum occupancy policy is a standard utilized widely by apartment owner-operators in accordance with HUD's standard of policy established in the so-called Keating Memo issued in December 1998. According the memo, a two-persons per bedroom rule is acceptable with some limited exceptions in light of other relevant factors (for example, two adult parents with an infant child should be allowed to rent a large one-bedroom).
This recent complaint states that such a policy is unreasonable and both excludes and limits the number of families with children who can live at the owner's properties thus discriminating against families with children. The complaint suggests that owners should use local building or zoning codes to develop a policy on the basis of square footage and accounts for the entire livable space in the unit. Alternatively, the complaint suggests that owners rely on the International Property Maintenance Code which would allow up to eight people in a two-bedroom unit measuring at 1100 square feet.
 
Next Steps for NAA Members
NAA members are strongly encouraged to review their occupancy standard policies with an attorney to ensure they are in compliance with fair housing laws. To help in that review process, please refer to the guidance document issued earlier this year by NAA and the National Multifamily Housing Council: Fair Housing: Familial Status and Occupancy (member login required). This document contains a review of the law, recent litigation specifically targeting familial status and occupancy restrictions and suggests best practices for proper compliance. Members are also strongly encouraged to review insurance documents and identify which types of litigation claims are covered and any relevant limitations or restrictions.
 
We Want to Hear From YOU! Send your response to government_affairs@naahq.org
Which of the following occupancy standards do you use?
A)  Strict two persons per bedroom with no exceptions
B)  Two persons per bedroom with exceptions (i.e. infant or young child)
C)  Other (Please share in body of email)

 
Jump on the bus with MAA to attend the NAA Education Conference & Exposition! Group discounts are available through NAA when you book 5 or more people. Hurry and register before they sell out.
Help MAA recruit new members and you could win prizes!

We will hold a membership drive February 15- April 6, 2017. Our goal is to recruit 20 or more vendors to join our association. The member that recruits the most new vendor members will receive a prize on April 6th at the crawfish boil.
Upcoming Events
Registration open until the end of March. Hurry and sign up now!
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Mississippi Apartment Association · P.O. Box 1202 · Brandon, MS 39043 · USA

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