A combination of economic factors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of high-wage jobs in the region has created economic challenges across the community, but particularly for lower-income households. One result is that it is much more difficult for lower-income households to find and remain in rental housing. At the same time, landlords are facing their own challenges because of inflation, increasing labor costs, and material shortages.
On August 3, the Kirkland City Council adopted legislation concerning tenant protections that seeks to balance tenant and landlord interests. These regulations were based on recommendations provided to the City by A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) and were informed by feedback from both tenant and landlord groups. This new ordinance goes into effect on September 17, 2022. The key provisions of the new tenant protections are summarized below.
Notice of Rent Increases
Landlords required to provide notice of...
…if rent increase is:
180 days (6 months)
More than 10%
120 days (4 months)
60 days (2 months) per State Law
Up to 3%
There are exceptions for certain types of subsidized housing where rents are based on the tenant’s income.
Maximum Security Deposit
The maximum amount for move-in fees, security deposits (including pet deposits), and other special move-in expenses is one month's rent total.
The move-in fees/security deposit provision can be waived if certain criteria are met (e.g., the waiver must be in writing, cannot be in the standard lease agreement, and must be approved by the tenant’s attorney). Contact the Planning Division at 425-587-3600 for more information.
Tenants can enforce the provisions of this ordinance in court (most likely in small claims court or a similar venue).
- Lawful rent increases issued prior to September 17 are valid and further notice is not required.
- Provisions regarding move-in fees/security deposits that are in existing rental agreements are valid until the original rental agreement expires.
These tenant protections are only one part of Kirkland's larger housing strategy that focuses primarily on bringing more supply into the marketplace, which is the underlying problem. The City of Kirkland is also considering creating a landlord-tenant mitigation fund that would assist landlords in renting to lower-income, low-credit-score, and/or other households that have traditionally had difficulty finding housing.
The passage of Ordinance O-4810 comes after focused engagement by the City of Kirkland with both tenant rights and housing provider groups and builds on a larger effort by the City of Kirkland in addressing the challenges of affordable housing in Kirkland. Some of recent efforts by the City of Kirkland include the adoption of interim affordable housing targets in October 2021, adopting the City of Kirkland’s Housing Strategy Plan in 2018, and the creation of affordable housing as priority in the City of Kirkland’s 2022 Legislative Agenda.
May 3 Council Memorandum(PDF, 2MB) - Council receives proposed residential tenant protections related to significant rent increases and fees as recommended by A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH).
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ on Tenant Protections
Who did the City consult about the potential tenant protections?
To help inform the Council's consideration of tenant protections, City staff met with or received correspondence from the organizations listed below. (Participation in the engagement process does not indicated endorsement of the new regulations.)
- Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHAWA)
- Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP)
- Washington Business Properties Association (WBPA)
- Washington Multi Family Housing Association (WMFHA)
- Bellevue Chamber of Commerce
- Waddell Properties, Inc.
- MainStreet Property Group, LLC
- MRM Capital, LLC
- Muse Management, LLC
- Eastside Legal Assistance Program
- King County Promotores Network
- Stay Housed / Stay Healthy Coalition, consisting of:
- Transit Riders Union
- Housing Justice Project
- 45th District Democrats Endorsement Committee
- Eastside For All
- King County Housing Authority
How will the City evaluate the effectiveness of these regulations over time?
The intent of these new regulations is to balance the interests of both landlords and tenants. As such, the City will periodically evaluate this new law based on stakeholder feedback and best practice research, and staff will make recommendations to Council on potential modifications as needed.
Additional FAQs will be added as needed.