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Spokane City Council updates regulation of city's residential rental housing

The decision came after a four-hour long discussion between council members and community members.

SPOKANE, Wash. — After a four-hour meeting, Spokane City Council voted to update regulations of the city's residential rental housing.

The ordinance was split into two sections to garner broader council support, according to the city. Ordinance C-36330, which passed unanimously, will establish a local program for assisting landlords and tenants in Spokane, amending numerous sections of the Spokane Municipal Code.

Ordinance C-36366, which passed 5-2, will adopt several new sections relation to landlord/tenant regulations, including:

  • Requiring landlords or property managers to make all the necessary repairs to keep the unit in habitable condition as regulated by the City and State codes; 
  • Requiring landlords or property managers to maintain all move-in and move-out inspection records for at least three years;
  • Requiring landlords, owners, or property managers to disclose the following to tenants:
          • Information about whether the unit has had a history of mold, any remediation, and whether the landlord has been informed by past tenants of any health concerns related to mold;
          • Any known history of methamphetamine manufacturing on the premises;
          • Information about whether the property is actively for sale and in the event that the property is sold, they must provide all contact information for the new owner to tenants;

“After over four years of public debate and comment, Spokane City Council has established an improved framework for rental relations in Spokane by supporting tenants and landlords in promoting habitable homes under the law without imposing new financial burdens,” said Council President Beggs. “The only increase in revenues is a $1.25/month charge per unit that will be used to provide improved services to tenants and landlords. Most importantly, the City’s Code Enforcement Department and the City’s Office of Civil Rights, Equity and Inclusion will have substantial new resources to promote the health and welfare of the entire rental community in Spokane.” 

“We listened to landlords and tenants to balance the needs of both entities,” said Council Member Karen Stratton.  “I am proud of the honest deliberation and collaboration from all involved.  Landlords and tenants will benefit from additional services like mitigation and legal assistance. These issues deserve our time and attention, and I am grateful to all who participated.”  

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward issued the following statement following tonight's decision:

“Housing stability is a complicated challenge that deserves the time needed to work through important details without the pressure of a deadline. This issue has been met with a lot of passion since it was introduced right before the holidays. Deferring action on the ordinance unfortunately wasn’t enough as Council made changes to the ordinance right up until acting on it. 

 My request of the City Council for a narrowed, simplified approach was about finding the right balance of protections that maintains rental units and encourages new ones while protecting tenants from bad landlords. Adding a registry, licensing, and inspections largely accomplished that goal. 

 However, adding background checks and encouraging City-backed private legal action by tenants establishes a regulatory environment that limits our ability to maintain and grow a robust housing supply. While I appreciate that some give and take occurred, the risk is still very real that the new regulations imposed on landlords will harm the very tenants it is intended to help.

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