Tumwater’s general government committee endorsed to the city council an ordinance establishing a property rental registration program during its meeting on Wednesday, January 11.
As part of the ordinance, property owners of multifamily residential rental projects with five or more units would also be required to obtain a business license.
Planning manager Brad Medrud said at the meeting that the business license applications cost $50 annually;renewals cost $20.
Property owners who fail to comply with registration would accrue a penalty of $100 each day that a rental unit operates without a valid business license for the first 10 days and then $400 each day afterward.
Medrud mentioned that city staff has identified 76 developments fitting the initial target of the registration program, which would eventually expand to cover all residential landlords regardless of size.
“We will be starting with rental properties with five or more units as a way of making sure we can get the program up and running,” Medrud said. “It is a lot easier to identify properties in the city that are rentals of this sort than it is to go down to the level of determining single-family houses that are rentals.”
The registration program could also lead to a regular rental inspection program, according to Medrud.
“We're not quite ready for that,” Medrud said. “We would need to first determine what the additional costs of that program would be because that would require additional staff to be available for the inspections.”
The rental registration program would be a new chapter in Title 5 of the Tumwater Municipal Code, which relates to business, taxes, and licences.
Medrud explained that a rental registration program is in line with an objective of the Tumwater Housing Action Plan which is to improve access to data and share information with landlords.
“[The program] would be a mechanism for communication with tenants and landlords about any rental regulations and or information education that the city may have,” Medurd said.
In drafting the chapter, city staff reviewed similar policies in Aberdeen, Auburn Lacey, Tacoma, and Tukwila. Olympia is developing a similar program.
The city council is set to discuss the ordinance on January 24 before considering its approval on February 7.
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