Seattle loses nearly 3,000 rental properties in less than a year

Apr 8, 2022, 6:04 AM | Updated: 1:02 pm
(Rex Sorgatz via Flickr)
(Rex Sorgatz via Flickr)

Seattle has lost nearly 3,000 rental properties between May of last year and January of 2022. Those properties constitute roughly 10,000 units in total. Since May, only 27 rental units were added.

Washington State Court of Appeals rules against portions of Seattle’s eviction moratorium

Jim Henderson with the Rental Housing Association of Washington attributes the loss to a growing number of rental protection laws, making it harder and more expensive to own rental property in Seattle.

Henderson says instead of improving conditions for renters, all the laws are limiting options and raising rental prices.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) tells KIRO Newsradio the number of rentals has declined, but the office says it would need to do more analysis to identify a reason.

“At this time we can’t confirm these exact numbers or their magnitude, but they appear to be directionally correct with regard to a decline in rental properties. Calculation of these numbers is complicated and multi-faceted, and we can’t draw conclusions on why the numbers are changing without more a complete analysis of changes in the rental housing supply,” Christina Postlewait, relations manager with SDCI, wrote in a statement to KIRO Newsradio.

(Seattle’s Rental Property Registration database; compiled by Rental Housing Association of Washington)

In recent years, the Seattle City Council has passed tougher eviction laws, required landlords to pay to register properties, increased inspections, and created new laws about rent increases and rejecting tenants.

‘We’re so far behind on this’: Seattle council looks to catch up on affordable housing data

It’s difficult for landlords to comply, can be expensive and mistakes open them up to lawsuits, according to Henderson.

Henderson says many Seattle landlords are getting out of the business or investing in rentals outside the city.

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Seattle loses nearly 3,000 rental properties in less than a year