Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell continues his discussion of creating a new protected class for individuals with criminal records when applying for employment. This legislation is likely to be looked at as the starting point for eventually attempting to get the same protections in housing. RHA is also engaged with the City through a stakeholder process to flesh out the fine details of the inspections and registration program which begins in 2014.
As RHA continues to expand its reach to all corners of the State more local issues of importance will fill these pages. The City of Napavine is currently considering changes to billing practices for utility accounts which would no longer allow tenants to hold accounts under their names. RHA is starting up preliminary discussions with Council and other interests and will report to the membership as news occurs.
Feedback from the membership regarding these issues, or any other issue not mentioned here, is welcomed and encouraged. Member participation in local government affairs is vital to letting government know RHA and rental property owners/operators are an important group in the State that provides a vital service to our communities. Contact Sean at 206-905-0609 · email@example.com. Seattle: Criminal records & employment Councilmember Bruce Harrell is proposing legislation which could prohibit the denial of employment applications based on previous criminal convictions. An updated draft of legislation received was made available mid-March and RHA, along with other employers and groups, is continuing to have meetings with Councilmember Harrell and others to express our displeasure with the legislation. As currently written the legislation targets a July 1, 2013 effective date and would:
· “Ban the box“ to get rid of “Have you been convicted“ checkboxes on applications for employment.
· Prohibit adverse action from being taken against an applicant solely on the basis of an employee's or appli cant's arrest record.
· Prohibit a criminal background check from being run until “after the employer has completed an initial screening of applications or resumes to eliminate unqualified applicants.“
· Allowing denial of application for reason of criminal conviction only when that conviction gives the employer a “legitimate business reason“ for taking such action.
This legislation is likely a precursor to similar legislation targeted at rental housing in 2013, and landlords should take note of the issue and contact council to oppose it.
This item was previously discussed in 2011 and lumped protections for individuals with criminal records together in both housing and employment scenarios. Under that proposal a housing provider and/or employer would not have been permitted to refuse an applicant based on criminal history, with exceptions given to violent crimes. Several public forums were held, and RHA met with councilmembers and Seattle's Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) to voice our opposition. Status: Discussion on-going.
Seattle: Rental housing inspections A new, mini-stakeholder process started Thursday, March 14th conducted by DPD to determine how to structure registration fees and determine costs. DPD is estimating it will need to collect between $9-10 million in fees every five years in order to fund the program. Ideas for types of registration include: · Base fee + per unit fee · Flat per unit fee · Flat per property fee · Tiered fees based on number of units owned This group is scheduled to meet two more times thru-early April to hash out an equitable way to structure this part of the ordinance. After that the next group will meet to determine what inspections will actually look for, and how to structure a tiered points system for determining whether a unit passes or fails inspection.
Compliance deadlines for registration of rental properties are: · July 1, 2014 · 10+ unit properties · January 1, 2015 · 5 9 unit properties · December 31, 2016 · 1 4 unit properties Seattle: Unreinforced masonry policy commission A draft of the Unreinforced Masonry Policy Committee recommendations report is now available online. The URM Policy Committee awaits the outcomes of a benefits-cost analysis being performed by CollinsWoerman and Gibson Economics. That study is anticipated to be completed in June 2013. The Policy Committee will then reconvene to consider the outcomes of the analysis and confirm or amend their recommendations.
The issue of seismic retrofits to unreinforced masonry buildings in the City of Seattle was last discussed in 2008, and ultimately tabled due to lack of funding for the costs associated with seismic retrofits. RHA is participating on the stakeholder committee, which kicked off with its first meeting on March 8, 2012, and continued meeting through October 2012 to discuss all aspects of a new program that would address safety concerns with approximately 820 unreinforced masonry buildings in the City. Items for discussion include: thresholds for retrofits, financing options, timeline for compliance, incentives, and enforcement. Pierce County No new issues at time of press. No new issues at time of press. Napavine: Utility billing accounts shifting to landlords?
In late-March city staff presented a report to Council offering two solutions aimed at eliminating the number of delinquent utility accounts in the city. One option was to increase the water deposit to $400, from $200.
The second option was to place all accounts in the homeowner's nameonly, making them the solely responsible party. Council decided to put together a focus group with landlords, council, and staff, and bring more information back to a future council meeting.
Bellingham: Council re-opening discussion of rental housing inspections Bellingham Councilmember Jack Weiss announced at the City's January 28th council meeting that he would like to re-open discussions of exploring a mandatory licensing and inspections program in the City of Bellingham. Seattle's adoption of a mandatory inspections program was endorsed by Bellingham's Planning Committee as a model to pursue.
A February 25th Planning Committee meeting was to feature brief discussion of the issue, but no formal legislation exists at present as interested parties have just begun discussing points of contention.
RHA has reached out to Council, as well as local landlords, to provide complete information on the issue and will pursue alternative solutions that do not punish good landlords for the sake of catching a few bad landlords. u