The council unanimously passed the Rental Housing Late Fee Fairness Amendment Act of 2016 on first vote in July. The council will vote on it for a second time Tuesday, though the bill is subject to changes.
Under the legislation, which applies to all types of rental units, late payments qualify as any amount of rent that is not paid within five days from its due date. The housing provider and tenant must have a written agreement on the late-fee policy.
The legislation, in part, would ensure that landlords could not use exorbitant fees to kick out tenants and that late fees cannot build up, begetting even more late fees.
“This needed bill will provide over 156,217 rental units whether or not under rent control with new protections against unscrupulous landlords and outrageous late fees when they fall behind on their monthly rental payments,” council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), who introduced the legislation, said in a statement.
If passed, Washington — a city known to have renter-friendly laws — would join states such as Maine and Maryland in protecting tenants from late fees that exceed 5 percent of monthly rent.