What You Need to Know About the Landlord Fairness Code Initiative

The Joseph Group Jan 2024

The Joseph Group

The Landlord Fairness Code Initiative as approved by Tacoma city voters went into effect on December 8, 2023

These new requirements apply only to properties within Tacoma city limits only.  If interested, you can check if your property is within city limits here.

The new regulations can be categorized into three areas; updates to allowable costs and fees, changes around rent increase timelines and possibility of paying relocation costs due to rent increases, and new defenses and eviction bans during specific times.

Changes around move in and other fees:

  • Late fees capped at $10. 
  • Prohibits charging any non-refundable fees; such as a pet fee or holding fee.
    • Where we previously charged a pet fee, we will now charge pet rent on new listing. 
  • Move in fees cannot exceed one month’s rent.
    • Move in fees include the security deposit as well as the application fee.
    • To accommodate this new requirement, security deposits on new listings will be slightly lower than the previous one month’s rent so that when added to the application fee ($42 per adult) the total move in fees to not exceed one month’s rent.
  • A pet damage deposit of up to 25% of one month’s rent is allowed.

 Changes around rent increases

  • Two notices are now required for any rent increase.
    • The first notice served between 210 days and 180 days of the effective increase date with an additional reminder notice to be served between 120 and 90 days before increase takes effect.
    • Please expect for us to start reaching out to you even sooner than we previously have regarding sending your resident a renewal offer. 
  • If a resident decides to relocate rather than renew their lease after receiving notice of a rent increase paying relocation costs may be required as outlined below.
    • Increase over 5% to 7.4 % - relocation cost in the amount of 2 month’s rent.
    • Increase between 7.5% to 9.9% - relocation cost in the amount of 2.5x month’s rent
    • Increase over 10% - relocation cost in the amount of 3x one month’s rent

Eviction ban and defenses:

Two periods have been established during which there is a ban on physical eviction. There are exceptions to this ban with the ban primarily focusing on evictions due to non-payment of rent.

  • Winter ban – November through April
  • Student / school year ban

Applies if any resident is a child or student, or has legal custody of a child or student or is an educator.

As well as the two ban periods, additional protected classes were identified meaning your reason for eviction could not be that the resident was a member of one of these classes, though frankly, no one receiving this email would have attempted to evict someone based on them being a member of the new identified protected classes. 

As a last note, it is now required that before supplying notice of a rent increase or pursuing an eviction, a landlord must comply with all landlord tenant laws, specifically around health, safety, and property maintenance and repair, and have a business license as required by the city. 

As your property manager you can be confident, we are handling the maintenance as required for your property.

If you do not currently have a Tacoma City business license, please let us know so that we can assist with how to obtain one.

Though it would not affect how we would comply or react to any of the changes, I do find it interesting to comment that because these new requirements we approved as a voter initiative rather than through the city council, the city does not have any set process for enforcement of the requirements, rather a resident would have them enforced through a private attorney or tenant’s right organization. 

The Full City Code Text can be found here 


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