Posted by: phillipsre | December 1, 2011

News for Owners & Property Managers of Rental Housing In Mountlake Terrace

 News from RHA – short notice, but still time to send a letter or email if you can not attend:

The Rental Housing Association is asking all owners of rental housing in the City of Mountlake Terrace to attend the December 1st @ 7:00 pm Mountlake Terrace City Council meeting and voice your displeasure with the process the City is taking in instituting a mandatory inspections program for all rental housing in the City. If you are unable to attend the meeting, please consider emailing the council (contact information at the end of this post).

 A complete outline of the proposal can be found here.


Thursday, Dec. 1st, 2011

Time: 7:00 pm


Mountlake Terrace City Hall

6100 219th St. SW, 2nd Floor

Mountlake Terrace, WA

The meeting is set to begin at 7:00 pm, with citizens allowed 2 minutes each for public comment at the beginning of the meeting.

At the council meeting RHA will be asking City Council to further pursue targeted approaches for cleaning up problem properties, including the use of civil search warrants and consideration of the “Tacoma Model.” The Tacoma Model does not require inspections of all rental housing units. Rather, exterior inspections are used as a qualifier for determining if a property must have a full interior inspection done. If a property is found to have enough exterior problems an inspection of the property is triggered and the landlord is required to obtain a provisional license for a period of time to prove that they have cleaned up the property. Third party (fire, police, etc) complaints may also be used as a basis for an inspection.

It is important that Mountlake Terrace consider that Tacoma, a city with a much larger number of rental units and an older housing stock, chose not to implement mandatory inspections of all rental housing. There simply is not a need for Mountlake Terrace to mandate inspections of all rental housing.

Existing state law and local housing, fire and health codes are sufficient to remedy egregious, unsafe conditions, nevertheless local municipalities need the ability to enter units when substandard and/or derelict housing conditions exist and they have not been invited in to inspect the rental unit. Both the Tacoma Model and probable cause civil search warrants would allow this to occur. In the past, when an owner refused consent to enter, city inspectors could not conduct a property inspection.

What does “probable cause” mean? The State law states, “In determining probable cause, the judge is not limited to evidence of specific knowledge but my also consider any of the following: the age and general condition of the premises; the previous violation or hazards found present in the premises; the type of premises; the purposes for which the premises are used or the presence of hazards or violations in and the general condition of premises near the premises sought to be inspected.”


• The rental housing industry has an obligation to provide quality housing.

• Probable cause civil search warrants provide an effective way to deal with substandard and derelict housing.

• All laws should protect both the landowner’s property rights and the tenant’s right to privacy.

• Enforcement efforts should be manageable and affordable for the municipality.

• Housing is already expensive; regulations should minimize the regulatory burden and the cost of compliance for landlords and tenants alike.

• Enforcement efforts should be targeted towards problem properties, rather than shotgun approaches that cover both good and deficient housing.



Jerry Smith (425) 744-6206
Laura Sonmore (425) 744-6206
Rick Ryan (425) 744-6206
Doug McCardle (425) 744-6206
Kyoko Matsumoto Wright (425) 744-6206
Michelle Robles (425) 744-6206
John Zambrano (425) 744-6206




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