To the Editor,
Plan to rent out a home, condo or apartment? SWEEPING CHANGES COMING!
All landlords, or potential landlords, should be aware that the city has been quietly moving towards mandating that you must accept Section 8 vouchers. And from what I hear, these can be good for helping folks pay for housing and they can be good for some landlords - particularly larger apartment complexes. I have listened to those with experience who state that there is perhaps new difficulty with the section 8 housing vouchers in that move-out damage by a tenant is no longer part of the program. Often those that qualify for section 8, by definition, may not be able to pay for any damage. And there may be a host of other problems - Particularly for those renting a single home or condo, or a small number of units wherein they cannot absorb the cost of their tenant's "wear and tear" when there is no damage deposit.
What about HOAs that require damage deposits or move in fees when units are leased? Does a landlord now have to pay the HOA a damage deposit, fees (etc) out of their own pocket in order to fulfill their obligation to accept Section 8 tenants? What about the cost of HOA rules infractions? Generally those are billed back to the tenant. There does not appear to be a provision for covering these costs with the Section 8 program. So again, a small scale landlord will be paying these fines for their tenant. This will cause HOA chaos since the whole reason for rules and fines is to make the tenants (owners and renters) incentivized to follow the rules.
So would citizens expect that the city council could enact a massive change in city laws without outreach, public input, or a vote, or anything?
Would citizens expect their city to dictate who they must accept as tenants? Again, without notifying the public that they were changing the laws?
The City Council asked Kirkland Staff to conduct outreach on this issue. They made that request in November. It appears a select group of folks were given advance invitation (they seemed all to be from formal organizations supporting Section 8 housing). Those who had spoken against this type of mandate in prior years claim to have heard NOTHING about the meeting. There were only two attendees who are property owners or landlords from Kirkland. ... and one was someone that I personally alerted. What was the city's outreach? (An email to a small email list just 26 hours before the meeting). When I got that email I promptly notified the papers and blogs and we got something into them hours before the meeting was to be held.
So, Kirkland, where is the outreach? Where is the public process? Do we have a government that just enacts laws that impact tens of thousands of citizens and businesses whenever someone "in power" gets the itch to change something?
Come on. This type of behavior needs to change.
-Karen Levenson, Kirkland