A couple years after the citizens of Bellingham passed an “affordable housing” tax, City leaders are working desperately to decrease housing supply and increase housing costs for everyone.
We are not making this stuff up!
Early in May 2015 landlords who own rental properties within the City of Bellingham received this notice.
The Bellingham City Council created this new Rental Registration and Inspection program by ordinance in late 2014.
Key components of the program are as follows:
- All rental properties within the City of Bellingham must register with the City at the owners expense. Registration fees will be $9 to $10 a unit.
- Unlike a similar ordinance in Seattle that calls for inspection every 10 years, Bellingham rental properties will be inspected every three years at owners expense. Current draft of inspection criteria can be found here.
- Washington Landlord/Tenant law allows landlords the right to enter their tenants homes for the purposes of repair and/or inspection. The new Bellingham rental registration and inspection ordinance, dictates that the landlord will warn the tenant that an inspection of their home will occur in two days. Thus forcing the landlord to facilitate entry into the tenant’s home by a city inspector instead of the City obtaining a search warrant.
What are the consequences of this program?
Bellingham has about a 1 percent vacancy rate for rental housing. People can not find places to rent. So every rental house that is taken off the market is making the housing crisis here in Bellingham worse and rents higher. Compounding this problem we have environmental extremists groups fighting every multi-family building project brought before the planning commission.
But wait there is more!
According to Block Grant Program Coordinator David Stahlheim and City of Bellingham Chief Administrative Officer, David Webster, the City plans the fees to move tenants out of their homes will be “squeezed out of the negligent landlords”. You can read the full details of their plan here.
Local environmental extremists groups like, Futurewise, RE-sources, and Whatcom Watch have teamed up with local government progressives to create a body of policies, rules, and ordinances that reduce rental housing availability, increase rental housing costs, intrude on tenant privacy and trample on our 4th Amendment right to protection from search and seizure. This rental housing program deprives tenants in our community of basic rights. It is also a measure to remove low cost rental housing from the many who need it without a process or policy that replaces these properties in a manageable forward looking way.