After decades of mostly rising prices, the rental market in Seattle could finally stabilize. A significant number of new homes have appeared across the area, which is helping to keep prices in check and providing more housing options for locals. Some complexes even offer discounts, e.g. B. a free monthly rent or free electronics to attract tenants.
But that doesn’t mean that rents have suddenly become cheap. After up 4.7 percent since last year (the smallest increase in the market in a while), the median rent for a bedroom in Seattle has hit $ 1,945, according to Zillow. That said, the city has one of the highest rental rates in the country.
Don’t let that put you off. If you’re looking for a new home in Seattle, there are still opportunities to find a great place that fits your budget. Below are a guide to help you find your perfect rental unit, as well as best practices to ensure your time is there.
1. Determine how much you want to spend.
Tim Thomas, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington who studies neighborhood change and housing equality, recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your income (after tax) on rent – a standard measure of housing affordability. Remember to also set aside some funding for non-refundable fees for checking tenants and cleaning apartments, as well as a security deposit. (All of your move-in costs combined cannot exceed a month’s rent, according to the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections.)
2. Know that Seattle has no rental control.
Controlling rent is against Washington state law, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. Although State Representative Nicole Macri tried to overthrow it and Seattle City Councilor Kshama Sawant made it a priority, there won’t be any complexes with restrictions on annual rent increases right now, although some low-income homes have rent restrictions on income.
However, due to recently approved legislation, your landlord must give you at least 60 days notice, rather than the last 30 days, if they want to increase your rent by more than 10 percent. Seattle also has a number of cheaper housing options available if you qualify. The best place to look for it is Aptfinder.org, a nonprofit website that helps low-income households find both subsidized and unsubsidized housing across the state.
3. Pick a few neighborhoods that you like.
Seattle apartments are renting out quickly, so it’s best to have a few neighborhoods in which to look. Given the traffic in the city, you may want to look for a location that’s either walking distance from work or a bus or light rail. With Amazon in South Lake Union and downtown, these neighborhoods have become particularly popular, although apartments there can be expensive.
In the next ten years, the stations and routes of the Link Light Rail in the city will increase enormously. You may be able to find a deal in some of these neighborhoods that won’t be available once the stations are up and running. For example, Lynnwood, a city in the north of the Seattle metropolitan area, will receive a light rail station in 2024 that residents can take to downtown Seattle, among other places. The current median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Lynnwood is $ 1,479, well below the Seattle average, according to Rentcafe.
If you’re happy with a long commute, you can find something outside the heart of Seattle or in a few neighboring cities like Shoreline or Everett. After you’ve thought about your commute, the neighborhood you choose will only depend on your personal preferences. If you want to live among a young crowd in a place with a bustling nightlife, you can try Capitol Hill or Belltown. If you’re looking for a quiet area with lots of families, try Ballard or Madison Park. Read our guide to find the right neighborhood for you.
4. Finding accommodation on foot.
Seattle is a popular place to live, so the best and cheapest places to be found pretty quickly. The best way to make sure that you rent your dream unit before someone else is to walk or drive around your favorite neighborhoods looking for rental signs. These type of excursions also give you a taste of the area and whether it is the right setting for you. If you cannot visit in person, With Craigslist, Apartments.com, PadMapper and Rentcafe you can get an idea of what to expect in each district. However, we recommend seeing the rental in person at least once before committing.
5. Do your research.
Just because a place looks good on paper, and maybe even personal, doesn’t mean it fits well. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections offers a variety of tools to investigate complex complaints across the state. “Often times the apartments look nice, but that depends on the management team,” said Mark Chattin, associate professor in Seattle University’s law school.
6. Be ready to submit an application once you find a good spot.
Rental applications in Washington are usually quite straightforward. Landlords can request employment information and references from previous landlords and community members. You can also check your creditworthiness and see if you have been evicted in the past or have made late rental payments in the past. There are also safeguards in place to ensure that each landlord treats your application fairly. For example, state law requires landlords to ask all tenants the same review questions and provide upfront information about the type of criteria they use to evaluate each application. If you feel you have not been treated fairly, call the Renting helpline in Seattle at (206) 684-5700.
7. Make sure you have a checklist for moving in.
When signing your rental agreement, make sure that your landlord gives you a checklist for moving in. This indicates the condition of the rental unit when you move in and without this your landlord cannot ask you to leave a deposit.
8. After you have found your new home, learn about your rights as a tenant.
First of all, congratulations. This process is not an easy one and if you were able to find a great place at the right price then this is an accomplishment. But the work doesn’t stop there. Knowing your rights as a Seattle tenant is important so you can make sure your home continues to be the place you fell in love with. Read our “10 Seattle Tenant Rights Your Landlord Doesn’t Want To Know”. For additional resources, visit the City of Seattle, Renting In Seattle, or Washington State Tenants Union website.