City Hall

Apartment Owners Use Housing Inspection Law in Fundraising Pitch

By Erica C. Barnett May 3, 2012

The Rental Housing Association, which represents 4,400 rental housing owners in the Puget Sound region, is asking its members to contribute to the group based on its efforts to defeat the city's proposed mandatory rental-housing inspection law.

In a letter to members dated May 1, the chair of the RHA's PAC committee, Charles Spaeth, wrote,
If you're reading this letter it's because you own rentals in Seattle. As you probably know, Seattle has a unique body of law governing rental housing ... and it's about to get more unique.

A Third Party Mandatory Inspection Ordinance is under discussion in the City Council. Its proponents say they want to clean up the worst of Seattle's rental housing. That's a worthy goal and RHA is on board. We do not, however, think the problem is best solved by mandating the inspection of ALL rental housing. We are pushing for a targeted approach. The Tenant's Union and certain members of the City Council think a shotgun approach is the only solution. But that buckshot will hit us all, and still won't solve the problem.

I am writing this letter after discussing this issue with two members of the Seattle City Council. Twof the three RHA people in the meeting were volunteer. The third was one of our lobbyists. He is a big part of our being a political force because he knows City Hall politics and all its players. He knows them because he makes his living making it his business to know them. He fights for us. And the PAC pays his invoices.

Spaeth's letter mentions that he personally gives $10 per unit he owns, per year.

The RHA, along with the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, opposes a proposal by city council member Nick Licata that would mandate universal inspections of all rental housing in the city over a ten-year period. They argue that the city should focus first on landlords who are known to have violated the city's housing code in the past.

Licata's housing committee plans to discuss the inspection proposals at least one more time before moving any inspection program forward to the full council.
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