Disclosure: I am not an attorney.
I do have 64+ years business experience including 48+ years in the real estate industry.
I possess a business degree and have some lame success as a stand-up comedian in Washington State and Las Vegas, Nevada.
All of that qualifies me to have an opinion regarding the City of Lakewood’s Rental Housing Inspection Program, widely known as the RIP.
As an aspiring wordsmith, I have created a new word. The new word is the opposite of slumlord. I am going to refer to the good landlords and good property managers as goodlords.
Soon the goodlords will be heard saying, “Good Lord, why is the City of Lakewood abusing me for the sins of a few slumlords?
Goodlords, I encourage you to consider adding a post RIP Rental Addendum to your rental agreement(s).
Because the City of Lakewood has mandated that most rental property owners and property managers participate in the City’s Rental Housing Inspection Plan, the terms of which are found in Lakewood City Council’s wonder document, Ordinance 644.
Why should you add one more addendum to your already bulging pile of paperwork?
Goodlords need to distance themselves from the City of Lakewood’s RHIP for several reasons.
1) Lakewood’s copycat approach for eradicating slum property conditions involves kidnapping goodlords and forcing them to serve rental tenants with a 48-hour inspection notice as described in the Washington State Landlord Tenant Law (LTL). The goodlord becomes an agent for the City.
2) Goodlords will be forced by the city to provide keyed access to rental units with or without tenant consent.
3) If the courts decide Lakewood broke laws by violating renters’ Constitutional Rights, goodlords may be judged complicit with the City. Goodlords may find themselves standing in criminal and civil court along with Lakewood.
4) Lakewood’s RHIP offers no financial assistance to goodlords for court costs and legal fees even though the goodlords actions, if judged illegal, are the product of Lakewood extorting said behavior by threatening to cancel any goodlord’s $1 a month rental business license should the goodlord fail to obey Lakewood’s dictate.
5) If a tenant, owner, manager, city staff member or police officer is injured or killed because of a RIP inspection action, goodlords may also see their name on a civil lawsuit(s).
If I am wrong and Lakewood is right, why does Lakewood force goodlords to serve the 48-hour notice to inspect instead of serving the notice themselves?
Lakewood states they created the RHIP in the interest of public safety. If that is accurate, why does the City not mandate forced inspections of owner-occupied homes? I can tell you why. Lakewood knows without an end run, Lakewood would be committing an outrageous violation of Constitutional Law.
Lakewood has decided to treat renters as second-class citizens with fewer rights than homeowners. Lakewood has decided renters are not intelligent enough or adult enough to use any of the five existing landlord-tenant resources and instead feel the need to implement an unnecessary and ineffective socialistic program.
Lakewood chooses to ignore the fact that legal actions fighting the RIP concept are occurring all over the United States.
For all of these reasons, goodlords will do well to distance themselves from the City of Lakewood’s RIP.
A signed RIP Rental Addendum might help create the needed distance.
Here is a draft proposal for the RIP Addendum.
DRAFT: RENTAL ADDENDUM:
ADDENDUM _________________ to rental agreement between Property Owner/Manager and Renter dated mm/dd/yyyy for subject property address of ________________.
(A) The City of Lakewood is forcing and coercing your property owner/manager, to comply with City Ordinance 644 (Rental Housing Inspection Program), against our will. Our participation is made under protest.
(B) Your property owner/manager has no interest in invading any renter’s privacy or violating a renter’s Constitutional Fourth Amendment Rights.
(C) Lakewood City Council is forcing your owner/manager to act as an agent for the City of Lakewood. The City has dictated that we use the LTL 48-hour provision to facilitate the City’s ability to enter your rental home, regardless of what you think or desire.
(D) If the subject rental property fails the RHIP inspection process thereby triggering repairs and a mandatory second inspection because of TENANT CAUSED ISSUES, the tenant agrees to reimburse the owner for all said costs on or before the next rental due date. If the City forces the tenant to vacate the property because of TENANT CAUSED ISSUES, the property owner/manager shall not be responsible for any of the tenant’s transition or moving costs.
(E) If any tenant action or inaction, refusal to allow access or threat made to city staff or their agents triggers Lakewood’s law enforcement involvement in the inspection process, the renter agrees to reimburse the property owner/manager for all said law enforcement costs the City attempts to bill the landlord.
(F) Every time Lakewood mandates an inspection on the rental unit, the tenant agrees to pay the property owner/manager a RIP administration fee of $100. The purpose of the $100 is to help compensate the owner/manager for their loss of time expense while involved in assisting the City of Lakewood in providing what the City promotes as a tenant safety benefit.
(G) Understand that If a landlord, manager or tenant fails to cooperate and comply with all demands made by the City under the umbrella of the RHIP, the City can cancel the property owner’s $1.00 a month rental property business license. If canceled, the tenant will be forced to move to another location or join the ranks of the homeless.
Remember, this government intrusion and overreach is for your safety because the City of Lakewood has no confidence in a second class citizen’s ability to solve their own problems.
SIGNED – _____________________
Property Owner / Manager
SIGNED – ______________________
END OF DRAFT.
Once your RIP Rental Addendum is in hand, it should be easy to include the new addendum in your new tenant process. You will want to follow Landlord Tenant guidelines for changing existing rental terms via the addition of the RIP Rental Addendum by giving proper written notice to your current tenants.
After your attorney crafts or approves your proposed addendum, legally serve your renter with the new addendum. If the renter’s signature is required, but the renter refuses to sign, serve the renter with a vacate premise notice.
I am not an attorney. Before implementing any part or all of my RIP Rental Addendum concept, consult with an attorney.
Consulting with an attorney before trouble starts does not cost, it pays.