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Seattle Property Management Thoughts

Running an enterprise that manages residential property in Seattle the last twenty years has taught us everything we need to know about rental property management and how to do a great job managing your property in Seattle, whether your property investment is in Northgate, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond or West Seattle.  We do residential property management and leasing in every King County neighborhood, leasing houses, apartments, and multifamily structures. 


Whether your property is a single-family rental house, a condominium unit that you no longer live in, or a larger multifamily property, our team at Elevation Investment Management is ready to help you earn more income from your rental property. 


The first time we meet most of our property management clients, there is usually a vacancy at a rental or investment property.  Our clients are eager to start earning income from their rental property and often worried about meeting prospects in person due to COVID-19, complying with Seattle’s ever-changing laws, finding and screening reliable tenants, or finding a good lease form.


One recent, very sophisticated client with a beautiful rental house in Magnolia said “I really appreciate your excellent help…  having you handle this is quite something.”  We love getting responses like that from our clients, we take this feedback of a sign that we are well on our way to being the best Seattle property manager.  This client had been netting less than $5,000/month and we were able to secure a great family as a tenant who pays over $6,000/month.


We didn’t set out to change how residential property management works in Seattle, but we are beginning to see that we are changing clients’ expectations.  Why try to manage your Seattle rental property yourself when you can hire someone from Elevation to help you achieve a higher rent with less downtime and no hassles? 


We will consult with you on small, economically efficient upgrades or changes that you may not have noticed, as small as an electrical wall plate for $0.79 all the way up to large upgrades and renovations which we can help coordinate in a timely manner.  Then we will take photos and discuss with you where we will market your property.  We use several networks of websites; every listing will be shown to thousands of people searching for housing. 


A well-marketed property should have two prospects tour within a week and we usually have properties leased with deposits paid within two weeks.  Some owners want to maximize their rent dollars and we are happy to accommodate your wishes.  Our goal is to find YOU the right tenant and to find tenants the right properties.

Gosh, thanks a ton Seattle City Council!

In February 2020, before the pandemic shutdowns, Seattle’s City Council passed a ban on evictions during the winter months. The ban will be in effect from the first day of December until the last day of February.  The moratorium passed by the Council went into effect immediately.

Basically, this means that as a landlord, you are not permitted to evict your tenant during those three winter months. If your tenant is behind on rent payments, under this law, you can still evict, but you’ll have to wait until the winter is over.


There Are Some Exceptions!

First, this only applies to eviction for nonpayment of rent.  If the eviction is due to noxious behaviors or criminal activity at the property or because they violated the lease for non-economic reasons and refused to come into compliance after you issued a Notice to Comply, you can still move ahead with your eviction.


Landlords who own four units or less in the city of Seattle are also exempt from this law. If you can prove your tenant meets the threshold of a high wage earner, you can also apply for an exemption.

What Should You Do?

The City Council is primarily concerned with keeping Seattle’s homeless off the streets during the coldest months of the year. But year round as a landlord you have to carry your property including all the regular financing costs, maintenance, taxes, and insurance it incurs. Why should landlords be at risk for financing someone’s free shelter?

Even if you have been managing your own property for years, now is a great time to hire Elevation Management.  We have the skill to navigate this law and remain in compliance with it while ensuring that your investment property remains profitable and protected.


There are a lot of nuances involved in this law, and it was passed unanimously by the City Council, so it’s here to stay.

If you think you will need to evict a tenant from December to February, we strongly recommend that you speak to an attorney and get some advice from a property manager. You’ll need to know whether any of the exemptions apply to you.

Another important thing to realize is that you can still move ahead with the eviction during the winter, but when it’s filed, your resident will have to submit a specific defense that indicates they would fall under the protection of this law.

If you are ready to bring in a property manager, call Elevation Management.  We have been leasing property in Seattle for nearly twenty years and are well aware of all the fun new city ordinances. It’s easy to make an expensive mistake when it comes to complying with Seattle rental laws.

What are property management fees, and how can you make a decision about a property manager?

If you search Google you will find many different answers.

The fee you are going to hear about is the monthly fee.

Does this include maintenance, and labor or travel time from property to property to tend to issues? Is there an upcharge or a project management fee that is going to be charged to you, or is that monthly fee inclusive of that?  At Elevation we include one call-out per property per month at no charge.  You only pay for the actual work that needs to be done, like if a handyman, plumber or electrician is needed.

You should also ask about home inspections. Is the property getting inspected once a year and is that included in your property management fee, or is there an extra charge?  At Elevation we insert a clause in the lease that usually tenants allow for us to inspect your investment annually at no additional cost to you.


What about evictions? If you have a non-paying tenant and you have to go to court, is your property manager going to go there for you, and is that fee going to be included in your property management fees or is there going to be an extra charge?  Elevation charges no admin fee for handling evictions, you will have to pay the third-party attorney’s fees.


New Leasing Fees

Leasing fees are usually the cost it takes to acquire a new tenant, get them moved in and execute a lease on landlord’s behalf. We charge one month’s rent. Leasing includes all the marketing, all the advertising, and all the promotion of your property. It’s going to include getting the unit rent-ready between tenants, and usually, it should include the background checks, credit checks, reference checks, and income verification for that tenant.  You will pay any marketing costs, like the Zillow advertising fee, or signage costs.

The leasing fee should also include all the lease compliance documents that you need for the state you are in. This also might include the move-in inspection. When you collect a security deposit, you need an inspection to go with it. So, make sure you find out what is included with your leasing fee.

Leasing Renewal Fees

Not all property management fees include the cost of lease renewals. The lease renewal fee generally is used to cover:

  • Managing the relationship with the tenant and making sure the tenant wants to stay on for another year.

  • Engaging with the tenant and offering an extension to their lease for another 12 months, based on the current rent for their space.

  • Annual property inspection and site visit.


If the company you are interviewing offers a lease renewal fee, what exactly comes with that?  At Elevation, we provide full service tenant relationship management and begin thinking from the first day of their lease about the renewal!

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