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Rental Housing Code FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions on the Rental Housing Code Updates

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
on the 
Rental Housing Code Updates

Last Updated July 7, 2023

Note: On July 11, 2023, the City Council adopted Resolutions 41237 and 41238 concerning ballot measures on rental housing regulations. More details are available at cityoftacoma.org/notices. This FAQ will no longer be updated, as City resources cannot be used to support or oppose a ballot measure in compliance with Washington state law. 


Does the City of Tacoma believe that
more support is needed for local renters?
Yes. The City of Tacoma believes more support is needed for local renters. But this isn’t a new issue for the City of Tacoma. The City of Tacoma’s Rental Housing Code Stakeholder Advisory Group actually began working in 2018 to position the City of Tacoma as a leader in Washington state in the establishment of rental housing protections. In fact, the state used the City of Tacoma’s early efforts as a model for statewide protections. And it remains a priority today for the City of Tacoma to continue advancing protections for local renters.


Who is on the City of Tacoma’s Rental Housing Code Stakeholder Advisory Group?
The Rental Housing Code Stakeholder Advisory Group includes representatives from: Tacoma Pro Bono, Tenants Union of Washington, Fair Housing Center of Washington, Next Chapter - Shared Housing, Shared Housing Services, Tacoma - Pierce County Health Department, Tacoma Housing Authority, Rental Housing Association of Washington, Washington Multi - Family Housing Association, Tacoma - Pierce County Affordable Housing Consortium, Tacoma - Pierce County Association of Realtors, Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, and Tacoma Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness. City of Tacoma staff from the Continuous Improvement Team, Tax & License, Legal, Code Enforcement, and Building & Permits, as well as the Office of Equity and Humans Rights Fair Housing Coordinator, are also part of this group.

What is the City of Tacoma doing now to provide more support for local renters?

The Rental Housing Code Stakeholder Advisory Group began working on its latest set of proposed updates in 2021, as cities across the nation struggled with housing issues that were only exacerbated by the pandemic. The City Council is currently considering a number of proposed updates from the group, including policies that address: requirements around notices to increase rent, shared housing standards, standardized tenant screening criteria, standards for fees and deposits, and business license, health and safety requirements.


What is ultimately adopted policy-wise must not only be legally enforceable, it must also do as much as possible to protect tenants while avoiding adverse community-wide impacts in an already challenging housing market. The City of Tacoma wants to avoid measures that:

  • Push smaller housing providers to leave the rental housing market,
  • Increase rental rates, or
  • Narrow the availability of units

To learn more, visit cityoftacoma.org/rentalhousingcode.

Is the City of Tacoma listening to the community’s input on this issue?

Yes. The City of Tacoma appreciates the community’s ongoing efforts to elevate possible solutions to the complex challenges we face as we plan for future growth in Tacoma and across our region. The City of Tacoma’s approach on this issue continues to be a collaborative one that balances the needs of tenants, housing providers, and others across the community. Many of the proposed updates the City of Tacoma’s Rental Housing Code Stakeholder Advisory Group began working on in 2021 were presented on July 27, 2022 to the City Council. Community outreach around these proposed updates began in earnest in January 2023 and, thus far, has included a survey that garnered 1,270 responses (545 from tenants, 617 from housing providers, and 108 from property managers) and five events for tenants and housing providers attended by approximately 200 people.


What’s next for the City of Tacoma on this issue?
The City of Tacoma remains committed to a transparent process. If the City Council decides to place a measure on the ballot this November, it must meet the August 1, 2023, deadline set by the County Auditor’s Office.  

  • June 27, 2023 - This was the first reading of ordinance amending the Rental Housing Code.
  • July 11, 2023 - The second reading of the ordinance amending the Rental Housing Code will happen on this date; The City Council will also decide whether to pass a resolution which puts a measure on the ballot (If so, the following timeline would apply.)
    • July 12-13, 2023 - City Clerk’s Office to publish notice soliciting members for the for/against committees
    • July 17, 2023 - Deadline for interested parties to submit letters of interest for the for/against committees
    • July 18, 2023 - Government Performance and Finance Committee to review for/against committee applications and recommend members for appointment
    • July 25, 2023 - For/against committee appointed by City Council
    • August 1, 2023 - Final submission to County Auditor’s Office which includes resolution with ballot title, explanatory statement, and for/against committee appointments
    • August 3, 2023 - Deadline for for/against statements; rebuttals due August 7, 2023 

More Information

For more information on Tacoma's Rental Housing Code, visit cityoftacoma.org/rentalhousingcode.