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In an effort to clear the air on the debate about how to regulate home owners moving around the city, Washington State’s legislature is weighing a new measure that would allow home owners to move around their houses without a permit, or at least pay a nominal fee.
House Bill 1665 would require owners of rental properties to pay an annual permit fee, which is a fraction of what most owners pay for their homes, about $200 per year.
In addition, the fee would be based on the size of the property, such as if it is one-bedroom or two-bedroom.
If owners want to move out of a one- or two, they would have to pay a separate fee.
The measure is a response to a series of cases involving owners of homes who have sought to move outside their city limits to save on their mortgage payments.
One case in June resulted in the city of Spokane agreeing to issue permits for about a dozen owners to leave their homes in the Spokane area.
The city’s previous permits were based on property size and density, rather than occupancy.
Under the current system, owners of rentals pay a fee for a permit to move to another city, and the city then charges the owner a fee based on how many units it has.
That fee can be as little as $40 for a single-room occupancy, or as much as $1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment, and then based on occupancy.
The fee is based on whether or not the owner has occupied the property in the past year, and that could change if the owner decides to sell.
“There are lots of people who don’t want to pay the fee,” said Dan Grosman, a former housing planner and now an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Public Policy and Urban Planning.
“But it’s the price of living in a neighborhood.”
In a case that has spurred a number of other cities to follow Spokane, the city in August settled a lawsuit with a property owner who had sought to remove his home from its city limits and move to Spokane.
The City Council voted unanimously to lift the fee in January, and Spokane City Attorney Brad McManus said it was a “fairly simple” fee to cover moving costs for landlords who wanted to move.
The move to charge for permits is a way for home owners in Spokane to pay for a move, he said, noting that many landlords choose to rent out their properties to others to make a profit.
The bill would also allow landlords to move the property on a first-come, first-served basis.
That means landlords could move the residence without having to pay fees, and rent out the property if they choose to do so.
It would not apply to the owners of vacant buildings.
The proposal has the support of the Spokane chapter of the National Association of Realtors, which has called for a national movement to curb the use of rent-controlled housing, which it says is creating “ghost” units.
It also has the backing of the American Society of Apartment Administrators, which said the fees would be more effective than the “somewhat cumbersome” permitting process that the city uses to allow owners to buy out their homes.
The Spokane City Council has scheduled a public hearing for Jan. 28.
The bill is not expected to pass.
In addition to being a relatively small fee, McManum said the proposal would allow homeowners to “avoid the bureaucracy of buying permits,” which can take months or years.
He said it would also give property owners more flexibility in moving if they want to do it quickly.
“It would allow them to be proactive and go out and buy a house,” he said.
“They don’t have to do that every day.
It’s going to be a little more efficient.”
The proposed fee is not the only thing making the city rethink the fee system.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a ruling by a lower court that said the fee is unconstitutional, and ordered the city to reconsider.
The lower court had ruled that it is legal to charge people to move their homes because it is a “just compensation” under the Fourth Amendment of the U,S.
The lower court, which also ruled against the city’s current permit fee system, said it is difficult to imagine a scenario where someone could afford to buy a two-, three-, or four-bedroom home, and still not need a permit.
“The whole thing is kind of confusing,” said Richard Wieser, a Seattle real estate broker who represented the owners in the case.
“What is this fee?
It’s not like we have a bunch of new people coming in every year, or you have a whole new population moving in, or even if you have some new people moving in.”
McManus acknowledged that the fee could become problematic if it became widespread,