Seattle’s size restriction on micro apartments blamed for rise in rents

Seattle’s city planner recently said that the council’s new rules have made small apartments more expensive to build and charged the board with “overreaching” and not giving micro-housing “a fair shake.”

April 16, 2015 |
Seattle’s size restriction on micro apartments blamed for rise in rents

Before the rule, micro-apartments were gaining popularity especially among young renters. Image: Museum of the City of New York

New rules on micro apartments set by the Seattle City Council last fall are receiving some of the blame for higher rents—as much as 72% higher—in the city.

The new rule says that efficiency-style apartments have to measure at least 220 sf. Seattle’s city planner recently said that the council’s new rules have made small apartments more expensive to build and charged the board with “overreaching” and not giving micro-housing “a fair shake,” according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Before the rule, micro-apartments were gaining popularity especially among young renters. From 2007 through 2014, about 3,600 of units with less area than the new rule allows were built in Seattle with rents running in the $600-to-$800 range.

The city is working to develop new policies to encourage more affordable housing. In September, the mayor appointed a 28-member citizens' committee to come up with new policies.

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