Multifamily Tax Exemption

The Multifamily Property Tax Exemption is an affordable housing incentive for new apartment development in targeted areas of Bellevue. The MFTE provides a 12-year exemption from property taxes paid on the housing portion of qualifying projects in exchange for setting aside 20 percent of the units for income-eligible households.

The tax exemption is available in the following areas:

In June 2015, the City Council adopted the multifamily housing property tax exemption (City Code 4.52) through Ordinance 6231. In February 2018, the City Council amended the program through Ordinance 6400RCW 84.14 addresses such tax exemptions in state law. 

The MFTE information sheet provides program overview, tables and a map of the targeted areas in an easy-to-print format.

Public Hearing Materials

On May 24, City Council provided direction to prepare for a public hearing on a package of updates to the MFTE program. On June 9, City Council approved a resolution to set that public hearing for the June 28th City Council meeting, which begins at 6:00 PM.

Any persons may participate in the virtual public hearing by submitting written comments via mail to the City Council in care of Charmaine Arredondo, City Clerk, P.O. Box 90012, Bellevue, WA 98009 or via email at cityclerk@belleuewa.gov, or by signing up to make oral comments to the City Council at the hearing. Details on how to provide oral comments will be included on the published agenda on the City’s website. Written comments or questions will also be accepted by Elizabeth de Regt, Senior Planner, ederegt@bellevuewa.gov, or mail: City of Bellevue, P.O. Box 90012, Bellevue WA, 98009-9012.

All written comments received by the City Clerk or staff will be transmitted to the City Council no later than the date of the public hearing. Comments must be received by 3:00 PM on June 28, 2021. For questions regarding the public hearing process, call Charmaine Arredondo, City Clerk, 425-452-6466.

The changes directed by Council are reflected in the proposed code amendments for BCC 4.52 outlined in the draft code available below. In addition, a number of clean-up items have been included as described in the annotations in the strike-draft version (comments shown in grey boxes at the start of each section of the code).

Strike-draft Code Amendments to BCC 4.52

Proposed Resulting Clean BCC 4.52

The package of updates can be summarized as follows:

  • Expand the RTAs to all areas zoned to allow multifamily use within the City.
  • Combine the above areas into a single RTA with a baseline affordability level of 80 percent AMI.
  • Allow overlapping/layering with Land Use Code incentives but require deeper affordability (65 percent AMI baseline) for any units that are overlapped/layered (simultaneously used to satisfy both programs).
  • Offer a choice of alternate pathways for projects unable to meet the eligibility requirement that 15 percent of the project’s units be 2-bedroom units or larger. Offer a choice between:
    • Deeper affordability (10 percent deeper affordability, meaning 70 percent AMI for typical MFTE units) or
    • Higher quantity of affordable units (25 percent of the project’s units, instead of the standard 20 percent of units).
  • Do not include parking rental costs in the affordable rent calculations. Outside of Downtown, require that rental of parking stalls be offered at a 30 percent discount to MFTE tenants.
  • Require a 3 percent cap on annual rent increase for MFTE tenants remaining in the same-sized MFTE unit in the same project.

On October 5th, 2020, City Council directed staff to initiate work to update the MFTE program. The program has seen less utilization than anticipated in the 2017 Affordable Housing Strategy, so the program update hopes to increase utilization in order to provide additional affordable housing across Bellevue.

Staff are reaching out to those who have input to offer regarding the existing program and any potential updates. These updates may include, but are not limited to, changes to the geographic extents, AMI thresholds, overlap with other affordable housing incentive programs, unit mix requirements, and program administration.

If you are interested in providing feedback on the program in general or any of these specific areas, please reach out to Senior Planner Elizabeth de Regt, contact info at right.

Is my apartment project eligible for an MFTE property tax exemption?

Projects must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The project is new construction, multifamily rental housing located in a targeted residential area.
  • The project can be all residential or mixed-use residential of at least four dwelling units. At least 50 percent of the project is residential use.
  • At least 15 percent of the dwelling units are two or more bedrooms.
  • The mix and configuration of affordable units at each affordability level must be substantially proportional to the mix and configuration of all housing units in the project.
  • The affordable units are constructed of similar quality and finishes as the other units of the project.
  • In projects containing more than one building, all the affordable units are not located in the same building.
  • The development does not result in the net loss of existing, federally subsidized affordable housing.
  • Construction is completed within three years from application approval or within an extension period approved by the director.
  • The project complies with all other applicable provisions of the Bellevue City Code.

What are the affordability requirements for the MFTE?

A minimum of 20 percent of all project dwelling units must be rented to eligible households and remain affordable for at least 12 years from the date of initial occupancy. These affordable units may overlap with those units made affordable through the use of a land use incentive program. The MFTE affordability requirements vary by location as follows:
 

Eastgate, Crossroads, and Wilburton: 

  • 10% of all dwelling units in the project affordable to household incomes 60% or less of the King County median income, adjusted for household size; and
  • 10% affordable to household incomes 70% or less of the median.  
  • Any unit of 300 sq. ft. or less must be affordable to household incomes 45% or less of the median.

Downtown:

  • 20% of all dwelling units in the project affordable to household incomes 70% or less of the King County median income, adjusted for household size.
  • Any unit of 300 sq. ft. or less must be affordable to household incomes 45% or less of the median.

BelRed: 

  • 10% of all dwelling units in the project affordable to household incomes 50% or less of the King County median income, adjusted for household size; and
  • 10% affordable to household incomes 70% or less of the median.
  • Any unit of 300 sq. ft. or less must be affordable to household incomes 45% or less of the median.

 

Are there other rules associated with the MFTE?

The tax exemption...

  • is available for the entire residential component of the project – both affordable and market-rate dwelling units.
  • is not available for the land or for any non-residential component of the project (retail, commercial, office space, etc.). These will be taxed at the full assessed value.
  • takes effect the January 1 following the city’s approval of a final certificate of tax exemption.
  • will remain in place for a maximum of 12 years, provided the project remains in compliance with program requirements.
  • is transferable to a new property owner as long as the new owner maintains compliance with program requirements.

Are there any reporting requirements associated with the MFTE?

Tenants of the affordable units must be able to certify their income eligibility at time of initial occupancy and annually thereafter. To verify continued compliance with the program, by March 1 of each year after obtaining the final certificate the owner will submit to ARCH an annual report for all tenants of the affordable units.
 

2019 Annual Income Guidelines* and Monthly Rental Costs

 

Bedrooms

Household Size

45%

AMI

50%

AMI

60%

AMI

70%

AMI

Utility Allowance

Income

Rent

Income

Rent

Income

Rent

Income

Rent

 

Studio

1 person

$34,209

$855

$38,010

$950

$45,612

$1,140

$53,214

$1,330

$132

One

2 person

39,086

916

43,440

1,018

52,128

1,222

60,816

1,425

157

Two

3 person

43,983

1,100

48,870

1,222

58,644

1,466

68,418

1,710

192

Three

4 person

48,870

1,271

54,300

1,412

65,160

1,629

76,020

1,977

236

 

* Based on the King County/Seattle-Bellevue Metro Median Income (4 persons): $108,600

** Rental cost includes rent, utilities, one required parking space, and other required charges. Utility allowance (right column) includes Electricity & Gas, Water-Sewer-Garbage, and Renter's Insurance.

Applications must be submitted to the Community Development Department prior to the issuance of a project's first building permit.

If the application is approved per City Code Section 4.52, the city will issue a conditional certificate of acceptance for tax exemption. The city will then assign A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) to develop a tax exemption contract and a regulatory agreement for execution by the project owner and the city manager. The regulatory agreement will be recorded as a covenant running with the land.

When the housing units are ready for occupancy, the applicant will submit to the Community Development Department (CD) an application for a final certificate of tax exemption, demonstrating that the project complies with all of the requirements of the program. If the Community Development Director approves the application, the city will issue a final certificate to the King County assessor, who will exempt the residential improvements from the taxable value of the property.

Application Documents

Bellevue has two downtown apartments participating in the MFTE program, adding over 60 moderately priced apartments in a range of sizes. If you are looking for an affordable apartment in Bellevue, other resources include: