Seattle Councilwoman Wants Landlords To Pay Tenant Relocation Costs

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Seattle councilwoman wants landlords to pay to relocate tenants

Sound familiar Portland?

Seattle seems to be following Portland’s lead with the latest proposal from a city councilwoman to have landlords pay three months of tenant relocation costs, including rent in a new housing location, according to reports.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant plans to introduce a bill requiring landlords to pay to relocate tenants who can no longer afford rent. The proposal would force landlords who raise rent by more than 10 percent in a year to pay a tenant's rent for three months if they have to move out.

In a state where rent control is illegal, this new ordinance on “economic evictions” is another in a series of recently passed tenant protections that circle Sawant’s ultimate goal of restricting market-rate housing prices without explicitly capping rents.

It’s inspired, Sawant says, according to Crosscut.com, by the housing affordability crisis she sees everyday and the people who come up to her in the grocery store and share their horror stories. “This is a real situation that people are facing,” she told Crosscut.com. “What we want to bring is a real sense of urgency. It’s not just one policy here or there, it needs a really serious framework.”

Under the proposed legislation, if a landlord raises rent by 10 percent or more within a one year period and the tenant then moves out, the landlord must pay three months’ worth of rent to help the tenant, a number that’s loosely based on what it costs to pay a security deposit and first and last month’s rent.

Smart Growth Seattle Director Roger Valdez, at the center of legal debates with the Seattle City Council over rental laws and affordable housing, told the Puget Sound Business Journal, that the plan is a "punitive, vindictive attack" on developers, which his nonprofit represents.

"The idea of a greedy landlord, wringing his hands and waiting for the opportunity to kick everybody out on the street doesn't exist – it's a cartoon character," Valdez said. "It's a fantasy that landlords want to kick out certain kinds of people because they want to move the millionaire kid from Amazon in. That's not good business."

Portland tenant relocation moving costs ordinance

In Portland, the city’s law allows tenants to collect between $2,900 and $4,500 when landlords use no-cause evictions or raise rents more than 10 percent in a year.

Landlords challenged the ruling and it was upheld in a lower court, but is on appeal with a higher court in Oregon.

“There were three things happening at the same time to put it in perspective,” John DiLorenzo Jr, the attorney representing Portland landlords, told Rental Housing Journal.

“First of all we have a state law in Oregon that “pre-empts local governments from enacting ordinances which control rent - so it is a prohibition on rent control.

“We also have a state law that makes it clear that landlords have a right to issue no fault, or no cause, tenancy termination notices for month-to-month tenants,” he said. “The city believes that the state law prohibits it from banning no cause notices.” He explained that the city acknowledges that the state law imposes parameters on their ordinances that control rent or attempt to regulate no cause notices.  They do believe that their home rule authority allows them to enact tenant relocation payment requirements, even if they tie them to rent increases or no cause notices.

Resources:

Portland Landlords Lose First Round In Suit Against Relocation Ordinance

Portland Landlords Appeal Ruling In Tenant Relocation Lawsuit

Kshama Sawant wants Seattle landlords to pay to relocate priced-out tenants

New Sawant bill: If tenants are priced out, landlords pay

Smart Growth Seattle

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