A group of Seattle landlords and the Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHAWA) have sued the city of Seattle over the set of rules restricting evictions for six months after the mayor’s order expires, according to a release.
“To be clear: We are not challenging Gov. Inslee’s or Mayor Durkan’s emergency COVID-19 Executive Orders,” the RHAWA said. ”We are challenging the City Council’s post-COVID eviction ban, which takes effect for six months after the COVID-19 emergency ends.
“We are also challenging Councilwoman (Kshama) Sawant’s winter eviction ban that passed in February of 2020. These ordinances are the latest example of the Seattle City Council wading into policies it knows little about, creating all new housing problems, and solving nothing.
“Combined, the two ordinances prevent small housing providers from covering their taxes, mortgages, and maintenance costs, when their residents cannot or refuse to pay rent. The suit also challenges the one-size-fits-all payment-plan ordinance that the council passed that fails to consider individualized landlord and tenant circumstances,” the RHAWA said.
The Seattle city attorney’s office responded to the lawsuit saying, “We intend to defend the city in this matter, and we’ll begin investigating the claims.”
Seattle landlords object to the six-month rule
The six-month rule, which the Seattle City Council passed in May, provides an added defense for renters fighting eviction as they deal with the pandemic’s ripple effects.
According to Council President Lorena Gonzalez, who sponsored the bill, a tenant can use non-payment of rent for any reason as a defense against eviction, provided he or she submits a declaration of financial hardship to the court.
“Tenants may use this defense if needed, but this bill does not release renters of their contractual obligations to pay their monthly rent. If you are a tenant who can afford to pay your rent in full, you absolutely should,” Gonzalez wrote in a May press release.
Scott Dolfay, one of the Seattle landlords included in the lawsuit, said in the release, “Our current residents stopped paying their rent and owe us more than $5,000, not to mention $800 in utility fees and money to repair visible damage to the outside of the house and yard. We rely on that rental income to pay taxes, make repairs, pay our loan, and keep the home in good shape for residents to enjoy.”