Seattle landlords are concerned about a possible rent strike as the May 1 deadline for paying rent approaches, according to several reports.
Landlords, mostly those with just a few rental properties, vented their frustrations during the online town hall asking to be treated fairly because many are like a small family owned business – with just one or two rental properties.
“I think people tend to think about there being the parties in this whole thing – renters and corporate landlords, we are in the middle we are actually more like our tenants,” said Marilyn Yim according to Komonews.com. ” A lot of the landlords in this group are also unemployed right now.” Yim is in favor of rental assistance that would help tenants pay their rent, so landlords are able to pay their mortgage.
“We are a group of 80 independent landlords in Seattle, who are very concerned about the direction Seattle City Council is taking in terms of the moratorium on evictions, the rent freeze, and now, a ‘rent strike” where tenants are actively being encouraged to stop paying their rent,” wrote Charlotte Thistle with the Seattle Grassroots Landlords organization, in a statement about the rent-strike event.
As May rent deadlines approach, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and other activists have added their voices to nationwide calls urging tenants to use tactics like rent strikes to push landlords and the government to cancel rent payments and provide other help, the Seattle Times reported.
Yet missed payments could yield dire consequences for tenants when Washington’s emergency moratorium on evictions ends, some tenant advocates have warned, with no guarantee the gambit will succeed.
Governor Jay Inslee’s statewide ban on evictions expires after June 4.
The Seattle City Council last month asked Inslee and Congress to cancel rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic, and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, has taken up the cause, introducing a bill. The Metropolitan King County Council narrowly declined to support cancellations, which skeptics have said wouldn’t pass constitutional muster.
Experts recommend tenants be cautious and negotiate with their landlords.
Calls for Rent Strikes Don’t Help
The Rental Housing Association of Washington’s Kyle Woodring wrote, “In these unprecedented times, calls for rent strikes are particularly counterproductive and irresponsible. Rental income gives housing providers the flexibility to work out special agreements and payment plans with truly impacted neighbors. Additionally, apartment-community and maintenance staff are classified as essential workers at this time.
“Apartment-community residents will be harmed if ongoing maintenance, emergency repairs, resident-engagement efforts and other critical onsite functions decline or cease. Small landlords could risk losing their properties if they don’t receive rent to cover their mortgage and taxes.”