The Tacoma City Council has adopted a temporary ordinance that requires property owners to give 90 days notice to tenants who are being evicted due to building demolition, renovation or change of use.
That ordinance will expire at the end of September, but the city council said it's working on something more permanent.
The new temporary ordinance came after councilmembers voted to look into tenants’ rights issues and landlord-tenant laws after a hearing involving residents at the Tiki Apartments who had been facing evictions after a 20-day notice, according to reports.
The temporary ordinance is intended to provide interim enhanced protections as the city develops further recommendations to address housing and tenant protections for City Council consideration.
“Having experienced homelessness in my life I understand the hardship caused by the affordable housing crisis and the need for enhanced tenant protections,” Councilmember Keith Blocker said in a release.“To address the immediate needs of the residents at the Tiki Apartments, we have been in contact with the new property owner, who has agreed to provide additional time for tenants to relocate and extended the notice of eviction to June 30, 2018. The city is committed to continued coordination of service delivery with our community partners to ease residents’ transition as we begin to work toward long-term solutions for our community.”
The ordinance will not address the emergent need of residents who have already received notification of termination of tenancy, yet city leaders recognize the urgency for assistance according to the release.
“The rising cost of housing in Tacoma impacts us all, but being displaced in this climate creates a particular hardship for our most vulnerable neighbors,” Mayor Victoria Woodards said in the release.
“While the landlord in this case offered to go beyond the minimum requirements of the law, we as leaders need to ensure that other tenants in the city have sufficient time to relocate and to access the services they need to keep a roof over their heads,” she said.
Evicted residents given until end of June
With the passing of the temporary ordinance, the residents now have until the end of June to relocate.
Initially, the council voted unanimously to direct City Manager Elizabeth Pauli "to look into options for expanding tenant rights, while working with tenant and landlord groups to build a consensus, and to bring possible recommendations to be discussed at an upcoming Community Vitality and Safety Committee meeting," according to the Tacoma News Tribune.
On April 5, the Tiki Apartments on South Highland Avenue were purchased by CWD Investments, a Seattle-based company, according to KIRO-TV. Residents in all 58 units received a notice from Allied Residential, the third-party company that now manages the property. The notices indicated that residents in half of the units have until April 30 to vacate. Residents in the other half have until the end of May.
The tenants have been renting month-to-month and Washington law only requires a 20-day notice to move, according to reports.
The notice said that the property will be “going through a major renovation in the next few months” and offered “a one-time relocation benefit of $900 … exchanged for your apartment keys on the prearranged move out date,” according to the newspaper.
Chad Duncan is the lone registered member of CWD Investments LLC, according to the newspaper, and he said in a statement, ““We intend to work with those in hardship that communicate such. We are not heartless."
Ordinance deals with evictions
Mayor Woodards initially called the emergency public meeting which resulted in the temporary ordinance and an extension of time to the end of June for the Tiki Apartments residents, many of whom have nowhere to go and don't have the means to pay first and last month's rent as well as a deposit for a new place on such short notice.
Woodards also directed Pauli to look into any possible violations of landlord-tenant law that may have occurred at the Tiki Apartments and other Allied Residential properties as alleged by some speakers at a recent council meeting.
Roger Valdez with Seattle for Growth told the television station that what happened at the Tiki Apartments may become more common in places like Tacoma. Tenants say the building has been run down for years. Housing experts think that leaves developers with few options.
"You see people who are benefiting from years and years of deferred maintenance in lower rent and then it all catches up," he told KIRO-TV. "It's an unfortunate situation but we've seen it a lot in Seattle."