Though most of the Seattle City Council’s focus this week will be on pounding down additions — and a few subtractions? — to the mayor’s proposed $6.5 billion 2020 budget, Monday’s full council session finished up some key legislation to help Seattle renters.
Monday, the council passed five new bills increasing tenant rights and adding new requirements for landlords:
- CB 119606 — info (PDF) — One of the issues identified (in the “Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction in Seattle” report) is the tenant’s need to live with a roommate to afford rent, but tenants are often restricted from doing so under their lease agreements, because of a landlord’s discretion to reject a roommate, and due to additional fees and screening criteria for roommates. The intent of this bill is to mitigate those obstacles and increase housing stability.
- CB 119658 — info (PDF) — One of the challenges related to eviction the report identified is the financial hardships of tenants who are experiencing domestic violence as related to retaining tenancy. Tenants experiencing domestic violence or who are the victim of sexual assault, stalking or unlawful harassment can be held liable for damages caused by the person perpetrating those crimes. This bill addresses the issue of the tenant’s liability for such damage and creates a mitigation fund from which landlords can be reimbursed for the costs of repairing damage to their property caused by a perpetrator of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or unlawful harassment.
- CB 119619 — info (PDF) — This legislation amends the City Housing and Building Maintenance Code prohibited acts (SMC 22.206.180) to require that key notices include a reference to City resources for information on tenants’ rights, responsibility, and resources.
- CB 119620 — info (PDF) — This legislation amends the Rental Agreement Regulation Ordinance (SMC 7.24) to require receipts for rent and other payments consistent with state law and to require payment options that do not require electronic banking.
- CB 119621 — info (PDF) — This legislation amends the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance (SMC 22.206.160) and the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (SMC 22.214 or RRIO) to require landlords to register with RRIO before a landlord issues an eviction notice. The current requirement is that RRIO registration is required prior to the court authorizing the eviction; thus the legislation requires RRIO registration at an earlier point in the eviction process.
In September, the council passed new legislation to give Seattle renters get more time to pay owed rent.
District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, meanwhile, embroiled in a big money battle to retain her seat, has rolled out rent control legislation that would cap annual rent increases to the rate of inflation for Seattle’s workers. With the council focused on the budget through the month, it’s not clear when Sawant’s bill might get its first committee hearing.
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