Kshama Sawant’s legislation to ban winter evictions in Seattle was approved by the City Council Monday but not before a few holes were poked in the socialist council member’s attempt to restrict landlords from evicting tenants during winter months.
The 7-0 vote adds a new restriction to Seattle’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, a roster of “16 just causes” Seattle landlords are allowed to use to end month-by-month rental agreements. Seattle will now restrict evictions during the period from December 1st to March 1st. The rules could be in place for a short period if Mayor Jenny Durkan backs off veto threats.
Thanks to amendments passed by the council Monday, Durkan might be open to the new take on the legislation. First, the council trimmed the period covered from five months to three. It also voted to create a new fund to help tenants cover their payments and, hopefully, stave off eviction altogether. But most important for Durkan and many in the real estate industry who opposed the legislation, the council approved council member Alex Pedersen’s amendment that exempted “small” landlords from the restriction.
Under the amendment, small landlords would be defined as those owning fewer than four units. Sawant cited the difficulty in determining ownership of rental units because of the use of shell companies and limited liability corporations in her unsuccessful opposition to Pedersen’s addition to her bill.
The legislation will now go to Durkan’s desk where the mayor can sign it, stand by and let it become law, or choose to veto it and mount a messy fight with Sawant and housing advocates.
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