Seattle City Council adds more COVID-19 renter protections as ‘Amazon Tax’ for relief and affordable housing remains stalled

Seattle has added two new protections for renters facing the economic challenges of the COVID-19 crisis but City Hall wasn’t celebrating Monday as the Seattle City Council approved a bill that gives tenants who fall behind on rent during the crisis the right to catch up on an installment plan.

The second yes vote on a bill co-sponsored by council member Kshama Sawant approved a new rule prohibiting landlords from turning down a tenant because they were evicted for failure to pay rent during the crisis. Sawant marked the victory but also had a lot to say about her stymied “Amazon Tax.” Continue reading

Court rulings favor Seattle renter protections including ‘first-in-time’ law and limits on background checks

Two State Supreme Court rulings handed down Thursday will help efforts to strengthen renter protections in Seattle.

Both decisions came down to the court’s interpretation of property rights and the government’s right to restrict them.

The first ruling clears the way for Seattle’s “first-in-time,” “First-Come, First-Served Screening Practice” legislation that requires landlords to, as it was described by the Seattle City Council, “review applications one at a time, on a first-come, first-served basis” in order to prevent “housing providers from giving applicants with alternative sources of income a lower priority.” Continue reading

Complaints at Broadway building part of pushback over adding ‘smart lock’ and home automation tech to apartments

(Image: CHS)

By Harley Rose

Complaints filed with the city against developers of a Broadway apartment building illustrate a growing tension for Capitol Hill renters, landlords, and tenants across Seattle over new “smart lock” and home automation technology.

Patent 523 tenants say in June Essex Property Trust  informed them by email that a SmartRent system was to be implemented at the Broadway apartment complex.

SmartRent is a home automation company that develops software and hardware for home owners, property managers and renters.. The application system acts as a control on smart home functions from a centralized application, including but not limited to heating, rent payment, and key code entry to a house or apartment.  Continue reading