Seattle’s ‘Eviction Defense for Renters’ hoped to give tenants added protection during COVID-19 economic fallout

Seattle has put a so-called “Eviction Defense for Renters” in place to protect tenants for six months after the state’s ban on evictions during the COVID-19 crisis is eventually lifted.

The Seattle City Council bill from president M. Lorena González addresses what comes after the state and city’s moratorium on evictions is lifted and provides “a defense a tenant may use for six months should a landlord take their tenant to eviction court” and establishes that renters can use “non-payment of rent for any reason as a defense to eviction, as long as they submit a declaration of financial hardship to the court,” an announcement on the bill’s passage reads.

“After the immediate health crisis is over, we know the economic ripple effects will be felt for some time. Tenants who have lost their jobs or seen their income significantly dropped during this pandemic need time to find their way back to economic stability. This legislation provides tenants recovering from this crisis an additional six months of housing stability through an added defense in eviction proceedings after the city’s eviction moratorium ends,” González said after the unanimous vote to pass the bill Monday afternoon. 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

20% inflation vs. a 69% rise in Seattle rents: Sawant’s rent control legislation unveiled

Between 2010 and 2018 average rent in the Seattle area rose 69% while inflation in the same region rose just over 20%.

This is a statistic that came up time and again Monday night at City Hall as Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant released a draft of her controversial rent control proposal that would tie increased rents to the rate of inflation.

“That’s unjust,” Rev. Angela Ying, senior pastor at Bethany United Church of Christ, said at a press conference before the hearing after citing the stat. “That is just plain unjust.”

The unveiling came at a council committee meeting her office has been planning for months as the incumbent’s bid for reelection has made rent control a rallying cry. No other committee members or city council members attended the Monday night special session.

Continue reading

Capitol Hill rally goes off without her but Sawant ready to make another push for rent control in Seattle

Rent control was the topic on everyone’s mind at All Pilgrims Christian Church in Capitol Hill Saturday night as Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant’s office and other local organizations hosted a rally to build momentum for the controversial — and currently illegal — policy.

But Sawant was nowhere to be found.

The Socialist Alternative council member who is facing a contentious reelection campaign for her District 3 seat excused herself from the event because of the threat of an ethics complaint for participating in a political rally after ballots have dropped for the August 6 primary.

Several of Sawant’s challengers for the seat criticized her in the lead-in to the rally for holding council-related events so close to the August 6th Election Day.

“Kshama is clearly using her city office to advance her political campaign by holding a city-sponsored rally and promoting it with her campaign,” entrepreneur and D3 candidate Logan Bowers said Friday, adding “Good policies and good leaders don’t need to resort to unethical tactics when they’re working in the interests of their constituents. We deserve better.”

“If Sawant is using city money to hold an election rally, I find this an egregious breach of trust and another reason why we need a change in leadership,” Broadway Business Improvement Area head Egan Orion said. Continue reading

Sawant says she will make new push on Seattle rent control, ordinance against ‘Economic Evictions’

(Image: Seattle City Council)

Building on recommendations from the Seattle Renters’ Commission, City Council member Kshama Sawant announced two measures Monday aimed would alleviate some of the burden for Seattle renters. The first is a proposal to enact a Seattle rent control ordinance. The second, the Economic Evictions Assistance Ordinance, would look to protect tenants against substantial rent increases.

“We have two choices,” Sawant said at a Monday morning press conference at City Hall to announce her planned proposals. “One, just sit on our hands and expect that some day, in the distant future, the Democratic establishment will gather the courage to break from the real estate lobby and finally stand with us. We’ve done that kind of waiting for 40 years.”

“Or we can begin the fight here.” Continue reading

Born on Capitol Hill, Tenant Rights Bootcamps training renters for change in Seattle

(Image: Be:Seattle)

Devin Silvernail always starts with the basics: Read your lease, and know exactly what’s in it before you sign it. Document everything. Do everything in writing (and no, texting does not count). That’s the “tenant rights 101” many of us know.

But did you know that there’s a ban on source of income discrimination in Seattle? Or that landlords are prohibited by law to screen tenants based on criminal convictions? Or that there’s a cap on move-in fees for renters can be charged? That you can organize in a renters union in your building?

In the grand scheme of things, not that many people do. Silvernail, who organizes Tenant Rights Bootcamps all around Seattle, thinks they should. That’s why he’s made informing renters of their rights part of his life’s work. “Knowing your rights is a really powerful tool,” he says. “You can recognize when a situation isn’t good when you’re unjustly evicted or taken advantage of, or owed relocation assistance.”

When we get Silvernail on the phone, he’s out walking around Capitol Hill — where renters, including Silvernail himself, are the majority — posting bright yellow flyers up for an upcoming Tenant Rights Bootcamp this Wednesday, March 6 at Capitol Hill’s Wildrose bar. The event, geared towards the LGBTQ+ community, is co-organized with the Gender Justice League, the Tenants Union of Washington and Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant who is running for reelection this year.

LGBTQ Community Tenant Rights Bootcamp

“A lot of LGBTQ+ folks wonder about background checks. If folks haven’t had the same name their whole lives, how does that affect them? Can their landlord refuse them? We can quell fears around that, as well as around discrimination and protected classes,” Silvernail says while the stapler clicks punctuate his words.

“Still, 99% of the workshop will apply to anyone, and open to everyone who wants to come.” Continue reading

Macri to introduce legislation to end state ban on rent control

Rep. Macri

One of Capitol Hill’s representatives in Olympia vowed Tuesday afternoon to rekindle the push to end Washington’s ban on rent control.

“We are passed time to bring this fight on for real,” state Rep. Nicole Macri said Tuesday as she addressed a tenant rally and protest outside the convention center where a landlord trade show was underway inside.

Macri says she will introduce legislation in the upcoming session to repeal the ban on rent regulation in the state. An announcement sent to media provided support from community and labor groups for the repeal but no details of how the rollback would work. Continue reading

Seattle tenant rights rally, pop-up renters clinic to greet landlord trade show

Tenant rights, labor, and housing advocate groups are planning a day of protests and education to counterbalance the presence of landlords from around the state at an industry trade show at the convention center downtown Tuesday.

The Rally for Tenant Rights will start around 11 AM at Westlake Center. Organizers say State Representative Nicole Macri, and City Council members Kshama Sawant and Teresa Mosqueda are scheduled to attend: Continue reading

Spring analysis shows Capitol Hill rent rise has… slowwwed… dowwwn…

DSC01416


Analysts say all the construction may be making a mess of Capitol Hill streets but it might, indeed, be making a small dent — or at least slowing down — the juggernaut that is rent across the area’s neighborhoods.

Overall, rents across Capitol Hill and Eastlake are up 3.9% compared to spring 2016, according to Mike Scott of industry analysts Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors. The firm’s seasonal reports based on interviews and tracking continue to be one of the city’s most watched indicators through an ongoing affordability crisis — and a boom for landlords and City Hall’s coffers thanks to an around 75% leap in taxable activity in Seattle’s construction sector since 2010.

While the continued rise in rents is further hardship for tenants — up some 48% compared to 2012 and a whopping 88% since 2007 — the rise has moderated. Continue reading

Yes on I-127 effort underway to put Seattle rent transparency initiative on ballot

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.11.31 PM

Current rental cost datasets must be collected from sources like Craigslist while developers often have access to the most robust reporting based on property management analysis

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.11.25 PM On Monday, the City Council is expected to approve formation of the Seattle Renters’ Commission, thought to be the first commission of its kind representing tenant interests at a United States city hall. Another group is beginning its work in the rain this Friday afternoon to also create a better, more transparent, and more trackable future for Seattle renters.

Yes on I-127 have been given approval to begin collecting the some 16,000 20,638 or signatures they will need to get their initiative on the ballot calling for Seattle landlords to provide detailed breakdowns of rents and rent increases to tenants and share that information with the city. “By breaking down costs included in monthly rent, tenants can better understand cost of rents and rent increases associated with their homes,” the group contends. “They can also use this information to plan and prepare for the future.” Proponents say the initiative would give the city “an apparatus to track rent trends.” “This allows both the city and its residents to study and understand our rental market,” they write.

Devin Silvernail tells CHS the initiative is an outgrowth of volunteers coming together through the tenant bootcamps his Be:Seattle is organizing across the city. The next camp, by the way, is next week in the Central District.

Silvernail said the effort to collect signatures for I-127 by September to make the ballot this fall — 10% of the total number of votes in the last mayoral election is the goal — is underway and you should expect to see volunteers around Capitol Hill Station.

You can learn more at whatsinmyrent.com.