With nearly 100,000 behind on rent, Harrell makes Valentine’s Day extension of Seattle’s ban on pandemic evictions

Mayor Bruce Harrell will extend Seattle’s eviction protections another 30 days into February but the new administration says it wants to do more to inform people about the rules and measure its impact on leases and real estate in the city.

The latest extension protecting residential tenants, businesses, and organizations from eviction during the pandemic will keep the restrictions in place through February 14th.

Saying his administration wants to better understand “the algebra behind it,” Harrell said the next executive order includes the creation of “an advisory group for the mayor composed of tenant advocates and small landlords,” and an evaluation of “Seattle’s intergovernmental coordination in receiving and distributing financial assistance to tenants and small landlords.” Harrell also promised a new online “portal” to provide information to tenants and property owners. Continue reading

Sawant picks another fight for tenants, this time over busted boiler on First Hill

As 75,000 District 3 voters prepare to weigh in on her political future, representative Kshama Sawant says she is standing up for the residents of 34 apartment units on First Hill.

The veteran Seattle City Council member has targeted 9th Ave’s Terrace Crest building with claims of landlord negligence including a lack of heating and hot water and is demanding a “rent refund” for residents.

Sawant gathered with residents from Terrace Crest Wednesday to demand the building owner Breier-Scheetz Properties “fix the boiler which has been broken since mid-September, leaving tenants almost entirely without hot water and/or heating for the last two months.” Continue reading

With sixth extension of COVID-19 eviction moratorium, Seattle buying more time for federal aid, new programs to help tenants and landlords

Items left outside after a past Capitol Hill eviction (Image: CHS)

Seattle is buying time for thousands of renters and landlords as Mayor Jenny Durkan has signed an executive order for the sixth extension of the city’s moratorium on residential and commercial evictions during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The ban on evictions will now stretch into January 2022. By then, the city will have a new mayor and, perhaps, a plan and the relief funding necessary to emerge from the looming tenant and landlord crisis. Continue reading

This Capitol Hill candidate for Seattle mayor can’t make rent — and that’s OK

(Image: Andrew Grant Houston for Seattle Mayor)

A Seattle conservative radio show host’s attempt to take on mayoral candidate and Capitol Hill apartment resident Andrew Grant Houston over unpaid rent has backfired.

Pundit Jason Rantz targeted the “divest SPD” candidate with an article based on email from Houston’s landlord detailing more than $20,000 in back rent at the unnamed Capitol Hill building Houston calls home.

The gist: Houston’s campaign has raised more than $400,000 for his longshot bid for the mayor’s office largely from the success of its efforts to collect Democracy Vouchers while the candidate has reportedly failed to pay rent.

The unpaid rent is just as likely to garner support for Houston as it is scorn. Turns out, Houston is a lot like thousands of other renters in Seattle who have struggled to make ends meet. Continue reading

County expands $125M Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program for landlords and renters

Capitol Hill and Central District property owners with renters struggling to pay during the ongoing economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis could be eligible to receive financial assistance as the first phase of King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program begins. The first phase is starting with landlords with five or more units with tenants in need of assistance:

Outreach to landlords, property managers, and property owners is underway now, and enrollment of properties will happen over the next three weeks. Information for property signup is available on the EPRAP Landlord page.

Individuals and families living in properties signed up and approved for the program will be covered for rental assistance and will not have to apply independently in May.

By mid-May, the second phase including property owners with five or fewer units kicks in. Continue reading

A Broadway development more than 20 years in the making, the process to fill Capitol Hill Station’s new apartments has begun — UPDATE

Capitol Hill Station’s Park luxury apartment building will provide its tenants with plenty of Cal Anderson views (Image: Live Capitol Hill Station)

One quarter of the first batch of units in the new Capitol Hill Station mixed-use development have been leased, as of early this month, according to the complex’s general manager.

The major project above the light rail transit station has been seen as a key development for the neighborhood creating hundreds of new homes and thousands of square feet of new commercial space on Broadway. The COVID-19 crisis has delayed construction but the new, mostly “market-rate” apartments are finally hitting that market.

110 affordable units in the Station House development on the northeast area above the station opened earlier this year and faced high demand.

More than two years after the project’s groundbreaking across the street from Cal Anderson Park, which included a ribbon cutting from Mayor Jenny Durkan, the leasing process on the first 94 units of 400-plus on Broadway started in mid-September amid the coronavirus pandemic, general manager Kristin Lipp told CHS. Continue reading

King County $41M rental assistance and eviction prevention hoped to help low income tenants — and their landlords — make it through 2020

King County hopes a $41 million program to help renters and both large-scale and small, individual landlords can help stave off eviction for between 7,000 and 10,000 low income households during the COVID-19 crisis.

Executive Dow Constantine announced the rental assistance and eviction prevention proposal for “individual tenants, large and small property managers and landlords, and mobile home parks” Thursday and the county is taking feedback on the plan through the end of the month before rolling it out.

The county proposal includes four categories of funding to address “several approaches to serve as many households as possible, as quickly as possible” — Continue reading

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