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Seattle City Council approves new tenant protection bills, urges extension of eviction moratorium


Seattle city ​​council approved package of bills Monday afternoon is meant to extend tenant protections as both city and statewide eviction moratoriums are set to expire at the end of June.

The set of three tenant-rights bills were passed out in May by the Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee, led by first councilmember Kshama Sawant. Each of the bills were sponsored or co-sponsored by Sawant, who called the passage of the bills a victory for the tenants’ rights movement.

“Today’s bills put people before profits. They put the rights of tenants above the interests of corporate landlords. They prioritize housing sustainability over racist civilisation,” Sawant said in a statement. “Organizing, today we have the nation’s strongest ban on school-year evictions, resolved to extend the eviction moratorium, and strengthen our city’s eviction defense laws.”

Council Bill 120046 Council member Alex Pedersen resisted and passed 6–1. The bill would prohibit the eviction of children, their families and teachers during the school year. According to a study cited in the bill text, 87.5% of households with children withdrawn from school reported that school performance suffered as a result of the expulsion.

Sawant said during Monday’s council briefing, “As many parents and teachers have told us, ‘Just imagine trying to focus on your schoolwork while losing your home as a kid. ”

Sawant said the law also addressed the issue of racial justice as black youth and other students of color face homelessness in Seattle — 40% of homeless students in Seattle were black, compared only to Seattle’s public school. Despite making up 14% of the student population. The legislation has been supported by the Seattle Education Association, Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council, and school board director Zachary DeWolf.

The exception comes after councilmember Teresa Mosqueda adopted an amendment that would add exemptions for property owners to return to their rental units during the school year.

second bill, CB 120090, will give the tenants a right of first refusal and require the landlords to give reasonable reasons for refusing to renew the lease. The bill passed 5–2, with opposition from council members Deborah Juárez and Pedersen. The city’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance currently lists 18 accepted causes.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Councilmember Tammy Morales, argued that the law would close a loophole that allows end-of-lease termination without reason.

“By closing this long-standing gap in security, we are showing tenants that we believe the place they live in is not just a temporary set of walls, but it is their home; it is farmed by them. He is cared for, and appreciated by him,” Morales said in a statement.

final bill, CB 120077If the rent was due during the city’s COVID-19 civil emergency, the eviction would be prevented on the ground of non-payment. The bill passed by a 5–2 vote, with opposition from Pedesan and Juarez.

“Thousands of Seattle residents were left behind on rent during this covid, and this new law protects them from being evicted for being unable to pay,” Sawant said.

Some landlords and property owners, who own one or two properties, called during the public comment period to oppose the passage of the bills. Charlotte Thistle of the Seattle Grassroots Landlords Group said the council was “recklessly endangering both residents and rental housing owners” by refusing to include security protections in the fair cause eviction law.

Another landlord, Jeffrey Flogel, said the law would stop listing privately held properties for rent to small landlords like him, adding to the city’s housing shortage.

“If you’re a renter, what do you want your housing provider to be five, ten, fifteen years from now? With this city council kicking small landlords out of the market, you can have a smaller corporate-owned The option would be apartments, public housing if you qualify or moving elsewhere,” Flogel said during the public comment.

During the morning’s council briefing, Sawant said large corporate asset management companies use these small landlords as “figs” to prevent tenant rights bills from being passed.

Council passed unanimously non-binding resolution Urged Mayor Jenny Durkan and Governor Jay Inslee to extend the city and state eviction moratorium until 2021, a move that has Supported by over 50 organizations in the city.

Under the current moratorium, people can be evicted over health or safety issues, but not because they are unable to pay their rent. Tenants also cannot charge late fees or other charges. Once the orders are lifted, people will still be expected to pay their outstanding rent and may face eviction. Housing advocates have warned for months about the potential for evictions and homelessness once the moratorium is lifted.

Neither Durkan or Inslee have responded to the proposal, and it is unclear whether the city or state’s moratorium will be extended.

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