Legislation Aims To Protect Low-Income Renters From "Economic Evictions" | KNKX

Legislation Aims To Protect Low-Income Renters From "Economic Evictions"

Jul 27, 2015

Seattle city officials want to put a stop to a scenario that’s playing out more often in this region’s tight and competitive housing market. It goes like this: landlords issue a staggering rent hike, tenants move out and not to long after that, the building undergoes a big remodel. It’s called an “economic eviction.”


This is how landlords avoid the responsibility of paying about $1500 to low-income tenants to help them find a new home. When landlords do this, tenants also lose the opportunity to collect a similar amount of money from the city for a total of more than $3,000.

Seattle City Councilman Mike O'Brien.
Credit AP Images

City Councilman, Mike O’Brien, said the bill he’s drafted with Councilmember Nick Licata would help close this loophole.

“If a tenant moves out because the rent was raised so much that they can’t stay and the tenant feels they did that because there was going to be a remodel or an upgrade, then they can file a complaint with the city,” O’Brien said.

“We go back to the landlord and say you have the right to raise the rent but you can’t raise the rent to avoid paying relocation assistance.”

To qualify for relocation assistance, you have to make 50 percent or less than the median income in King County. For one person that would be $31,000 a year. Since 2004 more than 1300 low-income renters have used the relocation assistance program to help them find new homes.

The proposed legislation before Seattle City Council would make it possible for the city to deny building permits and level fines if there is evidence landlords are pushing low-income tenants out without following the rules.

The bill will have its first hearing on Tuesday,  August 4.