WA Supreme Court hears arguments on Seattle tenant laws

Last week the state Supreme Court heard arguments related to legal challenges against two tenant-rights laws passed in recent years: the “First in Time” ordinance that requires landlords to rent a property to the first qualified tenant who applies; and the “fair chance housing” ordinance that restricts landlords’ ability to use a potential tenant’s criminal record to deny tenancy. The two cases took different paths to get to the Supreme Court, but the legal issues raised have significant overlap. The legal theory underlying both legal challenges is essentially the same: that they restrict one of the landlords’ fundamental rights of …

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How much will it cost to fix Seattle’s unreinforced masonry buildings?

According to SDCI, the City of Seattle contains 1,145 buildings with unreinforced masonry that could collapse in a major seismic event. While records are incomplete, the city estimates that about 11% of those have already retrofitted the building to address the issue. Another 68 of them are owned by various government entities. That leaves 944 buildings in private hands with unreinforced masonry: in total about 20,200,000 square feet, containing 10,400 residential housing units with 22,050 residents. Thirty seven of those buildings contain 1,559 designated affordable housing units. Every few years the city attempts to move forward legislation to mandate that …

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Understanding Rent Control

Council member Kshama Sawant has decided that 2019 is the year to push for rent control in Seattle — even though there is still a statewide ban on it. She held a rally last week announcing that she would be introducing rent control legislation (to become effective if/when the state lifts its ban), and earlier this week she invited the Seattle Renters Commission to present in her committee (video here) on why they are recommending that the city implement rent control. I’m not an economist, not a landlord, nor a renter. But since we’re having this debate, I went to …

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