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Councilmember Burgess Advances Tenant Protection Proposal, Affordable Housing Preservation Proposal

City of Seattle
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/20/2015

Councilmember Burgess Advances Tenant Protection Proposal, Affordable Housing Preservation Proposal

SEATTLECouncil President Tim Burgess announced today he will advance two separate pieces of legislation that protect tenants and seek to preserve affordable housing.

The first proposal increases the length of time required for certain eviction notices. The second gives public agencies increased opportunity to purchase and retain existing affordable housing by requiring advance notice to those agencies of a pending market sale.

“The growing lack of affordable housing poses a direct challenge to our vision of an equitable city,” said Council President Tim Burgess. “There is no one solution, but the City should play an active role in preserving and promoting affordability. These proposals are the first of many concrete steps we must take.”

Burgess’ tenant protection legislation will require a rental owner to provide a tenant 90 days notice for an eviction when the rental owner intends to move into a unit or allow an immediate family member to occupy a unit. Currently, 20 days notice is required in this circumstance. In addition, the legislation will require an owner to provide a tenant 90 days notice for an eviction when the owner desires to sell a rental unit. Currently, 60 days notice is required.

With the vacancy rate for rental housing in Seattle currently under 5%, it can be difficult for tenants to obtain housing in a short time period. Providing additional time for evicted tenants to find new housing will help them find a place to live.

Burgess will also advance a bill which will require owners of affordable multifamily rental housing to notify the City’s Office of Housing and the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) when they intend to sell their rental units. The notice will provide an opportunity for the City or SHA to work with the seller to purchase the property before it is put on the market, or, alternatively, provide time for the public agencies to develop bids for the units. The owner would not be required to sell to the City or SHA.

The legislation applies to multifamily rental housing with five or more units, and the notice of intent to sell must be given to the City and SHA a minimum of 15 days before the property is listed with a real estate listing service or advertised for sale. The rental building must have one or more of the units renting to households with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income.

Both pieces of legislation will be introduced May 26th and considered in the Committee on Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency. The proposals announced today were initially explored by former Councilmember Sally J. Clark prior to her departure from Council.

“As Chair of the committee on affordable housing, I look forward to considering these bills to provide greater notice to tenants and to allow options for preserving affordable units in the City,” said Councilmember John Okamoto

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