Legislation requires property owners to inform tenants when selling building
SEATTLE – Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide), Chair of the Council’s Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee, along with her Council Colleagues passed by an 8-0 vote legislation that modifies the city’s existing Notice of Intent to Sell ordinance during Monday’s Full Council meeting.
Mosqueda’s legislation requires more property owners of affordable multifamily residential buildings to give the City, tenants, and nonprofit affordable housing developers notice if they intend to sell their buildings.
Currently, property owners who want to sell their multifamily rental buildings of 5 units or more that include one or more affordable housing units need to give a 60-day notice to the City’s Office of Housing. The current 60-day notice policy allows the City, the Seattle Housing Authority, or a local non-profit affordable housing developer to submit an offer to the owner, which could preserve the housing as affordable.
As outlined in Council Bill 119537, Mosqueda’s legislation expands the policy to include multifamily residential rental buildings of 2 units or more (this does not include single-family houses or ADU/DADUs) and creates a tiered notice system based on the size of buildings to increase the required notice period.
As important, the owner is also required to notify tenants of the building by posting a notice—including information on City resources for first-time homebuyers and renters—in a visible place within the building where tenants can see, which will provide more opportunity and self-determination to renters who may be interested in securing ownership of their buildings.
Additionally, if a property owner doesn’t list their property on the market but instead receives an unsolicited offer to purchase the building, the building owner must still issue a notice of intent to sell within two days of receiving the offer.
“In Seattle’s current real estate market, tenants and affordable housing providers often struggle to compete. Many buyers come with cash in hand and snap up properties within days of being listed, and buildings are often sold without ever being listed at all—leaving few opportunities for lower-income buyers and our community partners to get a foot in the door,” said Councilmember Mosqueda. “As we work to expand and preserve Seattle’s affordable housing supply, it’s important that we use every tool in our toolbox. This legislation sharpens a tool we’ve been using since 2015 by expanding the number of buildings it applies to and providing the window of opportunity for tenants, community organizations, and our nonprofit affordable housing developers to make an initial bid on affordable housing units before they are put up for sale on the open market. It will also help connect prospective buyers with resources and technical expertise to make the step towards ownership. As we’ve seen locally and in other cities such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C., this is a smart policy choice that doesn’t impact the cost of sale, and also helps us preserve our existing affordable housing units across the city.”
“It’s common sense to give people notice when their buildings are going up for sale,” said Xochitl Maykovich, Political Director of Washington Community Action Network. “It’s important to make sure that there’s an even the playing field so that we can explore limited equity cooperatives and other resident-controlled housing models that will help people who have difficulty accessing housing as well as ensure that non-profits are able to get property they need to provide affordable housing to our community.”
As highlighted in a recent report by the National League of Cities Housing Task Force, many cities are using strategies to increase homeownership opportunities when existing multifamily buildings come up for sale. As Councilmember Mosqueda highlighted in this Washington Times story, using these tools, alongside increasing investments for new affordable housing and pushing for deeper investments from the state and federal government, will allow cities to preserve and grow their affordable housing stock.
Mosqueda’s legislation directs the Office of Housing to facilitate workshops for renters and tenant groups, community organizations, non-profit affordable housing developers, housing financing entities, realtors and commercial brokers, and owners of rental housing to discuss how to facilitate the sale of buildings to these entities, including technical assistance to prospective buyers so that they are prepared to submit offers to purchase when opportunities arise.
Mosqueda’s legislation increases non-compliance penalties from $500 to $2,000.
About Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda: Teresa fights every day to build an economy that works for all of us, make sure we can afford to live in the city where we work, and protect the rights of every member of our City. She has dedicated her life to amplifying the voices of our working families. Teresa brings a decade of experience working with labor unions and working families to City Council and most recently served as the Political and Strategic Campaign Director of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Teresa is a third-generation Mexican-American, the daughter of educators and social justice advocates.