‘By getting organized, renters, union members, socialists are pushing back against the corporate landlord agenda and making huge strides in winning a full Renters Bill of Rights’
Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters’ Rights Committee, congratulated rank-and-file renters, union members, and socialists on two major legislative victories today to advance the Renters’ Bill of Rights in Seattle.
“Today’s victories demonstrate the growing momentum of our renters rights struggle,” Sawant said. “They are a huge step forward in our movement’s demand for a full Renters’ Bill of Rights. Today’s victories will benefit tens of thousands of renters in Seattle, who are facing skyrocketing rent increases from profit-hungry corporate landlords and the venture capitalists and big banks who are fuelling a speculative bubble. We won because renters organized alongside my Council office, unions, socialists, communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and others to demand their rights.”
City Council voted 8 to 1 to approve Councilmember Sawant’s CB 119585, which requires landlords to provide at least six months’ notice before raising rents.
Since January, Seattle landlords have raised rents a staggering 25.6 percent, according to industry analyst ApartmentList.Com. Median rents today in Seattle are $1,847/month, and $2,105 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to ApartmentList.Com.
“These shocking hikes show once again that the for-profit housing market simply does not work for renters. They also show that corporate landlords have no shame. The new law will stop these outrageous hikes in the future,” Sawant said.
City Council also voted unanimously to approve Councilmember Sawant’s CB 120173, which requires landlords to provide relocation assistance to tenants who are forced to move out due to large rent increases.
“Renters who are forced to move because their landlord decides to raise the rent have to scramble. They have to take time off to find a new place to live, perhaps find a new school for their children, and come up with the security deposit and first and last months’ rent money,” Sawant noted. “Under this breakthrough new law, when renters are pushed out of their housing because the landlord raises the rent, the landlord will be required to pay the renter the equivalent of three months’ rent. That’s the least they should do under the circumstances.”
Sawant noted that today’s renter laws come on top of earlier significant victories in the last two years.
“Tenants have been organizing and fighting back for their rights alongside our socialist Council office. Together this year, we have fought for and won multiple extensions to eviction moratoriums, the right to legal aid for tenants facing eviction, a ban on school-year evictions for school children, their families, and educators, and protection for tenants from being evicted without a good reason at the end of their ‘term’ leases. And last year, our movement fought for and won a historic ban on winter evictions. Today’s victories add momentum to our fight for a full Renters’ Bill of Rights, which includes citywide rent control with no corporate loopholes,” Sawant said.
Sawant credited labor and community groups for pushing today’s legislation across the finish line, including members of UAW 4121, Seattle Education Association, Bookworkers’ Union, Socialist Alternative, and the City of Seattle Renters Commission, Real Change, Be:Seattle, and many others.
“Our movement won today not by our Council office agreeing to concessions to corporate landlords and making inside deals, but rather by turning outward and organizing working people and fighting boldly for our needs. Renters came out in the hundreds to demand that the other City Councilmembers vote for our bills.”
“Today’s bills put people before profits. They put the rights of renters above the interests of corporate landlords. They prioritize housing stability instead of racist gentrification,” Sawant said. “I especially want to congratulate the hundreds of community members who wrote letters to City Councilmembers in the weeks leading up to today’s votes, and the dozens of community members who spoke out in public comment against watering down the bills with pro-corporate landlord amendments.”