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Mayor Durkan Signs New Housing Legislation Yakima Avenue Disposition and Tenant Protection Harmonization Bills

Seattle (September 6, 2019) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan signed into law her new housing legislation and more robust tenant protections.  

“We must continue to act with urgency to address our housing and affordability crisis and developing innovative pathways to homeownership is a necessary component of the bold actions we must take,” said Mayor Durkan. “Over the past decade Seattle was the fastest growing city in the country and our housing supply has not kept up with demand. As housing costs skyrocket and homeownership is out of reach for most, we must seize every opportunity to develop affordable homeownership models in all areas of the city.” 

The new housing legislation allows the transfer of a City-owned surplus property on Yakima Avenue South in Seattle’s historic Central District, a neighborhood that continues to face significant displacement pressures. The transfer of this property will facilitate the development of housing for homeownership, and is a key strategy of Mayor Durkan’s Housing Seattle Now initiative. This land transfer will be made at no cost to Homestead Community Land Trust, in exchange for 10 permanently affordable homes catering to homebuyers at or below 80% area median income (AMI), $88,250 for a family of four, and six homes at market rate. All net proceeds from the market rate homes will be used to subsidize the cost of the affordable homes.  

The tenant protections ordinance updates Seattle’s tenant protections, aligning them with new standards set in Washington State’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.  

“As Seattle’s renter population continues to increase, we must use every tool available to ensure that tenants and landlords have access to all relevant City resources and that they understand their rights and obligations, under the law,” said Mayor Durkan. “Signing my bill into law is significant progress but we have more work to do. I will continue to work with Council over the coming weeks to expand protections and reduce burdens on renters.” 

The revisions to Seattle’s law include:  

  • Extending the amount of time tenants are given to respond to a potential eviction by increasing the minimum response time from three days to 14 days; 
  • Granting more advance notification to tenants for any increase in rental costs by requiring at least 60 days’ notice for all rent increases; and 
  • Limiting the potential for eviction based on late fees, legal costs, or other charges unrelated to the rental costs of a unit by harmonizing the definition of “rent” to match new state law. 

As part of Mayor Durkan’s “Housing Seattle Now” plan to address Seattle’s housing crisis, the City has provided a surge of new investments in housing for low- and middle-income families. As part of “Housing Seattle Now,” Mayor Durkan has:   

  • In partnership with Councilmember Lisa Herbold, updated City’s tenant protections to better help residents stay in their homes;   
  • Transmitted legislation to renew and improve the Multi-Family Tax Exemption program by limiting rent increases so homes can stay affordable;   
  • In partnership with Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, invested $50 million in permanent supportive housing for people experiencing long-term homelessness; and   
  • Announced sale of the underutilized City properties at Mercer Street, which amounts to nearly $300 million in public benefits for the people of Seattle.