King County renters want Seattle's protection

SEATTLE — Tenants of a Skyway apartment complex are demanding more protection after getting eviction notices that take effect this coming Sunday.

If they lived just a mile away they'd get a lot more time to find a new home. Mergitu Argo joined a small rally at Seattle City Hall.

She says she and her daughter have spent 14 years as an excellent tenants at the Bryn Mawr Plaza apartments in Skyway. But on June 10 they got a letter from the management company saying they'd have 20 days to get out.

“Twenty days is not enough for someone working full time to look for an apartment, to give a background check or other things to find a place to live.”

Renters in Seattle get 90 days’ notice to leave because of the city's "just cause" eviction law.

But the Bryn Mawr is about a mile outside the Seattle city limits -- so only King County's rules apply. In fact, the same 20-day notice applies statewide.

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“This is not unique what is happening. We're bringing light to the just cause law because managers or landlords can serve the tenant a 20-day notice if they're on month to month and it's legal, said Violet Lavatai, interim executive director of the Tenants Union of Washington State.

Seattle Council Member Kshama Sawant is asking the King County Council and executive to adopt Seattle's "just cause" law. Asked about the property rights of landlords she responded, “I don't think exploiting renters and gouging tenants is anybody's right. I believe that landlords have every obligation to conduct themselves in a society filled with justice.”

Advocates believe 20-day evictions contribute to homelessness.

“We need to help each other to stop this homelessness in Seattle. Otherwise I'll be homeless with my daughter out here, trying to find a place to live,” Argo said. Her voice choking with emotion.

Argo is close to finalizing her new place to stay but she has just five days to move.

The King County Council has received a letter from council member Sawant and staffers have met with the advocates, but there's nothing for the council to vote on yet.

The management company has yet to respond to our request for comment.