Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant wants to block evictions in winter

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant wants to block landlords from evicting tenants during winter months.

Supporters agree it should be illegal to evict people in winter, and they argue that’s basic human decency. Opponents say problem tenants would get a holiday from rent.

Sawant’s proposal is modeled on a law in France that defines winter as November 1st through March 31st.

We asked Sawant what happens if a tenant breaks rules. Does that mean a landlord has to put them up until spring?

“The French law that we are trying to model this law on does provide causes that say under specific conditions, extenuating circumstances, the eviction can still happen,” Sawant said.

Sawant said she’ll work with councilmembers and the city’s law department to figure out those circumstances.

Roger Valdez, who represents landlords and developers, said Sawant’s proposal doesn’t solve the underlying problem. He said eviction is a last resort that few landlords seek, and says Sawant’s proposal is both illegal and unfair.

“People work hard in this city,” Valdez said. “They scrape together to make that rent payment on time, and what are they going to think when the neighbor down the hall hasn't paid their rent because its wintertime and knows they're not going to get evicted?”

Sawant told KIRO 7 she wants a law that will stand up to what she calls the “landlord lobby” and that a hearing could come before the new council next month.