Seattle winter eviction ordinance becomes law without mayor’s signature

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Tuesday allowed the City Council’s Winter Eviction ordinance to become law without her signature.

Council Bill 119727 was passed by a 7-0 vote earlier this month and banned most residential evictions in the city during December, January and February. The 7-0 vote to approve meant the City Council could override a veto.

Durkan expressed concern with the Council’s legislation saying it places the burden on the tenant to appear in court and could lead to costly litigation.

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"As a young lawyer, I saw firsthand how devastating evictions can be in one’s life,” Durkan said in a news release. “Providing the resources to help prevent eviction in the first place is the right thing to do.”

Durkan asked the City Council for $200,000 to help tenants who face homelessness due to eviction from Dec. 1 to March 1. The funding would build off the existing program from the Seattle Human Service’s Department, according to the mayor’s office.

Durkan’s bill would create a disclosure provision that would require landlords to make sure tenants are aware for winter eviction support and prevention resources. Durkan said it would allow people to stay in their homes instead of simply delaying their eviction until March.

“If City Council wants to accomplish our shared goals to prevent winter evictions, then they should pass a bill to actually help people facing winter evictions,” Durkan said. “As a city, we should be spending taxpayer dollars to help people – not hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers to defend this bill. A real solution is to help households avoid the eviction process altogether.”

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Council Bill 119727 applies to tenants who fall behind on their rent and to tenants accused of violating certain lease terms. It does not apply to tenants engaging in criminal or nuisance activities, nor to owner-occupied properties. It also does not apply to tenants proven to be engaging in behavior making their neighbors unsafe.

Renters who engage in criminal activity, cause nuisances or engage in behavior that makes their neighbors unsafe are exempted from the eviction ban.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.