The new protections stem from three bills passed by the nine-member council on Monday afternoon by a vote of 7-2 for each bill. Seattle City Council members Debora Juarez and Alex Pedersen were the lone "no" votes on the three bills.
The first bill prevents landlords from issuing evictions for families of school-aged children and teachers over the school year. For Seattle Public Schools, the school year typically runs through early September through mid-June. San Francisco passed comparable legislation in 2016.
The second bill bans owners from evicting tenants due to non-payment if they defaulted throughout the city's declared state of emergency over COVID. Landlords would be able to "recover rent owed through a separate civil action."
A third bill passed by the city council on Monday will have landlords give tenants the right to reject a new lease by the end of their current lease, "unless the landlord has just cause to decline offering the new tenancy, the tenant chooses to vacate voluntarily, or the fixed-term lease automatically converts to a month-to-month lease."
The bills come weeks before the statewide moratorium ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee last year throughout the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium ends on June 30 and covers exemptions for landlords who choose to occupy or sell their property, lease violations, and felony crimes.
Seattle City Council members likewise passed a non-binding resolution, calling on Mayor Jenny Durkan and Inslee to extend the eviction moratoriums at the state and local levels through the end of the year. Seattle expires along with the state's by the end of this month.
Thousands of Washingtonians could be exposed to eviction based on federal data. According to a May poll from the U.S. Census Bureau, 126,106 Washington households or 8% of renters in the state are behind on rent. Not less than 84,808, or 9% of those renters, live around Puget Sound.
Those numbers fall in line with recent projections from the Washington Multifamily Housing Association. The organization, which represents larger property landlords, discovered that about 10% of households statewide missed their rent payment in April.
Some landlords like Jeffrey Flogel testified to the Seattle City Council that the state's eviction moratorium is muscling out small-timers in the business like him.
"If you're a renter, who do you want your housing provider to be five, ten, fifteen years from now?," Flogel said. "With this city council pushing small landlords out of the market, you'll have the choice of a small corporate-owned apartment, public housing if you qualify or moving elsewhere."