Last week, Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant announced proposed legislation that would force landlords to have to pay for tenant relocation after a pronounced rent increase. The city currently requires 30 days notification for a rent increase, or 60 days notification if the increase amounts to more than 10 percent in an annual period. Since Washington state has a ban on rent control, there is no real limit to how much a landlord can increase rent.
Sawant’s proposed ordinance would require a landlord to pay three months rent toward tenant relocation after a rent hike of 10 percent or more in a one-year-period. This would only apply to tenants earning 80 percent of area median income or less, which currently amounts to an annual income of $50,000.
The proposed bill has similarities to a Portland bill passed last February. The Portland bill has met with legal challenges since the state of Oregon also prohibits rent control. Sawant’s proposal also has some similarities to Seattle’s current Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance. Passed in 1990, this ordinance has a lower income threshold and applies mainly to relocation due to remodeling and demolition.