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Healthy Housing Organizing
Rental Housing Inspection Program Victory
Enjoy this video of the dynamic stories and leadership of TU members, and please support YOUR Tenants Union by making a gift or becoming a member.
Victory! After a 5 year campaign — and almost 20 years for the TU — the City Council unanimously voted in the Rental Housing Registration & Inspection Program, a bill that will dramatically shift the power imbalance between landlords and tenants and hold the slumlords in our community accountable.
Want to learn more about what the law means to you as a Seattle tenant? Follow this link to read how it will effect your tenancy.
See news coverage here:
- KOMO News: New law takes aim at Seattle slumlords
- Seattle Times: Seattle City Council OKs registration, inspection of rentals
- Slog: City Council Passes New Rules for Landlords
Thank you to all tenants who wrote letters and testified in favor of this important legislation, and to all advocates who fought for this bill! This is a tremendous victory for tenants.
Tenants speak out to win safe housing and landlord accountability in Seattle
The Tenants Union is working to win healthy homes for renters and basic licensing requirements for landlords in Seattle. Councilmember Nick Licata is taking a stand for renters with a proposal for proactive inspections that ensure all units in the City are up to basic health and safety standards. Licata listened closely to Tenants Union members and organizers while crafting the proposal. TU tenant leaders Flora Ybarra, Corey Snelson, Melissa Harry and many others courageously brought their experiences directly to City Council members and the media to win protections for all Seattle renters.
- KING 5 News: Seattle considering random inspections for rental properties
- KOMO News Story: Proposed plan aims to strengthen renters’ protection in Seattle
- Publicola Article: Licata Proposes Universal Rental-Housing Inspection
- The Stranger Article: High Costs of Low Rent: Group Tries to Hold Slumlords Accountable
- Councilmember Nick Licata’s Blog Urban Politics: Milestones
Seattle Healthy Housing Ordinance at Risk
Advocacy needed to make the Rental Housing Inspection Program strong, effective protection for tenants
Everyone has the right to live in a decent, affordable home. However, making that right a reality for Seattle tenants is being challenged by landlord lobbyists. In June 2010 the City Council passed a model Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance (RHIP) that would license all rental property owners in the city limits. Much like the food or medical industry, a property owner would have to demonstrate every three years the home they want to rent out meets basic health and safety requirements in order to receive a license to rent in the city. The law would be enforced by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), which conducts building inspections for code violations.
Prior to the law going into effect, the city convened a stakeholder group to provide input on how the DPD should implement the policy. The group was comprised of community members, the Tenants Union, single family unit landlords, multifamily property owners, students, building inspectors, the health department, and legal aid groups The group had ongoing meetings and negotiations for six months and provided the DPD with direction on how to create an inspection and licensing program that was both efficient and effective. Based on this input the DPD was to craft a proposal to present to the City Council to vote on.
However, on November 30th, 2011 the DPD surprised most stakeholders by crafting a proposal that divorced the requirement for landlords to show their rental homes are safe and healthy from the issuance of a license. In its place, the DPD proposed requiring “drive-by” inspections of the exterior of buildings, which would miss the most egregious cases of substandard housing such as a faulty electrical boxes, structurally unsounds walls or floors, broken plumbing, vermin infestations, and the many other issues that the Tenants Union hears from thousands of renters every year.
Cities all across the country are enactingproactive rental housing inspection programs and all have had great success at eliminating substandard housing in their communities, and Seattle should be no different. The Tenants Union testified this December in favor of a proactive inspection program for the City of Mountlake Terrace, which successfully passed such an ordinance. Seattle tenants have a brief window of opportunity to demand the same kind of protections to ensure that all rental housing in the city is safe and healthy.