Sen. Fortunato proposal ices Seattle winter eviction ban

State Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, has introduced legislation, Senate Bill 6651, to preempt efforts by local jurisdictions that undo the state’s carefully crafted landlord tenant laws concerning evictions.

A Seattle City Council committee approved a policy sponsored by Councilmember Kshama Sawant that would ban evictions during the winter months.

“We’ve done a lot of work in Olympia regarding evictions and rental housing,” Fortunato said. “Last session, that is practically all we did on housing, besides raise taxes. What we don’t need are more bad ideas from Seattle that are just a ‘solution’ in search of a problem.”

There are more than 160,000 rental units in Seattle, according to housing officials. In 2017, 1,218 evictions were filed resulting in only 558 actual removals, or 0.3 percent of all units in the city. In addition, the Seattle Mariners contributed $3 million for the Home Base fund, which is managed by the United Way for purposes of helping those going through eviction to prevent homelessness.

“The proposal in Seattle is clearly an unconstitutional taking of private property,” Fortunato added. “The state cannot allow a patchwork of landlord tenant laws that result in people’s property rights being eroded.”

According to Fortunato, the Sawant-led proposal is very roughly modeled on policies used in Paris, France, but does not include other provisions such as insurance policies or narrow qualifications to have an eviction postponed. The proposal that was approved late last week includes none of these requirements and would ban eviction for nonpayment of rent, Fortunato said.

“What this policy will end up doing is incentivizing more evictions,” Fortunato said. “If the eviction ban goes through, Seattle will just have to look forward to an eviction season come spring. It seems some members on the council want to rule by fiat. They should consider banning winter all together.”