[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]
I am replying to Amy Kangas’s Letter to the Editor re: Renter Protections.
Like Ms. Kangas, I am not a lawyer and can offer only my layman’s understanding of the law. In my opinion, her reasoning and interpretations are misleading. Thus, I offer a different perspective and will let the reader decide for themselves.
Ms. Kangas stated “…the Court of Appeals decision is unpublished…While we can only speculate why the Court of Appeals left its decision unpublished, one possible reason is that they did not feel they had a full grasp of the issues from the briefing and therefore were not confident in their opinion.”
It is my understanding that the majority of Court of Appeal opinions are not certified for publication and are thus not published in the Official Reports. An opinion is not published unless it meets one or more of the standards set out for publication or it resolves or creates a conflict with a decision in another court.
I believe her ’speculation’ is unsubstantiated.
Ms. Kangas also states “the decision itself is based on a gross misunderstanding of state law. The state statute it refers to applies only to commercial, not to residential tenancies. So there is no conflict between Burien’s law covering residential tenant protections and this state law.”
I have read the state statute referred to [RCW 59.12.030, para. (1) and (2)], and I cannot find any reference suggesting that this RCW applies only to commercial tenancies.
I would appreciate Ms. Kangas citing the portion of the RCW that supports her statement that residential tenancies are exempt from the referenced RCW.
In addition, Ms. Kangas states ‘five other jurisdictions in King County – Auburn, Federal Way, Kenmore, unincorporated King County, and Seattle – have similar Just Cause Eviction protections in place that also apply to fixed term leases. If these provisions were actually in conflict with state law, you can bet the landlord lobby groups would have sued to have them overturned.”
I have read the Auburn, Federal Way, Kenmore and unincorporated King County codes regarding ‘Just Cause Eviction’ and offer the reader my understanding of these other codes as compared to Burien’s, along with the respective dates that these other codes were adopted (Burien’s code was last updated on 12/5/2022). I did not study Seattle’s code because I fail to see Seattle as having much in common with any other City within King County.
The King County version (that applies to unincorporated King County) was signed 7/16/2021 and is substantially different than the Burien version.
The Auburn version was approved on 7/18/2022. It appears to me that the Burien ordinance was copied verbatim from Auburn’s code with only some formatting changes. Auburn’s code is only 5 months older than Burien’s, and has not withstood any meaningful challenges.
The Kenmore version was approved 7/25/2022 and is substantially different than the Burien version.
The Federal Way version was signed on 12/6/2022 (13 days before Burien’s) and is substantially different than the Burien version.
Finally, Ms. Kangas states “If this provision is removed from Burien’s law … tenants may well lose their homes and many could become homeless.”
I offer the following counterpoint:
If this provision is not removed from Burien’s law the number of rental properties available will probably shrink substantially and tenants will probably lose their homes and many will probably become homeless.
The owners of rental properties need to have a level playing field with those who rent their properties if the owners are to continue to own rental properties!
– Vicki Lockwood
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