By Alia Sinclair

Here are the highlights from Tuesday night’s (April 11, 2023) SeaTac City Council Meeting:

Public Comments

The debate over the Renters Protection Ordinance raged on in the public comments Tuesday night. Landlords expressed their concern over tenants not being required to provide a social security number to apply for housing citing social security numbers as their only way to run background checks and ensure the person they are renting to is not on the sex offender’s registry, has no criminal record, or bad credit.

Several landlords also spoke about the proposed $10 cap on late fees, expressing to the council that if they have a tenant who does not pay rent, they will have no recourse when it comes to paying the mortgages and taxes on their property.

Several renters and spokespeople for housing organizations spoke about their support of the ordinance, citing the number of evictions in South King County, enormous rent increases, and the effects of unstable housing on the community.

Renters Protection Ordinance Passes

On Feb. 14, 2023, the City Council voted to refer the draft ordinance to their March 14 Council Study Session to allow time for community outreach before a vote was taken.

On March 10, the City hosted a community meeting meant to educate the public about the regulations included in the ordinance and to gather public comments.

The regulations of the original draft ordinance are summarized in the table below:

This table summarizes the feelings of the public regarding each of the proposed regulations gathered during the community outreach meeting:

As the Council had the opportunity to speak about the proposed ordinance, several amendments were put on the table.

  • Amendment One: Deputy Mayor Negusse moved to amend section 4.05.020 by inserting language that the provisions of the ordinance would not apply to rental agreements between an owner and tenant where the owner shares the dwelling unit as a primary residence with the tenant. The motion passed.
  • Amendment Two: Councilmember Guzman moved to strike the section of the ordinance that will not require rental applicants to provide social security numbers and replace it with language that expresses an applicant can provide their social security number if they have one, but if they do not, the landlord cannot require it of them. The motion passed 6-1.
  • Amendment Three: Councilmember Guzman further moved to amend section 4.05.090 to state that if a landlord is evicting a tenant due to past due rent, eviction proceedings will be terminated when the tenant has paid the past due rent, or a payment plan has been agreed upon. The motion passed 5-2.
  • Amendment Four: Mayor Simpson moved to strike subsections on unjust evictions for greater clarity. Motion passed 4-3.
  • Amendment Five: Mayor Simpson further moved to add language to the Right of Refusal section of the ordinance. The motion to amend failed 6-1.
  • Amendment Six: Councilmember Kwon moved to change the $10-dollar late fee cap to a 2% late fee cap. The motion passed unanimously.

After all the proposed amendments had been voted on, the fully amended ordinance was put on the table for a vote and passed 5-2.

Alia Sinclair is a writer residing in SeaTac. She is passionate about the arts and connecting people through the written word. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Patchwork Mosaic, a magazine for creatives.