Seattle City Council unanimously votes to ban evictions in winter

SEATTLE -- The Seattle City Council on Monday unanimously approved legislation meant to halt residential evictions during the coldest, wettest months of the year, despite Mayor Jenny Durkan warning against the move.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s legislation prohibits evictions from being carried out between Dec. 1 and March 1, with some exceptions. Sawant has called winter evictions cruel and inhumane.

Supporters say the ban is needed to combat homelessness and to keep people who are down on their luck from being forced outside during bad weather. They note evictions disproportionately affect women and people of color, and people can die without shelter.

Critics of the proposal say landlords need to make sure they can pay their bills, and argue Seattle should instead reduce the city’s evictions by connecting needy tenants with rent assistance.

The legislation would apply to tenants who fall behind on their rent and to tenants accused of violating certain lease terms. The council’s renters’ rights committee narrowed the ban last month. It wouldn’t apply to tenants engaging in criminal or nuisance activities, nor to owner-occupied properties.