Tacoma passes sweeping tenant’s rights ordinance

TACOMA, Wash – It’s being seen as a major victory for tenant’s rights in the South Sound.

A series of new protections for renters were passed into Tuesday night that gives renters more time to look for a new place to live in the event of a rent increase among other things.

“Everybody deserves to have a safe warm place to sleep,” said Donna Seay who had been fighting for reform for months.

Seay says Tuesday’s update to the City of Tacoma’s rental housing code is a small step in the right direction.

“It’s only been seven months and it’s a lot to pass for just seven months,” she said.

This origins of the new ordinance began last April when she and her other neighbors of the Tiki Apartments were given quick notice to find a new place.

“This is gentrification,” said then resident Monida Clavano. “None of us can afford to do this.”

Seay and others began lobbying city leaders to make changes to the law to protect other renters.

“This problem isn’t going to go away, this isn’t an isolated incident,” said Seay. “It’s been going on for a long time.”

The new ordinance requires landlords to notify tenants 60 days before terminating a lease or raising rent by more than 10-percent.

It also requires landlords to notify tenants four months before renovations or demolitions are to take place.

Plus, the ordinance bolsters tenant relocation assistance and allows tenants to pay their move-in costs in installments.

The new law goes into full effect February next year.

But there was some push back by some landlords in Tacoma – some told city council the government overreach in the new ordinance could force property owners to sell their buildings and abandon their job as landlords altogether.

The city’s mayor says the new law will help level the playing field for landlords and tenants who may be living paycheck to paycheck.

For those who fought for renters from the beginning say they’re taking their message to Olympia – and hope to make similar changes state-wide.

“This is just the beginning, said Seay. “We’re not stopping we’re going to state we’re going as far as we can go.”