AGENDA BILL APPROVAL FORM

 
Agenda Subject:
Ordinance No. 6780 (Tate) (20 Minutes)
Date:
July 7, 2020
Department:
Community Development
Attachments:
Ordinance No. 6780 Ch 5.24 ACC Residential Rental Just Cause.
Budget Impact:
Current Budget: $0
Proposed Revision: $0
Revised Budget: $0
Administrative Recommendation:
Schedule Ordinance 6780 for City Council action on July 20, 2020
Background Summary:

 

A Just Cause Eviction Ordinance (JCEO) protects tenants from being forced to leave their rental home without reasonable justification. Washington state law prohibits unfair, retaliatory evictions, a critical tenant protection (RCW 59.18.240; RCW 59.18.250). However, locally enforced JCEOs clearly enumerate the grounds on which landlords can end a tenancy. Any evictions or terminations of tenancy outside those specified by the ordinance are considered illegal once the JCEO is in effect.

 

City staff presented an overview of JCEO concepts during study session discussions on July 18, 2018 and April 22, 2019 as part of larger presentations related to various tenant protection programs in place throughout the region.  Staff provided materials that the City of Seattle had assembled outlining their JCEO.  A number of other cities in Washington State also have adopted a JCEO (including Burien and Federal Way).  After researching multiple JCEO examples and interviewing staff from other municipalities, Burien was selected as a template for the creation of a draft JCEO for consideration by Auburn City Council. 

 

There are a number of reasons for the preparation of the JCEO for Council consideration at this time:

 

  1. Council previously expressed interest in adopting a JCEO in Auburn.

  2. It is a policy action that is consistent with the recommendations contained in the Regional Affordable Housing Task Force 5 Year Action Plan.

  3. It is a policy action that is consistent with the Joint Recommendations Committee for the 2020 State Legislative Agenda (of which Auburn is a member).

  4. It is a policy action that is consistent with the South King Housing and Homelessness Partners (SKHHP).

  5. The high degree of concern that the recent spike in high unemployment rates due to COVID 19 and its associated economic impact.

  6. The concern that the Governor’s temporary moratorium on residential tenant evictions will expire on August 1, 2020.

     

    In addition to establishing codified reasons for why a landlord may evict a tenant a JCEO also establishes local requirements for the notification timeframes that a landlord must abide by when increasing rental rates.  Under Washington State law, a landlord is required to provide a minimum of 60 days notice that rental rates are increasing, irrespective of how much the landlord intends to increase rent.  A JCEO can establish longer notification timeframes for more significant rent increases by establishing a percentage increase threshold and a longer timeframe.  In the draft ordinance attached as Exhibit A, staff is proposing to establish a 120 day notification requirement when the rent will increase by more than 5%.  Both the percent threshold and the number of days are highlighted below as one of the policy questions for City Council to consider.  The reason that it is important to provide more notification for larger increases in rent is because the tenant may not be able to afford the increase which means they will need to find a new housing option.  And finding a new housing option will require the tenant to secure funds associated with the cost of moving, security deposit for the new home, and first and last month’s rent.  When combined with the potential other costs associated with setting up new utility accounts, changing school districts, finding new child care, etc. it is difficult for the tenant to be prepared to move to a new home with a 60 day notification.

     

    Another advantage of a JCEO is that it allows a City to assist tenants and landlords in areas the City currently has no authority.  While the landlord tenant laws are well established and are intended to protect both parties, the City does not have authority to enforce these laws.  Enforcement is remedied through the courts.  A JCEO provides the City with a tool to assist in some areas of landlord tenant relations.

     

     

    POLICY QUESTIONS:

     

  1. General: Does City Council generally support inclusion of a JCEO in Auburn City Code?

  2. ACC 5.24.040.A.1: The draft document establishes a threshold and timeframe requirement that warrants further discussion:

    1. First, a 5% threshold is established.  Rent increases of 5% or less require the standard 60 day notification established in Washington State law.  Increases that are greater than 5% require more than 60 days notification.  Jurisdictions that have a JCEO have different thresholds that range from 3% to 7%.  Staff included 5% because it is the midpoint.  Does City Council concur or should there be a different threshold?  For additional perspective, here are some figures that help provide real dollars to the percentage options (using July 2019 median rental rate of $1,732 per month):

      1. 3% increase = $50 per month

      2. 5% increase = $85 per month

      3. 7% increase = $120 per month

    2. Second, a 120 day notification is established.  Where rent increases are greater than 5% the landlord would have to provide a 120 day notice to the tenant.  Similar to the percentage threshold, other JCEO’s range from 90 days to 180 days.  Staff selected 120 days because it is within the middle of the range.  Does City Council concur with 120 days or should it be modified to 90 or 180 days?

  3. ACC 5.24.045: Does City Council support the inclusion of the temporary COVID 19 related provisions included in section ACC 5.24.045 which establishes temporary, modified enforcement restrictions?  This is a unique provision that is not contained in other JCEO’s but is timely due to the August 1, 2020 expiration of the Governor’s current order that prohibits certain types of residential evictions and lays the foundation for rental repayment plans for tenants that have lost income as a result of COVID 19 related matters.


Reviewed by Council Committees:
Councilmember: Trout-Manuel Staff: Tate
Meeting Date: July 13, 2020 Item Number: