Seattle Renters Celebrate a Victory in the Fight for Housing Justice

Seattle City Council Today Passes a Bill that Reforms Move-in Fee Requirements

SEATTLE – Washington Community Action Network (Washington CAN!) today celebrates a victory with the community after the Seattle City Council votes to approve legislation that puts a cap on move-fees (security deposit, nonrefundable fees, and last month’s rent) when renters lease a unit. Council Bill 188817 also allows renters to pay these fees in installments in lieu of one large, up-front payment that’s currently required.

“This win today shows how important it is to organize around issues that will actually make a difference in the lives of low-income communities and communities of color in Seattle,”said Washington CAN! Seattle Organizer Xochitl Maykovich, “Seattle City Council has made a good step towards bringing housing justice to the city by passing this legislation.” A coalition of dozens of organizations, such as the Seattle Education Association, testified in support of this legislation.

Washington CAN! has organized around this issue throughout the past year. Washington CAN! released a report on Seattle’s housing crisis in July after conducting a survey with more than 300 Seattle renters. Survey respondents shared their personal experiences regarding economic evictions, substandard housing, and housing discrimination. Results showed 87% of respondents cited high move-in fees as the biggest barrier to finding affordable housing in Seattle.

Six councilmembers voted the bill out of committee last month after working on this legislation for several weeks. Councilmember Gonzalez introduced amendments at the committee hearing to add anti-retaliation measures to the legislation.

“This amended bill ensures that more low-income workers can live in the community where they work. Exorbitant move-in fees should not be the factor that determines whether you live in a home versus out on the street,”said Councilmember Lorena González. “I’d especially like to thank the organizers who helped amplify the voices of those who struggle to even apply for rental housing. This is a vital step toward increasing equity and affordability in Seattle.”

“This is a great win for people in Seattle who are struggling to move into housing,”said Washington CAN! member Gina Owens. “I’m happy the council recognized the disparity and passed a bill that will mean a lot to low-income people who just want a decent roof over their heads.”

Council Bill 118817 goes into effect early in 2017.