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Sawant’s proposed ban on winter evictions voted out of committee

(Unsplash/Brandon Griggs)

A proposed law from Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant banning winter evictions has cleared another hurdle. The proposal was voted out of committee, with changes that would allow evictions in special circumstances.

The proposed law would ban evictions from November 1 through March 31, with the idea to not put people out on the streets during winter months when conditions outside are the harshest.

In order to help the ban survive legal proceedings, an amendment added by Sawant would position the winter months as a defense to getting evicted, rather than an outright ban, and includes a few “just cause” exemptions that cover crimes by the tenant and any illegal actions from the landlord, reports SCC Insight.

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King County saw approximately 3,200 evictions in 2017, with more than 85 percent of them filed for nonpayment of rent, and more than half involving the nonpayment of one month’s rent or less, according to The Seattle Times.

At issue is that such a bill could potentially prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant who hasn’t paid for five months, though proponents argue that the tenant will still be liable and legal eviction proceedings will still be able to proceed, just not with a physical eviction during the winter months.

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“As noted previously, this does not prevent a landlord or property manager from moving forward with eviction proceedings, but instead provides a defense to the tenant if enforcement of any eviction order issued by King County Superior Court occurs between November 1 and April 1. In most cases, this would simply delay, rather than prohibit, physical eviction, providing time for the tenant to remedy the conditions leading to the pursuit of eviction and, if the landlord is willing, negotiate continued tenancy. When this defense requires that a landlord delay evicting tenant(s), the tenant(s) would still be responsible for paying rent during the delay,” the bill states.

The bill presumes that the tenant would eventually pay the missing rent, under the assumption it would give the tenant time to get out of arrears.

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