Seattle City Council votes down rent control proposal

Aug 1, 2023, 4:42 PM | Updated: 4:43 pm

eviction, rent cap late fees, rent control vote...

An apartment building in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (MyNorthwest photo)

(MyNorthwest photo)

The Seattle City Council voted down a controversial proposal Tuesday that would have put a cap on rent control.

The 6-2 vote comes after Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant introduced a bill to cap maximum rate increases based on the rate of inflation.

Seattle Councilmember Sawant stresses passage of rent control bills before her final term ends

Sawant’s bill claimed that rent prices increased 69% between 2010 and 2018, while wages in Seattle only jumped 20% during that time.

“Our rent control bill limits rent increases on any rental home throughout the city at any moment to no more than the annual inflation rate,” Councilmember Kshama Sawant said during the committee meeting Friday. “Winning this trigger law here will absolutely put enormous pressure on the state Democrats like it’s never been on them before.”

The City Council’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee voted 3-2 on a “do not pass” recommendation at the end of July. Councilmembers Sara Nelson, Andrew Lewis, and Council President Debora Juarez opposed the bill.

They argue that the legislation should not be passed because there has been a state law that prevents any cities from enacting rent control since 1981. Opponents to Sawant’s legislation say the state law must be repealed before the city passes any rent control legislation.

Sawant argued she wanted legislation in place in case the state Legislature makes rent control legal at some point in the future.

More on rent control: Seattle rent control legislation rejected in committee on 3-2 vote

Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez said she voted against rent control because state legislators are refusing to overturn the law against it.

“I’m not saying we give up, but I’m going to continue to keep lines of communication open with my state reps,” Juarez said.

Juarez also claimed the Seattle City Council has gotten repeated messages from state lawmakers that they will not reconsider allowing rent control.

Many landlords and real estate developers oppose rent control, saying it’s an overreach that discourages the creation of new housing.

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Seattle City Council votes down rent control proposal