News Jan 6, 2023 at 12:52 pm

Though Lawyers Hardly Use the Defense, It’s Still Key in Extreme Circumstances

Getting kicked out of housing during the coldest months of the year can lead to serious problems. DAVID RYDER | GETTY



"To prevent an anticipated tsunami of evictions"

Oh, right. Whatever happened to that tsunami? It was predicted in a number of Slog posts, but there was never any follow-up coverage. Sort of reminded me of the migrant caravans that were supposed to overwhelm the Southern border, but never materialized.


How fucking clueless do you have to be to owe 15 months rent?


I think we should pass a SummerFallWinterSpring (yes, purposefully named after a clown) Moratorium so no one has to ever be evicted for not paying rent to lAnDlOrDs.


This is a city ordinance drafted by Sawant and yet they asked a King County council person and a state rep to fix it? Why doesn't Sawant get off her ass and fix her own ordinance? It's not like she is holding any committee meetings, drafting rent control legislation or God forbid meeting with constituents. I don't understand how a county or state rep has any say in how a city ordinance is implemented.


@5: The state legislative fix would be required because of the state law referenced in the article: “…the winter eviction moratorium at least helps people stay inside a little longer, but it also imposes a scary deadline. Once the judge makes a decision on a given case, current state law gives tenants only five court-days to pay rent debts before the court locks them in for a March 1 eviction.”

Note this is not correct; the linked law makes five court days the absolute minimum amount of time which must pass. Presumably, the judge could set a longer period.

It’s not like this is expected to help all that many persons, as it hasn’t been used even once yet: “Tenant lawyers don’t like to use it too much–and so far, they haven’t needed to–but in those dire cases, at least people can stay inside until March.”

So, CM Sawant’s “action” here is to ask someone else to fix a never-used solution to a rarely-encountered problem, and the Stranger plays it as if “a tsunami of evictions” are causing homelessness. Sadly typical all around.


Tensora for yet another best comment on anything I’ve read on the internet today.


@2 - they're not clueless at all. They've figured out how to game the fuck out of the system. I would agree they are "deadbeats," but not "clueless."

Let's do a little thought experiment and examine what the Stranger staff would say about someone who's 15 months behind on his child support checks (and therefore an equal deadbeat). Anyone think they'd be all sympathetic?


@6 thanks for explaining and clarifying TS once again misplace concern over this issue.


And as usual no consideration of how a blanket eviction ban - even if its just a "few more" months impacts housing providers receiving zero income during that time, but still (of course) being required to be responsive to the tenant and provide habitable housing, and pay all their bills on time.

Winters in seattle are mild. There are shelters. We don't need a winter eviction ban ordinance at all.

And while we are at it, why should school employees be exempt from eviction proceedings for 9 months out of the year? They are already probably some of the most stably employed people out there. That ban should be fully repealed too, but its most egregious for the unnecessary handout to teachers and staff who don't need it. I'd like to see the research on how many fully employed teachers per year were evicted in seattle for cause prior to that ordinance.

I suspect for the amount of money being put toward tenant defense and other advocacy, pretty much every rent arrears that triggers an eviction proceeding could be paid off. But its more important to fight housing providers and stick it to them than it is to work with them.


@7, @9: Thank you. Reading a Stranger article on politics nowadays feels like a struggle with the writer: the reader constantly has to ask what needs explanation, or has been intentionally omitted, for the story to make sense. When those elements are identified, the story then leads to the opposite conclusion from the one the writer obviously intended the reader to reach.

In addition to what we’ve already noted about this story, another key point needs explanation:

“… tenants who owe more than 15 months of back rent aren’t eligible for rent assistance.”

Why? Is this a city policy or law? Is it a county or state law which applies to the city? Without this restriction, the “fix” this article exists to tout would be completely unnecessary. Why not focus on that? (If you ask me for help with your rent, I’m legally free to hand you money, whether you’re one month or twenty months behind.) Is it because, as @10 implies, exhaustion with CM Sawant’s constant adversarial tactics has made even this small change impossible for her?

(Oh, and please note, we’ve been given notice election season is in full swing: “… Sawant and her fighting movement won….” something totally useless which now needs someone else to fix it. Onward to ever-greater glory, komrads!)


@10 - geez. If the landlords would just light their cigars with burning $20s instead of $100s, and buy their Snidely Whiplash outfits off the rack instead of having them custom tailored, they'd have plenty of cash to support the virtuous 15-month-behind tenants of Seattle indefinitely.


It seems the city wishes to export their "duty to the poor" on to the backs of the landlords.
That is in effect what these laws are doing.
The government is now interceding in a private contract between individuals.

So... if the city of Seattle wants to put their big ass in the middle of a private contract, then why not have all future rental agreements include the "big butt provision", namely that any forestalled eviction is at the expense of the City of Seattle... in short, the city will pay any missed or skipped or uncollected rents due to their meddlesome intervention.

Then "all our citizens" can share in the cost and joy of paying another person's ...say 15 months or rent in arreas.

And won't that be a happy day.


@8 "Let's do a little thought experiment and examine what the Stranger staff would say about someone who's 15 months behind on his child support checks (and therefore an equal deadbeat). Anyone think they'd be all sympathetic?"

Actually the Stranger staff has repeatedly shown through their words and actions that they would not at all blame the dead-beat dad for missing child support payments.

They supported a candidate for city attorney who claimed they would not prosecute misdemeanor domestic violence cases.

They repeatedly blame individual bad behavior on systemic problems with Capitalism and not on individual choices.

So if someone refused to pay child support for 15 months, the staff at the Stranger would blame it on Jerome Powell, billionaires, Jeff Bezos, and maybe even Joe Biden.


"In February of 2020, Sawant and her fighting movement won a first-of-its-kind defense that gave attorneys a new tool to stall wintertime evictions for tenants who failed to make rent."

In March of 2020, housing providers increased rental qualifications to avoid the risk of renting to people who might not pay their rent

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