Today the Seattle City Council Will Decide Whether Tenants Facing Eviction Deserve Attorneys

Comments

1

Why oppose a means test? The whole premise of this is that tenants are generally unable to afford attorneys while landlords can. Why should someone who actually can pay for an attorney get a publicly funded one? We means test criminal defendants before assigning public defenders. I don't see why this is any different.

2

I don't mind the means test. It basically means we won't be providing a free lawyer for a $250K tech bro who thinks his ability to pay on time entitles him to leave a trail of destruction everywhere he goes (i.e., the kind of tenant that landlords who insist on getting top-of-market rent for every unit typically get stuck with and ultimately have to evict to avoid having everyone else leave). But this legislation is too important for that provision to be a deal-breaker either way.

3

RE: the statement in the article that tenants with attorneys fare better. Private sector attorneys are free to reject cases, telling the potential client: "fact pattern indicates we'll lose". So of course tenants with attorneys fare better - the facts may have been clearly favor of the tenant and not the landlord, thus the attorney took the case. Unless an attorney is being paid by a non profit, why would they take cases from a client behind on payment (and probably won't pay the attorney) if the evidence suggests the tenant was at fault?

4

@3 - I suspect you are partly right but that another major reason is that tenants who don't have attorneys often don't bother to show up and contest, or forget to respond, so that default judgments issue.

5

so just how long are landlords supposed to just not get rent paid? i know, "landlord=evil", but that is a simplistic version and they need to pay property taxes, etc...

someone that hasn't paid rent in a year will not suddenly be able to make it up - should a landlord be on the hook and wait for those $30 a month payments to make up back rent?

6

Is The Stranger capable of critical thinking? Of course tenants with private lawyers stay in their homes more often -- (1) the lawyer agreed to take the case, (2) the tenant had the wherewithal to hire a lawyer in the first place, (3) and, for a variety of factors, they probably also showed up to defend themselves and didn't receive an automatic judgment against them.

A lot of landlords, especially in areas outside downtown, are individuals renting a spare room, a house, or a condo they used to reside in. For many, this is the vast majority of their savings. Why does this publication feel it's so acceptable to vilify and other these people, many of whom are struggling with mortgage and tax payments and no rent income? And why is it so self-evidently fair for the city to provide lawyers for the tenants and not for these people? Does that not setup an unreasonable dynamic? Will that not lead to more landlords concluding that providing rental housing is too great a risk? We want a system that bankrupts small landlords so only corporate landlords remain?

7

Where is the evidence that there is going to be a tsunami of evictions? Speaking as a landlord, it's only reasonable to evict a tenant if you think you can get a better tenant. With so many people economically affected by Covid, where is this pool of better replacement tenants?

8

@7, Nobody really knows, but it would certainly not be a good thing if there was. I don't really think there will be some mass evictions followed by landlords keeping rentals empty in search of the perfect tenants. The places that are out there will be rented to the tenants who are out there that can manage paying rent, which will pretty much be those who could pay rent before the pandemic.

What really needs some attention is what to do with everyone who has accumulated a lot of back rent that they really can't afford. The longer the eviction moratorium goes on, the harder this will be to untangle. This will call for some practical negotiating to sort out, which isn't exactly the SCC's strong suit, so maybe it's better that they stay out of it and busy themselves with stuff like this.

9

Why do you even both to have Nathalie Graham on the byline when this is clearly just a mouthpiece for Edmund Witter? She didn't even talk to anyone who actually provides housing. Just the guy who drafted the ordinance and the state legislation. Of course the piece is one sided.

Look at the headline. It's not whether people "deserve" an attorney. It's whether the city should pay for attorneys on only one side of a civil matter AND supply them to people with money who could very well pay their own bills. She doesn't even consider whether the money would be better spent giving it to the renter to avoid eviction court altogether rather than lining the pockets of eviction attorneys like Edmund Witter. The guy who stands to personally benefit from this.

6 is right. This will crush small mom & pops, especially after a year of pandemic & no income. If this is supposed to hit at the corporate landlords, why doesn't Kshama Sawant ever exempt the little guys? Remember that every time she claims that small mom & pops support this. NO THEY DON'T.