State Court of Appeals Rules in RHAWA’s Favor

Posted By: Alex Robertson (deleted) Advocacy, Government,

At the beginning of covid, the City of Seattle passed a 6 month post moratorium eviction ban and a winter eviction ban. RHAWA challenged the legality of both of these ordinances. After a long and arduous court process, the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled, in a published opinion, that the 6 month post moratorium was invalid. They ruled that based on the fact that the ban only required a self-certification by the tenant and was unchallengeable by the housing provider, the violates a housing providers right to procedural due processes, and the court agreed. The court also ruled that the ban on interest accruing for unpaid rent was preempted by state law and was also invalid.

Here is the exact language located in the conclusion on page 37 and 38:

“We hold that Ordinance 126081’s prohibition on the accrual of interest on unpaid rent is preempted under state law and is therefore invalid. We further hold that the defense to eviction contained in SMC 22.205.090 (Ordinance 126075) deprives the landlords of their property interest without due process by not affording them the opportunity to test the veracity of a tenant’s self-certification of financial hardship. We invalidate it on that ground only. We otherwise uphold the ordinances and affirm the judgment for the City.”

For those of you that would like to read the entire published opinion.

This is not set in stone just yet, both we and the City have until late April to file a Motion to Reconsider, which would keep this case active. As of writing this the City has not filed a Motion to Reconsider, and we have not received any indication of their intent. If they do file the motion, we will continue to fight the ordinances. In order to continue this fight, fight other laws, and obtain legal opinions on policy proposals we need your help. All of these actions are funded by our Legal Defense Fund, or LDF. The LDF is 100% funded by member donations, and determines the extent to which we can challenge these devastating laws. You can donate to the LDF here.

In other LDF news, we have upcoming oral arguments in our lawsuit against the fair chance housing regulations. This case has been ongoing for a long time now and we are getting closer and closer to its resolution. These longer, drawn out fights take more time, effort and resources from the LDF. We have seen much success from our LDF and we want to see that continue. Now more than ever we need your support. The LDF not only challenges the legality of laws that have been enacted, it lets us have more robust arguments for active policy discussions. The LDF recently funded the acquisition of a legal opinion on the newest Seattle proposal. The ordinance that would require housing providers to disclose their lease length, vacancy status and rent rolls. The fight doesn’t end when a bill is passed, that’s what we believe. Join us in the fight against these burdensome and onerous regulations by donating to the LDF.