Unintended Consequences of Seattle City Council’s Proposed Changes to “Notice of Intent to Sell”

Posted By: Austin Bowlin Advocacy, Seattle Laws,

The Seattle City Council continues to propose new legislation and amend existing landlord-tenant laws under the premise of addressing housing affordability. At face value, the stated motivation by the City Council is noble; increasing the available supply of affordable housing is badly needed and generally a popular objective among residents of Seattle. However, much of the recent housing-related legislation serves to do just the opposite; instead, it reduces the available supply of affordable housing.

The Seattle City Council’s proposed amendments to the “Notice of Intent to Sell” ordinance is a perfect example of legislation that will do the opposite of the Council’s stated goal. The “Notice of Intent to Sell” ordinance, as it stands today, provides 60-day advanced notice of the owner’s intent to sell a property that has 5 units or more, with at least one unit that is deemed affordable to a household earning at or below 80% median income. The notice is to be submitted to the Seattle Office of Housing (OH) and Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) so that the City agencies have sufficient time to prepare an offer to purchase the property and maintain the unit(s) affordability. It should be noted that in 2017 (the last year Dupre + Scott provided comprehensive multi-family rental data) approximately 87 building sales qualified for the ordinance. Yet, since the implementation of the ordinance, neither Seattle OH nor SHA have provided an offer to purchase one of the buildings containing affordable units.

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