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City of Federal Way

Citizen Initiative No. 19-001

City of Federal Way Citizen Initiative No. 19-001 concerns enacting rental requirements for landlords and rental rights for tenants.

This citizen initiative would enact an ordinance to amend the Federal Way Revised Code to require landlords to comply with existing rental laws; to establish obligations and duties for landlords, and defenses and rights for tenants, regarding: requirements that landlords must meet before evicting tenants, retaliatory actions, rental agreements, and rental agreement renewals; to create classes of tenants afforded additional rental rights; and to adopt penalties for landlords and procedures to enforce the measure.

Should this citizen initiative be enacted into law?

Yes

No


This citizen initiative would amend the Federal Way Revised Code to enact specific ordinance language concerning rental obligations and duties for landlords, and rental rights and defenses for tenants.

Landlords must show compliance with existing laws and establish “Good Cause,” as defined by the initiative, before taking action to evict a tenant. Good Cause justifications include, among other things, failure to pay rent, unlawful or unpermitted tenant actions, and landlords’ honest intent to remove dwelling units from the rental market (subject to specific timing and other requirements). Landlords cannot threaten, commence, or carry out retaliation or a retaliatory eviction after tenants assert rights or defenses under the initiative or other laws. Landlords’ actions are presumed to be retaliatory during the nine months after tenants assert such rights or defenses. 

Unless Good Cause is established, landlords must offer tenants the opportunity to enter into a new lease or extend the existing lease at the end of the rental term. The duration of the lease and rent may be changed, but no other material changes are allowed. 

Landlords are prohibited from evicting a tenant on the basis of a tenant’s status as a military member, first responder, senior, family member, health care provider, or educator.

Tenants are provided defenses against eviction for landlord violations of the initiative, and tenants may bring lawsuits to enforce the initiative’s terms. Landlords who are found to be in violation will be liable for penalties up to four and one-half times the monthly rent and attorneys’ fees.
 

Evictions lead to homelessness, but our government has failed to change the laws that make it easy for slumlords to evict. So, your neighbors stepped up to get this initiative, similar to other laws in several cities and states, on the ballot to keep families housed. 

Landlords don’t have to name a reason to evict with a 20-day no-cause eviction notice, leading to discriminatory and retaliatory evictions. Slumlords exploit this unfair legal loophole by using these notices to retaliate against renters who ask for repairs. Evictions push families into homelessness, forcing children to change schools, leading to life-long negative education and economic outcomes.

This initiative will close this loophole by making sure landlords can only evict tenants for good cause, such as not paying rent, breaking the lease rules, or property damage. It also protects the right to live with your family and stops discriminatory evictions against veterans, first responders, seniors, health care providers, or educators. 

This initiative has bipartisan support from landlords, renters, and homeowners, and endorsements from groups including: MLKC Labor Council; South King County Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 2024; and educators from Federal Way Education Association. Support fairness and community stability by voting Yes on Initiative 19-001!

Coleen Mancino, Stepahanie Bucari, James Brown, stablehomesfederalway.com

The most pressing issue in King County right now is access to safe, affordable housing. Unfortunately, Initiative 19-001 takes us in the wrong direction by jeopardizing safety, driving up rent costs, and reducing the number of available rental units.

There are numerous renter protections already available for Federal Way families, and property owners support all of them. If Initiative 19-001 passes, however, it will create a more dangerous environment for renters. Initiative 19-001 allows disruptive renters to reside in their unit as long as they want, forcing neighboring families to put up with excessive noise, criminal activity, and threatening behavior. The measure even prevents property managers from removing criminals who are living next to their victims. That’s wrong.

Initiative 19-001 imposes new, costly and burdensome layers of regulations that will drive up rent costs and result in fewer rental options in our community. This is what’s happening in Seattle, where a recent University of Washington study showed new laws like Initiative 19-001 have reduced the number of rental units.

Jeopardizing safety, driving up rent costs, and reducing the number of available units is the wrong way to go. We urge Federal Way voters to vote no on Initiative 19-001.

Lindy Harvey, Heather Pierce, hpierce@rhawa.org

Among numerous lies, the con statement, written by paid landlord lobbyists from outside Federal Way, falsely claims a bad tenant couldn’t be evicted, but the initiative allows good cause evictions for disruptive, dangerous, or illegal activity, such as the examples they listed. Dr. Tim Thomas, from UW, says there is no evidence similar laws impact rental stock or increase rents.

Don’t buy corporate landlord fear-mongering. Stand with your neighbors by voting yes for stable homes. 

Coleen Mancino, Stepahanie Bucari, James Brown, stablehomesfederalway.com

Initiative 19-001 will make living conditions more dangerous by making it harder to remove neighbors engaged in disruptive or criminal activity. Removing tenants who are engaged in criminal activity is not easy and takes several months.  

State law already protects tenants from retaliation and discrimination, which is why people aren’t evicted for complaining about repairs or being veterans, seniors, teachers, or first responders. Initiative 19-001 will make renting more dangerous in Federal Way. Vote no. 

Lindy Harvey, Heather Pierce, hpierce@rhawa.org

Simple majority (Federal Way Revised Code 1.30.220)

J. Ryan Call, City Attorney, 253-835-2561, ryan.call@cityoffederalway.com

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