Will West Seattle have a voice on new Renters’ Commission? Time to apply!

The official call has gone out this morning for volunteers to serve on the city’s newly created Renters’ Commission. Here’s the announcement:

Established by ordinance in March, the SRC will advise the City on policies and issues of interest to renters citywide.

The Commission is composed of 15 members – six are appointed by City Council, six are appointed by the Mayor, and one position will be filled by a young adult through the Get Engaged program. Two positions are selected by the SRC once established. Commissioners will serve without compensation.

The SRC will consist of people living in an array of rental housing types, including students, low-income renters, LGBTQ renters, people with past felony convictions, people in subsidized housing, and those who have experienced homelessness. It’s also expected that members be geographically representative of Seattle. SRC meetings will be open to the public.

Those interested in being considered should complete the online application by Monday, May 1 by 5 p.m. If you cannot submit the application online, contact Seferiana Day at 206-684-8806 and an application will be mailed to you, or you can pick one up at the Seattle City Council main office – Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, 2nd floor, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You can also learn more on the Seattle Renters’ Commission’s website.

19 Replies to "Will West Seattle have a voice on new Renters' Commission? Time to apply!"

  • Chuck April 4, 2017 (10:53 am)

    If I’m the first to apply they have to take me, right? Isn’t that how that works now in this city with anything relating to renting? It has nothing to do with my qualifications or if I’d treat the group with respect and be a good team player; I’m first and therefore I have rights, dammit! SMH.

    By the way, as a homeowner currently considering renting my property, let me just say there is NO WAY that I’d ever actually put it out on the open market. I would send out posts on FB or otherwise find my own renters. I would hire an attorney to do the contract. I would never, ever, subject myself to this city’s inane rule that I have to take “the first person to apply.” What kind of messed up thinking is that?! It’s not fair to my neighbors, and certainly not to myself. Sorry, but life is about choices. And I reserve the right to rent my home to people who have made good choices, not bad. Poor credit risk but you’re the first in line? I don’t think so!!!

    Rant over. But where have the smart people gone in this city? They are not currently in leadership roles! Okay, now rant over.


    • WSB April 4, 2017 (11:16 am)

      That has nothing to do with the Renters’ Commission.

    • John April 5, 2017 (11:40 am)

      @Chuck….  That was fantastic!  They MUST pick you if you’re the first to apply for the position…MUST!

      And if they want dislike you’re behavior you can just stay there for months afterwards until  they file to have you removed.  And you won’t have to pay a cent. 

  • Boats April 4, 2017 (5:08 pm)

    Haha chuck! Hilarious.

  • flimflam April 4, 2017 (5:38 pm)

    six appointed by the city council and six more by the mayor? stacked deck.

     I think chuck has an extremely valid point – to not accept the first people to apply would be highly hypocritical. 

  • Stephen Divoky April 4, 2017 (7:41 pm)

    I have been a renter all of my adult life here in Seattle starting back in the early 1980’s, renting apartments and homes in Wallingford, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Maple Leaf, and for the last 16 years Ballard. Not once did I ever assume that if I was first in line, that I would be first to be offered the opportunity to rent the property. I have always made an effort to make a good first impression on the property owner, and try to develop an instant rapport the minute we met.  I have references that represented landlords who I had maintained great relationships with and who could speak on my behalf. I have always paid rent on time regardless of whether I was employed or unemployed. I maintained the apartments and homes impeccably, not just inside, but I also maintained the yards that accompanied them. I would mow the lawn, weed gardens, trim shrubs etc.,  as I grew up doing that and have always taken pride in where I live, even though I did not own the property. At my current apartment in Ballard I shovel snow off the sidewalks in the winter, I sweep sidewalks and driveways and pull weeds out of the cracks in the pavement just to keep things looking presentable all year around. This actually takes very little effort and yet goes a long way in building a relationship with a landlord. I have seen how others treat property in this building and am amazed the amount of filth and damage tenants can leave behind that translates into work a landlord must contend with before being able to re-rent a unit again. I guess this is all leading to my feeling that nobody should just assume that just because they are first in line that they should be the landlords first choice. Problem tenants are a problem to everyone, and  dealing with people who suddenly turn into horrible neighbors who impose on everyone else with their behaviors and noise creates a very  hostile environment. Trying to evict tenants can be a problematic issue and one landlords I am sure try to avoid unless there are just no other alternatives. So the bottom line is I think landlords owe it to both the tenants in a building, as well as themselves, to scrutinize applicants and make well informed decisions on who they rent to, as trying to undue bad tenant choices can be difficult to say the least!   

    • WS Guy April 4, 2017 (9:06 pm)

      You should join the renters commission and say that.  Our leadership thinks landlords are villains.

    • Krate April 4, 2017 (9:13 pm)

      Stephen D, you are a perfect candidate for this! I hope you apply. And, as a fellow life-long renter, your response is spot on. 

    • Diane April 5, 2017 (2:32 am)

      also a lifelong renter, since the 70’s, and you make very good points; I’m an excellent tenant also and would prefer that my landlord be more careful in the process of renting neighboring apts; I’ve been in current apt 10 yrs, and too many times nearby apts erupting in domestic disputes requiring police; and I’ve been shocked at the horrible mess/junk left behind by some tenants; I don’t get it; I’ve always left my rental (house or apt) cleaner than when I moved in

  • CAM April 4, 2017 (11:48 pm)

    The first to apply rules are being interpreted in a completely ridiculous way here. When you read the text of the legislation the intent is clear. The problem is that people decided that they didn’t like the idea of it before they ever read it then interpreted it based on their feelings. Welcome to the 21st century in which a person’s invalid interpretation of a bill can be spread far and wide and people don’t choose to educate themselves responsibly. 

  • shauna April 5, 2017 (10:04 am)

    So Cam…what is the”correct “interpretation? I am fair in my rental process but choose the best potential renter I can without regard to which order they appeared. No matter what the “intent” …seems like more bureaucracy and ineffective rules that don’t really benefit anyone. However, I will read the text of the legislation so I know what I’m up against.

  • CAM April 5, 2017 (11:05 am)

    The intent of the legislation is to eliminate the effect of any form of bias or discrimination in housing. Everyone is victim to implicit bias with regards to certain groups of the population and unfortunately some individuals remain quite explicit about their bias. The legislation essentially says that, all things being equal, if more than one individual applies to rent a house or apartment and they all meet the criteria set by the landlord to do so than the landlord will rent to the first applicant. It does not prevent the landlord from performing background checks on potential tenants or checking references, so long as they are doing so for all potential tenants and applying set criteria equally across the group. 

    Based on that information, can someone please tell me what is wrong with the law? I want good neighbors as much as the next person and consider myself to be a respectful renter. Luckily I also fit that stereotype demographically in visible ways. There is ample research out there demonstrating that individuals who appear to be minorities on paper are selected for jobs or housing less often than nonminorities. The intent of the bill is good and will hopefully eliminate some of that hardship that people experience when looking for a home. 

  • wetone April 5, 2017 (11:06 am)

      Just sold rental home in WS due to Seattle’s BS towards landlords and rising taxes. Always had great longtime renters till last 4yrs.  Things started changing here in Seattle. Market is high right now got top dollar for small house soon to get mowed down and replaced with big huge box, just the way Mayor Murray wants ;)

    • John April 5, 2017 (11:46 am)

      @wetone…  Bummer you had to sell.  I’m sure the monthly income was nice.  Are mayor really is a pain in the a$$.

      • wetone April 6, 2017 (9:42 am)

        Monthly income ?    First off buying a home in Seattle is expensive.  Most people that have 1 or 2 rental homes generate little monthly income if any, unless homes were given to them or owned long time. For me rental homes were long term investments as rent collected did not pay all cost involved with ownership such as mortgage, taxes, utilities,  insurance, maintenance and now city requires registering and inspections all costing $$$$$.  Apartment buildings are different story. What city is doing hurts all, but really hit’s people hard that own 1or 2 properties.  Will invest elsewhere out of KING county or maybe state as city only works well with the big boys and girls.  Now city is talking about landlords needing to explain finances to the public ?   their nuts…….  

  • Cerrutta April 5, 2017 (1:36 pm)

    Certainly, Cam – -I’ll tell you what is wrong with the new law. 

    1. The Unfair Discrimination Act already prohibits discrimination based on gender, race, and sex — replete with remedies for discriminatory acts.  This new law is duplicative, redundant, AND assumes: (1) all landlords are guilty of discriminator bias;  and  (2) that bias can be governed.  (Watch “The Minority Report” for how well a presumption of guilty thoughts and punishment in lieu of due process laws works.)

    ***There is also a new law to prevent discrimination based upon “sources of income” — meaning, even though I know a prospective’s stream of income is questionable or of short duration (directly impacting the tenant’s ability to continue to pay rent) – -I have no discretion to say “bad financial risk – -NO, you may not rent from me.” 

    2.  The  new law is an unconstitutional taking of property without compensation. A property owner should be free to sell, rent, lease, or exclude WHOMEVER they choose – -in the absence of violating existing anti-discrimination laws. This law removes a landlord’s right to contract to whomever they wish to lease their own property.  If the government can take away a property owner’s right to assess financial and safety risks to protect their investment, and dictate a renter based upon a ‘first in time” policy, then the government should bear the risk of paying for the resulting crimes, property damages, eviction costs, and vacancies incurred by the Landlord by a “first in time” bad tenant.  

    3. The new law will backfire because it favors the wealthy who have immediate access to apply first –those with the internet, cars, and time to take off work to apply for a rental – -vs. the low-income who don’t have internet access, have no car, and rely upon public transportation.  So the new law winds up harming the very people it purports to protect.

    4.  I have read the new law – -and it should be voided for vagueness, overbreadth, and unconstitutionality.  

    5. I invite you to envision being a parent and landlord of the property next door to you.  You are required to rent to a “first in time” applicant even though everything in you gut tells you the applicant is dangerous, mentally unstable, financially unstable, or even something you can’t quite put your finger on but you KNOW this is “one bad hombre”.  Your instinct does not steer you wrong.  Well, this law does.  This law REMOVES all of your discretion and REQUIRES you to rent to a person YOU DO NOT TRUST and imperils the safety and well-being of your family.   Tell me how the government is going to compensate you when your gut instinct proves correct and you are harmed–physically, emotionally, and/or financially?  

    6.  The law has created new government positions and more bloat for our taxpayers.  Maybe the Blog can follow-up on this, but I believe an additional $100k or more has now been added to the budget for a new government employee to play police to attempt to enforce this ridiculous new law.  (Taxes paid by Landlords apparently are not enough to fund this new government encroachment.) Maybe one of Lisa’s new friends is filling the post. 

    So that, in a nut shell, is what is wrong with the latest misguided attempt “reduce discrimination”.  Follow Blevins lawsuit on behalf of Landlord’s to discover the verdict in KCSS.

    • Chuck April 5, 2017 (4:45 pm)

      Thank you for this. 

    • Mark April 5, 2017 (4:47 pm)

      Thanks you, Cerrutta, well-articulated points.  I’m hopeful that this ill-conceived law will be done away soon, given the lawsuit against it. 

    • CAM April 5, 2017 (8:57 pm)

      I understand your concerns but nothing you have said suggests the actual intent of the legislation is actually what you make it out to be. When I point out the reality of implicit bias and how it affects everyone you refer to a need to follow your gut instincts. Those gut instincts are in fact your implicit bias at work. Nothing in the legislation prevents you from setting and following reasonable screening measures which would eliminate the vast majority of the problem tenants you discuss. All it does is say that if applicants meet the criteria (set by the landlord and applied to all tenants equally) then you cannot refuse to rent to a well qualified applicant. And I disagree with your suggestion that this unfairly disadvantages the low income. In fact the thought had occurred to me that because I have a job that has frequent demands on my time that this would negatively affect me. But, as my original comment made clear, people’s emotions are involved in their interpretation of this legislation and the fear mongering in your response is evident. There are multiple resources which list out the frequency and numbers of people who are discriminated against in housing decisions. I’ll wait for the data on how this legislation negatively impacts landlords, and not just anecdotal reports but actual statistics, before saying it’s bad legislation. 

Sorry, comment time is over.