Seattle needs rent control!

Published on May 6, 2021

On Wednesday, May 5, 40 renters, homeowners, small business owners, union members, socialists, faith and community activists joined Councilmember Kshama Sawant as she announced exciting legislation for rent control and other major renters’ rights in Seattle. Watch the full press conference here.

Shamefully, landlords have already raised rents by 9% since January. As Kshama explained, “Dramatic steps are needed to fight the growing crisis of economic displacement and gentrification, which is being fueled entirely by profiteering corporate landlords.”

Under proposed legislation for residential rent control, increases on apartment rents could increase no more than the annual rate of inflation. To win this, our movement will need to fight to overturn the current state ban.

In addition to the bill for residential rent control, Kshama is introducing legislation to enact commercial rent control in Seattle, to help struggling small businesses that are confronting the same displacement and gentrification pressures that working-class renters face.

In addition to these two rent control measures, Councilmember Sawant will be introducing additional measures to immediately limit rent increases:

  • One ordinance would require landlords to provide 180 days’ notice before imposing a rent increase on tenants.
  • Another measure would require landlords to pay tenants for relocation when they force tenants out through rent increases.
  • A third measure calls for rental, mortgage, and utility debt cancellation for renters and homeowners struggling under the dual burden of COVID and the capitalist recession.

All of these renters’ rights bills will face fierce opposition from corporate landlords and establishment politicians who have fought viciously against all of our efforts to advance renters’ rights. They are now amongst the elites trying to recall Kshama, who has used her seat to win a series of landmark legislation for renters’ rights. 

In fact, Carl Haglund, a notorious landlord whose predatory practices led to the passage of a 2016 tenants rights law sponsored by Councilmember Sawant, recently donated $900 to the right-wing recall campaign to remove her from office. 

Haglund has gained infamy over the years as renters have called out the awful conditions in his properties. It’s no surprise that he is eager to throw down some of his ill-gotten wealth to try to evict the socialist from office who made it illegal to raise rents on unsafe, sub-code housing.

While big landlords like Haglund, for profit developers and real estate lobbyists may have deep pockets, we have shown again and again how renters’ rights movements can be incredibly powerful to win big victories.

As eviction moratoriums lapse and millions of families’ homes hang in the balance, we need your help to build that movement and to defend our socialist voice in City Hall!

If you agree that housing is a human right, add your donation right now to cancel our Carl Haglund's donation and stand with Kshama against the corporate landlord-backed Recall Campaign.