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Support the Tenants Union!
Washington State tenants have won important legal protections, but these rights don't go far enough. Members help build the movement to protect and expand tenants rights and make the promise of safe, healthy, affordable housing a reality.
What is Housing Justice?
It’s about Fair Treatment
- Over one third of Washington State residents are renters. Seattle is home to over 500,000 tenants.
- There are no mechanisms for the enforcement of landlord-tenant laws, and landlords are not licensed or regulated in any way. Landlord-tenant laws in Washington State are considered “self-help.”
- Tenants who assert their rights often face retaliation in the form of eviction. Landlord-tenant laws are outdated, difficult to understand, and weighted towards landlords.
It’s about Racial & Economic Justice
- Renters are far more likely to be people with low incomes. The median net wealth of a middle aged homeowner is $219,600, while the median net wealth of a middle aged tenant is $6,590.
- People of color and immigrants are disproportionately represented among low income tenants. The Seattle Office of Civil Rights found that over half of Seattle landlords illegally discriminate. Testing confirmed that African Americans and people with disabilities face frequent rental housing discrimination in Seattle. It is currently legal for landlords outside of Seattle to discriminate against people who receive housing subsidies to make their rent affordable. Many landlords categorically say “No Section 8.”
- Slumlords take advantage of tenants with limited English proficiency by refusing to make necessary repairs or retaliating against tenants who assert their rights. Without access to laws or information in their native languages, immigrant and ethnic communities remain vulnerable to substandard conditions and housing loss.
It’s about Equal Access
- Renters who have been evicted illegally, who are evicted because of domestic violence, or who win in eviction court still have evictions listed on their permanent records and are discriminated against by landlords in the screening process.
- There are 50,000 very low income renter households in Seattle and only 16,000 units subsidized for very low income renters.
It’s about Dignity
- Outside Seattle, month-to-month tenants can be evicted from their homes with only 20 days’ notice, regardless of how long they have lived in the unit, what time of year it is, or the renter’s status as an elder, a person with disabilities, or a family with small children.