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Tenant Relocation Assistance

TU Victory! This law exists because members of the Tenants Union worked together and fought for it. If you have benefited from this law, go to Tenants Union Membership to find out more about becoming a member to support the TU’s work for housing justice.

The Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance was passed in 1990, and requires landlords to pay relocation money to low-income Seattle tenants who are displaced from their units because of housing demolition, substantial rehabilitation, change of use or removal of restrictions placed on subsidized housing. Tenants are entitled to 90 days’ notice before they have to vacate the unit for one of these purposes. The owner must obtain permits in order to perform any of the actions listed above, and must first apply for tenant relocation licenses for residents impacted. Owners who fail to seek a relocation permit are not allowed to begin an eviction action against the tenants. Tenants are eligible for relocation assistance if their family income is less than 50% of area median income. The amount for relocation assistance changes from time to time, but can be up to $3,000. The landlord pays half and the city pays half.

30 days after the landlord submits an application for a tenant relocation license, the landlord must deliver a tenant relocation information packet to the tenant. Tenants must apply for relocation assistance within 30 days after the owner delivers them a relocation information packet. Tenants do not automatically get relocation assistance just because the landlord applied for a relocation license. You must take action to apply for the relocation assistance money. Be aware that if you vacate your unit prior to your landlord getting the relocation license, you will likely waive your right to relocation assistance.

The SDCI may also issue an emergency order directing the housing to be vacated if there is an imminent threat to the health or safety of the occupants. Tenants who are required to vacate because of an emergency order are entitled to relocation assistance if they meet certain conditions. For more information, call the Department of Construction and Inspection.

Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.