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Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance

What Is It?

The Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance has two primary benefits for renters being displaced by development:

  • Provide relocation assistance to low income households
  • Provide all households with adequate time to search for new housing and move

Renters are considered displaced when their housing is scheduled to:

  • Be torn down or undergo substantial renovation
  • Have its use changed (for example, from an apartment building to a hotel)
  • Have certain use restrictions removed (for example a property is no longer required to rent only to low-income renters under a federal program)

Property owners and developers must get a Tenant Relocation License if the project meets the criteria listed above. The license covers all renters in your building. Only low-income renters receive relocation assistance of $3,658.00. Property owners pay half of that amount and the City of Seattle pays the other half.

We will not issue a master use, construction, demolition, or change of use permit for a property where renters will be required to move until we have issued a Tenant Relocation License.

A landlord cannot raise the rent in order to avoid applying for a Tenant Relocation License. SDCI has authority (Seattle Municipal Code 22.210.136) to investigate rent increases to determine whether the intent of the increase is to avoid the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance. Violations of this ordinance are subject to fines and penalties of up to $1,000.00 per day.

Procedures and timelines:

  • Owner applies for a Tenant Relocation License
  • Owner delivers packets within 30 days of the application to renters who will be affected by development activity
  • Renters have 30 days from the date the packets are delivered to apply for relocation funds
  • After all applications for relocation funds have been reviewed, we mail letters to the owner and to the renters who applied informing them who is eligible for relocation funds
  • Both the owner and the tenant may appeal our eligibility decision
  • The owner has 5 business days after receiving the notice of eligibility to pay the owner’s share to SDCI
  • Once the owner has made full payment, they may issue a 90-day notice of development activity
    • Please note this is not a notice to end the rental agreement. It means the owner will receive a license at the end of the 90 days.
    • The license and at least one permit for the project allows the owner to end the rental agreement with a minimum of 20 days advance written notice.

What It Isn't

The Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance applies only to rental housing affected by construction, demolition, and other development. Other types of relocation assistance for renters apply in different circumstances (see the common question page about tenant relocation).

We do not require a landlord to pay relocation assistance to a renter who is evicted as a result of a court order in a legal eviction action.

Read the Code

Read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) section about the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, SMC 22.210.

Proposed Changes

None

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