History of the
Biltmore Tenants' Collective:
Biltmore Tenants Fight Back!

The following letter was written for the tenants of the Biltmore Apartments showing them how to use the Seattle Municipal Code to resist the arrogant attempt by the landlord to bypass the law in his lust for our $$$.

We encourage other renters, in other buildings within Seattle, to use similar tactics. Together, we will prevail.

Ivy Green • July 13, 1999 • ivygreen@scn.org

Dear Neighbors,

The rent increase demanded by RP Management (a.k.a. RP Managment) on 6/25/99 violates Seattle Municipal Code 7.24.030 Ordinance 119171 by failing to give 60 days' notice for an increase of 10% or more in any 12-month period.

The office of Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran, and the office of Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata, have advised us that such an increase without proper notification is INVALID.

But since this is a civil, rather than a criminal, infraction, the responsibility falls upon each tenant to inform RP Management (a.k.a. RP Managment) that we have no legal obligation to pay this rent increase without a full 60 days' notice.

Here is a sample letter which you may use to assert your right to proper notification of rent increases over 10% in 12 months. Of course, you may write your own version! Just be sure to state clearly which ordinance has been violated.

To: RP Management , Inc.
        P.O. Box 19536, Seattle, WA 98109

CC: City Attorney Mark H. Sidran
        600 Fourth Ave., Seattle, WA 98104

Re: Improper Notice of Rent Increase

The rent increase demanded in RP Management's notice of 6/25/99 fails to meet the requirements of Seattle Municipal Code 7.24.030 Ordinance 119171 , which requires 60 days' notice of rent increases totalling 10% or more within any 12 month period. Failure to give proper notice renders this rent increase invalid.

  • My rent from March 1, 1998 to February 28, 1999 was: __________
  • This was increased March 1, 1999 to:____________
  • The increase demanded by August 1, 1999 would be__________, which brings the total increase this year to about 16%, well over the limit of 10% which requires 60 days' notice to tenants.
  • My rent due August 1, 1999 remains at _________ and will be paid as usual.
RP Management is welcome to re-issue its notice of a rent increase with proper (60 days') notice.

Please note this well: any "punitive" rent increases or threats of any type of "punitive" action (e.g. a rent increase obviously higher than the amount stated as "bringing rents in line" with the market as of 6/25/99, or threats of such action) on the part of RP Management in reaction to my asserting my lawful rights as a tenant, will be dealt with as RETALIATION, a violation of Seattle's Housing and Building Maintenance Code.*

Thank you for your attention to this.

Sincerely, ______________________________________ Date:__________

* Actions that are considered to be harassment or retaliation:

The Housing and Building Maintenance Code prohibits certain actions taken against either a tenant or an owner. This section of the Housing and Building Maintenance Code is enforced by the Seattle Police Department and carries criminal penalties.

The following actions constitute harassment or retaliation against the tenant:

1. Changing locks on unit doors;

2. Removing doors, windows, fuse box, or other fixtures;

3. Discontinuing gas, electricity, water, or other utilities supplied by owner;

4. Removing a tenant from the premises except through the legal eviction process;

5. Evicting, increasing rent or threatening a tenant because that tenant has reported violations of the Housing and Building Maintenance Code to DCLU or has exercised any legal rights arising out of the tenantís occupancy of the building; or

6. Entering a tenantís unit, except in an emergency or with the tenantís consent after a two day notice of intent to enter.

Seattle Municipal Code

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SMC 7.24.030  Rental agreement requirements.
  A.  Any rental agreement or renewal of a rental agreement for a
residential rental unit in the City of Seattle entered into after the
effective date of the ordinance adding this subsection A shall include or
shall be deemed to include a provision requiring a minimum of sixty (60)
days prior written notice whenever the periodic or monthly housing costs to
be charged a tenant is to increase by ten (10) percent or more over the
periodic or monthly rental rate charged the same tenant for the same
housing unit and same services for any period or month during the preceding
twelve (12) month period.
  B.  No rental agreement entered into after the effective date of the
ordinance codified in this chapter that creates or purports to create a
tenancy from month to month or from period to period on which rent is
payable, may:
  1.  Require occupancy for a minimum term of more than one (1) month or
period;
  2.  Impose penalties, whether designated as "additional rent" or fees, if
a tenant terminates the tenancy pursuant to law and vacates before
expiration of any minimum term prohibited by subsection A of this section;
  3.  Require forfeiture of all or any part of a deposit if the tenant
terminates the tenancy pursuant to law and vacates before expiration of any
minimum term prohibited by subsection A of this section; provided, that
nothing in this chapter shall prevent a landlord from retaining all or a
portion of a deposit as compensation for damage to the premises as provided
by law and the rental agreement or, as provided by law, for failure to
perform other obligations imposed by the rental agreement.

(Ord. 119171 Section 2, 1998: Ord. 116843 Section 3, 1993.)

Email me at: ivygreen@scn.org

Links:
Seattle Laws On Property Owner and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
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