Seattle; September 3, 2020: Several Seattle landlords filed a lawsuit today against state and city rules that prohibit landlords from evicting tenants. The rules, adopted in response to the pandemic, violate landlords’ rights to freely use and occupy their property.
Mark Travers designed and built multi-family housing in Seattle, which he and his wife manage. Two of their tenants stopped paying rent in April and ignored Mr. Travers’s attempts to negotiate with them to come to a solution all parties could agree upon. On top of that, their lease ended in July, but they still occupy the unit.
“Mr. Travers has a constitutional right to use his property, and that right doesn’t end even in a crisis,” said attorney Ethan Blevins of Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the landlords free of charge. “Governments shouldn’t use overly broad emergency action to force landlords — or any businesses — to house non-paying or disruptive tenants against their will. There are other solutions that the government can leverage — such as rental assistance — that respect the rights of property owners while responding to the needs of tenants.”
Eviction bans may also be unnecessary to protect tenants. So far, in many cities where COVID-19-related eviction bans have been lifted, evictions are actually well below historical averages.
The Travers’s lawsuit, El Papel v. City of Seattle, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. A preliminary injunction will be filed soon asking the court to vacate the state and local laws while the litigation plays out.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 13 victories out of 15 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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