Several recent changes to Seattle laws impact residential properties that require a Tenant Relocation License. The Right of First Refusal, SMC 7.24.030.J, requires owners to offer a lease renewal to existing tenants when their term lease is expiring unless there is just cause. To obtain just cause for development activity, you must obtain a Tenant Relocation License. Therefore, all properties that are tenant-occupied at the time of the permit application need to go through the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO) process regardless of whether the tenants have a term lease or are month-to-month. We highly recommend that you submit a service request for TRAO when you receive the notification that your project may require a license. If you wait until the end of the permitting process, your permits may be significantly delayed. You can submit a service request by calling (206) 615-0808.
Additionally, the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance allows owners to use a TRAO addendum when they move tenants into a property after they have started the TRAO process. This addendum – where a tenant acknowledges development activity and waives their right to apply for relocation assistance prior to taking possession of the property – can only be used when there is an application for TRAO in process or after a TRAO license has been obtained.
Finally, there are several laws that affect when you can terminate a tenancy and require a tenant to move after you have obtained your tenant relocation license. They are:
- Seattle Eviction Moratorium (extended through January 15, 2022) – prohibits you from issuing eviction notices except for imminent threats to health and safety.
- School Year Evictions (September 1, 2021 – June 17, 2022) – provides eviction protection for households with school age children or employees of Seattle schools. This protection follows the academic calendar of Seattle Public Schools each year.
- Winter Evictions (December 1 – March 1) – provides eviction protection for low-moderate income households during the winter months.
We encourage you to consult with an attorney regarding issuing termination notices to ensure you are following all State and City laws.
TRAO Tips for Developers and Owners
- Know the residential occupancy status before applying for the permit. Selecting “Do Not Know” on the permit application will result in an automatic TRAO hold on your permit.
- Do not delay submitting a service request if you receive notification of a hold.
- If you have multiple permits on a single parcel, be sure to include all permit numbers and addresses in your service request.
- If a project involves multiple addresses on different parcels (i.e. you are redeveloping a block of single-family homes), you must submit a separate request for each address. Indicate on the request that it is part of a larger project.
- When submitting a service request, indicate in the description whether the property is currently vacant, owner-occupied, or tenant-occupied.
- For vacant properties, we look at the occupancy status at the time of and after the application for the permit. Just because a property is vacant when you call us about the hold, does not mean you will avoid TRAO.
- Prepare a rental roster with the names and contact information for any residential tenants living in the property at the time of or after the permit application. Bring this information to the initial TRAO application meeting.
For further information on TRAO requirements and process, please visit our Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance website.