Kenmore faces lawsuit over tenant protection laws passed in 2022

The City of Kenmore is facing a lawsuit over city laws that some argue limit the ability of landlords to enter their homes and enforce the terms of their leases.

The Washington Business Properties Association (WBPA) filed the suit in King County Superior Court last week, seeking declaratory relief in response to what they consider violations of property rights.

Specifically, the WBPA takes issue with Ordinance 22-0545 and 22-0554, which were enacted by the city in 2022 as a suite of tenant protections. They aim to enshrine into city law "just cause eviction protection," capping fees and deposits, increasing notice for rent hikes, authorizing tenant payment plans and ban "abusive, deceptive, and unfair practices in rental housing."

The WBPA claims these ordinances are poorly-written and run afoul of the state law.

"These two ordinances are in clear violation of state law and the Constitution," said WBPA Managing Director William Shadbolt. "They are requiring what state law prohibits and forbidding what state law allows. In addition to concerning interference with constitutionally protected contractual rights, these ordinances should be invalidated."

The association says they obtained public records showing certain elected officials coordinated with activist groups in putting the legislation together.

"The origin of these poorly written ordinances is telling and reveal a disturbing pattern being forced on cities throughout King County," said Shadbolt. "We are taking a stand for our members' ability to provide safe and affordable housing in their communities."

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In response, Kenmore Mayor Nigel Herbig issued a statement defending the local ordinances:

"With unprecedented rent increases in the last few years, I am disappointed that some landlords have brought a legal action against the City for our adopted tenant protections—especially from landlords who have seen great success and healthy profits here in Kenmore," wrote Herbig. "The City of Kenmore will continue enacting legislation that helps assist all its residents to thrive and protect those that need it most."

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A court date has been scheduled for Aug. 12, 2024. The full complaint can be accessed here.

"The Kenmore City Council adopted tenant protections to improve rental housing stability and reduce the risk of potential homelessness from evictions. The adopted tenant protections align with the City Council’s priority to increase and preserve options for affordable housing stock," said Herbig.