Public weighs in as Tacoma moves closer to vote on rental code: 'We’re fighting for basic rights'

TACOMA - It was a packed room at the Tacoma City Council chambers, as one by one, renters made their case to the city council for more laws to help them.

“I make $770 dollars a month and our resources in the community are slim,” said Donna Seay, a former Tiki Apartments tenant who says she was given a 20 day notice to vacate. Now, she’s pushing for laws to prevent other from that experience.

“It’s really important for the 60 days for no matter what the reason,” said Seay.

She says a 60-day notice is one of the most important changes for the council to consider as they look to add a new chapter to the municipal code. Among other things, it would to increase the number of days a landlord must give a tenant before terminating a tenancy; require additional notification for increased rent; require landlords to pay tenant relocation assistance; and require landlords to provide tenants with information relevant to the rental agreements, landlords, and rental properties.

“We’re fighting for basic rights, basic simple stuff today,” said Alex Scheel, who says he was also given 20 days to vacate after coming back from serving in army overseas. Scheel says it wasn’t enough time and he ended up homeless.

“I was on the street, homeless trying to go to school, trying to reintegrate into civilian life. I was living in a car, showering in school,” said Scheel.

He says had the law required more than 20 days, it may have kept him off the street.

“Hopefully we can convince them to see our side and the plight we go through,” said Scheel.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg, I’m going to keep fighting,” said Seay.

The city council will consider the public comment before taking a vote to add the Rental Housing Code to the city Municipal code in the coming weeks.