Spokane City Council voting to defer landlord-tenant ordinance Monday

Tierra Mallorca Rgj1j8sdeay Unsplash
Credit: Tierra Mallorca, Unsplash

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane City Council is voting to defer a landlord-tenant ordinance following the repair of a software glitch preventing City Council from providing virtual testimony.

The City says Landlord-Tenant Ordinance 36330 is designed to increase and improve rental housing inventory in Spokane, benefiting both tenants and landlords.

They also say the deferral is based on advice given to the City from the City Legal team, recommending that high-interest issues be deferred until they are able to do virtual testimony. The City says City Councilmembers are welcoming further conversation and thoughts from the public on this.

“While I am disappointed in a further delay of improving rental housing in Spokane, I am confident that our IT Department will soon remedy the software issues preventing virtual public comment,’ Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs said. “In the meantime, I will use this small delay to further improve the ordinance with the feedback that I am now receiving from key personnel in the Administration. The final ordinance will do an even better job of remedying substandard housing and providing accountability in the rental housing sector.”

The ordinance also proposes changed that require policy changes like habitability standards, Housing Ombuds services for tenants and landlords, portable background and credit checks and more, including “mitigation funds for landlords who rent to tenants through housing services agencies and a tenant relocation and legal services fund.”

“I have appreciated the opportunity to work with Council Member Stratton to engage the community and find Council consensus,” Spokane City Council Member Michael Cathcart said. “That effort has been positive, but it needs to continue. We owe it to our constituents to pass good policies that have been soundly considered, including our legal department’s due diligence and a solid fiscal analysis by the City’s finance team. We are not there yet with this ordinance. We need more outreach, time for staff to work, and time for Council to reach a real consensus, which may require considering multiple ordinances rather than just one. I am optimistic, but we must defer consideration until at least February 27 for that work to reasonably occur.”

The Council will vote in Monday’s 3:30 p.m. briefing session. There will be no virtual or call-in option for anyone due to technical issues.

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