View all essays

First Victory Against Slumlord

Osman Osman, a Somali immigrant, celebrates forming a tenants association and winning the first victory against notorious slumlord Carl Haglund

Tenants at 6511 Rainier Ave South have been living with cockroaches, mold, rats, broken heaters, and damaged electrical outlets.

Cockroaches in the kitchen of one of the units
Children living in the building have to take allergy medication every day to deal with the mold

Notorious slumlord Carl Haglund then tried to double rents and economically evict 13 households in order to avoid paying relocation assistance. Tenants reached out to Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and she immediately visited the apartment complex and began helping the tenants get organized. Together we held a press conference to expose these deplorable conditions.

Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata, along with the Tenants Union of Washington, organized a press conference with the tenants to expose the deplorable conditions at the apartment complex and call for legislation that would make it illegal to raise rents while there are pending housing code violations

At the press conference, we called for a public protest the following week at the offices of Carl Haglund. The afternoon before the protest, Haglund told the media he would back off from raising rents until the units were repaired. He also said he would refund October rent.

Later that week, the Department of Planning and Development inspected the building and found 225 housing code violations (PDF).

More than 100 people gathered outside Haglund's office on a rainy Wednesday morning to celebrate this initial victory and demand justice for all tenants in Seattle

Among the more than 100 people that joined the protest were Councilmember Mike O’Brien, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, members of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA), the Seattle King County NAACP, the Transit Riders Union (TRU), Socialist Alternative, Stand Against Foreclosure and Eviction (SAFE), LGBTQ Allyship, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), and Real Change.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant promises to help spread the struggle to other Haglund properties, and to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for landlords to raise rents while there are housing code violations

Tenants and community activists issued the following demands:

  1. Carl Haglund needs to keep his word. He has promised October rent-free to the tenants at Charles Street Apartments. The tenants need to be returned their October rents urgently.
  2. The DPD requires that the 225 code violations be resolved by November 7, 2015. Haglund must meet that deadline.
  3. One of the tenants, Osman Osman, has received an invoice for $506 from Haglund for repairs. We need Haglund to send Osman a new invoice with a $0.00 balance.
  4. Haglund needs to resolve code violations that will be documented by the DPD in the coming days in other buildings he owns.

The following week, Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata held a press conference along with tenants to announce the "Carl Haglund Law" - legislation that make it illegal for landlords to raise rent while there are pending housing code violation.

Tenants speak at a press conference announcing legislation that would make it illegal to raise rents while there are pending housing code violations

Video of the full press conference and a transcript of Councilmember Sawant's remarks are available here. The legislation will come before the City Council later this year. Meanwhile, we will continue working to organize tenants across Seattle. We won't rest until we have housing justice for all renters in this city.

More photos from these struggles are available here.

Featured essays

2015 in Photos: A historic year for Seattle

Let's build on last year’s victories to make 2016 another historic year in the fight for a just and equitable society. Read more

National Park Service Centennial

Celebrating 100 years of the National Park Service with a 10,000 mile road trip through 68 areas in the National Park System. Read more

Election Night: Victory for Kshama Sawant

Election night with the Kshama Sawant campaign, defeating the political establishment and its big business backers for a second time. Read more