Eviction Bills Moving Forward In Washington Legislature

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Bills that would extend the time a landlord must wait before filing an eviction due to non-payment of rent in Washington State are continuing to move through the legislature.

HB 1453, which extends the number of days a tenant has to pay or vacate after failing to pay rent from the current three days to 14 days, has passed the house. Senate Bill 5600 has also passed. Here is a summary of SB 5600:

  • Extends the 3-day notice for default in rent payment to 14 days’ notice for tenancies under the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.
  • Requires the 14-day notice be written in plain language and include information on civil legal aid resources available, if any, to the tenant.
  • Extends the mandatory-notice period from 30 to 60 days when landlords propose a rent-change amount. Requires a landlord to first apply any tenant payment to rent before applying the payment toward other charges.
  • Prohibits continued tenancy and relief from forfeiture to be conditioned upon tenant payment or satisfaction of any monetary amount other than rent.
  • Provides the court with discretion to provide relief from forfeiture or to stay a writ of restitution.
  • Requires a landlord to provide a tenant with documentation regarding any damages for which the landlord intends to retain any of the deposit amount.

Seattle Democratic Representative Nicole Macri says the state is facing a true eviction crisis

“I can think of no other instance where somebody can lose their home so quickly,” Macri said on the House floor ahead of a vote on her bill, HB 1453. “It’s important to note that nine out of 10 evictions in our state are related to non-payment of rent. In a recent study in Washington State we found that when folks have been evicted, only close to 10 percent of them have been able to find another home. Meaning that eviction is directly related to the crisis of homelessness that we’re experiencing.”

Summary of support for the bill

“Until recent work by Mathew Desmond of Princeton and Timothy Thomas of the University of Washington, the enormous impact of evictions was not understood. Rents have soared in the last decade. More than 70 percent of low-income residents pay more than half of their income towards rent in our state. Average rents have increased from $1,034 in 2010 to $1,725 in the central Puget Sound region today; this equates to $8,300 in extra cost per year. The crisis is reaching all corners of our state. It was once thought that eviction was an outcome of poverty, but it is now known that eviction can be a cause of poverty. When people are evicted, they have to leave their neighborhoods and children must leave their schools. The impact is severe,” the bill summary says.

Summary in opposition to the bill

“Affording 21 days to pay or vacate is too long, but the discussions should continue. Other issues in the bill are problematic, such as a definition of rent that does not include utilities. In one situation, it was only after the unlawful detainer action was filed that the tenant paid their $6,000 utility bill. Many landlords will leave the business with these changes. One national entity reports the loss of 30 percent of its portfolio of housing in the last several years. That is a huge loss. People need to be encouraged, not discouraged, from being landlords. Only four states afford more than 10 days. The focus should be upon education and also upon the provision of sources of money to pay. There needs to be common sense brought to this issue. Most landlords try to work with tenants. The loss of rental housing will only lead to a bigger problem. A landlord in Tacoma with over 34 years’ experience as a residential landlord reports over 550 rental contracts and zero evictions. The five-day notice to pay or vacate that is found in House Bill 1463 is what is needed. The problem is affordability of land and the cost of building permits,” the bill summary says.

Among those testifying in opposition to the bill were Kathryn Hedrick, Washington Multifamily Housing Association; Kyle Woodring, Rental Housing Association; and Lyle Crews, National Association of Rental Property Managers.

Resources:

Concerns linger as eviction reform bills advance in Olympia

Washington State Senate Passes Eviction Reform with (gasp!) Bipartisan Support

Lawmakers in Olympia look to eviction reform to tackle homelessness

African-American legislators called white supremacists over eviction reform

Photo credit designer491 via istockphoto.com

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