The 2019 Legislative Session is behind us. Landlord-Tenant Law was a hot topic, and will continue to be so in 2020 (and beyond).
With the cooperation of Jim Henderson of LandlordSolutions, Inc., we are ready for the changes to take place.
The 2019 legislative session ended on April 28, 2019. During these 105 days of session, myself and the other housing advocates successfully stopped several bills from passing. Had these bills passed, landlords in Washington State would have been required to provide “just cause” (HB 1656 and SB 5733 ), pay for mediation (HB1446) before starting an eviction and accept payments on deposits and move-in fees (HB1694) and leases would have automatically convert to month-to-month after the lease expired.
WHAT PASSED - ESSB 5600, ESHB 1440, HB 1138 and HB 1462
Jim Henderson is the President of LandlordSolutions. He is very active with NARPM holding numerous leadership positions within the organization. Passionate about legislation, Jim is the current Chair of Government Affairs for the State NARPM Chapter. As a registered lobbyist Jim is a persuasive, knowledgeable, and powerful voice to advocate on behalf of the rental housing industry. Jim has a vast institutional knowledge and clear understanding of the perspectives of rental property owners, property managers and tenants. He is also a licensed clock hours instructor.
Jim Henderson owns and manages a landlord advocacy business, including landlord coaching and legislative representation, as well as being very active with NARPM. Jim is currently the statewide government affairs lobbyist for NARPM and his vast institutional knowledge and capacity to understand the perspective of rental owners and renters has made him an important asset to the Tacoma rental housing code stakeholder process.
Below is a recap of the bills that become law on July 28th, 2019.
New Landlord-Tenant Laws - Effective July 28, 2019
HB 1138 Service Member Termination
A member of the armed forces is required to give their landlord 20-days notice to terminate tenancy if they need to break their lease. Service member may terminate a tenancy based on a “permanent change of station”
HB 1462 120 Days Notice to Vacate
Requires a landlord give 120 days’ notice for termination of a month-to-month tenancy when the termination is for the property to be substantially rehabilitated, has a change of use, or is demolished.
Substantial rehabilitation is defined as, “extensive structural repair or extensive remodeling of premises that requires a permit such as a building, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical permit, and that results in the displacement of an existing tenant”.
Change of use is defined as conversion from residential to non-residential, or to another form of residential use. Displacing a tenant due to an owner or their immediate family occupying the unit does constitute a change of use.
A property owner in violation of the policy is liable in a civil action up to three times the monthly rent.
You may recognize this bill from the recently passed Tacoma Rental Ordinance.
HB 1440 Rent Increase
Requires landlords to provide a minimum of sixty days written notice for any increase in rent.
Except where the rent is conditioned on the income of the tenant, in which case, the notice required is 30 days and may become effective during the term of the agreement. Rent: recurring and periodic charges identified in the rental agreement for use and occupancy of the premises, which may include charges for utilities. Rent FIRST. Required to apply all monies received to rent first. Rent is not…
- Nonrecurring charges for costs incurred due to;
- Late payment
- Legal costs,
- Other fees, including attorney fees
ESSB 5600 Changes to Pay or Vacate Notices and Residential Tenant Rights
14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate
Increase the 3-day notice to pay or vacate to 14-days. There is a new form for the 14-day notice to pay or vacate with information about legal aide and 211. Common forms are available from the state Attorney General’s office in multiple languages.
Can't start an eviction on a tenant for not paying the late fees. You can serve them with a 10-day notice, however, you can't start an eviction if they don't pay.
Attorney's fees will not be awarded if the case is filed as a default. At show cause hearing, landlords may be awarded attorney's fees if the tenant owes more than two months’ rent or $1,201, whichever is greater. If a tenant files a motion to stay the writ and is reinstated; attorney fees may be awarded and subject to repayment.
Judicial reinstatement can only be ordered for nonpayment of rent. A tenant may NOT be awarded reinstatement if the tenant has received three pay or vacate notices within the previous 12 months.
Payment Plan: when evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent, the tenant may request that the court reinstate their tenancy and set up a payment plan. Upon this request, the judge shall consider seven factors to determine eligibility for reinstatement: tenant's willful or intentional failure to pay rent, if the nonpayment was caused by exigent circumstances and are not likely to happen again, ability to timely pay the judgment, payment history, if the tenant is in substantial compliance with the rental agreement, hardship if evicted, conduct related to other notices served within the last six months.
Any payment plan ordered by the court is for no more than 90 days from the first payment.
The tenant must pay one month's rent toward the payment plan within five business days in order to be eligible for the plan. The remaining balance of the judgment is required to be paid within 90 days of reinstatement with equal monthly payment each 30 days thereafter. If the tenant fails to pay any of these payments, the landlord with 3 days' notice to the tenant may execute the writ and schedule a physical eviction.
During the period of the payment plan, the tenant is required to remain current on the current rent.
The next rent payment is due on the 1st of the following month if the order is entered on or before the 15th. Orders entered after the 15th, the tenant can choose to include the next month's rent payment into the reinstatement payment plan.
The tenant is required to stay current on all rents (new and payment plan) to avoid a writ and physical eviction.
Landlord Mitigation Program
Some landlords may be able to submit the judgment to the Landlord Mitigation Program for reimbursement to reinstatement the tenant. After submitting the judgment, the Department of Commerce may take up to 30 days to approve the claim and an additional 15 days for the landlord to receive the payment.
If there are insufficient funds in the Landlord Mitigation Program for the payment of the monetary judgment, the landlord may execute the writ to remove the tenant and may hold the request for payment to be paid by the state on a first-come, first-served basis, when the fund is replenished.
The 2019 State Legislature has appropriated $1 million dollars in the capital budget for the Landlord Mitigation Program payment of monetary judgments that have received judicial discretion reinstatement. Future legislatures will need to appropriate further budgetary funds in the supplemental budget process and in further budget cycles.
If you are a client of Joseph Property Management rest assured, you are in good hands.