Legislative Summary of High Priority Bills

High Priority Bills WMFHA Opposes

Below is a summary of each high priority bill WMFHA is following accompanied by the reasons why we oppose each bill. 

Jump to specific policy proposals: 

Just Cause Eviction   Mandatory Mediation  Installment Payments   Eviction Process Reform  Rent Increase

Senate Bill 5600

Summary of the Bill: 

  • Increases the Notice to Pay or Vacate from 3 days to 14 days and requires the notice to be in plain language with information listing civil legal aid resources, if available.
  • Defines rent to include payment for use and occupancy of the premises only and excludes all other fees, including utilities.
  • Removes the exclusion of employees of the landlord from the RLTA.
  • Requires all fixed term leases to convert to month-to-month tenancies upon the expiration of the fixed term.
  • Increases the notice required to increase rent to 60 days.
  • Requires any payment made by the tenant to be applied to rent first and then to other fees or charges, including utilities.
  • Limits relief and recovery of the unit to nonpayment of rent only.
  • Permits a judge/commissioner judicial discretion to stay an unlawful detainer proceeding. 
  • Limits restoration of the tenancy to payment of the rent only and provides no other remedy for recovery of other fees or costs owing by the tenant. 
  • Requires a judge/commissioner to stay recovery of the unit, when a tenant may properly cure a violation of the lease agreement.  
  • Increases the damages for offering lease provisions prohibited by the RLTA.
  • Requires all repairs and damages at the conclusion of the tenancy to be completed by third party providrs and requires the landlord to include estimates and receipts for the repairs completed.

Arguments Against this bill:

  • The extension of notice to pay or vacate substantially increases the risk and costs to owners and to tenants.  
    • The policy creates a drawn out notice requiring the tenant to perform basic obligations under the lease agreement.
    • The eviction process already takes almost 60 days to return a unit to the owner.  
  • This proposal strips the property owner of any right to recover contractually obligated fees, and utility costs, and provides no incentive for the tenant to pay rent on time, ever.  
  • This proposal prevents "self-maintenance' of the property, increasing costs to tenants.  
    • The proposal requires estimates and receipts to support any deduction form the security deposit. 
    • Instead of being able to complete a task for a couple hundred dollars, tasks will cost three to four times the amount to have a vendor to complete the task.  
  • This proposal causes harm to specific niche markets, particularly student housing, which plans out lease agreements one year in advance.  
  • This proposal ultimately decreases opportunity for underqualified tenants to find housing because property owners will make business changes to mitigate risk.  
    • One property owner's denial rate increased 10% as a result of changes to screening criteria from Seattle's Fair Chance Housing ordinance. 

 

House Bill 1656 / Senate Bill 5733

Summary of the bill.

  • Defines "normal wear and tear" to be the deteroriation that results from the intended use of the rental property but does not include neglegience, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the property
  • Defines "rent" to include payment for use and occupancy of the premises only and excludes all other fees, including utilities.
  • Defines tenant to include any occupant who has coresided with the tenant for six months or more prior to the tenant vacating the property.
  • Removes the exclusion of employees of the landlord from the RLTA.
  • Requires the landlord to plead with specificity the reason, for termination and prove the cause exists for one of the following reasons: 
    • Failure to pay rent after notice of 21 days, provided the property is in compliance with local code. 
    • Substantial violation of a material term of the rental agremeent, after 30 days' notice.  
    • Substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of the premises after 3 days' notice. 
    • Removal of the unit for use by the owner or their immediate family except when the unit is occupied by a person over 60 or is disabled.  
    • Removal of the unit from the market for purposes of sale or conversion, provided the property owner provides 120 days' notice.  
    • Intent to substantially renovate or demolish the property after 120 days' notice.  
  • Requires all fixed term leases to convert to month-to-month tenancies upon the expiration of the fixed term.
  • Requires any payment made by the tenant to be applied to rent first and then to other fees or charges, including utilities.
  • Limits restoration of the tenancy to payment of the rent only and provides no other remedy for recovery of other fees or costs owing by the tenant. 
  • Allows tenants to have immediate family members reside with them without proper screening
  • Increases the damages for offering lease provisions prohibited by the RLTA.
  • Requires all repairs and damages at the conclusion of the tenancy to be completed by third party providrs and requires the landlord to include estimates and receipts for the repairs completed.

Arguments Against this bill:

  • Just cause eviction does not address the overwhelming majority of unlawful detainer filings - nonpayment of rent.  
  • Property rights preclude the State from preventing a property owner of reclaiming their property for a specific purpose, whether that is to renovate or demolish their property, return its possession to the owner, or sell the property.  
  • Increases risk to the property owner and to neighboring residents, by preventing the property owner from timely removing problem tenants whose behavior endangers the peaceful enjoyment, health, safety, and welfare of their neighbors.  
  • Places undue burden on property owners by limiting the ability to terminate a tenancy wihtout consideration to local jurisdiction processes.  
  • Increases costs to the tenant by requiring third party repairs post-tenancy and reduces opportunity for employment by eliminating job roles in multifamily property management.
  • Provides RLTA rights to non-residents and creates no enforcement mechanism by the property owner to enforce the terms of the rental agreement against squatters on other unauthorized occupants.  

House Bill 1440

Summary of the bill

  • Requires at least 60 days' advance notice for all rent increases.  

Arguments against this bill:

  • Decreases the incentive for property owners to provide lower rent increases.
  • Decreases efficient management of operating costs, particularly among small owner/operators who rely exclusively on rental payments to pay operating expenses.  

House Bill 1453

Summary of the Bill. 

  • Increases the Notice to Pay or Vacate from 3 days to 21 days and requires the notice to be in plain language with information listing civil legal aid resources, if available.
  • Defines rent to include payment for use and occupancy of the premises only and excludes all other fees, including utilities.
  • Changes the Eviction Summons to include "plain language."
  • Requires any payment made by the tenant to be applied to rent first and then to other fees or charges, including utilities.Removes the exclusion of employees of the landlord from the RLTA.
  • Permits a judge/commissioner judicial discretion to stay an unlawful detainer proceeding. 
  • Limits restoration of the tenancy to payment of the rent only and provides no other remedy for recovery of other fees or costs owing by the tenant. 
  • Requires a judge/commissioner to stay recovery of the unit, when a tenant may properly cure a violation of the lease agreement.  
  • Limits relief and recovery of the unit to nonpayment of rent only.
  • Repeals RCW 59.18.375.

Arguments against this bill: 

  • The extension of notice to pay or vacate substantially increases the risk and costs to owners and to tenants.  
    • The policy creates a drawn out notice requiring the tenant to perform basic obligations under the lease agreement.
    • The eviction process already takes almost 60 days to return a unit to the owner.  
  • This proposal strips the property owner of any right to recover contractually obligated fees, and utility costs, and provides no incentive for the tenant to pay rent on time, ever.  
  • This proposal ultimately decreases opportunity for underqualified tenants to find housing because property owners will make business changes to mitigate risk.  
    • One property owner's denial rate increased 10% as a result of changes to screening criteria from Seattle's Fair Chance Housing ordinance. 
  • Increases the opportunity for renters causing harm to their neighbors to continue to do so, without any penalty and at a cost to the majority good neighbors residing in a community. 

House Bill 1446

Summary of the bill: 

  • Increasing the notice requird to terminate a tenancy to 30 days.
  • Requires mediation prior to commencing an unlawful detainer action
  • Requires notice to include a specific reason for termiantion and limits filing of an unlawful detainer until after mediation
  • Excludes residential tenancies from the Unlawful detainer statute
  • Removes gang related activity as a basis to terminate a tenancy in the unlawful detainer statute.  
  • Creates penalties against the property owner only for failure to mediate in good faith.  Concurrent penalties do not exist in the proposal for renters.
  • Requires the property owner to pay 100% of the cost of mediation.  There is no provision requiring renters to pay any portion of the cost of any medation.

Arguments against this bill:

  • Mediation is already permitted in the RLTA and, is rarely used because it is often unsuccessful.
  • Mediation is costly delay in terminating the tenancy of a problem tenant and delays restoration of the peace, safety, and quiet enjoyment of all other neighbors.  
  • Increases risk to the property owner and neighbors by unnecessarily delaying time to cure what may be seriously damaging and disruptive behavior.  

House Bill 1694

Summary of the bill.

  • Allows renters to pay move-in costs in installment to property owners in up to three equal monthly installments in tenancies longer than six months.
  • Move-in fees includes security deposit, non-refundable fees, last month's rent in up to three equal monthly installments. 

Arguments against this bill.

  • This proposal decreases the opportunity for underqualified applicants to access housing because property owners mitigate risk by increasing minimum screening requirements.