2019 Legislative Summary

Summaries of Statewide legislation passed in the 2019 Washington State Legislature

The 2019 legislative session has been very active with more than 30 bills introduced that proposed changes to how rental housing is constructed, managed and sold. Below is a detailed summary of laws that passed in 2019, that affect how you operate and manage a rental property in Washington State. Click the links to jump to specific changes.  

  1. Clarifying Terminations by Service Members in Residential Tenancies
  2. Increasing the Notice required to Increase Rent
  3. Increasing the Notice required to Terminate a Tenancy in Specific Situations
  4. Redirecting local real estate transfer taxes to support affordable housing and homelessness projects
  5. Reforming Washington State’s Eviction Process from Beginning to End
  6. Increasing Urban Residential Capacity
Clarifying Terminations by Service Members in Residential Tenancies

House Bill 1138, passed by the Washington Senate April 8, 2019 by a vote of 47-0 with two excused.  The bill clarifies the method and reasons a service member may terminate a residential tenancy. 

 Service members may terminate a residential tenancy when they receive a permanent change of station, which means one of the following:

  1. Transfer to a unit located at another port or duty station;
  2. Change in a unit’s home port or permanent duty station;
  3. Call to active duty for a period not less than 90 days;
  4. Separation; or
  5. Retirement.

 A service member, which includes the service member’s spouse or dependents, must provide at least 20 days written notice and include a copy of the official military orders or a signed letter from the service member’s commanding officer confirming:

  1. the servicemember, because of a permanent change of station, is required to move more than 35 miles from the location of the rental premises;
  2. the service member is prematurely or involuntarily discharged or released from active duty;
  3. the service member is released from active duty and their home is more than 35 miles from the rental premises;
  4. the commanding officer directs the service member to move into government provided housing;
  5. the service member receives temporary change of station orders more than 35 miles from the rental premises for a period not less than 90 days;

 Effective Date: This law takes effect Saturday, July 27, 2019


Increasing the Notice required to Increase Rent

HB 1440 passed the House of Representatives on April 10 by a vote of 29-18 with two members excused. 

The bill requires housing providers to provide at least 60 days’ notice for a rent increase of any amount.  Any rent increase becomes effective after the end of a term.

E.g. In a fixed term or lease for a specified period of time, the housing provider cannot implement a rent increase during the term, if the rent is based on HUD Area Median Income levels.   

In subsidized tenancies, where the amount of rent paid is based on the income of the tenant household, the housing provider must provide a minimum of 30 days’ notice of an increase in the amount of rent. 

Effective Date: The law takes effect Saturday, July 27, 2019

Property Management Tips:

  • In order to increase rent within lease renewals beginning August 1, WMFHA strongly suggests providing notice of the rent increase by June 1, 2019 to the affected tenant. 
  • In order to increase rent within lease renewals beginning September 1, the law requires providing notice of the rent increase by July 1, 2019 to the affected tenant.  

Increasing the Notice required to Terminate a Tenancy in Specific Situations

House ill 1462 was passed on April 13, 2019.  The bill requires a vote of concurrance before it becomes law. 

The bill requires property owners to provide additional notice when they intend to substantially renovate, demolish or the change the use of a multifamily residential property. 

Specifically the bill requires owners or their representatives to provide at least 120 days’ notice to residents of a multifamily community when the owner intends to demolish, substantially renovate or change the use of the property. 

WMFHA was successful in negotiating an amendment to exempt cities that have previously created a Tenant Relocation Assistance Program, namely the cities of Seattle and Tacoma.

“Substantially renovate” means extensive structural repair or extensive remodeling of the premises that requires a permit, such as a building, electrical, plumbing or mechanical permit and that results in displacement of an existing tenant. 

Effective Date: If the House of Representatives concurs on the bill, the law takes effect on Saturday, July 27, 2019

A person that violates the notice provisions of this law is liable for up to 3 and one-half times the monthly rent. 


Redirecting local real estate transfer taxes to support affordable housing and homelessness projects.

House Bill 1219 passed the legislature on April 10, 2019, by a vote in the House of Representatives 34-13 with two excused.  The new law allows local jurisdictions to direct certain existing tax revenue to homelessness and affordable housing. 

Real Estate Excise Taxes II (REET II) are local real estate transfer taxes charged to the seller of real estate by local jurisdictions.  The maximum that can be charged by a local jurisdiction is 0.25 percent.  Any revenue generated by this transfer tax, must be used to finance capital projects as a part of the City or County comprehensive plan.  Under this new law a local jurisdiction may use REET II revenue for the planning, acquisition, construction, reconstruction repair, replacement, rehabilitation, or improvement of facilities for persons experiencing homelessness and for affordable housing projects up to the greater of $100,000 or 25 percent of available funds, not to exceed $1 million.

Effective Date: The law takes effect Saturday July 27, 2019

Read more…

Affordable housing could get boost after lawmakers expand use of real estate excise tax The News Tribune


Reforming Washington State’s Eviction Process from Beginning to End

Senate Bill 5600 passed the House on April 12, 2019 by a vote of 51-46.  The bill requires a vote of concurrence by the Senate to become law. 

The bill is dubbed “the eviction reform bill” because it makes several changes to the process of eviction from beginning to end.  Below is a brief summary of the bills major pieces:

  1. Increases the notice to terminate from 3 days to 14 days
  2. Requires use of a statutory 14-day Notice to Pay or Vacate form
  3. Requires the Attorney General to translate the form into 10 most common languages spoken in Washington State.
  4. Defines rent to include all recurring monthly charges identified in the rental agreement, which may include utilities. This does not include nonrecurring charges such as late fees, damages, deposits, legal costs, or other fees.
  5. Requires any payments be applied to the rent first and then to other nonrecurring charges. The law also limits a housing provider’s ability to begin eviction proceedings based on non-rent charges owing, except when the tenant elects to pay move-in costs by an installment plan
  6. Provides an opportunity for a tenant to reinstate their tenancy after judgment for eviction:
    • Automatically if the tenant pays 100 percent of the judgment entered within 5 court days of the date of the judgment, regardless of the type of tenancy;
    • Judicially, upon a court order after the court considers evidence of seven factors and permits the tenant to repay the judgment owing within 90 days, with no more than 30 days between each paying.
    • A judgment for late fees is capped at $75, plus an additional $50 for each instance in which the tenant reinstates their tenancy after an eviction proceeding.
    • Limits an award of attorney fees in certain conditions.
Limits the use of judicial discretion to tenants who have not received three or more Notices to Pay or Vacate prior to the underlying Notice of the eviction action in the prior 12 months. 
  1. Reforms the standard Summons form;
  2. Removes the requirement to obtain an Order of Alternative Service prior to posting and mailing a Summons and Complaint for Unlawful Detainer (Eviction)
  3. Expands the Landlord Mitigation Fund to include repayment of an eviction judgment and requires the tenant to repay the judgment.

Effective Date: Upon a vote of concurrence, the law will take effect July 27, 2019

Property Management Tips: 

  • Serve 14-day notices on the second day of the month to balance the extended notice requirements on the overall eviction timeline.
  • Bring tenant files to court with all prior notices.  
  • Be diligent in serving compliance notices for lease violations. 

Related Articles:

Proposed eviction-law reforms clear second floor vote The Seattle Times

Proposed tenant eviction-law reforms clear second floor vote in Washington Legislature KING 5

Eviction Reform Bill Clears Big Hurdle, No Thanks to Democrats and Republicans Who Apparently Think Poor People Hang Steaks in Their Attics to Frame Their Landlords The Stranger


Increasing Urban Residential Capacity

House Bill 1923 makes changes to the Growth Management Act and sets requirements on Cities with a population of 40,000 units or more to increase building capacity of residential housing units. 

As some of you know, development of new housing can be complex and time consuming.

To increase residential building capacity cities planning under the GMA with a population greater than 40,000 must take at least two of the following actions, and a city with a population between 20,000 and 40,000 must take at least one of the following actions, by April 1, 2021:

  • authorize development of an average of at least 50 residential units per acre that include one or more train stations served by commuter rail or light rail;
  • authorize development of an average of at least 25 residential units per acre that include one or more bus stops served by scheduled bus service;
  • authorize at least one duplex, triplex, or courtyard apartment on each parcel in zoning districts that permit single-family residences unless a city documents a constraint that would make this requirement unfeasible for a particular parcel;
  • authorize cluster zoning or lot size averaging in all zoning districts that permit single-family residences;
  • require no more than one on-site parking space per two bedrooms in the portions of multifamily zones that are located within 0.5 miles of a fixed guideway transit station;
  • authorize accessory dwelling units on all lots located in zoning districts that permit single-family residences, subject to certain restrictions;
  • adopt a planned action pursuant to the subarea plan provisions of SEPA;
  • adopt a planned action pursuant to the planned action provisions of SEPA, except that an EIS need not be prepared for such a planned action;
  • adopt increases in categorical exemptions pursuant to the infill development provisions of SEPA for single-family and multifamily development;
  • adopt a form-based code in one or more zoning districts that permit residential uses; authorize a duplex on each corner lot within all zoning districts that permit single-family residences;
  • identify questions in the SEPA checklist that are adequately covered by a locally adopted ordinance, development regulation, land use plan, or other legal authority;
  • form or joining existing sub-regional partnerships with neighboring jurisdictions to implement and promote affordable housing programs;
  • authorize a 20 percent density bonus for all residential development projects when at least 10 percent of the total units within the project are provided as affordable housing;
  • allow for the division of land into the maximum number of lots; or
  • authorize a minimum net density of six dwelling units per acre.

A city that has complied with the requirements by December 31, 2022 is eligible to apply for a one-time grant of $100,000 from Commerce to support planning and outreach efforts.

A project action evaluated under SEPA by a city, county, or town planning fully under the GMA is exempt from appeals under SEPA based on the evaluation of or impacts to transportation elements of the environment.

The requirement that cities with populations greater than 500,000 take certain actions regarding notice of scoping for a nonproject EIS related to subarea plans is eliminated.

The requirement that cities with populations greater than 500,000 analyze whether an adopted subarea plan will result in displacement or fragmentation of certain populations is eliminated.

The University of Washington, through the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, shall produce a report every two years that compiles housing supply and affordability metrics for each city planning under the GMA with a population of 10,000 or more.

A local ordinance imposing impact fees may not charge a higher per unit fee for multifamily residential construction than for single-family residential construction.

A $2.50 document recording surcharge is imposed on each document recorded with county auditors to be deposited into the Growth Management Planning and Environmental Review Fund. After five years, the funds deposited shall be used for permanent supportive housing.  Before then, the funds may used for planning grants and to fund reporting. 

The does much more to assist in the opportunity to develop housing of all types across this region to ease the housing burden.  

Effective Date:  The law takes effect July 27, 2019.  

For more information, pleas contact Brett Waller at brett@wmfha.org or (425) 656-9077.