Legislative Update 2020: Week 2

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News, Industry Trends,

In Olympia last week:

  • The House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 2453, implementing "just cause" requirements in Washington. There were also hearings on HB 2520 adding onerous requirements to return a security deposit and HB 2535, implementing a mandatory grace period before late fees begin to accrue. Read more...
  • WMFHA members took grassroots action, sending 508 messages to lawmakers opposing just cause and the security deposit legislation. Hundreds more private housing providers turned out to oppose these measures in person. 
  • Councilmember Kshama Sawant voted to send her eviction moratorium to the full council. The council will consider whether to prohibit evictions between November 1 and March 31, every year. The next action is a full council vote on February 4. Obviously, this is the wrong approach to take, and the council should focus on providing sufficient resources to keep renters stably housed
  • The Senate Housing Affordability & Livability Committee received testimony on expanding and extending the Multi-Family Tax Exemption program
  • The House Finance Committee held a hearing on Thursday to roll back the Real Estate Excise Tax to 1.28 percent on multifamily housing sales.  

Looking ahead to this week in Olympia:

  • HB 2732, providing access to the Landlord Mitigation Fund when a tenant exercises their rights under the statute commonly referred to as the domestic violence statute, receives its first hearing on Tuesday.
  • On Thursday, the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee will consider banning the use of criminal records in tenant screening.  

On Friday, we received strong support from hundreds of private housing providers who drove to Olympia and showed strong opposition to HB 2453 "just cause" and HB 2520 "security deposit."  This support from the rental housing industry resonated with lawmakers.  

We continue to raise concerns with lawmakers about the safety of on-site teams and other residents, with just cause requirements and the inability to effectively dismiss residents to intentionally disrupt the enjoyment of the community.  

This week we need you to continue to support the industry with your voice to oppose Senate Bill 6490. We know that everyone deserves a second chance, but that second chance should not fall exclusively on the shoulders of private housing providers. In the past five years, private housing providers have made sweeping changes to the manner in which criminal history is used in tenant screening. In Seattle, where the use of criminal history in tenant screening is prohibited, we're seeing the consequences of this misplaced policy - damaged property, threatened neighbors, injured innocent victims.  

If you have questions, please contact Brett Waller by email or at 425.656.9077.