Legislative Update 2020: Week 3

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News, Industry Trends, WMFHA Updates,

This Friday marks the first significant deadline of the 2020 legislative session when bills must be voted out of their policy committee. If a bill is not voted out of its policy committee it is considered dead for this session. We expect several rental housing bills to move out of their policy committee on Friday.  

WMFHA continues its work to address your concerns with several policy proposals. At this time we remain opposed to most landlord-tenant bills working their way through the legislative process. 

About Last Week

Last week was a busy week for WMFHA. Members and our partners testified both in support of and opposed to specific legislation.  

First, HUD released guidance on assessing requests for a reasonable accommodation to keep an animal.  

On Tuesday, Angela Dannebring, Executive Director of DAWN, testified in support of HB 2732, a bill that would expand access to the Landlord Mitigation Program when a tenant exercises their rights under the domestic violence statute. This important piece of legislation provides a critical opportunity to assist survivors of domestic violence and other crimes, and assists housing providers in addressing the cost to repair and re-let the apartment.  

On Thursday, George Petrie (Goodman Real Estate), Amy Williams (Epic Asset Management), and Rhonda Babcock (MOCO, Inc.) testified in opposition to Senate Bill 6490, which would prohibit the use of criminal history in tenant screening. Their compelling testimony included these facts about Seattle's misguided criminal history policy:

  • 1.5 percent of tenant screening denials result from criminal history.
  • After Seattle passed its "Fair Chance Housing" law, overall denials increased 8 percent.
  • One Seattle tenant caused $186,000 in damage and costs associated with his tenancy. The housing provider would have at least asked for more information were they able to consider his criminal history when he applied.
  • Another Seattle tenant, who had fugitive warrants for burglary, stabbed a guest in the chest over a cell phone. The housing provider couldn't review his criminal history.
  • In one Seattle area property:
    • 75 percent staff turnover since Seattle's Fair Chance Housing law became effective and teams will only work in pairs now to protect their safety.
    • The onsite team serves a trespass order every other day.
    • Amenities have been removed because of theft, an unsanitary conditions
    • Evictions have tripled in two years
    • 35 percent increase in 911 calls
    • Armed security now patrol the community.

Huge thanks to Angela, George, Amy, Rhonda, and Melissa for making time to provide critical information to the legislature.  

You can still help us advocate on certain legislation.  Use your voice and send a quick email to your lawmaker, telling them your personal story about just cause eviction, the return of the security deposit or use of criminal history in tenant screening.  

Send a message now by clicking each link below to send a specific message on each subject. 

Tell lawmakers to oppose just cause eviction.

Tell lawmakers to oppose changes to the return of the security deposit

Tell lawmakers to oppose limitations on the use of criminal history in tenant screening.

To date, we've had more than 500 responses to our action alerts. Don't be the only one left out. Take two minutes now.  

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

Missed a Legislative Update? Read Week 1 here and read Week 2 here.