Legislative Update 2020: Week 4

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

Four things to know about Week 4 of the legislative session. 

1.    Any proposal that did not receive a hearing or a vote by its policy committee is considered dead for the legislative session.  

  • A bill that would implement rent control in Washington, among other strict provisions is dead. We expect a larger push for rent control in 2021, even though a moderate rent control policy will decrease new housing production by more than 10 percent.  
  • A bill that would prohibit the use of criminal history in tenant screening is dead. As mentioned last week, this proposal does more harm than good. We expect this proposal to resurface in 2021.  

2.    House Bill 2732, which expands the Landlord Mitigation Fund to tenancies terminated because of acts of domestic violence and other crimes, is awaiting House floor action. This smart piece of legislation, receiving broad support, assists survivors of domestic violence and other crimes in becoming financially secure and makes housing providers whole for damages caused to rental units.  

3.    Several bills we currently oppose also moved forward and are awaiting further action by the House or Senate. 

  • Just cause moves forward for a full House vote, but not before we made some significant changes to the bill. An amendment to the proposal provides an up to a one-year probationary period before “just cause” is required. A second amendment restored a presumption that termination is not retaliatory if the tenant doesn’t pay rent or comply with the terms of the lease within 90 days of a tenant making a report to a governmental agency. There is more work to do on this legislation. 
  • House Bill 2520, which makes changes to the manner in which a housing provider returns a security deposit was voted out of its policy committee. The proposal would create limitations on recovery of some costs associated with the turn of the rental units and requires the housing provider to provide receipts, invoices, estimates, etc. with the return of the security deposit and statement of deductions.  
  • Senate Bill 6378 is awaiting further action by the full Senate. The bill, as currently written, makes technical and substantive changes to SB 5600 which passed last year.  
  • House Bill 1694 would permit a tenant to pay move-in costs in up to 3 equal installment payments is awaiting action by the House.  

4.    The full legislative chamber where the bill originated must vote on any proposal voted out of its policy committee by February 18. Otherwise, the proposal is considered dead for the 2020 legislative session. If the proposal is voted on, and passes, it moves to the opposite chamber to undergo the same process on an expedited timeline. The final day of the legislative session is March 13.  

The WMFHA team is working to address our concerns with the above bills by asking lawmakers to support amendments or oppose the legislation altogether.   

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

Missed a Legislative Update? Read Week 1 here, read Week 2 here, and read Week 3 here.