Legislative Update Session Cutoff

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News,

Friday, February 22 marked the first policy cut off in the State Legislature. Any policy that was not voted out of its committee of origin is considered dead for this session. However, any proposal that was voted out of its committee of origin will receive further consideration in one of two places: a financial committee if the proposal has a financial impact on the State or the full chamber of origin. March 1 marks the second policy cutoff when any policy that has a financial impact on the State must be moved out of fiscal committees. 

These first weeks of the 2019 legislative session have been frenetic. In total, more than 2,400 bills have been introduced for consideration by the lawmakers.  It certainly feels like 2,390 of these bills relate to landlord-tenant law! The WMFHA advocacy team has been actively testifying on a number of bills and negotiating with stakeholders on others. Below is a list of proposals that have a direct impact on multifamily housing one way or another. 

Landlord-Tenant Relationship Proposals Additional Housing Related Legislation  |  Bills we Defeated in 2019

Bills affecting the Landlord-Tenant Relationship

House Bill 1138 changes the requirements around termination notices for service members and creates a definition of permanent change of station. The bill passed the House by a vote of 95-0-0-3.  A Senate companion bill is being considered by the full Senate. WMFHA supports this bill.  

House Bill 1440 increases the notice requirements for rent increases from 30 days to 60 days.  An exception exists for rent increases based on income changes in subsidized housing programs and maintains the notice requirements at 30 days. The bill also limits rent increases to the end of the term of the rental agreement. WMFHA remains neutral on this bill.  

House Bill 1656 would implement just cause termination requirements across Washington State. The bill also creates a statutory policy to allow non-rent responsible occupants to assume an unexpired lease if the tenant permanently vacates, and requires more information be provided with the return of the security deposit. The Senate companion, SB 5733, was amended in Committee to create a workgroup and extend the notice of termination from 20 days to 50 days, and 120 days for substantial rehabilitation, demolition or change of use. A detailed summary of the contents of this bill can be found here.  WMFHA is opposed to this bill. 

House Bill 1694 would permit installment payment plans s for “move-in costs” where those move-in costs exceeded 25 percent of the first full month’s rent. Move-in costs include nonrefundable fees, security deposit, last month’s rent. WMFHA remains neutral on this bill.  

Senate Bill 5123 increases the 3-day pay or vacate notice to four days and defines days to be calendar days. WMFHA supports this bill.  

Senate Bill 5441 increases the length of time a recently released offender may receive a housing voucher.  WMFHA supports this bill.  

Senate 5600 does many things and is defined as the “eviction reform” bill.  The bill proposes to do the following:

  • Increases the notice of termination from 3 days to 14 days
  • Creates a statutory pay or vacate notice
  • Requires application of any payment to the rent first, and then to any other amounts owing
  • Defines rent to include any recurring or monthly charges included in the rental agreement, but does not include late fees
  • Caps late fees
  • Expands the opportunity for automatic reinstatement to all types of tenancies
  • Permits a tenant, after a judgment has been entered, to make a request to the court to reinstate the tenancy, after a judgment has been entered on consideration by the court and on such terms as the court determines
  • Increases damages for offering a lease agreement with illegal terms and conditions
  • Revises the return of security deposit requirements to require receipts for items and work performed to repair damage

A similar bill is being considered in the House. A detailed summary of this bill can be found here.  

Senate Bill 5907 would require a study of how Washington State could provide attorneys in eviction proceedings. Because the bill has a fiscal impact on the State, it must be approved by the Senate Ways & Means committee but is not currently scheduled for any action before tomorrow’s cut off. 

Additional relevant housing bills

House Bill 1066 would require all debt collection bills be filed prior to service, eliminating the opportunity for pocket service. 

House Bill 1219 would permit cities and counties to use real estate excise taxes to support affordable housing and homelessness projects.  

House Bill 1921 would create a tiered real estate excise tax. The bill is not scheduled to move out of its committee of origin before the cutoff tomorrow. 

House Bill 2010 requires a study to find ways to increase participation in the nine percent tax credit program

Senate Bill 5165 adds citizenship and immigration status as protected classes in Washington State. 

Senate Bill 5582 would require individuals who spend the majority of their time alone in janitorial services to create a sexual harassment policy and train employees on that policy and prevent sexual assault and discrimination in the workplace by 2021. The bill passed the Senate 47-0-0-2.

Senate Bill 5366 expands the property tax exemption for new and rehabilitated multiple-dwelling units in urban centers. 

Senate Bill 5961 creates a 9 percent capital gains tax. The bill has not received a hearing to date.  

Proposals that have been defeated in 2019

House Bill 1493 would have permitted the imposition of additional local taxes to fund affordable housing.

House Bill 1818 would have required individual utility metering for all apartment units. The Senate companion bill also failed to move forward. 

Senate Bill 5424 would have amended the Growth Management Act to establish minimum density standards within one-half mile of a regional transit station.