I attended the RHA association webinar on New WA State Laws in 2019 on May 2, 2019. Below I offer you a summary of new laws important to Rental Housing Owners. The following laws go into effect July 28, 2019.
Updates to Rental Housing Laws 2019
The Most Notable Bill is HB5600
Most Landlords agree, HB5600 will do little to actually protect tenants and just increase rent for the majority of lease abiding, rent paying tenants.
Here is bullet point summary:
- New definition of "Rent" Now includes all recurring monthly charges.
- Pay or Vacate is now 14 Days before a landlord can file a summons and complaint for unlawful detainer.
- All payments must be applied to RENT before other charges
- Eviction for failure to pay can only be based on RENT and security deposits on payment plan.
- Non-rent charges can be pursed in other civil actions, but are limited to $75 in unlawful detainer judgement.
- Removes the requirement for a court order to serve an unlawful detainer summons and compliant by posting. (Landlord may now post the summons and compliant after three attempts at personal service.)
- Tenant no longer has to place money in the court registry in order to stop execution of the writ of restitution. Instead, the court must decide what is equitable as a condition to stop the execution.
- A judge can award reasonable attorneys' fees. If both parties show up to a show cause hearing, the judge must be for an amount more than 2 months rent (or $1200, whichever is greater).
- Reinstatement of tenancy if the tenant pays within 5 days. AND the tenant can request that the court reinstate the tenancy and set up a payment plan for the tenant to pay off the monetary judgement.
- Payment Plan Standards - Tenant must also stay current with on-going rent + make 1 month rent payment every 30 days.
- Landlord Mitigation Program - Landlords can submit an application to have the balance paid by the Dept of Commerce, Landlord Mitigation Program. Then the tenant will pay the state.
HB1440 | Longer Notice of Rent Increases
On month to month leases, landlords must now provide 60 days notice ANY INCREASE, including rent, utilities, parking, storage, etc. Any monthly charge increase now requires a 60 day notice. Remains 30 day notice on fixed term leases.
HB1138 | Early Termination for Armed Forces
The state law now matches Federal Law, service members can terminate a rental agreement with 20 days notice and written proof of orders. Must meet 1 of 6 requirements:
- Be moving at least 35 miles from current residence
- Be prematurely or involuntarily discharged
- Receive temporary duty order that are longer than 90 days
- Release from active duty and their residence is more than 35 miles away from the rental property
- Be directed to move into government housing
- Receive a change of station order AFTER signing the rental agreement
HB1462 | Relevant to Flippers / Developers
Must give 120 days Notice for Termination on month to month tenancy due to Building Substantial Rehabilitation. Defined, Substantial Rehabilitation is:
“Extensive structural repair or extensive remodeling of premises that requires a permit such as a building, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical permit, and that results in the displacement of an existing tenant.”
A property owner in violation of the policy is
liable up to 3x the monthly rent.
Rental Housing Association Takeaway
Eviction for Lack of Payment take longer and can be stopped more easily.
What to do?
- Consider using month to month tenancies as 20 Day termination notice may be more certain than pay or vacate.
- Remove grace period from your lease terms.
- Begin serving Pay or Vacate day after rent is due when the new law goes into effect.
- Make offers to encourage voluntary termination
Fresh Look is modifying Leases + Rent Collection Procedures to include these recommendations.
Not long ago, we switched our procedures to prefer fixed term.
The reasoning was:
- Easier to end leases in Seattle with the 'Just Cause Eviction' With the fixed term, we're able to simply post notice that the lease will not be renewed, rather trying to document a 'Just Cause' (to be fair, theres typically a "just cause" if we are not renewing a lease, but the burden of proof is lifted with the fixed term lease.)
- As rentals become more competitive, fixed term gave us more control over when vacancies occur.
To add to all of this, the new updates also include month-to-month lease giving tenants additional rights:
- 120 Day Termination Notice for Building Rehab (HB1462)
- 60 Day Notice of any rent increase (which I guess now rent is any recurring charge, so all increases will require a 60 day notice)
I suspect the answer will be property specific, based on what plans are for that particular asset.
Call or Email to talk to BB French about your Property Management Needs!