Recent legislative sessions have shown a trend of state legislators believing they must become co-managers of rental properties through passing legislation that directs how rental property owners and tenants must interact under specific conditions. This year especially so as a result of COVID related eviction moratoria.
This listing of legislation belabors the point, read the proposed bills and comment to legislators.
CAPR thanks Steve Corker for the excellent and precise analyses for many of these landlord/tenant proposed laws. His analyses are provided in his work as current President of the Landlord Association of the Inland Northwest. Steve is a graduate of Stanford University, a former Spokane City Councilman, and was an Adjunct Professor at Gonzaga University. Some of this analysis is created by CAPR, Steve’s help in evaluating these bills with CAPR is much appreciated!
Bill number 1228
Addressing residential landlord-tenant requirements in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Sponsors: Barkis, Walen, Dent, Hoff, Jacobsen, Chambers, Ryu, Graham, Ybarra, Caldier, MacEwen, Walsh, Hackney, Chapman, Boehnke, Dolan, Springer, Chandler, Eslick, Robertson, Gilday
Comments: Though complicated, this bill may be helpful in resolving the crisis created by the COVID-19 response and mandates of the governor. However, it will be a costly path out of the resultant rental housing crisis. According to the bill summary, the bill suspends any eviction moratorium currently in effect. Requires landlords to provide tenants with unpaid rent an affidavit of COVID hardship, notice of early resolution program, and option of payment plan. Creates the Emergency Rental Assistance Grant Program to assist tenants and landlords with past due rental payments. Establishes the early resolution program to facilitate resolution of nonpayment of rent cases through Dispute Resolution Centers or third-party facilitators. Requires landlords to notify tenants of the early resolution program before filing any unlawful detainer action.
Bill Number 1236
Protecting residential tenants from the beginning to end of their tenancies by penalizing the inclusion of unlawful lease provisions and limiting the reasons for eviction, refusal to continue, and termination.
Sponsors: Macri, Taylor, Dolan, Gregerson, Berry, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Simmons, Ramel, Bateman, Johnson, J., Hackney, Chopp, Thai, Peterson, Santos, Orwall, Ortiz-Self, Ryu, Wicks, Lekanoff, Slatter, Berg, Senn, Harris-Talley, Ormsby, Pollet
This mandatory lease renewal bill will end the practical use of fixed-term lease agreements, make it harder for landlords to address dangerous and disruptive tenants, and will disrupt seasonal and student housing.
Prohibits a housing provider from evicting a tenant or terminating a tenancy unless they meet specific criteria determined by the government. Bill number 1236 will make it much harder to address tenants who are dangerous or disruptive to other residents in the community, undercutting a housing providers ability to protect the health, safety and welfare of their properties.
Requires the housing provider to offer a reasonable payment plan based on the tenant’s financial circumstances in order to terminate a tenancy or file for eviction.
Mandates that a housing provider must renew a fixed-term lease at the end of the term unless the tenancy is in the first year, and the housing provider give 60-day notice that they choose not to renew. In effect the bill will end the practical use of fixed-term lease agreements which hurts a tenant’s ability to negotiate with their housing provider.
1236 will disrupt seasonal and student housing, reducing opportunities for tenants who seek to rent units for less than a year.
1236 does not preempt local governments. It will remove state protection and allow any local government to mandate that housing providers renew a rental agreement when it ends.
Bill Number 1258
Concerning the operation, authorization, and permitting of microenterprise home kitchens.
Sponsors: Frame, Peterson, Dolan, Ryu, Leavitt, Simmons, Jacobsen, Lovick, Taylor, Fitzgibbon, Fey, Ramel, Ortiz-Self, Shewmake, Johnson, J., Bateman, Eslick, Ramos, Davis, Thai, Santos, Chambers, Wylie, Callan, Wicks, Rule, Sutherland, Chase, Macri, Gregerson, Slatter, Berg, Riccelli
Comments: This bill sets out a myriad of laws pertaining to home small business kitchens. The impact on property owners as relates to landlord/tenant law is phrased “The operation of a microenterprise home kitchen operation cannot be used as legal grounds for eviction, unless specifically identified in a lease agreement.”
Bill numbers 1277/5279
Providing for an additional revenue source for eviction prevention and housing stability services.
House Sponsors: Ormsby, Macri, Ramel, Bateman, Fitzgibbon, Ryu, Senn, Chopp, Berry, Peterson, Davis, Santos, Valdez, Hackney, Thai, Kloba, Sells, Frame, Gregerson, Johnson, J., Pollet, Harris-Talley, Stonier, Taylor, Wicks
Senate Sponsors: Robinson, Kuderer, Nguyen, Saldaña, Stanford, Wilson, C.
Comments: Increases state document recording fees to fund rental assistance program, a program asking landlords, property owners to fund the State’s rental assistance program!
Bill number 1300
Addressing documentation and processes governing landlords' claims for damage to residential premises.
Sponsors: Thai, Chopp, Ramel, Simmons, Fitzgibbon, Peterson, Davis, Macri, Pollet, Slatter, Stonier, Taylor
Comments: A security deposit bill, defining ordinary wear, establishes parameters with respect to damages such as specific documentation to substantiate damage.
Provides for a walk-through inspection not more than 30 days and not less than 14 days before the termination of the rental agreement, prior to the end of tenancy with the tenant receiving a post walk through checklist. It is not clear if a judge might interpret this to mean landlords must schedule and do a joint walk-through prior to the actual move-out day (tenant furnishings may obstruct full inspection) and after which, more damage may occur, and the landlord would have no recourse whatsoever.
A one-year statute of limitations with respect to any action taken against a tenant to recover sums exceeding the amount of the damage deposit is established.
Bill numbers 1368/5344 Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through state actions supported by federal funding.
House Sponsors: Ormsby, Macri, Ramos, Callan, Gregerson, Berry, Sullivan, Leavitt, Duerr, Bergquist, Kloba, Riccelli, Ramel, Harris-Talley, Pollet
Senate Sponsors: Rolfes, Robinson, Billig, Dhingra, Nguyen, Nobles, Randall, Saldaña
Comments: The bill summary reads, “The bill appropriates $2.2 billion in federal funding from a combination of the federal Consolidated Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, the Coronavirus Relief Fund under the federal CARES Act, and Medicaid for K-12 public schools, public health, healthcare, assistance to individuals and families, housing assistance, and business assistance.”
Bill Number 1398
Preserving affordable housing and assisting tenants and rental housing providers in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Sponsors: Dufault, Caldier, Volz, Robertson, Chase, Klicker, Jacobsen, Walsh, Chambers, Corry, Vick, Eslick
If the eviction moratorium is lifted, this bill provides laws pertaining to a landlord providing a delinquent tenant a payment plan for unpaid rents, provides a packet of legal documents a landlord must provide, and provides a tenant must respond by certain timelines, providing proof of hardship. A tenant or landlord may apply for a rental assistance grant from the Department of Commerce. $300,000,000 to pay for this comes from the budget stabilization account.
Bill Number 5139
Limiting rent increases after expiration of the governor's eviction moratorium.
Sponsors: Das, Lovelett, Darneille, Hunt, Liias, Nguyen, Wilson, C.
Comments: Limits rent increases for one year after the eviction moratorium expires … that’s RENT CONTROL!
Bill Number 5160
Addressing landlord-tenant relations by providing certain tenant protections during and after public health emergencies, providing for legal representation in eviction cases, and authorizing landlord access to state rental assistance programs.
Sponsors: Kuderer, Liias, Conway, Das, Lovelett, Saldaña, Wilson, C.
Comments: Prohibits landlords from terminating or refusing to renew a rental lease that expires until two years after any public health emergency but does allows tenants impacted by COVID 19 to terminate tenancy upon 20-day written notice, and requires prepayment plans for all unpaid rent owed during the pandemic.
Bill Number 5260
Requiring annual reporting from the eviction resolution pilot program.
Sponsors: Kuderer, Fortunato, Das, Gildon, Hasegawa, Nguyen, Randall
Comments: The Supreme Court, on September 9, 2020 authorized Superior Court Eviction Resolution Program. Six Counties are currently using this. The bill provides for “By June 1, 2022, and until June 1, 2025, the AOC (Court Administrative Office) must provide an annual report to the Legislature summarizing the ERP report data shared by the superior courts and DRCs.”