Proposed bill would give more rights to Washington renters

Proposed bill would give more rights to Washington renters

A sweeping change may be coming to Washington state for both tenants and landlords.

Currently, renters in Washington have as little as three days to catch up on rent before eviction. If passed, the new law, SB5600, would given tenants more time. They would get 14 days to get caught up or try to find help. Landlords will also be required to tell tenants where they can find help.

The bill would also make sure tenants, when given a “notice to vacate,” receive information from the Attorney General’s office on finding a low cost lawyer and getting an interpreter for court hearings.

The notice must also clearly tell the renter what amount they owe– including late charges– to bring the rent current.

The bill does not change the fact that tenants will not be forced to pay a landlord’s attorney fees in a court proceeding if they owe less than two months rent, or $1,200, whichever is greater.

The bill aims to help landlords in a new way, as well. When there’s an outstanding judgment, landlords can go to the Department of Commerce to try and collect the money.

In a blog post earlier this month, the Rental Housing Association of Washington said, “Many of the regulations in these bills will be burdensome on housing providers, but allowing landlords to be reimbursed for nonpayment is a reasonable way to relieve pressure on living costs, without driving small landlords out of the market.”

The Washington Landlord Association has also argued that the legislation does a great amount of harm to landlords. They say the attrition rate of landlords shows that they are getting out of the business because they can no longer afford it or handle the risk.

The legislature passed two other bills this session aimed at helping renters: HB 1462 requires 120-day notice for a building demolition, and HB 1440 would require 60-day notice for a rent increase– up from 30 days.

The bill was sent to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk April 29th.

If he signs them, they go into effect at the end of July.

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