2016 State Legislative Session Under Way

Posted By: Sean Martin Advocacy ,

The 2016 legislative session is now under way, and that means rental property owners have a whole list of worries to consider for the next 60+ days.

RHA will be blogging throughout the legislative session, with weekly updates on issues that matter most to our members. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back often!

Below is a list with brief descriptions of legislation the industry is tracking as of today. Other concepts not yet formally introduced, but likely to receive discussion in Olympia, would seek to require increased relocation assistance, linkage fees for low income housing, real estate excise tax increases for low-income housing, and many others.

RHA Opposed Bills in 2016

HB 1257/SB 5123 – Tenant screening reports

This legislation would ban landlords from charging a prospective tenant for costs incurred in obtaining a tenant screening report if the prospective tenant has purchased their own report within 30 days of the rental application being submitted, and made it available to the prospective landlord via a consumer reporting agency. A prospective landlord could still choose to obtain an independent tenant screening report, but would not be allowed to charge the prospective tenant for any subsequent report. The landlord also may not treat a prospective tenant any less favorably solely because a comprehensive screening report regarding the prospective tenant has been provided.

Last year this legislation passed out of the House by a vote of 51 - 47 (partisan line), but RHAWA was successful in killing it in the Senate after it received a hearing in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions & Insurance.|

HB 1460/SB 5376 – Eviction records reporting

Would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to prohibit consumer reporting agencies from including eviction records in any consumer report if the eviction suit did not result in a judgment against the prospective tenant.

The vast majority of eviction suits do not reach final judgment due to the tenant vacating, or reaching compromise with the landlord, but access to an applicant's complete history is necessary for landlords to make sound judgments when screening.

Last year RHAWA was successful in killing this legislation in the Senate Rules Committee.

HB 2051/SB 5377 – Rent Increase Notification

This legislation would authorize certain cities, towns, counties, and municipal corporations to require up to ninety days' written notice for a change in rent exceeding ten percent of a tenant's current rent.

Last year RHAWA was successful in killing this legislation. We will continue to oppose.

HB 1565/SB 5378 – Housing options/govt progrms

This legislation would create a new, state-wide protected class status for source of income. Prohibited acts would include: refusing to lease or rent any real property to an applicant; expelling a tenant from any real property; making any distinction, discrimination, or restriction against an applicant or tenant in the price, terms, conditions, or privileges relating to the rental; attempting to discourage the rental or lease of any real property; publishing, circulating, issuing, or displaying any communication of any kind relating to the rental or lease of real property that indicates any source of income; and assisting another to commit a prohibited act.

Last year RHAWA was successful in killing this legislation. However, there has been movement at the local levels to implement "source of income" as a new protected class, including the city of Vancouver which passed legislation in October 2015, and Seattle where a work group is currently discussing legislation similar to what was enacted in Vancouver.

RHA Supported Bills in 2016

HB 1573/SB 5221 – Tenant property, disposition

This legislation would allow a landlord to dispose of a tenants property after 5 days, at the expense of the tenant, if the tenant has objected to the landlord storing his or her property, or the landlord elects to place the tenant's property on the public property, after the tenant has been evicted.

Last year this legislation passed the Senate by unanimous vote, 49-0, but did not advance in the House.

SB 5894 – Unlawful activity/properties

This legislation would allow a person to be found guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree if the person is a tenant by sufferance or resides at a rental property and is not listed as a tenant on the rental agreement or as a guest in an affidavit signed by the owner or an agent of the owner of the property, and the person refuses to immediately upon demand surrender possession of the premises to the owner, or vacate the property, including other rental areas or common areas held by the owner.

Last year this legislation passed from the Senate Committee on Law & Justice, but was subsequently held in the Senate Rules committee and did not advance any further.

SB 5218 – At-will tenancy/unlawful detainer

This legislation would allow for the unlawful detainer process to be better used on an individual who claimed that they had a right to reside at a particular property, but did not have a rental agreement.

Last year this legislation passed from the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions & Insurance, but was subsequently held in the Senate Rules committee and did not advance any further.

SB 5219 – Unlawful detainer

This legislation would allow fees to be added to rent owed in the same unlawful detainer lawsuit. At present, only rent may be listed on a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate.

Last year this legislation was passed from the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions & Insurance, but failed to advance from the Senate Rules Committee.

SB 5220 – Landlord-tenant acts/judgment

This legislation would modify residential and manufactured/mobile home rental owner-tenant act provisions relating to the entering of monetary judgments against defendants. Currently, if an unlawful detainer is started with substitute service (service by posting notice on residence) rather than personal service, the property owner may only get possession of the premises back from the tenant, but may not get a monetary judgment.

Last year this legislation was passed from the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions & Insurance, but failed to advance from the Senate Rules Committee.

HB 1553 – Opportunity Restoration

This legislation would create a process by which a person with a criminal record can be granted a certificate of restoration of opportunity, which removes any professional bar imposed solely as a result of the conviction. Certain state, county, and municipal departments would not be allowed to deny applicancy solely based on the applicant's criminal history if the qualified applicant has obtained a certificate of restoration of opportunity and the applicant meets all other statutory and regulatory requirements.

​RHAWA is continuing its work to pass this legislation as a first, solid step for ex-offenders seeking to re-enter society and find stable housing. It passed out of the House by a 97-0 vote, but sat idle in the Senate.