Huge Wins for Housing Providers! Legislative Session Update

Posted By: Alex Robertson Advocacy , 2022 Legislative Session ,

This year's legislative session has been one of the most successful legislative sessions in recent years. Thanks to your advocacy, we were able to kill nearly all of the concerning proposals that we encountered this session. While session is not over just yet, and we still need your help for a few more weeks, lets take a second to highlight some of our biggest wins this session.

First, lets go over the bills that died in committee. HB 2017 which would've banned screening for criminal records and HB 2023 allowing tenants to sue based on the Consumer Protection Act both died in committee. Even with little notice given by the committee, housing providers came out in droves and shared their concerns.

Moving on to our highest priority bills that died on the floor; SB 5576 which would've removed the three strikes rule and HB 1100 imposing right of first refusal on manufactured housing communities are dead. Lastly, HB 1904 which would've effectively enacted rent control has also died. HB 1904 mandated that 180 day notice be given for rent increases above 3% and allowed the tenant to terminate the lease upon receipt of said increase.

11 out of 13 of our high priority bills are dead. With more weeks to come this session, we can focus all of our effort on the few that remain. We are thrilled with our success so far this session and look forward to continuing our efforts on behalf of our members.


SUPPORT

HB 2105 – Allowing Electronic Notices under the MHLTA

Original Bill

  • HB 2105 is bipartisan and is positive for both residents and housing providers.
  • The Electronic Notices option is Voluntary and is a choice by the resident and they can change that choice at any time.
  • Having to post the paper Notice on the resident’s door (as is required by current law) can be stigmatizing and embarrassing for our residents and is one of their biggest complaints.
  • The Electronic Notices option still requires the housing provider to send the same notice by regular mail to the resident under either scenario.

Amended Bill

  • Requires rental agreement or signed document language or to be in bold type and the resident must expressly agree and sign.
  • Personal Service must be resumed and Electronic Notices stopped if any of the following happens:
    • The resident requests by email, in writing, or verbally that electronic notices be discontinued;
    • Housing provider receives 2 returned or undeliverable messages;
    • Landlord does not receive an email or written response within two weeks of any email asking for a written response; or
    • Landlord is aware of any extended internet outages that may interfere with email delivery.

Sponsors: Representatives Gilday, Chapman, Walen, Barkis, Sutherland.

STATUS HB: DEAD House Rules Committee


HB 1035 – Preservation Tax Credit, Preserving Current Affordable Housing
  • Authorizes cities and counties to create an affordable housing incentive program (AHIP) to preserve affordable housing.
  • Authorizes an AHIP to provide a 6-year property tax exemption to certain qualifying properties, with one 6-year renewal.
  • Requires the local governing authority to include qualifying standards when creating an AHIP, including rent limits and income guidelines.
  • Establishes various program requirements and administrative provisions.

Sponsors: Representatives Kloba, Ryu, Ortiz-Self, Duerr, Wylie, Tharinger, Ramel, Gregerson, Valdez, Hackney, Callan, Santos, Pollet, Harris-Talley.

STATUS HB: DEAD House Finance Committee


HB 1732 – Delaying the Long-Term Care Act (Long-Term Services & Support – LTSS)
  • The legislature passed the Long-Term Care Act in 2019 (LTSS) including a payroll tax that begins in January 2022. There is widespread displeasure with this new tax and the legislature was forced to look at delaying or repealing the tax.
  • Delays the start date for the premium assessments under the LTSS Trust Program from Jan 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023.
  • Delays the start date for benefits under the Program from Jan 1, 2025 to July 1, 2026.
  • Allows individuals born before January 1, 1968, who do not meet the LTSS vesting requirements, to receive partial benefits based on the number of years of premium payments. These individuals may receive 10% of the maximum benefit for each year they worked at least 500 hours and paid the premiums.
  • Requires employers to refund employees any LTSS premiums collected before July 1, 2023. The refund must be provided within 120 days of the premium collection.
  • Self-employed folks must elect coverage before July 1, 2026, rather than Jan 1, 2025.
  • If the employer remitted the premiums to ESD, ESD must refund the employer who is then required to refund the premiums to the employee.
  • Individuals born before January 1, 1968, who do not meet vesting requirements may receive partial benefits.

Sponsors: Representatives Sullivan, Chopp, Johnson, J., Walen, Chapman, Berry, Cody, Dolan, Fey, Macri, Peterson, Ryu, Santos, Senn, Shewmake, Wylie, Simmons, Callan, Slatter, Ramos, Bergquist, Tharinger, Valdez, Thai, Pollet, Morgan, Taylor, Stonier, Ortiz-Self, Gregerson, Davis, Riccelli, Ormsby, Duerr, Orwall, Bateman, Kloba, Frame.

STATUS HB: Signed by the Governor - Effective date 1/27/2022


OPPOSED

SB 5139 – Rent Control after COVID
  • Establishes Rent Control in WA State
  • Prohibits a housing provider from increasing rent or other charges for the first 6 months after the end of the Governor’s emergency eviction ban under 59.18.
  • After the first 6 months expire, housing providers are then limited to only increasing rent by 3% over the previous year’s consumer price index, for a subsequent six months, based on the rental rate as it was on March 1, 2020.Revises landlord and tenant provisions regarding the protection of certain residential tenants to include:

Sponsors: Senators Das, Lovelett, Darneille, Hunt, Liias, Nguyen, Wilson, C.

STATUS: DEAD – Senate Housing & Local Government Committee


HB 2017 – Banning Criminal Records in Tenant Screening
  • Prohibits housing provider from advertising or operating their rental as "crime free".
  • Prohibits a housing provider from requesting criminal history information from a current or prospective tenant.
  • Prohibits a housing provider from denying a prospective tenant the tenancy for a criminal conviction.
  • Prohibits taking adverse action or terminating a tenancy of a tenant for criminal history discovered after the inception of the tenancy.
  • The maximum penalty for a violation of this bill is $7,500 for each person.

Sponsors: Representatives Davis, Simmons, Goodman, Johnson, J., Peterson, Ramel, Ryu, Sells, Macri, Frame, Lekanoff

STATUS: DEAD – House Housing, Human Services & Veterans Committee


HB 2023 – Allowing Tenant Rights Claims Using the Consumer Protection Act (CPA)
  • Creates a new cause of action against housing providers and establishes a court process for the enforcement of tenant rights.
  • Allows tenants to sue under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) for violations of the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA), the Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act (MHLTA), and other laws and agreements may be enforced.
  • The CPA provides for treble (triple) damages and attorney’s fees for the tenant if they prevail in the lawsuit against the housing provider.

Sponsors: Representatives Hackney, Macri, Berry, Fitzgibbon, Johnson, J., Peterson, Ramel, Chopp, Bateman and Pollet.

STATUS: DEAD – House Housing, Human Services & Veterans Committee


SB 5576 – Payment Plan Extension and Three Strike Removal
  • Removes the prohibition on judicial discretion in eviction proceedings if a tenant receives three or more pay or vacate notices within the previous 12 months.
  • Clarifies that for rental arrears accrued through six months following the end of the Governor's state of emergency proclamation, a 14-day pay or vacate notice may not be issued until expiration of 14 days after a repayment plan is offered and the tenant fails to accept the offer.
  • Requires courts to accommodate virtual representation by legal counsel appointed for indigent tenants, as well as virtual participation for tenants, upon request.
  • Authorizes landlords to use an alternative form to satisfy the additional notice requirement under the eviction resolution pilot program.
  • Makes changes to the 14-day pay or vacate notice and eviction summons.

Sponsors: Senators Kuderer, Trudeau, Das, Hasegawa, Lovelett, Nobles, Saldaña, Wilson, C.

STATUS: DEAD Senate Floor


HB 1904 – One-way Lease, Limiting Late Fees, & Rent Control

Original Bill

  • Requires housing providers to give between 180-220 day’s notice for all rent increases over 3%.
  • Creates a one-way lease where tenants can leave at any time, even in the middle of a rental agreement term.
  • Requires housing providers to inform the tenant, when they receive the notice of rent increase, that they may terminate the tenancy at any time and cannot be held liable for rent after vacating.
  • Caps late fees at 1.5% of the monthly rent.
  • The bill creates a term called "base rent" and specifies that the increase notice applies to base rent and does not apply to utility costs.
  • Removes the 20-day notice requirement for a tenant to terminate a tenancy if a rent increase notice of 3% or more is given.
  • Allows a tenant who pays the increased rent after not receiving the proper notice to sue the housing provider for the excess rent, damages, and attorney's fees.
  • Establishes Rent Control in WA State for the period after a rent increase

Amended Bill

  • Changes the percentage that triggers a landlord's requirement to provide extended notice 3% to 7.5%.
  • Requires a tenant terminating a tenancy due to a rent increase to provide 20 days' written for a month-to-month or periodic tenancy or at least 45 days' notice for a tenancy of a specified period.
  • Changes cap on late fees from 1.5% to $75.
  • Adds MHLTA tenancies to the restrictions in the bill and requires between 180 and 220 days' notice for any rent increase greater than 4%. A tenant receiving such notice may terminate the tenancy at any point prior to the effective date of the increase by providing 45 days' notice.

Sponsors: Representatives Peterson, Morgan, Simmons, Chopp, Ormsby, Johnson, J., Ramel, Hackney, Frame, Riccelli, Lekanoff, Taylor, Bateman, Fitzgibbon, Macri, Harris-Talley, Pollet

STATUS: DEAD House Floor


HB 1300 – Security Deposit Documentation Requirements

Original Bill

  • Requires housing providers to provide a written checklist to the tenant in order to collect a security deposit.
  • Requires the housing provider to provide documentation of estimates or invoices to repair damage, or the cost of materials and labor if the housing provider does the repairs themselves before retaining any portion of the security deposit.
  • Excludes several types of damage that a housing provider is allowed to deduct from a security deposit.
  • Excludes carpet cleaning beyond ‘wear from ordinary use’
  • Excludes “excess cost” of repair and replacement of fixtures, appliances, and furnishings beyond ‘wear from ordinary use’, or costs of repair and replacement if their condition was not reasonably described in the written checklist.
  • Allows the tenant to request a walkthrough in which the tenant is present, between 14 and 30 days before the termination of a rental agreement and requires the housing provider to schedule before the termination of the tenancy.
  • Prevents any action taken against a tenant to recover damage costs beyond the amount of the security deposit to be commenced within one year of the termination of the tenancy.

Amended Bill

  • Strikes section 3(2), which permits the tenant to request a walkthrough before the end of the rental agreement, and, after the walkthrough, requires the landlord to provide a written checklist of the damages to the tenant.
    • Strikes language listing the walkthrough checklist as documentation required in order to support damages charged to the tenant, reported to any consumer reporting agency, tenant screening service, or prospective landlord, or submitted for collection by a thirdparty agency.
    • Changes the timeline that the landlord must refund the tenant’s deposit, along with providing documentation explaining the basis for retaining any of the deposit, from 21 days to 30 days.

Sponsors: Representatives Thai, Chopp, Ramel, Simmons, Fitzgibbon, Peterson, Davis, Macri, Pollet, Slatter, Stonier, Taylor

STATUS: DEAD House Rules Committee


HB 2064 – Security Deposit Documentation Requirements

Original Bill

  • Authorizes landlords to offer tenants the option of paying an entirely or partially nonrefundable fee in lieu of a security deposit.
  • Removes requirement under the RLTA that a tenant is current on rent before being able to exercise rights.
  • A landlord may offer the tenant the option of paying a fee in lieu of a full security deposit. The landlord can’t use the fact a prospective tenant opts to pay the fee in lieu of a security deposit as a criterion in determining whether to rent to that tenant.
  • Any landlord who offers the fee in lieu of the security deposit must offer the choice of the fee to every prospective tenant whose application for occupancy has been approved, without regard to certain protected class statuses as well as income, household size, and credit score.
  • Requires that any entirely or partially nonrefundable fee in lieu of a security deposit collected by the landlord be used to purchase insurance coverage for the landlord's losses associated with unpaid rent or unit damage.

Amended Bill

  • Reinstates requirement under the RLTA that a tenant is current on rent before being able to exercise rights under the Act.
  • Provisions relating to judicial action or other collection activity pertain only to situations in which a tenant has paid a fee in lieu of a security deposit.
  • Clarifyies that the landlord must provide the disclosure form to the tenant with any lease and renewal that includes the option to pay a fee instead of a security deposit.

Sponsors: Representatives Peterson, Simmons, Chopp, Lekanoff and Taylor.

STATUS: Senate Housing & Local Government Committee


SB 5825 – Establishing a Rental and Vacant Property Registration Program Work Group
  • Requires the Department of Commerce to convene a work group to evaluate the feasibility of creating a statewide rental and vacant property registration program and corresponding database.
  • Registration of properties could lead to additional costs and taxes being directed at the properties identified.

Sponsors: Senators Kuderer, Das, Lovelett, Nobles, Wilson, C.

STATUS: House Housing, Human Services & Veterans Committee


HB 1494/HJR 4204 – Split Roll Property Tax & Constitutional Amendment
  • Creates Split roll property tax by giving exemption for primary residence that must be recouped by property taxes from other properties.
  • Created tax exemption for principal residences up to $250,000 of assessed value.
  • The Washington Constitution requires all taxes to be applied uniformly on property within each taxing district. The Constitution also limits regular property tax levies to a maximum of 1% of a property's assessed value.
  • HJR 4204 – Creates a Constitutional Amendment to get around the “Uniformity Clause” in the WA Constitution.

Sponsors: HB 1494 – Harris-Talley, Berg, Davis, Wicks, Peterson, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Gregerson, Chapman, Ramel, Simmons, Berry, Lekanoff, Frame, Hackney, Slatter, Duerr, Kirby, Thai, Valdez, Ormsby, Morgan; HJR 4204 – Harris-Talley, Berg, Wicks, Peterson, Ortiz-Self, Simmons, Gregerson, Chapman, Berry, Frame, Thai, Pollet, Ormsby, Davis, Ramel

STATUS HB: DEAD House Appropriations Committee


HB 1951 – Creating Seller Liability with the Seller Disclosure Statements

Original Bill

  • The actual knowledge standard for a seller completing the disclosure statement is removed and a seller is liable for any error, inaccuracy, or omission in the disclosure statement.
  • Modifies the required seller disclosure statement in transactions for commercial real estate and improved or unimproved residential real property to require disclosure of damage from animals
  • Removes a sellr's option to select "don't know" and removes the actual knowledge standard for a seller completing the disclosure.
  • Provides that a seller is liable for any error, inaccuracy, or omission in the seller's disclosure statement.

Amended Bill

  • The substitute bill restores existing law that the previous version had attempted to change, including:
    • Eliminating a seller's option to select "don't know"
    • Eliminate the actual knowledge standard for a seller completing the disclosure
    • Directing sellers to provide any relevant information for each category of the disclosure and corresponding space for that information; and
    • Making a seller liable for any error, accuracy, or omission in the disclosure.
  • The Substitute bill states that disclosures made by sellers are based on their "actual knowledge" and states that sellers are not liable for any error, inaccuracy, or omission in the disclosure statement.

Sponsors: Representatives Morgan, Fitzgibbon, Orwall, McEntire, Ryu, Ormsby, Kloba, Harris-Talley

STATUS HB: DEAD House Rules Committee


HB 1100 – Forced Right of First Refusal
  • It unfairly discriminates against just one type of real estate and housing without any data to support this. If enacted, it would likely constitute an unconstitutional taking.
  • This bill would harm residents by creating “false alarms”; a sale does not necessarily mean a community is closing. By far, most sales occur with the new owners intending to continue as an MHC. Any legislation must be limited to when a community owner voluntarily lists their community with a broker.
  • Our Supreme Court has previously stated that a MH community closure “does not breach any of [the residents] legal rights or entitlements.”

Sponsors: Representatives Duerr, Kloba, Bateman, Ramel, Ortiz-Self, Gregerson, Valdez, Macri, Chopp.

STATUS: DEAD House Rules Committee


SB 5079 – 3-Year Park Closure Notice
  • Most parks that are closing are being redeveloped into sites that serve many more housing units to support our communities. The legislature should encourage redevelopment of aging low-density housing to house more WA families.
  • If enacted as written, it would likely constitute an Unconstitutional taking – likely why the legislative has stopped this effort for many years. It unfairly discriminates against just one type of real estate and housing.
  • It stifles the addition of new housing to our region – when the legislature has already authorized the Department of Commerce to look at expanding opportunities.
  • A commercial purchaser is not going to wait 3 years. If enacted, this bill could effectively impair the appraisal value of all MHC real property instantly.

Sponsors: Senators: Das, Kuderer

STATUS SB: DEAD Senate Floor


SB 5319 – Forced Right of First Refusal for Senior Communities
  • There is no clear definition of what constitutes a “bona fide offer.” This could open the door to fraud and abuse.
  • This bill would harm residents by creating “false alarms”; a sale does not necessarily mean a community is closing. By far, most sales occur with the new owners intending to continue as an MHC. Any legislation must be limited to when a community owner voluntarily lists their community with a broker.
  • This bill is unworkable and unfairly discriminates against just one type of real estate and housing making these transactions almost impossible with the timeline.
  • This bill does not protect against harmful, rights-violating activity, but rather damages, or appropriates, property for the benefit of others.
  • If enacted as written, it would likely constitute an unconstitutional taking
  • Our Supreme Court has previously stated that a MH community closure “does not breach any of [the residents] legal rights or entitlements.”

Sponsors: Senators: McCune, Short

STATUS SB: DEAD – Senate Housing & Local Government Committee (No Hearing)