OPPOSE HB2453 - Mandatory Lease Renewals

Posted By: Kyle Woodring (deleted) Advocacy, Government, Events,
On Friday, January 24, the House of Representatives will hold a hearing on HB 2453 to implement "just cause" termination requirements on all Washington rental housing properties. This bill will require landlords and property managers to renew all leases for all renters unless Just Cause exists to end the tenancy.
Below are some of the key proposed provisions in HB 2453:
  • Ends fixed term lease agreements--ostensibly creates a perpetual lease agreement.
  • The bill will make it much harder for small landlords to protect the health, safety, and welfare of other tenants in their community. 
  • Makes it practically impossible for a small landlord to remove a tenant who is dangerous or disruptive to their community.

Make your voice heard today by reaching out to House members in Olympia regarding pending legislation that affects your business via RHAWA's Advocacy Center, which will show each advocacy campaign, who we need you to contact, and a suggested message. Your information will already be pre-populated, so all you will need to do is click one button to send the messages!

Send an email to the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee members and tell lawmakers to oppose universal rent control measures like Just Cause. A sample email can be found below.

I write to you today in hopes that you will listen to my years of experience as a housing provider, and that the concerns I share with you will convince you that House Bill 2453 is NO SOLUTION to our affordable housing crisis in Washington State: VOTE NO ON HB 2453!
If HB 2453 is enacted, housing providers like myself will be left with little recourse to remove extremely disruptive renters with behavioral problems that affect other residents, and threaten the safety and welfare of my other renters, my staff, myself and my family. Enacting this bill will lead to increased rents and reduce housing options for those with housing barriers. Lawmakers need to know that housing providers are in the business of housing people, not evicting them, so if a renter is being removed from a housing unit, it's because all other options and resources to work with a renter have already been exhausted: Eviction for behavior or nonpayment of rent is always a last resort for housing providers.
Nine out of 10 evictions result from nonpayment of rent and on average, it costs housing providers like myself $3,500 in out of pocket expenses to go through an eviction. It has been less than six months since the Legislature started enforcing the most sweeping changes that have been made to the RLTA since its inception in 1973. Why can't we wait to learn how these newly enacted laws impact the rental market before more regulations are imposed? HOUSING PROVIDERS STRUGGLE TO END TENANCIES OF UNCOOPERATIVE RENTERS WHICH UNFAIRLY BURDENS GOOD RENTERS.
HB 2453 may appear reasonable, but it actually creates challenges for housing providers and neighboring residents when the housing provider needs to terminate a tenancy. In fact, Housing providers in Seattle, where Just Cause laws already exist, struggle to remove renters who lack consideration for their neighbors, damage property, verbally attack and threaten to cause bodily injury to housing providers like myself or even our family members.
These activities impact the quiet enjoyment of other renters on the properties I manage. As a result, good renters suffer the consequences and for renters who are low-income, that suffering is like a prison sentence as they don't have many options to move. Is it fair for a good renter to feel their only option is to uproot their life and voluntarily displace themselves and/or their family, because we as housing providers are not able to offer them the quiet enjoyment they deserve? Just Cause requires housing providers to rely on third-party witnesses to supply evidence to prevail in court; but these witnesses are neighbors and they are understandably afraid of retaliation and enduring more abuse by the uncooperative renter. Courteous, good-neighbor renters don't wish to testify when domestic violence, gang or drug-related issues transpire from uncooperative, rule-breaking renters.
Housing providers are already limited by what constitutes as a justifiable termination of a problem renter in the court system. Under HB 2453, it would be impossible to remove rule-breaking renters without witnesses who are willing to testify. HOUSING PROVIDERS HAVE NO REINFORCEMENT TOOL TO ENFORCE THE LEASE AGREEMENT AND COMMUNITY RULES. Renters with behavioral problems know they need only cure their behavior for a short period of time before recommitting the same offenses again. For example, in Seattle, a tenant committed NINE LEASE VIOLATIONS including assault, destruction of property including several incidences of fire, smoking in a non-smoking building, and failure to comply with federal certification requirements, before the housing provider was able to terminate the tenancy.
Over the course of six months, the renter repeatedly violated the non-smoking policy affecting the health of other residents and causing a fire which resulted in property damage. HB 2453 PROVIDES A ROAD MAP TO AVOID AN EVICTION FOR NON-COMPLIANT RENTERS. This legislation will exponentially delay a housing provider's ability to remove a non-compliant renter or stop termination altogether. In most parts of the State, no-cost legal assistance already exists for renters at the court-house who are facing eviction, and some courts require all renters to seek assistance prior to the commencement of a court hearing.
HB 2453 fails to provide tangible protections for renters in Washington state. In 2019, legislators gave renters more time to pay rent. We understand the need for renters to be given a little more time to secure resources to pay rent. Renters are now given more time to pay their rent before an eviction action commences, under the regulatory scope of Just Cause there are no substantive protections for renters facing eviction, the regulation merely escalates the cost to the housing provider to remove a non-compliant renter.
The current laws in Washington provide robust protections to renters - including strict requirements preventing retaliatory and discriminatory evictions. Failure to abide by these policies carry significant penalties. HB 2453 will only exacerbate Washington's housing affordability crisis. Please, consider the years of experience and expertise of private rental housing providers and trust that we want to keep renters housed. I respectfully request that you oppose HB 2453 and work with housing providers to create innovative and meaningful solutions that result in more affordable housing in Washington State.