We are smack in the middle of the most contentious legislative session for landlords that the state has seen in nearly 40 years. Dozens of “renter protections” bills aimed at making it extremely time consuming and expensive for landlords to properly address problem tenancies are being debated and voted on, and RHAWA needs the help of its membership to educate legislators on the value of rental housing and how rental investors and landlords benefit the community.
If the thought of politics makes your stomach turn, or you’re not sure where to start, RHAWA is here to make the process as smooth and simple to understand as we can. It doesn’t take much more than 5 minutes of your time to engage with your elected official and share your story. People in office are there to represent you and your voice is critical to the legislative process.
Not sure if you've seen or heard by now, but it's been snowing - A LOT - in Western Washington the past few days! RHAWA has put together a quick Q&A to guide you through some of the most common scenarios that might come up involving the snow and your rentals. Remember to stay safe and encourage your tenants to stay clear of hazards.
This post contains general information and is not intended to apply to any specific situation. If you need legal advice or have questions about the application of the law in a particular matter, you should consult a lawyer.
Who is responsible for removing snow at my rental, me or the tenant (at both single and multi-family rentals)?
If you have a single family rental and used the RHA lease we have language in it that transfers snow removal responsibility to the tenant, located at #26ii in the current lease. If you used another lease you need to see if this is the case.
If you have a multi-family lease or property it is considered the landlords responsibility to keep the common areas free of obstructions or liabilities, this would include snow and ice.
If you have a towing contract for your property you may have a clause in it that provides for snow plowing and some landscape contracts include snow removal as well.
Washington State legislators are already hearing bills that would drastically alter the RLTA and impact how you do business!
On Wednesday night, Senator Patty Kuderer dropped SB5600, which intends to increase the PAY OR VACATE NOTICE TO 14 DAYS and seeks to restrict owners from ending a FIXED TERM LEASE AGREEMENTS AT THE EXPIRATION OF A LEASE.
Details on how SB5600 will impact rental owners if passed are available below.
Attend the Senate Housing Stability & Affordability Full Committee Hearing
Our community has donated wonderful gifts for our families through the Mary’s Place Holiday Giving Tags
program this season, and now it’s time to share the joy! Please join Mary's Place as their Holly Jolly ‘elves’ to help make the magic happen and the season bright for all of their supported families!
Kids will be paired up with ‘personal shoppers’ to pick out and wrap presents for their parents, and parents
can select new gifts and toys for their children. Each family will also receive warm winter clothing, gift cards for new shoes, photos with Santa, a nice meal, and more!
Wednesday, December 19
Time & Location TBD
On December 3, 2018 the Renton City Council held a first reading of Ordinance 5913 or RMC 4.5.125, the Residential Rental Registration and Inspection Program. Renton City Council was going to hear to the second reading of the Rental Registration Inspection program at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on January 14, 2019 and a vote was possible, but it will instead discuss the program during the Committee of the Whole.
Meeting details -- view agenda here
Members of the public can attend the Committee of the Whole, but no public comment is allowed. The meeting will also be recorded.
RHAWA is supportive of this targeted approach towards rental housing inspections because it provides an infrastructure for the City to address failing rental properties without disrupting or overburdening the broader rental market. However, while generally supportive of the ordinance, there are lingering concerns with a few details.
Chief among those concerns is a registration requirement which is disproportionately costly for the small business or mom-and-pop rental owner. RHAWA is asking Renton City Council to hold off a final vote until the blanket $150 registration fee can be revised to a more equitable, tiered model that considers the disproportionate burden the fee has on single family and small unit count owners.
RHAWA asks its members to contact Renton City Council to ask that this fees structured is corrected.
Below is a graph of Renton’s fee structure compared to the City of Bellingham and the City of Seattle:
A tiered fee structure is the most equitable option. City resources required to inspect a single family unit compared to a 100 or 200 unit property are not proportional. For these reasons, RHAWA supports a tiered fee structure for rental registration requirements.
RHAWA would also like to thank Renton City staff for making a concerted effort to work with private rental housing providers on the new Registration and Inspection program, and we look forward to collaborating on education and outreach to rental owners.
In general, the final draft of Renton’s Registration and Inspection proposal incorporates much of the feedback and recommendations made by RHAWA and rental housing business input. In fact, Renton’s model is similar to Tacoma’s complaint driven model where a certificate of inspection is only required if a tenant requests an inspection and the city finds that the landlord has failed to fulfill an obligation required under RCW 59.18.060.
This ordinance is an example of how a collaborative effort between government and business interests can result in a smart policy prescription.
Tuesday night, Tacoma City Council passed several new rental housing regulations which directly impact rental housing owners. Although RHAWA's advocacy team was able to keep ineffective policies like Just Cause Termination of Tenancy off the table, the City opted not to provide any exemptions or protections for small landlords in the city.
More than seven months of negotiations resulted in a series of regulations that include:
The majority of policies that make up TMC 1.95 will become effective and enforced on February 1, 2019. However, Council concern that the new regulations create an incentive for owners to increase rents led them to expedite the effective date of the rent increase notification to 10 days after publication (estimated to be December 6).
Also, if you haven't done so already, reach-out to Council Members to let them know how these regulations may change the way you run your business. RHAWA is already hearing from members who say that these new laws will force them to increase rents and raise tenant screening criteria requirements.
60-day notice for rent increases (expected effective date of December 6, 2018)
OTHER POLICIES | Effective February 1, 2019
Read the finalized copy of Ordinance 28559.
If you should have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me at (206) 905-0611 or hpierce@RHAwa.org
RHAWA Member Turnout is Crucial for Landlord Voices to be Heard in Burien City Council Meetings
Burien City Council appears headed down the same road as Seattle making operating rental property as difficult as possible for independent rental housing owners.
Tenant advocates have the attention of Council and Burien landlords must make their voices heard to let the Council know that new regulations will reduce the affordable housing stock and investment in the private rental market.
Sean Martin | Executive Director
The statewide Source of Income Discrimination law is now in effect with the enforcement period having commenced on September 30, 2018. This new statewide law makes it illegal for rental property owners to use a source of income (i.e. section 8 vouchers, etc.) as a basis to deny tenancy to a rental applicant. Commensurate with this new regulation, rental property owners can mitigate increased financial with the opportunity to access a new landlord mitigation fund. The new fund is housed and administered via the Washington State Department of Commerce and landlords can apply for and receive up to $5,000 in damages caused by an outgoing subsidy recipient tenant.
With “Source of Income” now a protected class when renting housing, the protections cover individuals receiving benefits or subsidy programs including housing assistance, public assistance, emergency rental assistance, veterans’ benefits, social security, supplemental security income or other retirement programs, and other programs administered by any federal, state, local, or nonprofit entity.
Short-term vouchers are also included in the law’s protections, meaning that rental owners may not alter lease term offers to an applicant just because their rent voucher does not cover the duration of the advertised lease agreement. Source of Income does not include income derived in an illegal manner.
If a landlord requires that a prospective tenant or current tenant have a certain threshold level of income, such as using an income to rent ratio, any source of income in the form of a rent voucher or subsidy must be subtracted from the total of the monthly rent prior to calculating if the income criteria have been met. This is similar to what many local jurisdictions have done when passing local Source of Income ordinances over the past few years.
Under the law, a landlord may not refuse to rent to or expel a prospective or current tenant based on their source of income. Additional protections include preventing rental owners from:
A person in violation of these rules can be held liable in a civil action up to 4 and one-half times the monthly rent of the real property at issue, as well as court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
The legislation also carries with it several future reporting requirements to ensure the mitigation fund is being effectively administered and how it can be improved. This process will include RHAWA representatives, as well as tenant advocates, and the housing authorities. That report will include discussion of the effectiveness of the program as well as how it can be improved.
RHAWA is hopeful that the feasibility for expanding the use of the mitigation fund to provide up to ninety-day no interest loans to rental owners who have not received timely rental payments from a housing authority will be added.
Landlords can apply for reimbursed caused by tenant using any form of a housing subsidy for physical damage to property beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid rent and charges associated with tenancy including late charges, non-compliance charges, legal expenses and utility charges. Applications will be made available online through the Washington State Department of Commerce. Unfortunately, landlords with subsidy recipient tenants who moved in or out prior to June 7, 2018 are not eligible to claim reimbursement from the Landlord Mitigation Program.