The RHAWA office is closed to in-person services until further notice. All classes, meetings, and events are now held online. View calendar.

Restrictions and Risk Piling Up for Washington Housing Providers

Posted By: Denise Myers Education ,

Recently, RHAWA member and housing provider, Leslie H. reached out to us looking for a list of all recently passed rental laws. She thought it would be “great messaging for anyone who doesn’t see the incremental creep that is overloading housing providers and forcing them out of the market”. While we cannot promise this list captures absolutely everything, here is our best attempt (see below). Looking at this list is daunting to say the least. Compared to just a handful of changes in four decades, in this last decade we have seen the adoption of almost 40 substantial law changes impacting the rental housing industry (state bills and local ordinances), not including the countless cities that have added registration and sometimes inspection requirements for all residential rental properties. It is no coincidence that these rapid changes were made while housing development failed to keep pace with a population explosion in the Seattle metro area during the same period. The result? Housing became more expensive and more difficult to secure. Unfortunately, rather than addressing the root of the problem, our legislators keep creating poorly constructed tenant protection laws in an attempt to address the social consequences of insufficient housing and assistance programs in our communities.

At the publishing of this article, we are aware of 16 more bills and ordinances that have been or will be proposed in this year alone. As all these overlapping laws keep piling up across Washington State, King County and multiple cities, associations like RHAWA, attorneys, enforcement agencies, housing providers, and tenants struggle to keep up. As is now becoming an annual tradition, RHAWA’s Education/Resources and Advocacy staff are collaborating with legal counsel to update forms, guides, and education as soon as we become aware of newly passed legislation that impacts our members. If we have missed something related to your jurisdiction, please let us know and we will try to address as soon as possible.

To learn more about newly passed WA State laws, RHAWA members can access New 2021 WA Rental Laws class here ONDEMAND.

Article originally published in CURRENT Newsletter, May 2021 edition. Updated and posted here on 5/25/2021.

Laws introduced in Ten Years (2012 - Present) 

WA State
  • Must work with rental assistance recipients
  • Liability for key control
  • No blanket denials based on criminal history
  • 60-Day notice to increase rent
  • 120-Day Change of Use Notice
  • 14-Day Pay or Vacate Notice
  • Rent redefined, limiting non-payment evictions to rent arrears
  • Reinstatement and installment payments after eviction
  • Must allow installment payments of move-in costs
  • Immigration/Citizenship Status protections, must accommodate lack of credit history
  • Holding deposits limited to 25% of rent
  • 5-day late rent charge minimum grace period
  • COVID: Moratorium on terminating tenancies or increasing rent
  • COVID: Must offer payment plan for unpaid rent, including before using deposit
Passed in 2021
  • Just cause termination with mandatory lease renewal
  • Mandatory Eviction Resolution Program
  • Indigent Tenant Right to Council
  • Capital Gains
Proposed In 2021, Not Passed
  • Rent Control
  • Additional Security Deposit Documentation
  • MHC Right of First Refusal
  • MHC Increase of Park Closure Notice
Seattle
  • Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance
  • Source of Income Ordinance and “First in Time” rule
  • Move-in deposit and fees limited to one month’s rent
  • Must allow installment payments of move-in costs
  • Parking must be unbundled from rent
  • Criminal record screening prohibited
  • Must allow additional roommates
  • Domestic violence victim protected from all property damage liability
  • Winter Eviction Ban
  • COVID: No exemption for sale or owner to occupy
Proposed 2021 legislation
  • Credit record screening prohibited
  • Tenant Right to Counsel
  • School Year Eviction Ban
  • 180-day Rent Increase Notice
King County
  • Service animal protections
Proposed 2021 legislation
  • Just Cause Termination
  • Prohibit SSN Requests for Screening
  • Security Deposit Capped to One Month’s Rent
  • Late Fees Capped to 1% Monthly Rent
  • 120-day’s Rent Increase Notice
Auburn
  • Registration and inspection
  • Must provide law disclosure packet to tenants
  • Just Cause - “no-cause” terminations of tenancy prohibited, forced renewal of term leases
  • Move-in deposit and fees limited to one month’s rent
  • Late rent fee payment limited to $10
  • 120-day notice to increase rent greater than 5% (month-to-month or term lease)
  • 60-day notice of intent to sell
Burien
  • Registration and inspection
  • Must provide law disclosure packet to tenants
  • Just Cause - “no-cause” terminations of tenancy prohibited
  • Must allow installment payments of move-in costs
  • 60-day notice of intent to sell
Federal Way
  • Stable Homes Voters Initiative: Just Cause - “no-cause” terminations of tenancy prohibited, mandatory renewal of term leases
Kenmore
  • 90-day notice to increase rent greater than 10%
Bellingham
  • Registration and inspection
  • 60-day notice to terminate month-to-month tenancy
Tacoma
  • Rental business license
  • Must provide law disclosure packet to tenants
  • 60-Day Notice of Rent Increase
  • 120-Day Change of Use Notice
  • Must allow installment payments of move-in costs
Other Cities
  • Dozens more registration and inspection programs

 

 

Laws Introcuced in Previous four decades (1973 – 2011)

WA State
  • RLTA Introduced
  • Security deposit collection and return
  • A few additional protected classes in Fair Housing law
Seattle
  • Just Cause - “no-cause” terminations of tenancy prohibited
  • Rental Housing Inspection Program (RRIO)
  • Tenant Relocation Assistance and notice to sell
  • Cannot require minimum tenancy on month-to-month agreements
  • Must provide law disclosure packet to tenants
  • 60-day notice to increase rent 10% or more
  • Utility Billing Regulations
Other Cities
  • A few cities implemented rental registration and/or inspection programs