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Recently Passed Housing Policies

Subheading

Statewide

HB 1694: Installment payments of Move-In costs  |  In Effect 6/11/20

If requested by the tenant, an installment plan must be permitted for move in costs including deposits, non-refundable fees, and last month’s rent. This is applicable statewide. Minimum terms are as follows:

  • Three installments for terms equal to or greater than 3 months.
  • Two installments for terms less than 3 months.

Payment plans are not required to be provided if the deposit + other non-refundable fees, in total, do not exceed 25% of the first month’s rent and no prepayment of last month’s rent is required. Holding deposits are also now limited to 25% of rent.

Forms updated/created include:

  • New installment payment addendum
  • Agreement to Enter into Lease is modified to reflect the 25% cap on holding amount charges
  • Lease agreement language updated to reflect tenant ability to request installment payments on “move-in” costs

HB 2535: Late Rent Grace Period  |  In Effect 6/11/20

No late fees may be charged if rent is paid within five days following the rent due date. However, rent which is more than 5 days past the rent due date may be assessed late fees dating back to the first day rent became delinquent. A 14-day notice to pay or vacate may still be served the day after rent is due (not counting current COVID rules in place through August 1, 2020 which prohibit evictions).

If proposed by a tenant whose primary income is a government assistance payment received monthly after the rent due date in the lease, the landlord must agree to an alternate due date within five days of the date on the agreement.

Forms updated/created include:

  • Lease agreement language modified to reflect changes in when/how late fees may be assessed

HB 6378: Changes to 14-day notice to Pay or Vacate  |  In Effect 6/11/20

Information required to be disclosed on the notice for information for the tenant on the 14-day notice has been revised. Note that use of the 14 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate is currently prohibited under current COVID rules in place thru August 1, 2020).

Forms updated/created include:

  • 14 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate

The statewide Source of Income Discrimination is in effect and the enforcement period 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.

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.

SB 5165: Concerning discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status (use of social security numbers)

Citizenship or immigration status were added to Washington’s list of protected class statuses under the law against discrimination. It is not unfair practice when distinction or differential treatment based on citizenship or immigration status is authorized by federal or state law, regulation, rule, or government contract.

RHAWA recommends that rental housing providers work with applicants who cannot produce a social security number when applying for tenancy.

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King County

Ordinance No. 716 Rental Housing Policies  |  In Effect

On October 7, 2019—The Burien City Council voted unanimously to pass a suite of rental housing regulations to alongside Ordinance 715/BMC 5.62 “Rental Housing Inspection program.” After the passage of the ordinance became effective October 15. The Burien Ordinance No. 716 BMC 5.63 is currently in effect and landlords are required to comply with the law. The law is currently being litigated and RHAWA will update its membership when new information becomes available. In the interim, it is imperative that landlords comply with the rules of the ordinance.

Please review a summary of the policies included in BMC 5.63 below:

Just Cause Eviction

The ordinance restricts a landlord’s ability to terminate a tenancy except for specific reasons, including:

  • The tenant fails to comply with a 14-day pay or vacate notice, a 10-day notice to comply or vacate, a 3-day notice to terminate for waste or nuisance, or maintains an unlawful business.
  • The tenant receives four or more pay or vacate notices to the tenant within a 12-month period;
  • The tenant is served three or more 10-day notices in a 12-month period;
  • The landlord and/or immediate family member will be moving into the property (90-day notice);
  • The landlord intends to sell the property (90-day notice);
  • The tenant’s occupancy is conditioned upon employment on the property and employment is terminated;
  • Owner seeks to do substantial rehabilitation to the property and gives tenant 120-day advanced written notice (must obtain one permit to before terminating tenancy);
  • The owner seeks demolish or change the use of the property and gives the tenant a 120-day advanced written notice;
  • The owner seeks to discontinue use of a housing unit after receipt of a violation unauthorized by BMC 19;
  • The owner seeks to reduce the number of individuals residing in a dwelling unit to comply with BMC Title 15;
  • The landlord intends to discontinue use of the property as a rental.

A landlord found to be in violation of this policy they may be liable to pay up to $2,000 to the tenant in a private right of action lawsuit plus reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Copies of Law Summaries

The ordinance also requires landlords to provide prospective tenants with written rental criteria when a prospective tenant applies to reside in a dwelling unit, as well as a city-provided summary of landlord-tenant information when a rental agreement is offered whether the lease is for a new or renewal agreement. For existing tenancies, landlords have 30 days after summaries have been made available to distribute current copies to tenants.

Deposit Payment Plans

Landlords are required to accept payment plans or installment payments for security deposits, non-refundable move-in fees, and/or last month’s rent upon a tenant’s written request. The installment payment agreement must be signed by both parties with the payment period determined by the type of tenancy and length of lease term.

Notice of Intent to Sell

Rental properties with five or more dwelling units and at least one unit rented at 80% area median income per HUD standards for the Seattle-metro area must give the City notice of intent to sell the property 60 days advanced notice before listing the property with a real estate service or advertising it for sale in print or online.

Creation of a “Housing Ombudsman”

The ordinance establishes an Office of Housing Ombudsman which provides legislative oversight regarding residential housing in the City of Burien and operate as independent and impartial local office to investigate housing disputes, to direct tenants, landlords and persons to the right avenue of recourse and/or the proper venue for recourse for conflicts, and to assist in resolving problems and grievances between a landlord and a tenant.

Initiative 19-001  |  In Effect

On November 26 the King County Elections office certified the passage of Federal Way’s Ballot Initiative 19-001 and according the Federal Way City Clerk it became law and effective that day.

Initiative 19-001 policies are difficult to articulate, and attorneys have addressed concern about its navigability. However, the City Council cannot amend the law without voter approval since it was a ballot measure. So, currently the ballot measure language is the law. Please review the follow summaries of the various elements of the regulations included in Initiative 19-001. Please, check-in on our website for updates for information regarding this law:

  • The tenant fails to pay rent after receipt of a 14-day notice to pay or vacate.
  • The tenant fails to comply after receipt of a 10-day notice to comply or vacate.
  • The tenant has committed or permitted waste upon the premises, unlawful activity, or an ongoing, substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of the premises.
  • A person enters upon land of another without the permission of the owner. The provision does not apply to an immediate family member of a tenant.
  • The landlord, in good faith, seeks to remove the dwelling unit from the rental market for one of the following reasons upon 120 days’ notice:
    • The landlord or his or her immediate family seeks to occupy the dwelling unit as a primary residence;
    • The landlord seeks to convert the dwelling unit to a condominium;
    • The landlord seeks to demolish or substantially rehabilitate the dwelling unit;
    • A governmental entity has prohibited the continued rental of the dwelling unit to the tenant;
    • The landlord intends to remove the dwelling unit from the rental market for at least a 24-month period.

If the landlord owns a similar vacant unit and chooses to take possession of an occupied unit there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the landlord is acting in bad faith. A landlord may not recover possession more than once in any 36-month period.

Also, of note, the initiative would prohibit termination of tenancy based upon employment status for select occupations, including first responders, health care providers, and educators, as well as seniors, family members of the tenant.

90 Day Notice to Increase Rent  |  Effective September 1, 2019

Kenmore City Council passed an ordinance that would place a 90-day rent increase a tenant’s rent if more than 10% or more. The rent increase becomes effective September 1, 2019.

Rental Inspection Program (KMC 10.02)

The City of Kent’s rental housing inspection program is up and running and rental owners can register for free using the City’s online portal. The good news is that thanks to education by advocates in the industry like RHAWA, detached-single family homes, mobile homes, condominiums, townhomes and government housing require registration with the City, but are exempt from inspection and business licensing.

If you have more questions for the City of Kent, please reach out to Kent Code Enforcement at (253) 856-5490.

Rental Housing Inspections

February 25, 2019 – Renton City Council passed Ordinance 5913: Residential Rental Registration and Inspection program. Council decided to remove the $150 business fee. The City will absorb the initial cost of running the program through general funds and will determine over the next two years what fee structure is most appropriate for the program moving forward.

Renton’s ordinance is a targeted, voluntary compliance structured program that will require landlords to complete a certification of inspection when a tenant requests an inspection based on failing to maintain property per RCW 59.18.060. An inspection may also be required if the City discovers or becomes aware of a violation or an order to remedy a violation in the past per the RMC has been issued.

First in Time  |  In Effect

On November 14, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Seattle’s “First In Time” (FIT) ordinance to be legal. In an update, the Seattle Office of Civil Rights has noted on its website that FIT is in effect and has been since the date of the ruling. As a reminder the First In Time policy includes the following rules and for a deeper understanding, please review RHAWA’s education calendar for upcoming course offerings on the FIT law:

  • Landlords advertising a rental property / unit must provide notice to applicants of their screening criteria
  • Landlords must provide a minimum threshold for their screening criteria within the notice too
  • The ordinance requires that landlords grant a request for additional time to complete an application if an applicant requires additional time to seek out language assistance services or if additional time is required because of a disability-related need.
  • The ordinance requires that landlords screen completed applications in chronological order.
  • The ordinance also outlines certain requirements if the landlord requires additional information that was not told to the applicant as being required in the landlord’s Notice, makes an adverse action, or decides to conduct an individualized assessment.
    If the landlord requires additional information that is not stated in the landlord’s Notice, the landlord must notify the applicant that they require additional information, notify the applicant of what information is needed, and provide them at least 72 hours to provide the information.
  • The ordinance requires landlords to offer tenancy to the first qualified applicant who submits a completed application. The landlord is also required to provide the applicant with 48 hours to accept tenancy. The following questions and answers provide more detail about these requirements.
  • While the other protections of Seattle’s Open Housing Ordinance apply to accessory dwelling units (ADU) and detached accessory dwelling units (DADU), the first-in-time requirements do not apply to ADUs or DADUs. However, the first-in-time requirements do apply to duplexes and triplexes

If SOCR determines that a violation of the Open Housing Ordinance has been committed, remedies may include (but are not limited to) the elimination of the unfair practice, rent refunds or credits, reinstatement of tenancy, affirmative recruiting or advertising measures, payment of actual damages, damages for the loss of the right to be free from discrimination in real estate transactions, and reasonable attorney’s fees or costs, or other remedies that would be ordered by a court. Civil penalties are also allowed under the ordinance.

Winter Eviction Ban: Council Bill 119726  |  In Effect

On February 10, 2020 the Seattle City Council approved a bill that bans residential winter evictions in Seattle between December 1 and February 28/29, sponsored by Councilmember Kshama Sawant (D3). The legislation was passed by Council in a unanimous 7-0 vote (CM Lorena Gonzales and CM Deborah Juarez absent).

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Pierce County

Tenants Rights Code

After seven months of RHAWA meeting with Tacoma City staff and Councilmembers, along with participating in multiple stakeholder meetings facilitated by the City of Tacoma, the Council passed the new Rental Housing Ordinance on November 20th, 2018. The Tacoma Rental Housing code, Ordinance 28559 was heard before Council for a first reading on November 14, 2018 and was passed into law on November 20th, 2018 after the second and final reading of the ordinance.

RHAWA’s participation in providing feedback in the drafting of Ordinance 28559, helped to convince Councilmembers that a Just Cause provision would be an ineffective and only result in making it more difficult for housing providers to remove problem tenants. In addition, our diligent review of staff prepared drafts of the ordinance aided in the removal of “sale of property” from the ordinance’s “change of use” definition. The removal of “sale of property” was particularly crucial for single family home rental owners; if “sale of property” had remained in the ordinance, rental owners would have been required to provide as much as a 120-day notice to existing renters, if they planned to sell their property and would have been obligated to pay rental relocation assistance if their renter was eligible.

In the long-run, due to the risk the new provisions pose to small, independent landlords, the new Tacoma provisions will likely lead to more scarcity in accessible, affordable housing. The process as a many months long fight, and we made some headway on a few key issues like Just Cause and removing “sale of property” from the relocation.

The City of Tacoma’s Ordinance 28559, TMC 1.95 “Rental Housing Code” includes the following key provisions:

  • 60-day notice to terminate tenancy by rental owner (i.e. non-reciprocal) for periodic (e.g. month-to-month) tenancies
  • 60-day notice increase rent for periodic (e.g. month-to-month) tenancies
  • Distribution of Information (summary):
    • Provide all prospective renters a link to a City provided website that includes all local code violations (Whether tenant caused or not) and findings or settlements related to housing discrimination against the landlord pursuant to TMC 1.29 Human Rights Commission;
    • Distribution of rights and responsibilities to tenant by hard copy at inception of tenancy at any lease renewal, summary updates can be provided electronically within 30 days of City publishing updates.
  • Deposit requirements and installment Payment Plans Permitted: Rental property owners will be required to accept a request for payment plans on security deposit and non-refundable move-in fees unless the combined security deposit and non-refundable move-in fees do not exceed 25% of the first full month’s rent.
  • Tenant Relocation Assistance: In cases of demolition, substantial rehabilitation, renovation or change of use, etc., landlords must provide 120-day notice for month-to-month tenancies and must also provide tenants with a tenant relocation application packet prior to giving notice. Tenants in households where the total monthly income is equal to 50% AMI or below are eligible for assistance under a situation where a tenant is displaced due to the above mentioned reasons or for uninhabitable dwelling units.
  • Tenants Right to Organize without Reprisals
  • Penalties:
    • For a violation of Distribution of information required, Deposit requirements and installment payments, notice requirements generally, or notice to increase rent payments, the penalties are as follows:
      • $500 / dwelling unit for first offense
      • $1,000 / dwelling unit for each subsequent offense within a three year period
    • For violation of a Notice to vacate, Tenant Relocation Assistance, and Retaliation prohibited, the penalties include:
      • $250 / day, per dwelling unit for the first 10-days of Notice of violation
      • $500 / day, per dwelling unit for each day beyond ten days of noncompliance
      • If tenant already relocated, but a violation of the notices required pursuant to Section 1.95.070 can be demonstrated by the City by a preponderance of the evidence, then any person violating any provision of [TMC 1.95] shall be subject to a penalty in the amount of $1,000 / dwelling unit (potentially up to 120 days).

The new Rental Regulation Code took effect February 1, 2019.

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Snohomish County

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Thurston County

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