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Impact of ESHB 1236 upon the Washington Residential Landlord Tenant Act and Unlawful Detainers (RCW 59.18 and RCW 59.12)

Posted by Quinn Posner | Jun 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

As you all are most likely aware, Governor Inslee signed ESHB 1236 on May 10, 2021. ESHB 1236 make significant changes to the notice you are able to serve upon your tenants. The largest change is ESHB 1236 rids state law of the 20 day notice for termination of tenancy. Effectively, there is no more “no cause” evictions and you must renew a tenancy unless you fall into one of the allowed “for cause” exceptions. Below you will find the major changes that impact your daily activities as landlords, but in no way describes every single change contained within ESHB 1236, Please consult your attorney for more specifics and how they may apply to your tenancies.

Notices that carry over with ESHB 1236:

  • Fourteen Day notice to Pay Rent or Vacate: The 14 day notice to pay or vacate language has changed and must be strictly complied with. Further, the notice may be served with the second notice of the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program process or anytime thereafter.
  • Ten Day Notice to Comply or Vacate: Material breach of the contract.  May be served at any time. This has not been changed.
  • 3 Day Notice to Quit for Waste/Nuisance: Resident(s) commits or permits waste or nuisance upon the premises, unlawful activity that affects the use and enjoyment of the premises, or other substantial or repeated and unreasonable interference with use/enjoyment by the landlord or neighbors of the tenant. This has not changed.

New Notices to Terminate Tenancy:  

  • End of initial lease term: landlords would be able to end a tenancy without cause at the end of the initial lease period with 60 days' notice provided the initial lease term is between 6 and 12 months in length.
  • 60 Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy:
    • Tenants who are served four or more notices to comply or vacate within a 12-month period may be served a 60-day notice to terminate tenancy. The notice may be served concurrent with the fourth written warning notice within the preceding 12 month (Ten Day Notice to Comply). The notice MUST include 1) all notices supporting the basis of ending the lease; 2) All notices must pertain to four or more separate incidents or occurrences; 3) The landlord is not absolved from demonstrating admissible evidence of violations. Note that if the tenant fails to cure even one such notice, the tenant could be evicted. But even if the tenant cures each such notice within its 10-day cure period, if the landlord serves four or more in a 12-month period the landlord may serve a 60-day notice to terminate tenancy.
    • 60 day notice to terminate prior to the end of the lease term for other good cause. Such good cause must constitute a legitimate economic or business reason not covered or related to a basis for ending the leases as enumerated in ESHB 1236.
    • Leases that contain an expiration date (do not continue on a month-to month basis) may be terminated without cause upon expiration of the specified period only if: a) Original lease was for 12 months or greater; or b) Landlord and tenant continuously entered into subsequent leases of 6 months or greater may be terminated upon 60 days' notice to be served prior to end of the term.
    • Mutual termination agreements must give tenants at least 60 days to vacate.
    • If a tenant is required to register as a sex offender during the tenancy OR failed to disclose a requirement to register as a sex offender in the application or otherwise known to the property, then a 60 Day Notice to Terminate may be served.
  • Twenty Day Notice to Terminate:
    • Landlords who share their dwelling unit with the tenant, or shares access to a common kitchen or bathroom, could issue the traditional twenty-day notice to terminate.
    • If a tenant makes unwanted sexual advances or other acts of sexual harassment directed at the property owner, manager, employee or other tenant based on the person's race, gender, or other protected status in violation of the lease, then the tenant will be subset to a 20 Day Notice to Terminate.
  • 90 Day Notice to Terminate due to Owner Intent to Sell or Occupy: Landlords who wish to reside in or have an immediate family member reside in the rental property could issue a 90-day notice, as could landlords who wish to sell a single-family home (see below).

An owner must make reasonable attempts to sell the home within 30 days after the tenant(s) has vacated, including, AT A MINIMUM, listing it for sale at a reasonable price with a realtor or listing it for sale on a real estate multiple listing service. 

Rebuttable presumption that the owner did not intend to sell if:  a) the owner does not list the single-family dwelling for sell within 30 days of the tenant(s) vacating the home; b) the home is not listed for sale with a realtor or is not listed for sale on a multiple listing serve; or c) within 90 days after the tenant vacated, the owner withdraws the rental unit from the sale market and rents the home to someone other than the former tenant.

  • 30 Day Notice to Terminate:
    • Tenants who make material misrepresentations on rental applications could face a 30-day notice to terminate their tenancy.
    • Premises that have been certified or condemned as uninhabitable by a local agency with such authority, the landlord must provide at least 30 days' notice to terminate. If the local order does not allow 30 days to comply, the landlord must provide as much notice as possible.
    • Transitional housing may be terminated upon 30 days' notice in advance of the expiration of the transitional housing program, or if the tenant has aged out of the program, or if the tenant has completed an educational or training or service program and is no longer eligible in the THP.
  • Holdover Occupants: When a tenant permanently vacates leaving other occupants behind, the remaining occupants are subject to a 30 Day Notice to apply to become a party to the rental agreement or vacate if they co-resided with the leasehold tenant at least six months prior to and up to the time the tenant vacated the premises.

Other Considerations:

Landlords who knowingly use a rental agreement with prohibited terms may be liable for up to two times the monthly rent. Landlords who remove a tenant in violation of the new law may be liable for three times the monthly rent amount.

Lease term renewals:  If the lease is not renewed the tenancy MUST become month-to month.

If the landlord offers a new term lease agreement at least 30 days prior to the end of the existing term lease, and any new terms are reasonable, the tenant must accept or vacate. This does not apply to month to month tenancies.

As noted, these are the major changes to your day to day activities as a landlord. There are additional changes to RCW 59.18 and we recommend familiarizing yourself with these requirements by reading the final bill which can be found here by scrolling down and clicking Session Law under Available Documents: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1236&Year=2021&Initiative=false

We at NW Landlord Solutions continue to work tirelessly to inform you of many of the changes that have taken place during this last legislative session. That includes an analysis of ESHB 1236 which will be coming soon. As always, we remain available to you for any needs you may have as clients and friends of NW Landlord Solutions.

This above analysis in no way forms a tenant-client relationship between the reader and NW Landlord Solutions.

About the Author

Quinn Posner

Location: Vancouver, Washington Phone: 360-524-4767 Fax: 360.326.1913 As a former Clark County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and in-house insurance defense attorney for a large international insurance company, litigation is my passion. That is why I have chosen personal injury and eviction law to focus my practice on.

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