Current landlord and tenant law in Washington is well-balanced and outlines the rights and responsibilities to which both parties must respect and adhere, especially with regard to evictions and unlawful detainers. But that's all about to change.
In January 2019, Senator Patty Kuderer introduced SB5600. This bill, if passed, will change the way things work and make it harder to evict those tenants who breach their lease agreement and fail to uphold their responsibilities per the terms of the agreement and the law. Here are the main impacts the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act will have if SB5600 succeeds.
SB5600 & Changes to Washington Landlord-Tenant Law
SB5600 very much sways on the side of tenants and creates challenges for landlords to enforce their rights. The following are five of the more alarming changes that could materialize if SB5600 is ever enacted as it is written today.
- One of the biggest changes is the number of days a landlord must provide to a tenant late on rent to either pay the overdue rent or vacate the property. Today, the time period is three days, but the SB5600 proposed to change it to 14 days. That means a landlord must wait a full two weeks before they can file an eviction claim.
- Another big change refers to fixed-term lease agreements. As of now, these lease agreements have fixed expiration dates and at the end of the lease, the parties can choose to renew or not. SB5600, however, proposes to change that. In cases where a rental lease expires and in the absence of a new lease agreement, the tenancy will be rendered a month-to-month lease. In effect, this would limit a landlord's right to end a lease.
- The statutorily required content of the three-day notices to pay or vacate -- which would change to a 14-day notice -- will require additional information. The notice will have to provide resources for civil legal aid and it will have to be drafted in “plain language,” though the latter is undefined.
- The issue of rent, too, is addressed from different angles in SB5600. First, if a landlord wants to increase rent, they would have to provide a 60-day notice of the same. Currently, it's a 30-day notice in Clark County and a 45-day notice in Vancouver if the landlord wants to increase the rent by 10% or more. The proposed law also redefines rent as exclusive of costs and fees. Additionally, when a tenant makes a payment and that tenant owes costs and fees, payment must first be applied to rent. The latter matters because according to SB5600, a landlord will not be able to evict on account of unpaid fees or other monetary obligations except for unpaid rent.
- SB5600 would allow a judge to relieve a tenant from eviction.
These are all serious changes that can completely alter the rights landlords now enjoy as property owners and/or property managers. These changes limit a landlord's capabilities to ensure that property is rented by reliable tenants who will uphold their end of the lease agreement.
Contact an Experienced, Resourceful Eviction or Unlawful Detainer Attorney in Vancouver WA
SB5600 would ease the responsibilities of tenants while increasing the responsibilities of landlords. At Posner Law Office, P.C., we are watching this senate bill closely and will keep you updated on any developments.
In the meantime, if you have questions or need legal assistance with a problem tenant who is behind on rent, contact Quinn Posner. As an experienced eviction attorney, Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. So schedule your appointment today.