Firm Announcements and Law Updates

New Washington State Laws related to Rental Housing

As you may be aware, the Washington State Legislature passed multiple bills that the governor signed on May 9, 2019. ESSB 5600 and ESHB 1440 modifying some of the procedures related to evictions, particularly residential evictions on the basis of rent. This email bulletin is intended to help you and/or your firm integrate these changes into the management of your rental properties. Please feel free to forward to your managers if you would like.
The following modifications go into effect starting on July 28, 2019:

  • Landlords (or managers acting on behalf of landlords) seeking to collect and/or evict on unpaid rent, utilities, or other reoccurring fees/charges on a residential property will need to provide a 14-day notice. This 14-Day notice to Pay Rent or vacate has express minimum language requirements.

  • Notices to increase rent are now a uniform 60-day notice with set minimum language requirements.

  • Reoccurring charges for utilities are now considered part of rent. It is unclear at this time whether this needs to be a flat fee or can be varied month-to-month. Utility payments made directly to utility companies by tenants do not appear to be covered in this section.

  • Late fees awarded by an eviction judgment for a residential property will be capped at $75.00.

  • Court-issued payment plans:

  • Immediately following issuance of a judgment (and as late as 5 court days later), a tenant may now make a motion in court to stay the writ based on "good cause" that the court can grant. This appears to be at least partially dependent on payment of the judgment and the court can unilaterally issue a payment plan that appears to extend as far as 90 days that covers the judgment and incurred rent and fees during the payment plan period.

  • Defaults under this payment are subject to a 3-day notice with prescribed language.

  • The court can find a tenant to be "low-income," which will allow a landlord the ability to apply for reimbursement through the landlord-mitigation program (managed by the Washington Department of Commerce) if tenant funds are not sufficient.

  • I can elaborate on this new section if requested.

  • The statutory language for Summons issued pursuant to RCW 59.18 has been completely changed.

  • Declaration(s) of service attempts necessary for alternative service are now only required for issuance of judgments without tenant appearance.

  • Unpaid judgments incurred as part of evictions can be reimbursed by the landlord-mitigation program. It is unclear if this is limited as other disbursements by the program.

This bulletin is meant to address the major changes and may not be the entirely of all changes that have resulted from the passage of the legislation. As mentioned above, the legislation will be effective on July 28, 2019.

Note: The above is intended as a summary and not formal legal advice. If you would like to have more formal legal advice on this subject, please contact me with your specific inquiry.

If you or your firm wishes to know more details about any of the above or needs advice, drafting, or other services related to these changes or other aspects of your landlord-tenant needs, please feel free to reach out at any time.