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News and Notes

September 5, 2019

You need to know about 3 New Legislative Issues, Ordinances and Laws!

As the longest legislative session in Washington State History finally comes to a close, we want to inform you of three important updates that could affect you and let you know how we can help!

1. Safeguarding Keys

2. Abandoned Property Registration & Maintenance (Bremerton only)

3. Tenant Screening protection for victims of domestic violence

SAFEGUARDING KEYS – THE NEW LAW
It seems simple enough. Every new tenant wants security and reasonable assurance that they will be the only ones who have access to their property. Most responsible rental property owners will even take the time and effort to change the locks and doors of each unit for additional peace of mind. Of course it is much easier to keep track of keys when you only have one rental unit, as opposed to multiple properties. And there are times others will need access to the rental property for general maintenance, an emergency repair or to show the unit to the next prospective tenant. However, as of July 28th, 2019 a new Residential Tenant Landlord Law went into effect. RCW 59.18.060 (7) states, “Maintain and safeguard with reasonable care any master key or duplicate keys to the dwelling unit”. So what are the best practices for protecting yourself and keeping your tenants safe and sound?

WHAT TO DO:

  • Always store spare keys in a secure lock box
  • Always limit the number of people who have access to additional keys
  • Always tag and keep a log of who has keys to ensure they are returned
  • Always mark rental keys with ‘DO NOT DUPLICATE’

WHAT NOT TO DO:

  • Never keep spare keys in a drawer or box that could be easily accessed
  • Never label keys with the address or unit number of the property
  • Never be afraid to change the locks. When in doubt, safety first!

For more information about the new law:
https://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/House/1647-S.E%20HBR%20PL%2013.pdf

ABANDONED PROPERTY REGISTRATION & MAINTENANCE (BREMERTON ONLY)
We all know foreclosures have become a mainstay in the United States. In fact, in the past few years the number of vacant foreclosures in the U.S. has soared to more than 300,000. And what happens when homeowners leave and banks don’t pursue action to get the home back on the market? You get a terrible eye sore that deteriorates the value of the other homes in the neighborhood!

We applaud Bremerton for making and effort to hold the owners of these properties accountable. It required the owners of abandoned properties to register the home with the city, have it inspected once a month, ensure it is secure and free from debris and establish a 24-hour emergency contact for if and when a problem arises. And there are hefty fines for failure to comply. FAILURE TO REGISTER IS A $1,000 + $100 PER DAY OF VIOLATION. FAILURE TO INSPECT, MAINTAIN OR SECURE IS A $1,000 + $100 PER DAY OF VIOLATION.

HOW WE CAN HELP:
We are introducing a new product called a Property Conditions Report.

Our NEW third party Property Condition Reports can detail the condition of your investment before, during and after tenancy. The Property Condition Reports will save you time, money and help you help protect your investment by checking your property for damage. It will document the condition of the property with photos of the interior of the unit including under sinks, any specific damage and each wall, floor and ceiling of the rooms. Property Condition Reports reduce deposit disputes and lost deposits. For more information call us today at 866-863-8428. More information about the new ordinance is available at: https://www.mrsc.org/ords/b72o5215.pdf

VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ARE PROTECTED FROM TENANT SCREENING SERVICES

Senate bill SSB 5568 states, “A tenant screening service provider may not disclose a tenant’s, applicant’s, or household member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or knowingly disclose as to whether that person previously terminated a tenancy as a victim of these crimes”.

This new bill does not impact our service in any way. It has long been a best practice of any reputable tenant screening company to protect victims of domestic violence. It is illegal for landlords to discriminate tenancy based on victim status, so if this information is revealed to us during a tenant screening, it will be kept private. Ultimately, this new law is just simplifying what we (and all reputable screening services) have been doing for years.

However, you DO WANT TO KNOW about criminals applying to live in your property! Our tenant screening service only protects the innocent! We WILL provide you with peace of mind about any convicted criminals living under your roof. Arm yourself with knowledge! Our tenant screening service is fast, easy and free (the tenant pays the fees). For more information about our tenant screening process go to landlordsolutionsinc.com/screening

For more information visit: https://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/Senate/5568-S%20SBR%20APS%2013.pdf

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LandlordSolutions does not provide legal advice. The information we provide is general information for landlords. If you need legal advice or have questions about the application of the law in a particular matter, you should consult a lawyer.

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