With still two weeks to go, there are three bills that we are continuing to track. Each of these bills are in rules waiting to be pulled. If they are pulled, they will go to the floor for a vote. If the bill isn’t pulled from rules, then the bill would die. I will continue to keep you updated as bills move. NARPM and the other landlord lobbyist have all agreed to these bills in their current form. There is still possible negotiations on each of these bills. Please email or call me, I am available to answer any questions.
Here is a summary of each bill
• For residential rental agreements three months or longer in duration, tenants are authorized to pay certain deposits, fees, and last month's rent in up to three consecutive and equal installment payments.
• For residential rental agreements less than three months in duration, tenants are authorized to pay certain deposits, fees, and last month's rent in up to two consecutive and equal installment payments.
• Landlords may apply for reimbursement through the landlord mitigation program account if a court determines whether a tenant is low-income, limited resourced, or experiencing hardship.
• Landlords that do not provide an installment payment option at the written request of a tenant are subject to a statutory penalty of one month's rent payable to the tenant.
• Fees or deposits to hold a dwelling unit are limited to one-third of the first month's rent and must be applied to the first month's rent once a tenancy begins.
• Provides that a landlord may not charge late fees for past due rent unless the rent is at least five days past due.
• Provides that if rent is more than five days past due, the landlord may charge late fees commencing from the first day after the due date, until paid.
• Allows a landlord to serve a notice to pay rent or vacate at any point after the rent becomes due.
• When late fees may be assessed after rent becomes due, the tenant may propose that the date rent is due in the rental agreement be altered to a different due date of the month. The landlord shall agree to such a proposal if it is submitted in writing and the tenant can demonstrate that his or her primary source of income is a regular, monthly source of governmental assistance that is not received until after the date rent is due in the rental agreement. The proposed rent due date may not be more than five days after the date the rent is due in the rental agreement. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a tenant from making a request for reasonable accommodation under federal, state, or local law.
Brief Summary of Engrossed Substitute Bill
• Amends the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act to:
o amend the notice to pay or vacate and summons forms;
o prohibit a landlord from threatening eviction for failure to pay certain charges other than rent;
o provide for use of emergency rental assistance;
o revise a provision with respect to attorneys' fees; expressly allow the landlord to refuse cash, and require a receipt if cash payments are allowed;
o and add a requirement with respect to claims made to the Landlord Mitigation Program.
Effective Date: This bill contains two effective dates. Sections 1 through 4, relating to allowing landlords to refuse to accept cash for payment of rent and providing that a receipt must be provided when cash is accepted; and, amendments to the notice and summons forms, take effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed. Sections 5 through 8, relating to providing for situations in which a tenant seeks to restore the tenancy and pay the amount through an emergency rental assistance program; prohibiting landlord threats to evict for nonpossessory charges; prohibiting attorneys' fees when the tenant fails to respond; and requiring that a Landlord Mitigation Program claim include the court order staying the writ of restitution, contain an emergency clause and take effect immediately.
Notice to Pay or Vacate Form
The language in the 14-day notice to pay or vacate form is amended to:
provide that payment must be made, not by cash, but per the terms of the rental agreement or by non-electronic means, including cashier's check, money order, or other certified funds; and,
add referral information for the Northwest Justice Project's CLEAR hotlines and the Washington Law Help website.
The summons form is also amended to add referral information for the Northwest Justice Project's CLEAR hotlines and the Washington Law Help website.
Use of Emergency Rental Assistance
In an unlawful detainer action, if a tenant seeks to restore the tenancy and pay the amount of the judgment within five days of its entry with funds acquired through an emergency rental assistance program provided by a governmental or nonprofit entity, the tenant must provide a copy of the pledge of assistance and be allowed the opportunity to exercise the right. This may include a stay of the judgment as well as provision, by the landlord, of documentation necessary for processing the assistance.
The landlord must accept any pledge of emergency rental assistance funds provided to the tenant:
• before the expiration of any pay or vacate notice for the full amount of the rent owing under the rental agreement;
• and after the expiration of the pay or vacate notice if the pledge will contribute to the total payment of both the amount of rent due, including any current rent, and other amounts if required pursuant to the RLTA section governing unlawful detainer actions and the exercise of judicial discretion.
The landlord must suspend any court action for seven court days after providing necessary payment information to a nonprofit or governmental entity to allow for payment of the emergency funds. By accepting a pledge of emergency rental assistance, the landlord is not required to enter into any additional conditions not related to the provision of necessary payment information and documentation.
A landlord is expressly permitted to refuse to accept cash for any payment of rent made by a tenant. If, however, the landlord accepts cash, he or she must provide a receipt.
A landlord is prohibited from threatening a tenant with eviction for failure to pay nonpossessory charges.
Rather than prohibit the award of attorneys' fees in instances in which the tenant fails to appear, an award of attorneys' fees is prohibited when the tenant fails to respond to a pleading or other notice requiring a response.
Landlord Mitigation Program
Both the RLTA and the statute governing the Landlord Mitigation Program are amended to provide that any claim made to the Program for reimbursement for an unpaid judgment for rent, late fees, attorneys' fees, and costs after a court order finding that the landlord is eligible to apply for reimbursement from the Program must be accompanied by the court order staying the writ.